13 Balloon Sculptures That Let Your Imagination Float Away

iStock / amnachphoto
iStock / amnachphoto

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.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Taco Bell Quarterly, a Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal, Exists—And You Can Read It Online

What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

In August 2019, writer and “Editor Grande Supreme” MM Carrigan launched the first edition of a free online literary journal called the Taco Bell Quarterly. It wasn’t a publicity stunt—in fact, it wasn’t affiliated with the fast food chain at all—but rather a quality collection of Taco Bell-themed literary musings that ran the gamut from satirical to totally serious.

According to Food & Wine, about 1500 people downloaded that first issue, and viewership grew to 40,000 for the second issue, which was released in February 2020. The Quarterly is gearing up to launch Volume 3 in September, and it promises to be the most zeitgeist-y edition yet.

“Volume 3 will be very much informed by the state of the world. The pieces we're gravitating toward are foreboding, existing on the precipice of an alternate history in which we might have prevented the pandemic," Carrigan tells Mental Floss. “People think we're a joke, but this will be the issue that proves we're not. Writers are taking chances in writing in our magazine that I don't think the literary world has seen in a long time. We're writing with radical sincerity.”

Capturing the cultural atmosphere of this year through Taco Bell-related poems, essays, and short stories might seem like a tall order, but the Quarterly is no stranger to tackling tough topics. While some early pieces are silly and upbeat—take Alana Saltz’s poem “Ode to Nacho Fries,” for example—others use Taco Bell as a backdrop for deeper musings about “homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more,” as Carrigan told Food & Wine.

Carrigan chose Taco Bell as the journal's unifying thread because, to put it plainly, it was the first idea that popped into her head.

“Brands are a symbiote that live in our brains. We're telling that story,” she says. And, as far as brands go, Taco Bell's offbeat, innovative menu items and neon beverages are more “seductive” and “daring” than McDonald's classic Big Macs and smiling clown mascot. In other words, the subversive fast food chain is the perfect theme for an online journal that aims to subvert people's stereotypical understanding of “The Writing Life,” which Carrigan describes as a “journey of MFA programs, writing retreats, [and] rubbing elbows at conferences.”

As interest in Taco Bell Quarterly grew, Taco Bell itself began to take notice, and Carrigan says the company has sent the team hundreds of dollars' worth of free tacos as an unofficial "thank you" for all the free advertising. She distributes them to writers whose work has been rejected by other literary magazines.

While you wait for Volume 3 to hit the internet this fall, catch up on the first two volumes on the Taco Bell Quarterly website here.

[h/t Food & Wine]