Two years and tens of thousands of gumballs later, their work is done.
Last week, South Pointe High School art teacher Ashley Beard and her students put the finishing touches on what's surely the sweetest mural in York County.
The portrait of running stallions, the school's mascot, is 6 feet tall, 24 feet long and made of 42,000 gumballs.
Beard came up with the idea three years ago, drawing inspiration from Franz Spohn, an artist who's gotten wads of attention for his "sweet pointillism" technique of creating images from thousands of colored candies. One of his more famous works is a portrait of President Barack Obama that hangs at Ripley's Believe it or Not! in New York City. It's made of 12,784 gumballs.
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When she pitched the project to principal Al Leonard, "He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He said, 'I thought you were talking about chewed-up... gum stuck to a wall.'"
Beard found the image she wanted, then reduced it to pixels in nine colors. Students filled plastic tubes with (unchewed) gumballs that matched the colors in the image.
The school paid for the $3,000 project with fundraising money plus donations from local businesses and the Arts Council of York County.
Over the past two years, Beard and her students learned more about gumballs then they ever expected.
For instance, junior Ellen Cannon said, "There are eight different colors in a box." They come in varying sizes. And you can't order by color. So to get the needed colors, the group had to sort hundreds of boxes.
The good part about that? "There were no oranges in the mural," said junior Kyle Parker, "so we could eat them."