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Kristen Cumings, the artist behind some of the Jelly Belly Candy Company’s famous jelly bean art, knows her beans. In 2010, Kristen was commissioned by Jelly Belly to produce eight pieces of jelly bean art for a collection titled “Masterpieces of Jelly Belly Art.” This collection includes eight recreations of the world’s most most recognized works of  art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” The Masterpieces collection is now on display through June at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, S.C.

 

My kids tell everybody that we meet that I’m a jelly bean artist. I’ve always been into art. My first jelly bean portrait was of Herman Rowland [chairman of the board, Jelly Belly]. It took me about three months to complete.

A typical commissioned piece for me is 4 feet wide by 5 feet tall and includes between 12,000 and 15,000 jelly beans. I now can finish a piece in about three weeks, which is roughly 100 hours.

I sort my beans by color in compartmentalized bead boxes. I’ve dropped one of those boxes on more than one occasion and have actually paid my kids to re-sort them for me.

For pieces that Jelly Belly commissions, the company orders a 10-pound box of each color. I use about 25 to 35 colors per piece, so we have a lot of leftovers in my house. My favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean color to work with is Island Punch. I dyed my hair the same color last year. My hair is now mostly red, but two parts are purple and pink striped. The purple stripes look like Island Punch. The pink stripes are more Strawberry Daiquiri.

I work in the evenings after my regular job. I am a special education classroom assistant and I do a lot of art with the kids. They love the jelly bean projects!

My favorite jelly bean portrait so far was the one I just finished. It’s of my son. My reference image was from when he was 7 years old.

Jelly Belly jelly bean art

Kristen Cumings' portrait of her son, Malcolm, at age 7.

I was bummed when Jelly Belly got rid of Peanut Butter and Caramel Apple jelly beans. They were my go-to colors for mid-range fleshtones. I hoarded them. To get that medium value now, I put two beans together—like Honey Bean and Chili Mango. For a shadow here and there, I’ll throw in a blue or a purple bean.

My favorite Jelly Bean flavor is Sour Cherry. I really like the sours.

One of my biggest challenges is knowing when to add in that odd color to make a piece really pop. I always try to match the tones of my reference images as much as possible, but sometimes the result can look too dull. That’s when I start taking out some beans and add in a bean color to make it livelier.

Jelly Belly jelly bean art

All colors pop in this recent jelly bean portrait by Kristen Cumings. The subject is her son's best friend, Bailey.

I just started a private commission for Lola Salazar who is the owner of Lola’s Sugar Rush. It’s a cute image of her for her candy shop.  I’m really excited about it! My commissioned pieces run about $3,500 to $5,000, depending on the size of the canvas.

My best friend’s son was upset that I didn’t include Harry Potter’s lightening scar in the portrait that I created. The reference image I was given to use from Warner Bros. didn’t include it. On the under-painting that I did, though, the scar is there. You just can’t see it because the beans cover it up.

Jelly Belly jelly bean art


Photo credits: Samuel Levi Jones (top photo), Kristen Cumings (jelly bean artwork photos)

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in Bulk, Candy, Jelly Beans, Jelly Belly Candy Company, News

Hey candy connoisseurs! There’s a new TLC reality show on Monday nights at 9 p.m. cst./10 p.m. est. and it’s all about candy. For real.

The show, “Candy Queen,” stars Jackie Sorkin, founder of The Hollywood Candy Girls, and her entourage of candy stylists who frequently whip out power tools to create elaborate candy sculptures like giant trees made out of thousands of caramels and sour strips or a 6-foot spinning Alice in Wonderland teacup completely covered with candy.

The team truly is creating a new art form using candy as the medium. If you are passionate about candy, you’ll find it interesting to watch which candies are used to create the textures and colors needed for each sculpture.

Candy Queen on TLC Sculptures

Jackie, who became a mom for the second time last month (her new little boy is affectionately called “Lord Lollipop” and her 18-month old daughter has the title, “Heiress to the Candy Empire”) is already back working and filming more episodes. (Overachiever!)

She took time out to chat about what it’s like have a reality TV show, successful event planning business in Hollywood, and two tiny tots at home. Here’s the skinny:

Candy.com: How did you wind up with a reality TV series chronicling your candy adventures?

Jackie: Well … for one thing, I don’t really think to many completely “normal” people end up with their own reality shows. I think those who do often have an interesting story, a ton of passion, a quirky or bold personality, and perhaps just a little luck too. However, I usually never believe in luck! I think that having a combination of all of those things is what landed my team and I this super sweet gig on TLC!

Candy.com: How much prep time do you get before filming? Is it all really fly by the seat of your pants?

Jackie: No prep time, no fancy hair and make-up or umbrella holders, no scripts, no nothing. It’s Reality TV. We may have a couple of meetings to discuss our projects, how we’re planning on executing them, and who’s responsible for what, but that’s about it! It’s business as usual.

Candy.com: How do The Hollywood Candy Girls and your candy engineer Adam like being on camera?

Jackie: The crew has gotten used to it. You eventually get to the point where you just forget the cameras are there and we’ve got amazing producers and the best crew, so we all felt super comfortable. Like friends and family, actually. We have a ton of ridiculous fun with the entire crew! I always said, if this opportunity actually came to fruition, we had to be 100% who we are. I think phoniness  in people is so transparent and reads on or off camera. Being yourself works!

The Hollywood Candy Girls plus Adam (left photo). Jackie with her "mini-me" daughter Isabella, and super supportive husband, Chris.

Candy.com: What’s it like being a new mom, running your own business, and having it all filmed for the world to witness?

Jackie: INSANELY INSANE!! I don’t ever really think about anyone witnessing it because I just don’t have the time to think about it. I’m like every other mom out there, balancing work, family, a crazy business where most of what we do is booked last minute, and always rushed, too! Having two little ones under 2 years old is, um, a challenge, but I also love the fact that my kids will grow up so close in age and hopefully will be good friends. I try my best but the truth is, I’m just another perfectly imperfect mom and mompreneur!

Candy.com: What can you tell us about this coming Monday night’s new episode?

Jackie: It’s going to feature two of our most awesome candy creations for the show! I mean, this is candy art! The episode will feature a Super Sweet 16 where we make a super cool Katy Perry-inspired edible candy dress and accessories for the birthday girl, Taylor. The second event is this incredible and massive Mother Goose build we created for another birthday party. Humpty- Dumpty, Little Bo-Beep, and  Little Miss Muffet, along with an incredibly life-like Mother Goose! All edible, all created out of candy and truly candy insanity! We’ve also got some major drama sprinkled into the episode. Sometimes I drive the team crazy. I know my expectations are out of this world, but the truth is, when you know how talented people are, you push them, and perhaps on Monday night’s episode, I pushed too hard.

There you have it! Set your DVR and tune into TLC Monday nights at 9 p.m. cst/10 p.m. est. For a taste of the show, click here to watch Jackie and crew create a candy county fair with enormous licorice-laden ferris wheel. All in day’s work!

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Nancy Pfeifer, party planner and owner of the etsy party supplies shop A to Zebra Celebrations, had a light-bulb moment after several customers inquired about where they could sell their used party supplies as well as buy the A to Zebra supplies that Nancy handcrafts and uses for her own parties.

That aha moment came this past spring, and on September 1, 2011, MyPartyIsOver.com was born.

I caught up with Nancy to see how her brilliant new e-baby is faring and what has transpired since her official launch. Read on …

Candy.com: In a nutshell, what is MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: It’s a marketplace for customers to buy and sell new and used party decorations, props, etc.

Candy.com: What motivated you to launch MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: I opened my A to Zebra Celebrations etsy shop back in October 2009. All of my items are handmade and designed by me.  My customers constantly ask if I can sell whatever I used on my daughters’ parties.  Some people have also inquired about where to sell their leftover party decorations after their party is over.  I researched for a place to do this, but found nothing.  I found a few wedding resale sites, but nothing for all parties.

Candy.com: What’s been your biggest surprise so far since launching MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: The traffic to the site in addition to how quickly things have sold.  The site launched on September 1, 2011, and became popular right away. The Facebook page reached 1,000 fans in the first month. I have had over 30 countries visit the site in the last four weeks. The feedback from fans has been extremely positive. I am pleased how well things are going.

Candy.com In addition to used party products, will you accept new, overstock items?

Nancy: Anybody can sell new or used products as long as they are party-related.

Candy.com: Are there any party items you won’t list on your site (i.e. perishables)?

Nancy: No damaged or stained items.  No pornographic materials.  Candy and related party food items are permissible.

Candy.com: I understand that your registration is free, but there is a small fee to place a listing. How much is it?

Nancy: The listing fee is $0.75 cents per item, per month. No percentage taken from a sale. Upgrading a listing to the homepage is $0.95 cents per item, per month.

Candy.com: What are your pricing guidelines?

Nancy: My suggestion is to sell your items on the low end if you really want them out of your closet. People that visit my site want to shop a great bargain. If you over-price your items, they will not sell. You must also consider the shipping costs and how this can be a turn off to the buyer.

My rule of thumb is …

New items: 25-30% off the retail price
Used items: 50-60% off the retail price

Candy.com: What are the benefits of using your site vs. ebay or Craigslist to list gently used products?

Nancy: One of the benefits to use my website is that I don’t charge a percentage of sales like ebay does. Another advantage is that I am getting thousands of visitors every day. My visitors are strictly looking for party items, so you have a better chance at selling them quick.  Craigslist is free and popular for selling household items, but not party-related items.

Candy.com: So far, what type or category of items seem to be selling best?

Nancy: Party banners are selling the most in addition to party decor such as centerpieces, candle holders, vases, favors, etc.

Candy.com: Has it been difficult finding party throwers to list their used products?

Nancy: Yes, it has been difficult. Social media and marketing like Facebook and Twitter are very helpful, but they are a full-time job. I am trying to manage this website and my A to Zebra Celebrations shop while also doing my own marketing. These things are in addition to being a housewife and stay-at-home mother of two beautiful girls. It’s a challenge.

Candy.com: Your site is so well organized and easy to use! How long did it take from start to finish to get it launched?

Nancy: My idea to create this website was back in April. I knew I wanted something trendy, fun, and easy to navigate. I did my research and hired someone to start creating the site in May. I wanted the launch date to be September 1, 2011, so we made it happen in six months. There are still some changes and improvements I hope to get done in 2012. However, I will be offering advertising spots in the next couple of weeks.

Congrats Nancy! For more information, visit:

MyPartyIsOver.com
Facebook/MyPartyIsOver
Twitter/MyPartyIsOver

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in Business, Candy, Candy Buffets, News, Trends

30 Jul

Happy Birthday Candy.com! 0

This month marks Candy.com’s second year online. Oh, what a ride it’s been!

In two years, Candy.com has sold more than 1 million pounds of candy, appeared on “The Martha Stewart Show” in February 2011 (Valentine’s Day segment) and May 2011 (Wedding Shower segment), as well as several other publications, has a supportive Facebook and Twitter following, and has been lucky enough to be able to help thousands of brides, party planners, parents, and candy lovers create memorable candy buffets, dessert tables, party favors, and candy crafts. Woo hoo!

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Fun fact:
If you lined up each Bonomo Turkish Taffy bar sold to date at Candy.com end-to-end, it would almost reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. That’s some serious taffy eating!
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Working at Candy.com is as fun as it sounds, too. The Candy.com team is dreamy. I wish everyone could work with positive, energetic people like this. It’s hard not to gush.

So, many thanks for your candy business over these last two wonderful years. It is much appreciated. In celebration of our birthday and our great customers, please take 10% off your entire order this weekend with webcode gift10. (Offer ends Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. est.)

And now, it’s time for cake … and M&M’s.

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in Business, Candy, News