It all happened in sunny California at the 2011 West Coast Balloon Convention Large Sculpture Competition. A giant 7′ tall double decker cheeseburger was created by a top-notch All American team of professional balloon artists! The burger designer, Steven Jones, of Balloon Designers in Seattle, Washington, gathered Rachel and I along with 7 other amazing balloon artists from around the country to build one delicious looking cheeseburger!
Nine of us flew from the Eastern Time Zone way out to the West Coast to begin competing bright and early the day of competition. The energy was high in spite of a bit of jet lag as we began Steven’s “cooking” process. He and I began tackling the job of building the framework for the burger, which involved using our math skills to get the correct proportion, our strength to cut and bend metal, and determination to wrestle with the fencing.
At the same time, Amy Bible (CO) and Robyn Bosma (CA), worked for at least 6 hours weaving the lettuce and onion condiments. They were assisted by Vicky Kimble (OH). Another “crew” including Sandy Pressley (MI), Bonnie Fisher (MI), Ilisa Alpert (MA) and Rachel Glandon (TN) got busy inflating thousands of balloons and building the pickles and tomatoes.
Once the framing was constructed, part of the crew, including Leah Scott (OH), began attaching the golden balloons to the make the top of the bun. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not exactly! Because our team was full of perfectionists who wanted the sculpture “just right,” we actually added balloons to the frame and took them off THREE times before we were pleased with the result! The great news is that in the midst of that process, we created a new way to add balloons that was much faster and definitely much easier on our very tired fingers!!! (We give Brazilian artists kudos for their inspiration!) YEA FOR NEW IDEAS.
After working for almost 12 hours, we had all parts made and the top of the bun complete. Finally! An unsettling feeling was setting in–not panic–just unsettling and much tiredness! You see, the top had to be done as the rest of the design was based upon it for proportion and because it had to be secured to the base framing before we could add balloons. And that bun was one stubborn item indeed!
A second wind set in for the team once the top was done. Rather quickly, the top layer of burger was “cooked”, then a layer of lettuce, and the middle bun was started. Rachel came up with a brilliant idea to use a classic technique for the bun layers that saved our fingers and lots of time. Way to go girl!
As the burger began to take shape, it was really exhilarating to see everyone’s energy return, even if it was short-lived! About the time we “thought” we were almost finished, the “meat” began popping in a chain reaction. Geez, we had to start ALL OVER again inflating the balloons for that part. Some frustration and a lot of tired began setting in, but we endured.
Finally, after building framing, inflating 3,000 balloons, 18 clock hours, about 144 man hours, and NO SLEEP, we were finished! One Big Ole Burger was ready for consumption, well at least ready for viewing. We finished well within the competition’s time limit and only one hour over the team’s original completion time. SUCCESS!
Convention delegates took numerous photos, commented on the quality of the structure and voted our design as the Favorite of the competition. Additionally, at the final night gala, the judges chose the “Big Ole Burger” as the Best Large Sculpture design! Yep, First Place! Our great team won a Double Decker Award!
So what did we do with the 7′ cheeseburger at the end of the convention and after it had been viewed by a few hundred people? In this case, we actually popped it and took it back down to the framing before breaking apart the frame. Guess you can say it was “Completely Digested.”
Thanks Steven for asking us to be part of this exciting experience! For Rachel and I, this competition was full of amazing learning experiences! We got to work with balloon artists we had admired from afar and learn from them, made great new friends, got to practice persistence and flexibility. Plus, we were both inspired to compete in Large Sculpture Competition at the upcoming World Balloon Convention that will be held in 2012! Watch out world, we’re going to compile one Above the Rest team!
To any of our great clients who may be wanting something very unique for your special event, remember to think “Outside the Bun” and know that we can design a great sculpture for you! See some of our other sculptures at www.abovetheresteventdesigns.com.
To other balloon artists who read this blog, you definitely need to step in the world of competing at convention! The learning is second to none and the benefits are far more than a little lack of sleep and fear. See you in competition–or on our team! Let us know if you’d like to join the fun!
Here is a link to a time-lapse video of the 18 hours our crew spent on building the Big Ole Burger! Hope you enjoy!