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Old 01-19-2013, 05:01 PM
ego1138 ego1138 is offline
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Default The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Not really sure if this qualifies to be posted here, but, thought I'd share it anyway. I built this a few years back for my wife for her birthday.

After a trip to New York City, and going in the Disney store on 5th avenue, we saw this giant "sculpture" for lack of a better word hanging from the ceiling. It had to be a good 20 or 30 feet tall. A series of steampunky style hot hair balloons all internconnected. Various Muppet characters were all riding in different pods, and some performing circus tricks.

My wife fell in love with this thing, so, I snapped a few pictures.

We live in a 5 level backsplit house, and there was a giant area overhanging where all the stairways are that was always just begging for something, and something along this line fit the bill.

I later found out that this sculpture used to hang in Jim Henson's Muppet Headquarters (before Disney bought them, and they moved) and was sculpted by Jim Henson's son, and someone else (name escapes me), and it was entitled "The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus", and this was obviously a one of a kind.

So, i set out to build her one for her birthday myself. Obviously scaled down immensely, but using it for inspiration, I built the picture below.



Sadly, due to it's size, it's a bit tough to get a decent picture of. But here are a few more in it's final resting place.





Here are a few more, before the third balloon was added, but shows a bit more detail.

My wife has a thing for Winnie the Pooh . . . and I found on ebay some figurines that helped me determine what scale I would work in. Pooh and the gang were being Pirates, and, their costumes and poses really seemed to work with this piece.







And, lastly for reference, here are some (poor) shots of the original Jim Henson sculpture. Obviously a lot better, bigger and more detailed than mine, but . . . I'm still very happy with how it turned out.

Thanks for looking!
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File Type: jpg balloon09.jpg (2.28 MB, 11 views)
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:18 PM
ego1138 ego1138 is offline
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

I guess I should talk about the construction of it as well. After trying something different experiments with balsa wood (that didn't work for shit), I finally stumbled across some quilting hoops in various sizes. I split them each in half (to get more circles, and to size them accordingly), and arranged them to make the balloon structure.

I built an internal structure for the top and bottom to hold it all together. Then lined the inside of each with a heavy bond paper and window screen material.

For the balloon pods, I found a bunch of prefab bird houses and other things that had some rough shapes i liked, and then added greeblies out the wazoo.

Built a custom jig for all angles for the big pieces that fly out from the balloons.

Then adorned with gold chains, some custom made flags and whatever else I could find.

At night time, we then light them up with some rechargeable candle flickering tea lights to give it a real "hot air balloon" feel.

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Old 01-20-2013, 08:29 PM
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allthumbs allthumbs is offline
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Man! that's pretty cool! I would love something like that for my daughters room. So cool!
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:21 PM
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LastBattlestar LastBattlestar is offline
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Sensational! That's where large scale models should be, displayed proudly in full view, not hidden away in a back room. Celebrate what we are: model builders

I have future plans for a full scale R2. He will sit right inside the front door to meet and greet visitors.

Mike
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:52 AM
ego1138 ego1138 is offline
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Thanks for the nice words guys . . . it was a fun thing to build. The wife keeps telling me I need to make more and sell them but . . . for the time and work that goes into them, I'd probably have to charge a million bucks. THen again, if someone offered me a million . . .



But the last thing I forgot to mention about the construction, and sadly I don't have any pictures of it . . . . was how to hang it all. So I ended up building this rather ornate wooden triangle . . . sides are maybe 15 inches long each. And each balloon hangs from the point of a triangle on some aircraft cable.

Then the triangle (with attached balloons) are suspended from the ceiling on a pulley system that was designed for hanging bicycles from your garage.

This gave us the ability to raise or lower it if we ever needed to clean it or remove it . . . also meant I only had to drill two holes in the ceiling for this thing, instead of having to hang each balloon separately.

The last problem that surface with that though, is that each balloon weighs a different amount . . . . so, it was pulling this triangle support structure in all sorts of weird directions. Solution was to carve out a (large) channel in this triangle structure, and then filled it with 1 inch cubes of solid steel (thanks to my dad who runs an automotive research and development shop) until the whole thing stayed level.

I'll maybe try and snap some pics of that if anyone's interested.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:57 AM
ego1138 ego1138 is offline
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Quote:
Originally Posted by allthumbs View Post
Man! that's pretty cool! I would love something like that for my daughters room. So cool!
Well, if you ever want to try building one yourself, I'll be more than happy to share the ideas that worked for me in better detail. There was a LOT of trial and error . . . . and it probably ended up costing me twice as much as it should have, only cuz I kept trying different materials and ideas that didn't work!
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Old 07-14-2013, 04:37 AM
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Default Re: The Great Hot Air Balloon Circus

Very nice, what a unique piece to have created and installed. Nicely done!
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