Hello Themendous!

“Another unusual build was when we welded a 40-foot fork out of steel to be placed outside, on top of a 13-foot tall meatball at a restaurant entranceway. Oversized foods are our specialty, but a 40-foot eating utensil! That was insane!”

This week we have a special guest post by large-scale sculptors extraordinaire, Themendous! You’ve seen their work all over, but probably not realized it. Giant hotdogs, wicked witch legs, sculptures for Google: their output is creative, eye-catching and BIG. It’s in amusement parks, movies, mini-golf courses, parades – anyplace a big and fun sculpture is needed.themenedous kissThis generous company is one of the sponsors of our Artist Harvest sculpture series. By giving us a special discount on materials and creating a basic pear shape for us out of Styrofoam, we were able to then build onto it with plaster and paint it into the Pear-casso. We were thrilled to work with them, and thank them for their sponsorship.

Themendous is a very interesting place, full of talented people making amazing creations here in New Jersey. Read on for more info about the people behind this company and the history of “The King of Huge” – Themendous.

spiderHow did Themendous get started?

Themendous was started by us (Giovanni and Dena Calabrese) as a custom full-body soft foam sculptural costume company, and over the years evolved into today’s large-scale sculpture company. In college, we built silly costumes for Halloween, our first fully 3D one being this couch.  This is Giovanni.sofa chair

It all was fun, and quickly developed into much more!  Dena was an FIT grad who could sew and create anything.  Giovanni was a marketing major, but once in the corporate field, he knew he had to start pursuing his creative interests.

Together we continued to hone our craft to develop beautiful costumes from soft puppet foam and fabric.  We became very professional walk-around character costume builders.  This is how Custom Creations, our first LLC, was formed. The Macy’s Day Parade commissioned many of our early costume works.Macys Eggplants Macys Duck Costumes

Our combined skills allowed us to create beautiful, professional walk-about costumes.  Below are some of our favorites:Krazie City Nyack Costume 1 Adventure Park Costume 2

Proving that once you put your creative mind to something, you can flourish, Giovanni (without any professional art training) started to carve Styrofoam. That is when we went from a costume company to a sculpture company. Themendous DBA was born!

What is the most unusual item you have created?

We made 30 Purple Gorilla Costumes at a time in three separate orders for Zyrtec. Dena was allergic to the purple fur – and was prescribed Zyrtec in a strange twist of fate to finish sewing the costumes. She had to use a tape lint roller on her face every few seconds to remote the hair fibers from her skin.unnamed

We had purple fur balls around for years after we finished the job and we even found some in our house after we moved in, even though the costume and the fur were never in the house! Spooky!

Another unusual build was when we welded a 40-foot fork out of steel to be placed outside, on top of a 13-foot tall meatball at a restaurant entranceway.  Oversized foods are our specialty, but a 40-foot eating utensil!  That was insane!Themendous meatballWhat is the best part of running Themendous?

The best part of running Themendous is that it is different every day.  Every job is new with different requirements and features.  We are more then just sculptors: we are builders, fabricators, welders, wood workers, seamstresses, puppet builders, performers, and most importantly a team of artists.  Building so large with a solid team of various talents is something to be proud of, because at the end of the day you all get to look back and say, “Wow, we built that!”

What is the hardest part about running your business?

The hardest part of running Themendous is completing a rush job with insanely tight deadlines.  We often get calls from a client who needs something big in a very short period of time. This is when we burn the midnight oil and things get crazy.  We have worked 20-hour days to make a sculpture start to finish for unrealistic deadlines but that is why we are the King of Huge – we make the impossible, possible!

Please take us through the steps of creating a sculpture.

When we want to create a new piece, we start with a flat drawing or design. We then take them image and project it on a huge block of foam to the desired size.  We then start cutting and carving out the piece to create its full 3D form.  We then carve details, sand, and perfect the item until we have a complete sculpture.  It is then hard coated with a two part plastic spray that mixes and heats to 150 degrees and hardens almost instantly on contact.  This creates a weatherproof and extremely durable shell that can be painted as you wish.

Do you make things for fun and try to sell them, or only work on commissions?

We mainly work by commission for clients of all sizes.  Google is by far our biggest client who only uses us for all its Lawn Sculpture and Android OS Sweets.   But we also work with independent businesses and private affairs.

Every once in awhile, we get to do something fun for ourselves.  This year we built an 18-foot tall clown mouth fun house entranceway sculpture to install at Burning Man in the Nevada Desert.  This was fun!!

We creatively paired with an art camp named Kostume Kult and built this beautiful runway entrance for their costume gifting station.  The same piece will be used on their Halloween Float for the NYC Parade this month.

We like connecting with other artists and creatives when we have a moment to break away from the madness of building for our business.  We are artists at heart, just pushing to continue pursuing our dreams and make them a reality every day.

We are also very inspired by the work you have done at the Messy Artist, and would love to do more public interactive pieces that inspire young artists to pursue and keep making art. Thank you for choosing us to carve the pear!Pearcasso at town hall The Artist Harvest copyWhat plans do you have for the future of Themendous – where do you see it in 5 years?

In five years, we hope to continue to expand by working and hiring more artists and talent to really become a more fully staffed shop of artists that can offer many services to our clientele.  If we have more artists, we could expand to a full event one-stop shop.  Time and constant work are always a race to try to outrun, since currently we are only 5 full time employees. Everyone here really works hard to make Themendous flourish on the platform that Giovanni and Dena have laid out.

What was your most challenging piece?

dhmonstermash
2D version
IMG_5936
3D Themendous Sculpture

Our most challenging project was when we decided to transform David Hartman’s “Monster Mash” 2D Illustration into a 3D fully sculpted scene.  His drawing was done in a forced perspective with all characters depicted on an angle from below. We then had to take that visual information and translate it into a fully three dimensional world viewed from all angles!  That was tricky!

Thanks again to Themendous for this guest post. Don’t forget to check out their website and Facebook page to see more of their fantastic sculptures.

Hello gashes!

Here’s the entire collection of bloody and bruised arms, though they are quite gruesome, and not for the faint of heart! Scroll through at your own risk!

This is a follow up to last week’s blog post, which featured the special-effects makeup that our advanced art students in Art Foundations Intensives 5 learned to do. They made vampire bites last session, and this week (using the same materials) made gashes. Some “works” were enhanced with needles piercing the flesh.the messy artist halloween makeup

Here’s the entire collection of bloody and bruised arms, though they are quite gruesome, and not for the faint of heart! Scroll through at your own risk!

hello vampire bites!

This week’s class focused on Halloween and stage makeup, specifically how to create realistic bites, bruises and wounds.

halloween vampire bite with makeupUnfortunately our highest level art students (AFI5), were attacked by vampires during class. They were left bruised and mangled, with seeping blood drying on their arms. Strangely though – they loved it!

This week’s class focused on Halloween and stage makeup, specifically how to create realistic bites, bruises and wounds.

nj art class for kidsWith supplies from makeupmania.com, the students were instructed in how to build up realistic looking injuries.

The first step was to create bumps from the Nose and Scar Wax,

halloween bite makeupAnd by using the rest of the makeup, they ended up like this!

the messy artist

The students were very impressed with the realistic injuries they were able to create. Coming up in next week’s class: gashes!

Have you taught students how to use stage or special effect makeup? What are your favorite things to create?

Hello warm color circles!

art project 3-6 year oldIn our Chagalls class for 3-6 year olds, we use this multi-step project as one of the many ways we teach color mixing. With primary colors of red and yellow, the students create a palette reminiscent of the autumn leaves outside.

Age Level: 3 – 6 years

Objectives:

  • Reinforce primary colors
  • Introduce color mixing
  • Learn stamping with paint techniques
  • Encourage using recycled objects in art

Materials:

  • Tempera paint: black, red, and yellow
  • Paint brushes
  • Small paper plates (to use as paint palettes)
  • White Card stock, 9 x 12
  • Assortment of different sized caps and other objects for printing circles: laundry detergent lids, soda bottle lids, shaving cream caps, toilet paper rolls, etc

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cover table in paper to prevent paint from getting on it
  • Put black paint on plates (one plate/palette for every 2 students)
  • Put red and yellow paint on plates (one plate/palette for every 2 students)
  • Create labels with student’s names for back of artworks
  • Place printing objects on table (or in a tray) for children to use
  • Create sample project

Procedures:

Show children a sample project. Demonstrate the first step: how to print circles with the objects on the table. Encourage them to make smaller circles inside bigger ones, and to overlap circles.

(We do this project as a two-step project during the same class, with the circle prints happening near the beginning of the session, then moving on to another activity. The circles printed in this first step need time to dry before the next step. If needed, the instructors can also blot the prints to help them dry more quickly. The project could also be spread over a couple class sessions.)

Next, talk to the students about the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Explain we will be working with warm colors today, red and yellow.   Demonstrate first painting some circles yellow.

the messy artist art studio for kidsThen paint some other circles red. Finally, mix the red and yellow together on their palette to make a new color: orange. Paint the remaining circles with the orange paint.

new jersey kids art class circle stampingThis project is always a lot of fun for the students, and they often want to keep painting when their circles are filled. We give them plain white paper and let them keep on painting with their orange paint if time allows.color mixing for preschoolers

Hello pass-along drawings!

We find this project to be a great first class activity as it loosens them up and gets the kids to talk to each other as they are passing drawings. We also especially like how it frees the children up from the preciousness they often feel about their art. And the final thing we love is that it is so process (not product) oriented: the creation is about the journey, not the end piece.

This week, our Art Foundations 101 first – second grade section students began the Fall 2015 session with this pass-along drawing project. It got the class off to a positive start as it promoted interaction with each other, as well as challenging perspectives of “their” artworks.

Before class started, the instructors came up with a list of objects for the students to draw for this project, and assembled the supplies: white paper and sharpies (black, and colored).

When the kids came in and took their seats, they were given their first direction: draw a square on the paper. Some kids had lots of questions: how big? where? – while others just went to work drawing.the messy artist

When the students were done drawing the square, the students were told to pass their papers to the student next to them. They were then given their next instruction: draw a bug. Pass your paper. Make an abstract shape. Pass. Draw a line from one side of the paper to the other. Pass. Draw a tree. Etc, etc. until the pages were quite full.

art studio for kids 1st grade art projectAt this point, all the students got back their original paper – “their’ artwork! They were all surprised to see what it had evolved into. It was very interesting to see how each personality type reacted to the project; some found it difficult, while others found it easy to go with the flow.

To complete their page, the students colored in the shapes with colored sharpies.

Allowing the students to add their own style again to the drawing with color gave them back more of a sense of ownership of the project.

We find this project to be a great first class activity as it loosens them up and gets the kids to talk to each other as they are passing drawings. We also especially like how it frees the children up from the preciousness they often feel about their art. And the final thing we love is that it is so process (not product) oriented: the creation is about the journey, not the end piece.

Do you have any first-class activities or projects to start off a new session?