For our story on corn mazes in the Washington area, designer Dawn Cai spent 10 hours and used more than 3,000 candy corn to create a D.C.-themed maze that we used on the cover of the Weekend section. Here's how she put it all together.
I can’t believe how elaborate some corn mazes are, so I decided only an elaborate cover would do them justice. Many ideas came to mind. Maze-like typography? Too cliche. A maze made out of actual corn? Not interesting enough.
Then I discovered candy corn.
I didn’t grow up with Halloween candy; in Hangzhou, China, I had tangyuan and mooncakes. When I was 18, I came to the United States for college and learned about Halloween: costumes, spooks, parties. No one told me about candy corn. I had seen the little yellow-orange-white triangles in stores as decorations, but I didn’t realize they were candy until I started researching this project.
As a designer, I’m always looking for ways to create things that provoke or resonate with people’s emotions. And people feel very strongly about candy corn: I read blog posts about why it’s the best (or worst) candy; I scrolled through Pinterest boards of candy-corn-themed everything, from cakes to blankets.
So I bought a few bags and started playing around with the candy corn. (I also ate one for the first time. It was not good.) My first attempts weren't quite right:
Then I found something that started to work:
One of my co-workers said it looked like yellow teeth. But I thought the upright candy corn mimicked the standing corn in the mazes, and looking down, they looked like kernels on a cob. I spent the next two days gluing candy corn onto a three-foot-by-three-foot maze.
Creating this cover reminded me of the joy of making things by hand. I had fun making it, even though it was pretty tedious and, at times, I thought I was a little crazy. But it was worth it if you smiled when you saw the cover.