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Alaska coffee table serves as canvas for M&M art

Categories: Candy,Candy Art,Candy Photos,Chocolate Candy

Hannah Mendelsohn's M&M art piece

It takes Hannah Mendelsohn twenty minutes to drive from her Juneau, Alaska home to the grocery store and back. When she started creating patterns with M&Ms on her living room coffee table, she had no idea she’d need so many.

“I kept going to the store and buying more [M&Ms],” Mendelsohn said. “I probably went to the store at least five times. I did a little bit at a time.”

Mendelsohn, a 21-year-old medical assistant, separates M&Ms by color and arranges them in intricate patterns on any flat surface she can find. The result is a surface completely covered with M&Ms, no space between them. Mendelsohn arranges the colors in bright geometric patterns. She said this hobby first took root when she developed a love for chocolate.

“I mean, if we’re going anywhere, basically I’m going to pick up some chocolate,” she said. “Movies? Chocolate. Forget popcorn. Gas stations? I always make [my fiancée] run in for a candy bar. I love my chocolate. Love it.”

She realized she could use chocolate to exert some creative energy when a high school teacher passed out M&Ms to teach Mendelsohn’s class about probability.

“I would always put the M&Ms on my desk and sit there and rearrange them all over my desk,” she said. “People would give me their M&Ms and I’d make shapes. I guess that’s kind of where it started.”

After that, Mendelsohn indulged in her hobby occasionally. She made small pieces with vending-machine-sized bags of M&Ms, but she rarely photographed them. That is, until she undertook the coffee table project.

While she watched Law & Order and CSI in the evenings, Mendelsohn and a friend separated M&Ms by color.

“When I first started the design on the coffee table I had them in little cereal bowls because I only had one or two bags [of M&Ms], but after awhile I had way too many M&Ms,” she said. “After that I put them in gallon bags.”

Mendelsohn said she positions M&Ms in patterns without a set plan.

Hannah Mendelsohn with her M&M art piece

“It’s always ad lib with me,” she said. “If it doesn’t look good, you can always take it off, know what I mean?”

The M&Ms aren’t glued down, but Mendelsohn said she didn’t encounter many obstacles while putting her piece together.

“There were a couple of times when I was frustrated when people would accidentally bump the table and [the M&Ms] would kind of move a little, and that would kind of throw things off,” she said. “When I feel like there’s too much of one color in a place, I’ll slowly take it off, but I don’t think I’ve ever messed up, really.”

She said after working with M&Ms long enough the temptation to eat them disappears.

“I tell you, it’s hard. After a while, you kind of get tired of them, because after putting it together you’re eating the broken ones and the ones you’ve touched too many times,” she said. “But after a while, it’s like you have probably touched one seven times and it’s been sitting out on the coffee table forever. You don’t want to eat it.”

Mendelsohn’s dog, a 14-year-old Chihuahua-dachsund mix, picks up the slack.

“She eats the ones that fall on the floor,” she said. “She loves chocolate. You know how they say dogs aren’t supposed to have chocolate? If that was true she would’ve been dead so many years ago.”

It took her a week and a half to finish the piece, working two or three hours a night or more.

“After that, it lasted a day,” she said. “We had a couple of people over. It was a big feat, and then all we did was take some pictures.”

She said the artwork came off the coffee table much faster than it went on.

“After a while you’re, like, ‘Where am I going to put my feet?’” she said. “You can’t put your feet up. You can’t put your dishes on [the coffee table].”

Mendelsohn transferred the M&Ms she used for the piece to gallon bags, sorting them by color. She used them for her next project, a Thanksgiving turkey.

“I needed more space because the coffee table is too skinny, so I moved everything off our kitchen table and started putting it there,” she said. “Thank goodness we don’t use it to eat! Otherwise, my fiancée would be very upset with me.”

She said people often ask her if she has laminated her designs to make them permanent.

“I tell them, ‘No, it’s chocolate,’” she said. “It would either mold, or… I don’t know. They do make jewelry out of Peeps. There has to be some way I could preserve the M&Ms and make them a wall piece.”

Her friends have suggested she contact M&Ms’ parent company, Mars, Inc., about doing company-commissioned artwork to advertise and publicize the candy. Mendelsohn, who plans to start nursing school in January, doesn’t plan to follow through.

“Then I wouldn’t be a nurse!” she said.

art, M&Ms, chocolate, Mars, mms, Alaska

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3 Responses to “Alaska coffee table serves as canvas for M&M art”

  1. 1
    amypaige says:

    please supply a supplement to this story by saying that the american veterinary association says that chocolate DOES KILL DOGS because they cannot metabolize it. Great that Hannah Mendelsohn’s dog is ok, but many many dogs die from consuming chocolate left out. It is NEVER ok to allow a dog to eat chocolate.

  2. 2
    to amypaige says:

    dog owner’s digest:

    “Knowing which chocolate is the most toxic is important, but leaves one wondering how much must be eaten to poison a dog.

    * White chocolate: 200 ounces per pound of body weight. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause signs of poisoning in a 20-pound dog, 125 pounds for a 10-pound dog.
    * Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of body weight. Approximately one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 20-pound dog; one-half pound for a 10-pound dog. The average chocolate bar contains 2 to 3 ounces of milk chocolate. It would take 2-3 candy bars to poison a 10 pound dog. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level.
    * Sweet cocoa: 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight. One-third of a pound of sweet cocoa is toxic to a 20-pound dog; 1/6 pound for a 10-pound dog.
    * Baking chocolate: 0.1 ounce per pound body weight. Two one-ounce squares of bakers’ chocolate is toxic to a 20-pound dog; one ounce for a 10-pound dog.”

    What I get from this is that it is ok for a dog to have some chocolate, but, just like humans, everything should be eaten in moderation. An m&m or two is not going to kill any dog, and I don’t read anything in this article that states that you *should* feed your dog chocolate, just that her dog happens to pick up a couple of her m&ms.

    also, I’d like to point out that this article isn’t even about her dog, it’s about her art… which by the way is phenomenal.

  3. 3
    Nicolas Morris says:

    If Hannah sees these comments(and I hope she does) I am very impressed with her work and her easy folk artist philosophy!
    Please tell her to look up HUICHOL ART
    The Huichol “indians” of Central Mexico do an att form in Tiny Beads that is very similar to Hannah’s work.
    I sure she would delight in their patterns,and may even take an interest in Bead mosaic.

    They do theirs with a bees Wax mastic
    It can also be done with Acrylic Tile Mastic,or epoxe
    Blessings to the Girl,may she stay warm on cold winter nights,and have fun with patterns!! they are the key to the universe (see “resonance Project” Nicolas Morris

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