Olympian effort tops of the Peeps dioramas

Cue the national anthem! The gold medal in this year's Star-Telegram Peeps Diorama Contest goes to ... "2012 London Olympeeps," created by the daughter-mother team of Claire and Aimee Hoelscher of Arlington.

More than 3,600 online ballots were cast for a favorite marshmallow creation among the 10 finalists, and the spirited rendering of the Olympic Games took top honors, earning almost 1,000 votes.

It just edged out "Peeper Pan" (851 votes) and pulled away from "The Big Lepeepski," (541 votes), which had been an early frontrunner.

This is the sixth year the Star-Telegram has asked readers to get creative with Peeps, and 69 colorful entries came through our doors. The winning creation was one of three Olympics-themed dioramas. Other popular subjects included reality TV shows ("Dancing With the Peeps," "American Peep Idol," "Doomsday Peepers"), movies ("The Hunger Games," "Ghost Busters ," "Willy Wonka and the 'Peep' Chocolate Factory" ), food ("Peep-za," "Peepsi soda") and current events ("Occupy Peeps Wall Street," Dallas' Margaret Hunt Hill bridge).

A panel of four judges -- Star-Telegram art and design critic Gaile Robinson, freelance arts writer Andrew Marton and J. Rae's Bakery manager Alexis Choate and employee Jordan Landrum -- narrowed the 69 entries to 10, and then readers cast their ballots online. For the first time, the public could view all 10 finalists at J. Rae's in Fort Worth during the voting period.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive prize packages collectively worth $175 from Just Born, the creator of Peeps.

Here's a chat with the winners and a closer look at all the finalists.

Thanks to all of our peepin' awesome contestants!


2012 London Olympeeps

Claire Hoelscher, 9, and Aimee Hoelscher, 38, Arlington

Judges said: "Very clean representation of so many aspects of the games; love the swimmers in their lanes as they sport their swimming caps," and "Well thought-out; very neat and organized."

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea was Claire's. She is a gymnast and wanted to do one that involved gymnastics, so she thought up the Olympic theme. She wanted to do it last year, but I talked her into waiting until 2012, the year of the Summer Olympics. Her favorite event to do is the balance beam, so we made sure to include one in the diorama.

How long did it take to make?

We collected things for it over the past year, and we spent about two weeks putting it all together.

Describe how you made it and any challenges you faced.

We purchased very little for this diorama. We used a recycled science fair board for the base and some shipping cardboard we had saved. It was really good cardboard, and we made the walls, the judges stand and the swimming stands out of it. The red stands that the fans are sitting in was recycled from a gift basket. The medal ceremony stand is recycled Styrofoam from that same gift basket. Covering it with tissue paper was a difficult task, though!

One of the biggest challenges was making the swim caps for the swimmer chicks. We couldn't find anything that would stay on their little heads. We finally discovered Play-Doh worked best. The swimming pool was a cardboard insert that came with some product. Claire painted it light blue and made the lines for the swimmers with craft items from our craft box.

Have you ever entered the contest before?

Yes, we have entered for the past two years. Claire thinks about this contest all year long! Last year, our entry "Peeping Beauty" made it into the top 10. I think we finished ninth after the voting.


Peeper Pan

Shelby Plummer, 14, and Buddy Plummer, 42 , Fort Worth

Judges said: "The time put into this makes it stand out. The cupcake skirt is so cute!"

How did you come up with the idea?

This was a daddy/daughter project. "Peeper Pan" just seemed like a natural fit given the "Peep" theme.

How long did it take to make?

A few days.

Describe how you made it and any challenges you faced.

We used a cardboard box and utilized the height on the box to cut in the backdrop of the scene. I used a lot of hot glue and paint. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get "PEEPER PAN" on the cloud above the ship and figuring out which scene from the movie to depict.

Have you ever entered the contest before?

No. It was really fun to participate, and we are already thinking of what we'll do next year!

Third place

The Big Lepeepski

Shelly Jackman, 25, Joshua

Judges said: "Manages in a very orderly way to summon all the zaniness of that movie's far-out brand of humor."

How did you come up with the idea?

The Big Lebowski is one of my all-time favorite movies, and just quirky enough to be re-created with the colorful Peeps.

How long did it take to make?

About eight hours.

Describe how you made it and any challenges you faced.

I took several screen shots from the movie and drew a layout based on the bowling alley scenes. Then I designed the floor, lanes and walls, and pieced them all together. I molded the chairs, ball return and Maude's Viking costume out of clay and added in the final touches like the Dude's hair.

Have you ever entered the contest before?

This is my first year ever!


Peep Evolution

Leslie McGee, 44, and Francie Herriage-Wilson, 18, Fort Worth

Judges said: "Great concept. Good display. Obviously the artists have done their museum studies."

Ritual Peep Roast -- Sacrifice to the S'more Gods

Erin Morgan 27, Fort Worth, and Christina Borders 28, Irving

Judges said: "Sacrifice to the s'mores gods -- Peeps 'n' chocolate? A winner!"

Welcome to Peepville

Abbey Houston, 12, and Alisha Houston, 33, Weatherford

Judges said: "Really appreciate the village's meticulous detailing, especially of the products being sold inside the stores -- and love the purple turf."

Peep in the Heart of Texas

Lee Nuckolls, 57, Mansfield

Judges said: "Every year there is a Texana Peep display. This one is very simple, well done, and the first time that we remember seeing longhorn Peeps."

We Peep for the Trees

Peggy Carpenter, 69, Christy Norris, 41, Lynda Scott, 72, and Barbara Rose, 64, Azle

Judges said: "Very complicated and colorful. Love anything Dr. Seuss-related!"

S.S. Peeptanic

Caitlin Stropes, 17, and Rachel Langston, 17, Southlake

Judges said: "Great feeling of drama. All that's missing are Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet hanging onto the ship's sinking bow."

Party With My Peeps, Spring Break

Susan and Dave Wiley, both 49, Fort Worth

Judges said: "Love the sunburned Peep; captures all the 'hedonism' of spring break! Very TCU!"