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?

2D version
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.

Author: hellokidsart

The Messy Artist is a special place to create art. We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood. In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions. Our bright, colorful studio is also the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party! The Messy Artist children’s art center was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist. The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art. At The Messy Artist, art lessons for kids entertain and enrich their brains, bodies, and hearts.

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