By Jill C. Lafferty
The project. The 2007 holiday season awning at Macy’s on West 34th Street in New York City.
The character. The world’s most beloved ogre, Shrek.
The company. Inflatable Images, a manufacturer of cold-air inflatables, owned by Scherba Industries Inc. of Brunswick, Ohio. The company has been creating inflatable products for 27 years, including working with the Macy’s department store chain for about a dozen years. “We’ve done a number of characters for them, sometimes they are in the parade, sometimes on the awning,” says Lenny Freed, Inflatable Images national sales manager.
The task. Inflatable Images was asked to create a 25-foot Shrek for the Macy’s awning. (For the record, the “real” Shrek is 7 feet tall, according to Dreamworks.) “It wasn’t our first Shrek, but it was a different-shaped Shrek, so it was still like starting from scratch,” Freed says. The process for making an inflatable goes like this: Macy’s sends the company a model, and Inflatable Images creates their own smaller clay model. “We pattern it out from the model that we make,” Freed explains. “We have 90-foot cutting machines and we program the shapes that we want into the computer and put down the different color of fabric and it cuts them all out. They are still all hand sewn together in the end. It’s not difficult, it’s just a custom shape.”
Shrek was made out of 7½ oz. vinyl coated nylon made specifically for Inflatable Images. Before acquiring a digital printer, the company would air brush and paint in-house but would send out an inflatable for silk screening if necessary. Digital printing has brought everything in-house.
Macy’s does their own installation, as do most Inflatable Images customers, although the company has dealers across the United States who can provide installation services if necessary.
The result. Shrek was installed over Macy’s flagship store about a week before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and the green ogre continued to welcome thousands of holiday shoppers to Macy’s between Thanksgiving and the new year.