Students build miniatures for Spokane woman’s chipmunk calendar

Students build miniatures for Spokane woman’s chipmunk calendar
Christie Pierce

Over at Sacajawea Middle School, it’s been a year full of projects for Ms. Taylor’s 8th grade advanced engineering class.

In the fall, students made coffee cup sleeves for their schoolmates who run Thunderbean Coffee.

This winter, they focused on helping the Spokane Bomb Squad when they faced challenges with their robot.

It seems they may have saved the best for last, or at least the most unique.

“I thought it would be really fun to make little miniature things for the chipmunks in pictures,” said 8th grader Maggie Rietz.

You know those cards and calendars you see around town with the chipmunks doing things like putting away library books or managing a bake shop? The photos are all taken by Christie Pierce.

“What’s cool about FriendChips is nothing is photoshopped, it’s all real,” Pierce, the owner of FriendChips, explained.

Pierce shot hundreds of photos over the years for both the FriendChips calendars and cards, right in her backyard on sets built by her husband Paul. Yet, there have been some miniatures that seemed impossible to create.

That’s where these advanced engineering students come in.

“To think that they have access to computer renderings and the 3D printings and that type of thing really kind of opens up all kind of stuff!” said Pierce.

Like the stargazing chipmunk shot Pierce has been waiting six years to produce. She and her husband have been unsuccessful in finding or creating a miniature telescope. Bridget Burns, an 8th grader at Sacajawea Middle School was able to make one with a 3D printer and some wood.

“It was super hard to get the legs lined up and then glued correctly in the right spot.”

Super hard, but it worked.

“To have an adjunct of these kids collaborating is just the chance of a lifetime,” Pierce said.

The chance of a lifetime because the woman with lists and lists of “nutty” ideas was presented with some she’d never even thought of.

“The girls that built the ice cream wagon is really mind boggling!” said Pierce.

Students Paige Gall and Maggie Rietz made ice cream with clay and stored it in bins made from toothpaste lids.

“They just made this magical…. I can see the shot, its going to happen!” said Pierce as she looked on at their work.

A few weeks after the sets were completed, KXLY visited the Pierces’ chipmunk paradise to see if Pierce could nab the photos.

Within minutes, she got it! In the middle of our post-photo shoot interview, the main chipmunk star wanted to go for round two, pushing the ice cream cart! A miracle with three people standing around watching …. and filming its every movement.

“The shots I’ve gotten with these kids’ sets have been really and truly amazing. You know, more than I ever dreamed possible,” said Pierce.

Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from KXLY4. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.