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Thumbs silicone mask - behind the scenes at Mind Magic Studios for this Steve Oedekerk commission

Mind Magic Studios recently had the huge privilege of sculpting a unique 'Thumby' character silicone mask for award-winning Hollywood screenwriter and director Steve Oedekerk. Here's how the thumbventure unfolded...

Thumbder pressure

As the festive season approached, Mind Magic Studios received an email regarding an urgent commission. Steve Oedekerk wanted a silicone mask version of one of his 'Thumbs!' characters. I'm a huge Star Wars fan and so naturally also a fan of 'Thumb Wars', the hilarious Star Wars spoof featuring Steve's crazy 'Thumbs!' characters. I'm also a long-time fan of Steve's movie work. He's written and directed well-loved blockbusters that I've watched many times, such as Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, and Patch Adams. If you haven't come across the Thumbs before, here's a taster of the Thumbs in all their glory, and you can head over to Steve's Oedeworld YouTube channel for more Thumby magic:

All thumbs on deck to create a thumb silicone mask

We quickly set up a video call and Steve explained that he was booked to be Grand Marshall for the Laguna Niguel holiday parade. Steve's goal was to surround his parade vehicle with actors dressed as characters from his films and to have a Thumby character sat with him in the car. Much laughter was had, plans were quickly hatched, reference photos were despatched and excitement levels turned up to thumb-con one.

With the clock ticking and an ocean between us, we used the time zone difference between the UK and California to operate a 24/7 Steve (me) to Steve (him) creative operation. After each day's sculpting progress, I edited together a short containing photographs, 360 degree footage and a voice over explaining what had been done and asking key questions or decisions that Steve would need to answer or make to get us onto the next phase of work. Steve was a dream client, giving the most fantastic, detailed feedback as fuel to propel us on to the finish line.

Thumby silicone mask sculpt by Mind Magic Studios
Finished Thumby mask sculpt

Thumbgineering - how to transform 2D art into a wearable Thumb mask

At Mind Magic Studios we love a challenge and this project was certainly that. Transforming a 2D piece of art into a 3D wearable mask that fits over real-world human anatomy always requires careful thought but this commission brought some particular considerations. A human thumb is relatively straight up and down but a human head features and chin and neck. This means that there is a void under the chin to be filled. A large area of silicone in that space would be too heavy and uncomfortable for the wearer, so I sculpted the mask in such a way that a lightweight, removable internal piece would retain the mask's integrity and could be tailored to fit the wearer.

The thumb side profile was also challenging. A human head is wider in profile than a human thumb. To cheat that, I sculpted the thumbnail to wrap slightly further around the head.

Sculpt for Thumby hyper-realistic silicone mask
Rear shot of finished Thumby sculpt

Moving to the face, fortunately we have a lot of experience with options for eyes on silicone masks, having made masks with different types of lenses previously. For this mask we printed irises and placed them behind clear lenses, punching out the pupil for the actor to see through, topped off with some eye lashes punched into the silicone.

Close up of the finished Thumby silicone mask
Close up of the finished Thumby silicone mask

Despite this being a big mask, we were able to sculpt it so that the actor still had the opportunity to move the mouth which Steve was really happy about.

Sun's out, Thumb's out - the Laguna Niguel holiday parade reveal

Despite the time constraints, the Thumb silicone mask was boxed up for his journey from the UK to California, landing in time to make its debut at the Laguna Niguel holiday parade. We were knocked out when Steve sent over this unboxing video when it arrived. We've put together this video to show the whole process from sculpt to finished mask, and included Steve's unboxing

Shortly after, amidst characters from Steve's beloved films and the festive spirit, Thumby received a big thumbs up from the waving crowds. Steve made this awesome short to capture the moment:

Since then, we've been thrilled to see how much love Thumby has been getting from both the silicone mask community and Thumb films fans. This was a super fun cross Atlantic collaboration with one of Hollywood's great creative minds. Huge thanks again to Steve for choosing Mind Magic Studios to bring his vision to life.



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