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Made In Hollywood Blog

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November 21, 2009 – 9:48 pm

2Polystyrene my Ride

- Posted in Art & Sculpture, Polystyrene Uses, Recycling, Sport related by Fran

The title of this blog post would never be used for a TV programme as it flows off your tongue like sandpaper on butter – You would need to have a snappy title like Top Gear, Pimp my ride or Xccelerate.
Xccelerate is new to Irish television and is the only motoring programme that is produced entirely in Ireland. However, I don’t think they will be testing any of the vehicles here, though we could arrange it, if they were interested.

Hummer H1 replica carved from Styrofoam

Hummer replica carved from Styrofoam

The fullsize styrofoam (or polystyrene) Hummer H1 was created by Andy Junge and was the centrepiece of his show, entitled “American Detritus”. This was  following a three-month residency at San Francisco Recycling & Disposal’s Artist In Residence Program. It was handcrafted from thousands of individual pieces of polystyrene that had been shaped and sanded down. They are held together with five gallons of glue, a case of adhesive, and various screws, bolts, metal rods and pipes. It is 17 feet long, 6 feet high, and with mirrors, over 8 feet wide.

There was no need to supersize the Hummer, as its dimensions are already in that league, however the same isn’t true of our next vehicle.

Giant bike sculpture in honour of Craig Jones

Giant bike sculpture in honour of Craig Jones by the Portuguese Sculptress Paula Hespanha

The scale replica of Craig Jones’ World Supersport bike is approximately 9 feet tall and was installed at the entrance of the racing circuit in Portimao, Portugal. People arriving at the circuit for the final round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship, couldn’t help but notice the large sculpture.
The bike was created in EPS (expanded polystyrene foam) and was strengthened using metal armatures with a mesh and plaster coating, then hand-painted to imitate the original bike. The level of detail is quite remarkable considering the size of the item.
The circuit, Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, sponsored Craig’s team, who was tragically killed in a freak racing accident in August 2008. He was held in such high regard both as a racer and as a man, that the team and circuit owners decided to commission the replica in his memory. The intention is to replace it with a bronze piece in the future.

The bike above could be described as giant, rather than supersized, whereas the next car does look like it has been supersized – if you remember the 2004 film Super Size Me.

A unique car by Erwin Wurm

A unique car by Erwin Wurm

Polystyrene foam and polyurethane expanding foam were, again, used to create this unique-looking car. Hand tools were used to smooth and shape the rounded contours and deep folds.
Erwin Wurm, an Austrian artist and sculptor, created a number of cars in a similar style and even went as far as producing a house with very similar rounded proportions. (via one minute sculpture)

Words like “flowing lines”, “aerodynamically designed” and “with a graceful beauty” are often used in the media, to describe the shape of a car. These words could hardly be used in this case, but what do you expect when you pimp your ride with polystyrene ?

September 22, 2009 – 9:14 pm

Comments OffKoni Kats are World class.

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Sport related by Fran

Koni Kats team (in black) F1 in Schools World Champions 2009

Koni Kats team (in black) with Minister Batt O'Keefe

We recently created a 3D sign made from Styrofoam for the media launch of the new  F1-in-schools 2010 season. The event, held at the beginning of September, was officiated by Minister for Education & Science, Batt O’Keeffe.

“F1 in Schools” is a competition for secondary schools to design and manufacture compressed air-powered racing cars. Student teams compete against each other to determine the best-engineered and fastest car in Ireland. The National champions then go forward to enter into the World Championship, to compete against over 30 teams from around the globe.

Koni Kats F1 in schools world champions

Koni Kats 'F1 in Schools' World Champions

We are delighted to hear that the Koni Kats Team from St. David’s Secondary School in Greystones, County Wicklow took the top honours at the fifth Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge World Championships held last week, in London. At a glittering awards ceremony attended by Lewis Hamilton and VIP guests from the world of Formula One, the talented students were presented with the Bernie Ecclestone World Championship Trophy, and coveted Automotive and Motorsport Engineering scholarships to City University London. Hamilton, the current F1 champion, presented the Koni Kats with the Best Engineered Car award, which was supported by his F1 team, McLaren Mercedes, and went on to praise the Irish team for their high level of engineering.

Ferrari F1 cars cut from polystyrene

Ferrari F1 cars cut from polystyrene

In a blog post earlier in the year, I stated that “Ireland wouldn’t be instantly recognised as a hotbed of world class motor racing talent”. However, with the continued winning performances of Eugene Laverty, lying 2nd in the World Supersport motorcycle championship; Adam Carroll, winning the A1GP 2009 championship, and now the Koni Kats being crowned world champions too, I will have to revise that statement.

There is a possibility that the  Koni Kats team could give me a few tips on how to engineer some improvements to our Styrofoam Ferrari’s, but I have a feeling that they could be heading for a career working on the real Formula 1 Ferrari’s and not a 2-meter Styrofoam replica.

September 20, 2009 – 10:11 pm

4Keeping your eye on the ball.

- Posted in Company News, Polystyrene Uses, Videos by Fran

Early in the year, I wrote a post about the 3R’s, talking about the words “recession”, “redundancy” and “receivership”, and the fact that we were constantly hearing them from all sections of the media. Unfortunately, they are still words that are relevant today, but now there is a new “R” word on people’s lips: “Recovery”.

Bizcamp 3D signs in styrofoam (pic by Sean MacEntee)

Bizcamp 3D signs in styrofoam (pic by Sean MacEntee)

I have always thought that, as a nation, we have the people who have the ideas, passion, energy and talent to get us to a better place. Now, I know for sure. I was one of 300 people who attended Bizcamp on the Saturday of the All-Ireland Football final weekend.
The free event was held at the fabulous Guinness Storehouse, and was aimed at people from all sectors of the business community, as well as people who had lost their jobs. They came together to share their experiences and information, and to explore new opportunities with each other. The speakers delivered a wide variety of informative presentations throughout the day, with intervals to allow people to share their thoughts and make new contacts. The talks given on the social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin proved to be particularly interesting and very popular.
It was encouraging to see enthusiasm, belief and confidence, not just in the speakers but also in other people at the event, proving that we do have the drive to succeed.

At the Global Irish Economic Forum, held at Farmleigh Estate, the attendees were exploring how the Irish, at home and abroad, and those with a strong interest in Ireland, can work together and contribute to a speedy economic recovery.
The topics of discussion may have been different to those at Bizcamp, but it would seem that some participants were reaching similar conclusions: that we do have the people to make things happen on both a local, and global scale, and that we should make the most of this asset. This interview with Liam Casey would seem to reinforce the view. (via Pat Phelan)

Now that these events are over, we hope that all the parties in government can react quickly to the suggestions made at the forum. We need them to support the entrepreneurs and innovators who attended Bizcamp, who have the ability to become winners, not unlike the Kerry football team.

September 13, 2009 – 10:27 pm

2Home for a mobile phone

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Marketing related, Polystyrene Uses, Recycling by Fran

When you thought mobile phones were getting smaller

When you thought mobile phones were getting smaller

In April, we created this Samsung Tocco Ultra mobile phone replica for our client, Kick Communications, for the launch of this model onto the Irish market. The launch and subsequent media coverage proved to be very successful but it left the giant cell phone taking up space in their Donnybrook offices. We were pleased to be able to give this phone a new home in what will be a new showroom above our workshop.
With so many new mobile phone models appearing almost on a weekly basis, the task of responsibly disposing of them has become an important issue. This super-sized phone is being recycled, but many others will just lie in an old box in a garage or in that bottom drawer where everything is put and nothing can be found. Now is the time to dig them out and help your child, if they are still at school.

The Jack & Jill Foundation, through its partner Promethean, have launched a campaign where they are asking schools to swap 300 old mobile phones for a new interactive whiteboard and to raise much-needed funds for home nursing care for sick children in the process.

An Apple Iphone that's not quite so mobile

An Apple Iphone that's not quite so mobile

Interactive whiteboards enable anything that can be seen or done on a computer screen to be projected onto a whiteboard, but it can still used as a conventional whiteboard with a wireless pen that writes like any marker pen.
My wife is a primary school teacher and has been lucky enough to have used this innovative technology for the past year. It has proved to be an invaluable tool for engaging students with vivid images, video and music, making the learning process more enjoyable.
So, if you have an old cell phone that is hiding away, let your school know of this offer or, if you’re in the Cork area, donate it to Gordon’s appeal. But whatever you do, try to give it a new home where it can do some good.

September 7, 2009 – 5:20 pm

Comments OffFormula 1 is go, go, dough.

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Marketing related, Polystyrene Uses, Sport related by Fran

3D polystyrene F1 in Schools sign with Minister Batt O'Keefe

Minister Batt O'Keefe and Team Blink

The flag has dropped and we are into the start of a new school year, when kids across the country are encouraged to reach their potential and beyond, no matter what discipline they choose.
An example of this is F1 in Schools. This is a unique challenge that enables second-level students to get their hands on the latest technology from the worlds of engineering and manufacturing. The competition allows teams to design and manufacture compressed air-powered racing cars, to compete with other schools nationwide.
Minister for Education & Science, Batt O’Keeffe, was at the launch of the New 09-10 season last week. He spoke of stimulating and encouraging an interest in science, technology and engineering with pupils at secondary school level.
We employed quite a bit of technology and engineering ourselves to create the 3D sign used at the photo call. Using specialist software and computer-controlled (CNC) machines, we can produce a wide range of products suited to the engineering sector and other industries.

F1 car created by Michael Salter from styrofoam packaging

F1 car created by Michael Salter from styrofoam packaging

If, however, you are intent on building a racing car, it isn’t always necessary to have the latest technology and machinery. Sometimes all you need is a little imagination and a whole lot of  Styrofoam packaging.
Regular readers of this blog might already be familiar with the work of  Michael Salter. In the past he has created giant “Styrobots” from expanded polystyrene (EPS). He has now turned his talent into building this F1 car that is on display at South Waterfront in Portland, Oregon. Again, he uses the packing foam found around our household electrical and furniture items.

Ferrari logo on this F1 foam car

Ferrari logo on this F1 foam car

But to prove a point, here is an example of a Ferrari Formula 1 car we produced using the technology described above, and a small amount of foam. The outline of a Ferrari was traced and fed into the computer software which, in turn, controlled the hot-wire machine that cut the shape. The prancing horse and logo were glued onto the painted outline. This formula 1 look-a-like was destined for a bedroom wall and not a race track on the far side of the world.

You need a lot of dough for this F1 car

You need a lot of dough for this F1 car

If you were on the far side of the world, in the Royal Plaza Hotel, you might run into this: Asia’s first life-sized bread race car.
The culinary executive chef from the hotel led a team of 6 chefs, 2 artists, 2 technicians, 2 culinary staff and 5 young volunteers from Metta Welfare Association to create this race car model. The team took 549 hours to assemble the car and used a total of 15 kg of yeast, 14 litres of water, 2 kg of salt and 10800 ml of food varnish! The completed car is made up of 1,000 loaves and 22 varieties of bread, and not a sliced pan loaf to be seen anywhere. (via Klik.TV)

It seems quite obvious that someone must have misunderstood when they said it would take “a tonne of dough to make a racing car”; or should that be “bake a racing car”?

September 4, 2009 – 10:27 pm

Comments OffFugitive Gorilla seeks refuge in Montana

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Polystyrene Uses by Fran

Giant Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate bar

Giant Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate bar

In a blog post, in May, we told you about a incident where a ‘Gorilla’ went into a convenience store and stole a large polystyrene display banana on their second attempt.
We know that you have been waiting on the edge of your seat to hear a conclusion to the story.

Well, all we can tell you is that the ‘Gorilla’ was a 24-year old woman. She was allegedly responsible for stealing the $50 banana Styrofoam banana from a Kwik Trip store.
Capt. Steve Klein, of the Fond du Lac Police Department, said she will not be extradited due to the low cost of the banana and the fact that the woman now lives in Montana.

Is it true that all suit-wearing, banana-stealing gorillas escape to Montana? Could this be where the world famous Cadbury’s gorilla has disappeared to? Is there a shortage of bananas and chocolate bars, whether real or fake, there?
The more answers we get, the more questions we have.

And, before you ask, Fond du Lac isn’t a made-up name. Apparently, it is “a beautiful and thriving community of 43,600 located at the foot of Lake Winnebago” in Wisconsin.

via FDL Reporter

August 17, 2009 – 11:05 pm

24Says What it is and it is What it Says

- Posted in Architectural, Competitons, Extended Portfolio by Fran

The Table table

The Table table

We were bouncing a few ideas around the office and workshop the other day, looking for some inspiration and a new project, when we came across some clear perspex table tops that we had left over from the Irish Blog Awards.
So the discussion then switched to: “We could do this?”, “What if we tried that?” and “Wouldn’t it be cool if we made it like that?” etc. The ideas kept coming like the proverbial snow ball rolling down a hill until we had an avalanche of thoughts and quickly sketched designs.
We decided that we would make two of our earliest ideas, but we would use coloured expanded polystyrene (EPS) rather the standard white colour, to see how they would look without having to paint them.
The reaction to the tables from some of our friends on Twitter was very positive, so that gave us more food for thought. For those of you not familiar with twitter, it is a free micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. The tweets are text-based messages that allow up to 140 characters to be sent using a computer or mobile phone.

This is clearly a Coffee table.

This is clearly a Coffee table.

We thought that, if we were having so many ideas, it would be fun to see what you readers could come up with, so with that in mind, we decided that we would run a competition.
We are asking you to create a table design upon which we can place a perspex top. We will make the winning design and send it to you.
The table can be a logo, name or design of your own making. All we ask is that all the elements connect to one another and that it is approximately 800mm (32″) wide x 400mm (16″) high. It can be virtually any shape, eliptical, rectangular or an irregular design.

You can forward your entries to info(at)

Designs will not to be used without the owner’s consent or forwarded to any 3rd parties. We can use most vector-based file types or convert an image file. If you any questions please leave a comment or contact us at the email address above.

- Posted in Architectural, Extended Portfolio, Polystyrene Uses by Fran

Steamroom or spa seating made from polystyrene covered in mosaic tiles

Seating made from polystyrene covered in mosaic tiles

After speaking with a customer recently, I came to the conclusion that it was time that we featured some of the work that we create for use in the construction sector. The client was under the impression that all we made were signs and point of sale display props; he was quite surprised when I informed him that we also create a wide range of items used in building and engineering industries.
It is easy for us to show signage and giant props, as they are often used for product launches, with press photographers present to record the event. Unfortunately, we don’t get the same opportunities to take pictures of our industrial and construction items.

When I told the client that we created products as diverse as walk in showers, garden planters and concrete moulds, he found it hard to comprehend that expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) could be so versatile. So, in future, I am going to try to show more of the work that we produce in these areas, and the reasons why it is used.

Mosaic seat in a wet room area

Customised seat profile used in this wet room area

I will start with seating which is used in steam rooms and thermal spas.
Curved shapes can be difficult to build using traditional materials such as wood and blockwork. These are easily created in EPS by cutting solid blocks of foam with our computer-controlled  hot-wire machines. Polystyrene, also known as styrofoam, has the added advantage of being lightweight and the fact that it doesn’t rot or decay when in contact with water.
Glassfibre is also used but often people don’t like its ‘plastic feel’ and the fact that their design has to conform to certain dimensions. Custom sizes are achieved in EPS, without the added cost of fabricating specialist moulds, so that we can design a room to suit the space, rather than having to work with fixed sizes.
The seat profile and curved roof panels are plastered with a render embedded with a strengthening mesh. This durable surface can then be finished in a wide range of stone and mosaic tiles to achieve the look or texture required.
The examples in the photographs are on display at the Tilestyle showroom in Dublin and at Donabate Bathroom & Heating Centre.

If the post above doesn’t qualify for “something completely different”; did you know that Victor Lownes, who was head of Playboy UK, came up with the idea for the Monty Python film: “And Now for Something Completely Different”, which was partially filmed inside an abandoned dairy?
Well, they do say that you learn something new every day.

July 7, 2009 – 10:16 pm

2Making it Big

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Marketing related, Polystyrene Uses by Fran

Qikroam sim card launch in San Francisco

Qikroam sim card launch in San Francisco

This article has been gathering dust in my draft folder for a number of months. It was getting to the stage where I was going to delete the story as some missing parts never materialised… Well they did today, only 3 months late and on the wrong side of the world.

Mr Pat Phelan, from Cubic Telecom, asked us to produce some giant sim cards to be used at a high profile launch in San Francisco, with their partner Qik and their new product Qikroam.
Qik, is an application that allows you to share live video from your mobile phone. The partnership with Qik, gives users the opportunity to purchase Qikroam sim cards, to use in mobile phones all over the world, without worrying about expensive roaming charges.
Luckily, we had made a smaller version of the sim card that arrived in time. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the visual impact that we had both hoped for, particularly as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan and other Enterprise Ireland officials were in attendance at the launch event.
The courier company had “lost” the giant sim cards in transit, somewhere in the USA. We started to think they must have been in the bermuda triangle.

Giant Maxroam and Qik mobile phone sim cards.

Giant Qik and Maxroam sim cards.

They miraculously re-appeared today in Cork, at Cubic Telecom headquarters. The big polystyrene sims don’t look the worse for wear considering their prolonged journey across the world. (Our packaging technique must be working OK). All they have to do is find a new use for them.

We are glad that Qik and Cubic Telecom continue to make it big with the popularity of their Qikroam sim cards. We hope that the courier company doesn’t continue in making big mistakes with it’s deliveries and that we continue to make it big in polystyrene, whether it’s a sign, a seat or a sim.

If you have any suggestions for Pat, and his team, on how the sims can be used please leave a comment.

July 6, 2009 – 8:10 pm

4Making an impression.

- Posted in Extended Portfolio, Polystyrene Uses, Recycling by Fran

Teachers Union of Ireland logo in Polystyrene

Teachers Union of Ireland logo replicated in polystyrene foam

First impressions can be important, as once that moment passes it can never be retrieved. Sometimes you only have seconds or even milli-seconds to catch the attention of your audience, so whatever you do has to be good.

We like to call it a Wow factor and we are lucky that we can create this by “making it big” using polystyrene foam. 3D signs are a particularly good example as they are lightweight and cost effective when you want grab peoples’ attention with a large display.
Simon, from AVC Hire, had seen our work at the Blog Awards, and must have seen this potential and recommended us to Niall, a committee member, who was helping to organise the 2009 TUI Annual Congress. We created two signs for the event held in Cork, each 2.1m (7′) square and they were positioned either side of  a large video screen. They were secured to the backdrop and lit from below.
Niall commented that “the 3D effect with light projected onto it gave a very clean, contemporary and fresh look to what was still a relatively formal event, being a trade union annual congress”

Large signage isn’t restricted to conferences or exhibitions however; it is equally suitable for use in outdoor locations.

Exterior 3D sign made from polystyrene foam

Exterior 3D sign made from polystyrene foam

“The Gym” is a fitness and exercise centre located in a new building that has a prominent position in Dundalk. It is only a short distance away from the Dublin Road, a main artery into the centre of the town. We were asked to design a 3D sign to advertise their new facility. Replicating the existing font style we produced a sign that is 7.5m (24′) long with letters nearly 1m (3′) high. Our CNC hotwire machines cut the design out of blocks of high density polystyrene, sometimes known as Styrofoam, the outer parts of the foam acted as packaging until the sign was installed and then they were then recycled.
The sign is clearly visible to the passing traffic so it will hopefully make a lasting impression, when getting into shape comes to mind.

Our 3D polystrene signs are examples of how to create a positive first and last impression, we will finish this post before you are left with their companion “bad impression”.