The Prom Committee for William Blount High School chose the theme “Lucky 7” for this year’s prom. However, they didn’t was the stereotypical casino look with dice, playing cards, and poker chips. Instead, they wanted their prom to have a more elaborate theme of one of the ornate hotel lobbies. After listening to what they desired, we brainstormed and decided to show them examples of the Bellagio lobby decor which was designed by Dale Chihuly. If you don’t know, Dale Chihuly is an expert glass blower, and the sculptures he creates are stunning indeed. I loved viewing his exhibit when it was here in Knoxville and again when I visited the Bellagio.
To recreate his look, we used special glass-like entertainer balloons to create three 9′ chandeliers and centerpieces. This type of balloon lets light glow through it very well, so each of the designs in fact did glow and looked gorgeous. (Far prettier than photos) Creating the chandeliers wasn’t easy because with this type of balloon, there is a short window of when they look their best and when they start to deflate. Plus, each balloon was inflated individually and curled to create the Chihuly look. There were over 250 balloons in each chandelier. The “backbone” of the chandelier was several strands of lights–which often popped balloons, so we had to be very careful when adding balloons. Rigging the chandeliers 20′ in the air required a lift and some electrical engineering on our part, but we did it quite successfully.
The students liked the idea of the massive Chihuly glass sculpture that’s in the lobby of the Bellagio for over their dance floor. So, we got to work designing
and building a frame for their 15′ square chandelier. After some brainstorming and discussions, we decided to build the frame in 8 separate pieces so we could get it through doorways and be able to maneuver it while installing it overhead.
We chose the colors and then Rachel gathered her creative juices to lay out the design. Once the design was chosen, we got busy individually tying on the 100+ shiny foil tapers to the framework. It took us both working–Rachel laid the tapers on top of the framing while I got the easy job. I lay on my back and attached the balloons to the frame. I even got to use a pillow.
At the Knoxville Expo Center, we took turns installing the completed chandelier to the ceiling because we had to hold it high overhead, balance the framing and rig it securely to the ceiling. It was quite tough on the shoulders and arms. While it took some thinking, a few rather unusual twists of arms and fingers, we completed the task of hanging the chandelier and even had lights glowing from within.
The end result was absolutely beautiful and created the perfect atmosphere that the Prom Committee had in mind. For us, we learned a great deal while we were figuring out how to build the framework and even more about the installation process–all good stuff so we’ll be even faster if we ever get the opportunity to create a design like this again.