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.

Ja Morant Mt 12skii
Ja Morant pictured. Photo credit: Nike

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 the overall 3D design was approved, we needed to figure out how to quickly get what was on screen, to in an actual physical 37′ x 54′ x 25′ statue in perfect scale, proportion and detail. Our production designers proceeded to take that 3D digital model made up of around 4 million polygons, and ‘cut it up’ digitally into as many pieces of ‘virtual foam’ that we would need. Basically reverse-building the entire sculpture piece-by-piece with software.

This included planning for and setting up the files for which pieces would be cut with machinery using a CNC machine and foam cutter and which portions would be hand carved. Ultimately, it’s usually a process of using machinery to cut large rough pieces, gluing them together, and then hand-carving the final shape. Turns out, it ended up being over 900 foam parts and over 1,000 foam cuts from 45 massive blocks of foam. There were over 490 files made just for the foam-cutting and CNC machines. That’s a lot of meticulous planning!

Below are some of the digital 3D renderings and a multicolor image of how the individual foam pieces would be machine cut for the very top of the shoe.
Giant Shoe Foam 'Snow' Sculpture (memphis grizzlies bear)
Artist's rendition of the NBA Memphis Grizzly Bear icon. Hand sculpted by WhiteClouds sculptor Jenni Lombardi pictured here.
Ja Morant Pendant and Chain Sculpture
Ja's chain and pendant logo
The tire tread and number #12 which is the number of Ja Morant's jersey. Morant refers to himself as '12SKII'.
shoe snow sculpture
The Ja 1 Nike Shoe
Nike Mt. 12skii Ja Morant shoe snow sculpture 3D digital 360 model
360 view of the final digital model

Building it

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. 

Installing it

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


  • 4,600+ cubic feet EPS foam
  • Insulation spray foam
  • Hundreds of screws
  • Wood & Metal supports
  • Hand Carving tools
  • ‘buckets’ of Polyurea ULXT66
  • Paint & Primer
  • Glitter


  • CNC machine
  • Foam cutting machine
  • Razors
  • Sanders
  • Forklift
  • 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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