Freshly Squeezed

I often think of my Grandpa Joe (of blessed memory) when I’m building large balloon sculptures. He passed away before getting to see some of my favorite big pieces (llamas, Today Show likenesses) but he used to keep photos of the hawks in his own portfolio because he said he was proud of my artwork as if it was his own.

My Grandpa Joe himself was an incredibly talented woodcraftsmen.  Although always proud of his work, he was always very humble. One time, after completing a particularly awe-inspiring creation (an ark to house the Torah for his synagogue), I remember him looking at the sculpture and saying to me:

“You know, sometimes I can’t believe I made this.”

That’s how I felt about the dress I built for FableVision Studios Creative Juices Art Show this year.




Every year, the staff at FableVision Studios puts on an art show to showcase the creative talent everyone in the office does outside the office.  It’s always a great show, full of everything from food art, knitting, felting, wood painting, animation, illustration, puppetry, photography and, of course, my yearly contribution of balloon art.  This past February, I began to learn the craft of balloon couture at Twist and Shout and made my first dress.  I decided I wanted to get better at balloon couture and took on the challenge of making a better dress for this year’s art show.  And since I work with a bunch of crazy fun artists, I knew I would be able to convince one of them to wear the dress at the show.  And I did!  Thanks, Taryn!

The theme of this year’s art show was “Freshly Squeezed,” so I decided to make the dress have lots of bold and bright citrusy colors.  But I started out by making a “test dress” with whatever extra colors I had around.  I used the test dress to work out some kinks in the structure, size and shape of the dress.  Taryn came over to try on the test dress on Tuesday night and I figured out how her size matched up with the bust model I was using.

One of the trickiest parts of building balloon dresses is the very end, when you “unbutton” the dress from the bust and then have to twist right on your human model to make it fit just right.  Luckily, the test dress try-on session helped me figure out what needed to be changed for the final (a wider and longer bodic, and a more full skirt).

Another very tricky thing about building balloon dresses is that fact that you have to build it pretty quickly because balloons (especially the type of balloon-160s-that make up most of the dress lose air pretty quickly over 24 hours.  So Wednesday night, I got started on the real thing!

Anyway, the final dress probably took me about 6 hours total to build (so about 10+ hours twisting over the course of the week–my fingers and arms hurt by Friday!) I’m so happy with how it came out!  I accessorized the dress with a little flower on the bodice, a balloon corsage and a tiny top hat. Taryn looked amazing in it and seemed to have a great time wearing it the whole night.  Structurally, it held up very well, which I was very proud of, and several times through the evening, I did look at it and say:

“I can’t believe I made that.”