I recently had the privilege to travel to New Delhi, India, to work with Fiona Fisher, CBA, of Worldwide Balloon Decor in Portadown, Ireland. Fiona was commissioned by Select Citywalk to build India’s largest balloon sculpture in one of the country's prestigious shopping malls. The Hot Air balloon sculpture took centre stage as part of the first International Balloon Art Festival that was being held from the 14th to 27th of January, 2017.
Fiona is no stranger to building large balloon sculptures and has won a number of industry awards for her incredible balloon sculptures. Fiona believes that competing at industry events, such as the World Balloon Convention gave her more confidence in her abilities, allowed her to move out of her comfort zone, and provide the opportunity to make things that she would not normally be able to build, primarily because of the space required and the costs involved. But she feels that the most invaluable thing was the ability to take fabulous photographs of her work that she uses to show prospective clients.
In 2013, Fiona was commissioned to build the most iconic ship in the world, The Titanic, on the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
To find out more about this incredible sculpture, check out my post Building the Titanic - an interview with designer Fiona Fisher.
Day 1 - Framing.
It was agreed that it would be more exciting and enjoyable for the visitors and shoppers to watch the sculpture being built from start to finish. So on the first day, we marked out a large space in the centre of the shopping mall and started work on building the frame for the hot air balloon.
By the end of day 1, Fiona with her team had built the upper half of the frame, ready for the first balloons to be added the next day.
Day 2 - Ballooning the frame.
Having built the frame, it was now time to add balloons. Using the new Premium Twin-Air Inflators, thousands of Qualatex® balloons, and an eager team of helpers, we got started.
Just seeing the first balloons on the frame really started to bring the balloon sculpture to life, and of course, it attracted a great deal of attention from the shoppers and mall staff.
|Some of our amazing helpers!|
By the end of day one, we had completed the top half of the balloon. It felt great, and we were totally on schedule!
|Rama Krishna and Pratap Puli of Balloon Experts|
Days 3 & 4
It was now time to complete the full balloon frame, and bring it up to its full, magnificent size. A winch and chain had been installed to allow Fiona to move the sculpture to whatever height she required it to be whilst adding the balloons, and then to its ultimate final position.
Day 5 - Finishing Touches
Our mission was almost complete. We had finished the hot air balloon and its basket, all that remained was to add a few characters and to shroud the base of the basket within balloon clouds. During the past five days we had attracted many admirers and now the balloon was finished. Many took the time to come and tell us how wonderful they thought it was. Fiona’s magnificent sculpture also made the news with a fabulous article featured in India’s number 1 newspaper - The Times of India.
I know that Fiona has been working on this project for some considerable time. It can take a great deal of time to share the vision of such a huge project, plus all the negotiations and fine detail to work through. Projects like this do not just happen; selling the dream takes hard work and determination.
Here are a few statistics:
The hot air balloon stood 30 ft. tall with an 18 ft. in diameter. Fiona used approximately 10,000 balloons and 70 lengths of 10 ft. aluminum rod for the frame. The balloon took five days to complete from start to finish with the help of a fantastic team!
Congratulations to Fiona Fisher and a big thank you to Qualatex, Jag Dhillon, Lois Devlin, Party in a Box, Gaurav Chadha, Rama Krishna, Pratap Puli, Rohit Mathur, and all the wonderful Qualatex Balloon Boutique owners who came along each day to help! It was an absolute honour and pleasure to work on such a wonderful project and to work with such a fabulous and passionate group of balloon artists!