A client of ours asked us to make three giant animal heads for a promotion they were working on for Magnum ice-cream. We needed to make two of each of the heads which were to be attached, one on either side of a four metre high by two metre wide metal framed panels. These were to be suspended above Regent Street, London, during Magnum’s Design your own Magnum Pop-up week.
What we had to do
The heads had to be lightweight, and we were given a very specific weight to keep to, because of Health & Safety regulations. Given that they were to be suspended over the heads of thousands of shoppers it was self-evident that we had to keep rigorously to the brief. A company had ensured us that they could CNC all three moulds for us; because the heads had to be faceted and angular, and because we had a short deadline and were running other projects, this seemed like a really workable solution for us. However, with only three weeks left before the deadline, we were very badly let down and only one mould turned up which was totally unusable. So, we had to think quickly and be prepared to get this project up and running and out the door in just under three weeks, a very hard task indeed. After speaking with the client and letting them know the situation, we promised that no matter what, we would get the job done, and on time.
Projecting the image
Sculpting the polystyrene Heads
Polystyrene panther sculpture
Polystyrene tiger sculpture
The moulding process
The mould bolted together .
Cleaning the heads
The lion and tiger
Milk chocolate tiger
Delivering the heads
Projecting the imageWe projected the artwork of each head on to plywood. We drew around the profile and jig-sawed two of each profile. We sandwiched the polystyrene between the two formers and cut the shapes out using a hot wire.
Sculpting the polystyrene HeadsWe set about projecting the heads on to the giant polystyrene cut-outs and marking out the faces including the facets. Once they were drawn up the sculpting could begin.
Polystyrene panther sculptureBecause we knew that we had to mould the heads, we made sure that there were as few undercuts on the sculptures as possible to aid the moulding and casting process, while keeping as close to the original artwork as possible.
Polystyrene tiger sculptureA beautifully sculpted Magnum tiger head ready to be moulded.
The moulding processWe first had to cover the polystyrene sculpt with aluminium foil and on to this we applied a release agent so that the completed mould would come away from the sculpt easily. Then we applied the gelcoat, fibreglass matting and resin.
The mould bolted together .The finished mould, with a cast fibreglass head inside, bolted together while the cast inside cures
De-mouldingUsing hammers wedges and brute force, the sections of mould are removed to reveal the cast within.
Cleaning the headsThe release agent has to be cleaned off before we can start the lengthy process of sanding and finishing the heads.
The lion and tigerTwo sanded and finished heads ready to be primed and painted.
Milk chocolate tigerThe tiger, painted to look like a milk chocolate Magnum ice cream bar, bolted on to the frame.
Delivering the headsHere are three of the six heads on the truck waiting to be delivered to Regent Street.
Magnum Pop-upAnd three of our heads, the white chocolate lion, the milk chocolate tiger and the dark chocolate panther, looking tiny now that they’re so high up over Regent Street.
How did we do it?
We had to pull in extra sculptors, which at such short notice was a task in itself, but luckily we have been in the business long enough that we have many freelance artists on our books that we found the extra people we needed. They all knew that time was of the essence but they managed to get the heads sculpted in polystyrene and ready for us to mould, with less than two weeks to the deadline. We worked around the clock and every day to ensure that our client would have the finished heads on the date that they were meant to, and we had all three moulds ready with one week left to the deadline. Once we had cast two heads from each mould we had to clean them up, sand and finish them, prime them and paint them and have them ready so that we could bolt them to the frames. With only a few days left, we had to cover the metal frames with banner material, paint the material to match the colour of the heads, of which there were three different colours: milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate, and apply the promotional printed vinyl. With one day left until the deadline, we applied the vinyl and bolted the two heads to each of the three frames. Any minor paint touch ups were also done and we were ready to load all of the heads on to the truck the next day.
The client loved the heads and we were elated that what could have been a disastrous and costly end to a project was managed and executed with military precision.