6,035 Gumballs

When Sundog expanded our Fargo office into the 4th floor this spring, a few creatives were tasked with decorating the entrance wall that welcomes everyone into the new space. Naturally, we choose to create a gumball mural. Our process is outlined below.

final gumball photo

The Process

The final gumball image consists of a wood frame with 71 plastic tubes strategically filled with gumballs. How did we get there?

1. Decide on the dimensions
Before we could determine the size of the gumballs or the final image the assembled gumballs would create, we needed to determine the final size of the mural. We choose to create a 6ft. x 6ft square mural to fill the space on the wall.

2. Decide on the image
We narrowed down the gumball image to two ideas. I tested the ideas in a grid to determine which would have the best overall effect. As it turned out, the most simple image worked best for the nature of this project, and we decided to go with the Sundog logo against a dynamic cloud background. The size of the gumballs was also determined in this step.

3. Create a blueprint
A 6 ft. x 6 ft frame is 72 in. x 72 in. We decided to simplify the project by splitting up the grid into 72 in x 72 in, with each gumball fitting into a 1 in. space. I first created this grid with circles in Adobe Illustrator. Next, I made the circles transparent and the grid was placed over a photo of the final image- the Sundog logo over clouds. The color palette was chosen from the color options for the .85 in. size gumball packages- we used 10 of the 11 total colors between two package options. Once the color palette was determined, I shaded each circle (Read: 5,184 total circles at this stage) based on the colors in the underlying image.


4. Research and test supplies
We researched plastic tubes and found a vendor that sold 1 in. tubes that could be cut to a custom length. Once we received sample of the tubes, we were able to measure the interior width of the tube to determine which size gumballs to order. We found our gumballs from a vendor that displayed the size and color options on their website. We ordered samples of the .85 in. gumballs that would fit within the 1 in. tubes. We ordered samples of the gumballs to ensure that the size would fit correctly. Once we were confident in our gumball and tube options, we placed our full supply order.

5. Create a frame
Using the sample tubes as a reference, our carpenter created a wood frame and mounted it to the wall. The frame has an inset built into it on the top and bottom for the tubes to fit into.

6. Gather a team to assemble the mural
Sorting gumball colors over pizza and beer definitely brings people together! We used the original blueprint as a guide to put the gumballs in the tubes in a strategic order. Each tube was numbered to correspond with a numbered row on the blueprint. We placed hot glue in the bottom of the tube as a subtle plug for the gumballs. For stubborn and irregular-sized gumballs (I’m looking at you, dark purple!) we used a wooden dowel to force the gumballs through.

7. Improvise!
Gumball murals are not for the faint of heart! A lot of improvisation took place over the 10 hours of mural construction. We ran into a couple of unforeseen problems. For example: while the .85 gumballs fit as planned horizontally, vertically there was a lot of extra space. We solved the problem by adding 6 extra gumballs to the bottom and 7 extra gumballs to the top of each tube. Which leads to our next problem- we ran out of gumballs! We ordered more gumballs, but also changed some of the color specifications around while stuffing the tubes. We improvised towards the end by eyeballing the design on the wall rather than following the blueprint.

8. Review and revise
We stepped back to look at the project, corrected the gumball order for those that were obviously out of place, and took a break from the project. Now we are enjoying our gumball mural and eating some of the extra gumballs while we determine the best way to secure the gumball tubes in place.

Check out a timelapse of the gumball mural construction!

Gumball Mural Timelapse

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