Monday, April 30, 2012

BACI - Balloon Arts Convention Italy - The Sculpture Competitions

This year BACI took centre stage at the 76th edition of 'Art', the International Arts & Crafts Exhibition at the Fortezza da Basso, Florence, Italy.

The theme for BACI 2012 was ARTS & CRAFTS throughout history (in Italy “Arti & Mestieri”)…from the Big Bang to Bunga Bungafrom the gladiator to the aviator, Christopher Columbus to Barak Obama, from Leonardo da Vinci to Albert Einstein, from poets to astronautsBuffalo Bill to Bill Gates, from rain dancersto lap dancers!

The large sculpture competitions are an integral part of BACI, where there are two catagories:

Championship Master for those people who have won an Italian or Internationally recognized competitions, and the BACI Championships, which is open to anyone who wants to create a large sculpture at BACI and does not fall into the Championship Master category.
(to view the complete rules follow this link: The Rules)

This is quite an unusual competition, as it is a requirement that  BACI instructors compete and create their very own large sculpture... and if you know anything about me, you will know that large sculptures are not my speciality and if I am really honest, I find them very daunting!

Why? I suppose the shear scale, the mechanics and structure, timings... give me a centrepiece any day!!

I have spent the past year or so trying to overcome my 'fear' of creating large sculptures, I attended Luc Bertrand's Sculpture Course which I found extremely helpful and sought advise and help from some of the best sculpture artists in our industry. Rodney Fisher gave me some really great help regarding frame building and working with Fiona & Rodney Fisher on their amazing Titanic sculpture really gave me the confidence to tackle my own large sculpture!

I started my preparation many months ago, when I was informed that the sculpture theme was 'Arts & Crafts'. I knew instantly that I wanted to build a 'Tiffany' style lamp and that the lamp really would fit well within the theme "Arts & Crafts".
The Tiffany Lamp that I used for my sculptures inspiration.

It would allow me to work with the Qualatex Starpoint and Taper balloons which I really wanted to do (for the colours, textures and of course the shapes, which for me look like the cut glass used within a Tiffany lamp).

I spent many many hours designing and preparing. I practised many of the techniques that I wanted to use, like heat sealing foil balloons to create new 'custom' shapes rather than leaving new techniques to chance during the 24 hour build time and potentially running into problems!

I experimented with colour and created some really great and intense colours using the double stuffing method, Pearl Sapphire Blue inside Sapphire Blue, for a truly intense shiny Sapphire Blue, Chocolate Brown inside Gold for the metal work, Onyx Black inside Sapphire Blue, all worked really well when used with the shiny texture of a Microfoil balloon!

The Competition

The competitions officially started on Thursday 19th at 2pm, when teams had 6 hours to  check their product and build frames and structures... but no balloons could be inflated until 8am the next day, not all the competitors used framework in their sculptures... so a few found other things to 'amuse' themselves during this time!

Robbie Furman's Thursday afternoon 'creation'.

I have made a short video that really shows all the stages of the sculpture building from start to completion, it's amazing to see how each of the sculptures evolved...  I hope you enjoy it!

I can honestly say that I really 'enjoyed' building my sculpture. I worked with a truly great team, who embraced every task they were given, including double stuffing many many 100's  of 5" balloons and the continuous layering of 'Balloon Shine' they had to apply - a tip that Fiona Fisher shared with me when we were working on the Titanic to ensure that the balloons remained really shiny and to protect them to!  I would also like to give a huge personal thank you to Peter Berggreen from Denmark, who not only volunteered to help me build my sculpture a number of months ago, but also spent many weeks learning how to 'Tak' weave to create the column for the lamp... and he did an amazing job and to Linda Ceccon  from Sweden who worked as part of my team last year and came back for a second year to help me!

Peter Berggreen
Peter at work!

The Teams

Alessandro Patene


Alessandro Patane
Monica Pengo
Leonarda Rombi
Roberta Scionis
Alfio Sapia
Simona Carbone
Pasquale Cinotti
Jamaica Longo
Elenora Gori

Team Russia

" Buon Compleanno Balloon Express"

Dmitry Tishenko
Olga Kosova
Svetlana Kolyvantseva
Elena Monshnikova
Yuliya Andreyyeva
Vadim Shushkanov
Alexandr Solomatin
Olga Boranova
Olga Samoilova
Maxim Tsymbal

Enza Mondello

"MIIII..... Che Pasticcio!!"

Enza Mondello
Leo Mondello
Valter Saladino
Matilde Tortorici
Elisacetta Bennardo
Cristina Mura
Tiziana Arena
Lara Maratta
Antonino Saracino
Maria Vittorio

Manon at BACI

Barak O Barak

Manon Dudziac
Ester Cuono
Stefano Cammisa

Robbie Furman

"She has Sung"

Robbie Furman
Graziella Onano
Massimo Armando
Pasqualina Simonelli
Valeria Fraschini
Massimo Coello
Antonella Fanelli
Angela Casaccia

Sue Bowler & Team

"The Lamp - Inspired by Tiffany"

Sue Bowler
John Bowler
Anna Elisabetta Auletta
Iris Ball
Davide Mercurio
Andrea Papolino
Peter Berggreen
Milena Raino
Anna Paladini
Linda Ceccon

Fiona Fisher and Team

"Balloon Artist at Work"

Fiona Fisher
Rodney Fisher
Carmel Galea
Sharon Galea
Cristina Mura
Angelo De Francesco
Kerenina Lykins
Ben Lavis

Alberto and Team

" Anonimus"

Alberto Falcone
Simone Falcone
Luisa Verlezza
Roberto Cataldi
Lucia Frezzaroli
Tiziana Zanero
Loriana Liuzza
Fabio Valentini
Ludmila Mek'nik
Andre De Olivera

Alberto Nava and Team
Alberto Nava

"Anyone Can Cook!"

Alberto Nava
Milko Stefani
Teresa Antinoro
Mirko Laporta

Federico Onida

"IL Coraggio Del Toro"

Federico Onida
Carlo Vavenotti
Veronica Onida
Ester Onida
Massimo Castangia
Mauriizio Aru
Cristina Usai


Keith Stirman
Tanya Joselowsky
Elisa Helman
Marina Ferranti
Svetlana Lugovaya

" The Temple"

Hui Chuan Huang
Kuan Chuana Chen
Hsiu Chung Chen
Ling Hua Hsiao
Keng Hung Lu
Chia Chang Chan
Yuan Chang Cheng
Shu Chuan Chen
Ya Ting Chang

Elisa D'Onorio

"Essere O Non Essere Superdany"

Elisa D'Onorio
Emanuelle Del Vescovo
Alessandra Romano
Nicola Catanzani
Sara Zampini
Anna Di Febo

Yi Wei Chen


Yi Wei Chen
Sheng Tang Lee
Kou Yi Lee
Chia Chiano Lee
Jiun Kang Shiu
Yueh Shuan Lee
Meichun Chan
Cheuk Lam Leung
Hsuan Chun Lin
Yu Li Sun

If you have never worked on a large sculpture, I strongly recommend that you do. It is a huge learning experience and a great way to meet new people, and you never know, one day you might be building your own large sculpture!

I would like to thank The Darkroom, for taking and sharing such great photographs and to Balloon Express for hosting another great BACI!

Thank you for reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed it!


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