Making a Giant Foam Sculpture
How we made the Mt. 12SKii Ja Morant Nike Giant Shoe Sculpture
Table of Contents
Faux Snow Outdoor Foam Giant Shoe Sculpture
Commissioned by Production Glue and Hovercraft Studios on behalf of Nike, this enormous outdoor foam giant shoe sculpture, designed by Hovercraft Studios, was created for the exclusive release of the MT. 12SKii latest signature NBA Ja Morant Nike Ja 1 “Midnight” and “Scratch” shoes as part of the NBA All-Star 2023 weekend, months ahead of the shoe’s retail debut.
The Nike giant shoe sculpture was on display from Feb 17th, through Feb 19th in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Approximately 37 feet wide, 54 feet long, and 25 feet high and installed around a ‘MT. 12SKii shoe box’ retail store, it took some real ingenuity to figure out how to make it structurally sound in order to withstand the outside elements made only of 2 lb. EPS foam.
Having only 20 days to complete, working overtime and weekends, and installing in only 2 days and nights in frigid temperatures, WhiteClouds was stretched to our limits but in the end, we adapted, made decisions on the fly during installation, and prevailed to pull off this larger than life 3D prop seen by millions.
How it came to be
When Hovercraft Studios approached us about creating an outdoor ‘snow’ giant shoe sculpture 50′ long x 25′ high for the NBA All-Star Game weekend, we immediately said we could do it. We have found a way to do EVERYTHING thrown at us so far. We were confident in our capabilities, and very excited to be working on such a cool design. Hovercraft Studios shared with us several 2D concept designs and after some back and forth, they created a 3D design file which we then modified until it was approved by all parties.
We decided that 2 lb. EPS foam for the bulk of it and spray insulation foam for ‘snow drifts’ would be the best material to give it the desired ‘faux snow’ look and feel and still be able to withstand the transport and installation required. The amazing design presented to us includes:
- The Ja 1 shoes
- An artistic rendition of Ja Morant’s NBA team Memphis Grizzlies icon made to look like it was buried in snow.
- Ja’s chain and #12 pendant (which is a replica of the gold chain / diamond pendant Nike presented Ja with on day 1 of the All Star weekend)
- A massive tire that represents Morant’s “mentality and grind he wants others to feel when wearing the Ja 1. That ‘grind’ included doing 800 box jumps on a tractor tire every day while imagining being in the NBA.”
Once we had all the files ready, our production team worked feverishly to cut, glue, sculpt, and sand all the individual pieces into larger sections in preparation for painting. In order to withstand the outdoor elements and to make the surface structurally sound, we hard-coated each piece in Polyurea ULXT66. We use this hardcoat for most of our foam projects, especially outdoor applications and for most of our metal letters and statues. Polyurea is typically applied by ‘spraying’ the finish onto a structure. Among the many benefits are its highly flexible and water-resistant properties, as well as an incredibly quick setting time. Polyurea can be used to protect outdoor or indoor projects that are prone to chemical or physical damage. After the pieces were hard-coated, we primed and painted each piece with a bright white color and applied glitter while the paint was still wet to give it that fresh snow ‘glistening’ effect.
Once several smaller pieces were painted and ready to go, we began assembling them into larger sections using long screws and supports. This process included building a wooden support structure for holding up the giant shoe at the actual elevation 25 feet high and continued, working our way down to the floor, ultimately building the entire statue first in the shop.
With all the pieces completed, assembled, then disassembled and cut up again into transportable sections, we were ready to haul everything to the installation site about 40 minutes away. On the morning of the 15th of February with all the sections delivered, our team started building the structure back up, beginning with the top of the shoe using forklifts, crane bucket lifts, many hands and a few prayers. With the top of the shoe in place on the wooden supports, the inside was fortified with metal and wooden beams as the team continued to screw together the remaining sections on the outside. We worked the entire day, through the night, into the next day and all that night and completed the final details of smoothing seams, spraying new insulation foam ‘snow’, and re-painting on the morning of the 17th. Mission accomplished.
In the News
- Street SNKRS: Mt. 12SKii Presented by SNKRS– Nike.com
- Nike, Ja Morant & the Legend of Mt. 12Skii – Boardroom.tv
- Nike Releases Ja Morant’s JA 1 “Midnight” and “Scratch” At Mount 12 In Salt Lake City – Sneakernews.com
- Nike Builds an Icy Mt. 12Skii Installation for Ja Morant for All-Star Weekend – NICE Kicks
- Mt. 12 Skii brought the ice to Salt Lake.-Nike Basketball on Instagram
- Rise & Grind: NBA All-Star Weekend, Mt. 12Skii and Meghan In Studio– Grind City Media
- 4,600+ cubic feet EPS foam
- Insulation spray foam
- Hundreds of screws
- Wood & Metal supports
- Hand Carving tools
- ‘buckets’ of Polyurea ULXT66
- Paint & Primer
- CNC machine
- Foam cutting machine
- Crane Bucket Lift
- Insulation Foam Sprayer
- Paint Sprayer
- 37.4′ wide x 53.9′ long x 24.6′ tall
- 900+ Foam pieces
- 1000+ Foam cuts
- 492 machine cutting files
- 400+ hours of design, planning, and cutting
- 5,000+ man hours
- 20 days building
- 2 days & nights installation
Final Statue Completed Image Gallery
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WhiteClouds is a Next-gen 3D fabrication company. We use 3D technologies to fabricate a wide-range of products for businesses and consumers but our key ingredients are innovation, craftsmanship and creativity. Please contact us to see how we can help with your next project by filling out the form below, emailing us at [email protected] or by calling us at 385-206-8700.