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Flickr: ChooYutShing
Flickr: ChooYutShing

13 Balloon Sculptures That Let Your Imagination Float Away

Flickr: ChooYutShing
Flickr: ChooYutShing

It’s easy to think of balloon twisters as nothing more than children’s entertainers ready to make hats, swords and animals at a moment’s notice, but balloon art can also be incredibly complex. Here are a few of the most impressive balloon sculptures ever created.

1. The Lightest of the Largest Robots

The massive robot above was designed by artist Lily Tan and created in the Marina Square mall of Singapore with the hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record for largest balloon sculpture (it did). The piece took three days, 79,854 balloons and more than fifty artists to complete. Flickr user ChooYutShing snapped a pic of the sculpture.

2. The Inflatable Robot Family

While Lily Tan and her team were working on breaking the world record, Marina Square celebrated the attempt with five much smaller robot-themed balloon sculptures. While this is my personal favorite, you can see them all in Choo Yut Shing’s stream.

3. Spider-Balloon Man

If you’re one of those people who thinks it takes a village to raise a giant balloon sculpture, you’re usually right—but not in the case of Adam Lee. In fact, Adam holds the world record for largest balloon sculpture created by a single artist.

His massive spider was built at the Great Wolf Lodge of Washington and used 2975 balloons to complete. When it was done, the legs spread out to make the structure over 45 feet wide.

4. My Heart Will Float On and On

While some people may have believed the real Titanic to be unsinkable, I doubt anyone would be willing to make such a claim about this amazing balloon sculpture of the famed ship photographed by Flickr user Alan in Belfast. This fantastically large inflatable ship was designed by Fiona Fisher and was built with more than 14,000 balloons.

5. The Squeakiest Dinosaur Ever

This 20-foot long dinosaur balloon sculpture was designed by Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami, arguably the most famous names in this niche art form. The dino, a acrocanthosaurus, was put up in the Virginia Museum of Natural History right beside the casts of real dinosaur skeletons.

6. Just the Bones Please

Airigami’s creation at the Virginia Museum of Natural History wasn’t their first foray into prehistoric creature design. In fact, here’s the team’s take on a T-Rex skeleton created a few years back.

7. Balloon Animals or Undiscovered Creatures?

Perhaps the second most famous balloon sculptor around is Jason Hackenwerth, whose creations are totally surreal and utterly beautiful. His sculptures seem entirely organic—like deep sea creatures or microscopic bacteria. This particular piece is titled “Self-Pollinator” and was exhibited at Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery.

8. Extermi-Pop

Not all balloon sculptures are made with visual aesthetics in mind. In fact, this one is quite functional and rather cheap when compared to the cost of creating a Dalek costume with practically any other material. Of course, Daleks, like this one by Patricia Balloona, that can be destroyed with nothing more than a safety pin aren’t nearly as intimidating as those The Doctor fights on a regular basis.

9. Allons-airy

If you’re going to have an inflatable Dalek, you may as well have an inflatable Tardis like this one by Twisty Kristy. If the Tardis’ Chameleon circuit broke while it was at a balloon twisting festival, it just as easily could have ended up looking like this.

10. To Infinity And Beyond (Or Until It Pops)

Artist Jeff Wright made this incredible Buzz Lightyear costume exclusively out of balloons for Halloween 2011. Buzz wasn’t Jeff’s only amazing balloon costume; he also made a life-size Ninja Turtle suit.

11. No Pins Around the Bride Please

Sometimes you need something a little more formal to wear, even if you still want it made from rubber. In these cases, you might want to get in touch with Daisy Balloon, who has quite the gift when it comes to making gorgeous, couture gowns out of the inflatable objects. In fact, she even has created a bridal gown design for those who have no fear of their dress popping during their wedding day.

12. Bag End In Balloon

It took artist Jeremy Telford, AKA the Balloon Guy, three days and 2600 balloons to recreate The Shire’s Bag End inside his own den. You’ve gotta admit, this is way better than any pillow or blanket fort your parents ever made for you in their den.

13. The Rubber Cheeseburger

I don’t know about you guys, but I always thought of balloon sculptures as elaborate creations featuring balloons attached together until they form a new creation, not balloons cut and molded like they are here. In fact, I only learned about this form of fascinating balloon sculpture when I started doing this article. This particular piece, photographed by Flickr user ChooYutShing, won the title of The Most Original Sculpture at a contest in Singapore’s Vivo City Mall.

Of course, the downside of balloon art is that it doesn’t really stay around long. In fact, everything seen here was probably deflated and trashed a long time ago. But thanks to the web, these fantastic creations can be documented and enjoyed long after the sculptures themselves are gone.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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iStock
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Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
iStock
iStock

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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