A hailstorm in 2006 left Jen Mulder with a problem. What was she going to do with her severely dented vehicle? The solution came quickly to this Madison artist.
“It was a 1989 Toyota Camry so it didn’t really have much value,” says Mulder. “So I decided to cover it with ducks and nobody would see the hail damage.”
The car was quickly dubbed the Duckmobile. Now 13 years later, Mulder is on her third version. And with the years has come a great deal of experience. When she first started attaching the ducks, she needed to find a glue that would adhere the toys, but also one that would hold up to blistering cold and sweltering heat.
“Every two years, I go through and I take off the ducks that get literally baked by the sun and I adhere fresh ducks to keep it happy and fun,” Mulder says.
Mulder doesn’t know how many ducks she has on her current vehicle, but she knows it’s over 300. And that number of toys not only affects the mileage she gets, it can have an impact how the car drives.
“You want to consider the weight of what you’re adding to the vehicle. Even a couple of coats of paint can change the way that your shocks react,” she says. “I don’t want anything too heavy to be stressing the vehicle and the toys are kind of a perfect little happy place.”
Mulder says she sometimes loses ducks but it isn’t a common event. “It does actually take some work to get them off there,” she says. “I have seen toddlers holding the head of a duck with their feet up on the bumper trying to get them off and they don’t budge.”
The Duckmobile is Mulder’s everyday car which she often parks outside of her sewing machine business The Electric Needle. She says the car is a great marketing piece and conversation starter.
“I would say 95 percent of the people that see the car really enjoy it. It makes them smile. People honk. They wave. They take pictures. I have lots of conversations about the car,” Mulder says. “I have had people just say that it changed their whole day.”