Thursday, March 18, 2021


Behold! My latest creation for the Peeps Art competition, the PEEP-A-RAMA MACHINE!

A Mold-A-Rama machine for Peeps! For anyone who somehow reads my blog and is still not familiar with what a Mold-A-Rama machine is, here's one from somewhere in our travels, along with my re-imagined Peep version:


On this one year anniversary of Pandemic Life, things are beginning to creep toward some semblance of normal, and for us that includes the annual Peeps Art Show at the Racine Art Museum. Last year's event was canceled, which considering how much of our creative energy was squashed by anxiety and challenge, worked out for the best at our end.

But this year it's back! And we're in it! And I wasn't sure at first what to make, but then Milwaukee Magazine decided to do a piece on our Mold-A-Rama machine that we finally got working this past fall, and I realized a mini version would be interesting to have. Especially one that makes Peeps.

Before I get into details about how I put my entry together, I want to show off what my kids made this year.

Aden went with the "Peep's Gambit," and created a Peeps chess set out of clay. All the pieces fit inside the little box that is also the board. She went with clay instead of real Peeps because of the size restrictions. I think it's completely adorable.

Quinn's entry was a terrarium for a "Wild Peep in its Natural Habitat." It was pretty straight forward, but the one part we had to puzzle was the dirt. Quinn went with putting a few handfuls of dog food into a food processor, and it worked really well. I couldn't get a great photo, but trust me, it's really cute.

My project took the longest, so I'm glad I started it a few weeks early.

I decided in order to survive transport better, I should make my Peep-A-Rama machine out of something sturdier than just paper, so I cut up some masonite for the body of the machine. But I did not feel in the mood to dedicate a lot of real woodworking skills to this project, so it's held together with glue and duct tape. (I have to do so much stuff on my bench that needs to be correct and by the book, that it's incredibly fun for me to simply do whatever I feel like.) Then I spray painted it all light blue to match the Mold-A-Rama machines at our local zoo.

The rest of it is mostly paper. I can make anything out of paper. I got some nice sheets of poster board from the craft store and cut out all my letters for the display graphic, and a little window for the sample Peep. I simplified a lot of the design to accommodate the smaller scale and keep it clean, but I think I captured the essence of the Mold-A-Rama look. When the display graphic was finished, I covered it with a sheet of acetate.

The best part of the Peep display window is that there is a working light in it. My daughter donated a string of fairy lights she had lying around, and I bunched them together to fit in the top of the little Peep box. Then I ran the cord and the switch through a hole in the back of the machine. I like that when the batteries go, I can change them. (The worst part about the Peep display window is that I probably shouldn't have glued the Peep in so it's floating, but eh. I wanted it higher than it would be if it were sitting on the bottom of the box, and I like that you can see it clearly over the plastic dome this way. But all my kids sort of looked at it and laughed and said, "Why is it floating?" Artistic license, kids. Artistic license.)


Once the basic box was together and painted, and the wiring part all done, then it was just a lot of fun detail work.

This is probably a good place to mention that the whole machine was built around the plastic dome piece. I couldn't find anything exactly right, but I ordered some plastic candy dishes online that were close enough. I had to file down the lip along the base of the dish and polish it out as best I could.

The "mold" is just Model-Magic clay with paper around it. Most of the details are more layered poster board. The mechanical bits are wires my husband didn't need, and some odds and ends I had lying around my shop. I find it kind of hilarious that we have an actual Mold-A-Rama machine I could use for reference and make things accurate, but instead what I've pieced together is pure nonsense. Its whole job is to look cute, and it does, so it's fine.

The only bit of wasted effort was that I cut a real hole for the spot the figure would drop into, and it doesn't look any different from if I'd simply cut a rectangle out of paper. Maybe someone looking at it in real life will notice, but I doubt it.

I'm really pleased with how it came out! This is my first time entering this contest where I think I actually have a shot at winning a prize. Who knows? If you're interested in watching the awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 24th, or simply looking at the show online, you can do that at the RAM website. Regardless, I really enjoyed making something just for fun. And like a real Mold-A-Rama machine, I expect it will make people smile. Can't ask for more than that. (Plus the kids and I had a good time going out for a drive to deliver our entries, and the app we used to give us directions to the museum had a voice set to "boy band" which kept us laughing for much of the trip.)