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How This Guy Makes Record-Breaking Balloon Sculptures | Obsessed | WIRED


[intense synth music] – [Narrator] If you're a fan of "Stranger Things," you'll recognize that this monster is a demogorgon, but you've probably never seen one quite like this Welcome to Jeremy Telford's world where everything can be built with balloons

– You can create just about anything out of them, it's inflatable Etch A Sketch – [Narrator] He's made a ton of cool stuff, including a 65 foot long record-breaking balloon dog – [Jeremy] It used 8,867 balloons and it took me 80 hours I worked 15 hour days and another five hours on the very last day [upbeat music] – [Narrator] The Guinness Book of World Records awarded Telford's pink dog the title for Largest Balloon Sculpture in 2015, shattering the previous world record by over 5,000 balloons

– The world record balloon dog took me about two weeks to plan I did it all on paper and with a calculator I drew it out I had to know the circumference and area, all sorts of stuff, in order to plan the number of balloons I got very specific in drawing out exactly what it was going to look like, how much time I thought it was gonna take

It took a lot of math So if you're going into balloon twisting [laughs], you do need to know your math, especially geometry – [Narrator] To twist at Telford's expert level, you'd need the right gear This balloon apron holds about a thousand balloons, but at home I have an inventory of about half a million balloons And even with having half a million, I typically order more balloons every couple months

So I have balloons that are different diameters For example, this is called a 260 right here When you blow it up, it has about a two inch diameter This is 160 When you blow it up, you get about a one inch diameter

I also have 350s, a three inch diameter – [Narrator] Telford relies on a one step floor pump for inflation – There's hand pumps Pump about five, six times in order to get a balloon pumped If you have a floor pump, it takes one pump

Obviously you're gonna save a little bit of time If you're one of those crazy people, you can blow with your mouth But after about five I get a splitting headache, so I don't do that anymore – [Narrator] And then there are the gloves – The gloves help protect my skin because when I'm building for 10, 12 hours, the friction, it does not love you

And the reason for the Band-Aids is I need my thumb and my pointer finger to be able to feel the balloons and stuff while I'm building The rest of the fingers, not as much So I can keep those covered with the gloves [plastic squeaking] – [Narrator] And when he needs to take down a lot of balloons in a hurry, he reaches for what he says is the best tool – [Jeremy] I took a weed whacker and I just went at that balloon until we ran out of the thread that [laughs] the weed whacker uses and I still had more of that dog left

I was like, oh, what are we gonna do? And we finally, we just let the kids come in and they just destroyed the rest of it It was so fun to watch [happy bouncy music] – [Narrator] Telford started balloon sculpting in college – I first got into the balloon world when I met my wife at a juggling club in college Her brother taught me how to make the small balloon animals at restaurants in order to pay for my degree and I kinda took that and started making a little bit more than they were talking about, but I loved it so much that eventually started making world record sized stuff

– [Narrator] During his career as a professional balloon artist, Telford's sculptures have gotten bigger and more intricate and more creative – [Jeremy] In 2013, I changed my living room into Bag End from "The Hobbit" I took I think three days and about 2,600 balloons They had a roof, it had walls, it had a fireplace, it had a table with apples in it It had the fire utensils, like the poker and the billows

It was exhausting [laughs] – [Narrator] Telford's creativity doesn't stop at sculptures either He even builds out full-on, human sized costumes out of nothing but balloons – I started doing balloon costumes more than a decade ago Our family celebrates little known holidays

One of the ones we really celebrate is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and we made it kind of tradition to build a giant balloon pirate costume and we build about 20, 30 balloon swords and we go out and any child that's willing to talk like a pirate, we'll hand them a balloon sword And it's just become a fun, kind of family tradition – [Narrator] He even re-created Van Gogh's "Starry Night" – [Jeremy] And that one was a little bit different cause it uses mostly these round balloons So I took Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and put it on the computer

I used Photoshop and you can just kind of plug it out there It's almost like working with pixels and so you can put a dot here, a dot here, it represents the balloons It was 16 feet tall, 23 feet wide, I believe, when it was all done – [Narrator] His favorite project allowed him to build room size balloon recreations of some of the world's great monuments, including the seven wonders of the world He build the Statue of Zeus, Great Pyramid of Giza, Colossus of Rhodes, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and a few others

– I got to go six days a week, 10 hours a day, for three months straight just building these magnificent sculptures and I got to end of my favorite one I built the Taj Mahal and I was able to build just all these little details into it and it just turned out so beautifully It's probably my favorite sculpture that I've built – [Narrator] Telford runs a balloon entertainment business in Utah and will stop at nothing for a client – [Jeremy] I do everything from your typical birthday party and a lot of county and state fairs

Then they'll be corporate events where I'll do any kinds of decor Like any jobs that are mornings, when I wake up and I go, I'd rather just sleep, but nine times out of 10, I'm excited, especially when I get to build something large and something new – [Narrator] Like the demogorgon he built for a Halloween party this year – I decided to build the demogorgon, this creature, just [laughs], it's creepy [children yelling] You know, I wanted something kinda creepy, something like that's coming out at ya

[monster growling] [intense dramatic music] I always try and make some sort of movement with the sculpture so that it's feels like it's telling a story You look at it and you go, it was doing something before, you got it frozen in a moment, if you unfroze it, it would continue on doing whatever it was doing – [Narrator] It took Telford about six hours and over 300 balloons to build this seven foot tall monster He spend a lot of that time obsessing over the details – I'm thinking, if I can just add a little bit more detail, it might make it that much creepier

[heavy breathing] The demogorgon, it had this kind of emaciated feel, it kind of sunken in, kind of like it doesn't get enough to eat [laughs] So I knew I wanted to kinda create that so I filled in areas with black so it'd look kind of give the impression of shadows, so you'd still get that kind of sunken in feeling [plastic squeaking] – [Narrator] And when it was time to build the monster's terrifying teeth, Telford cut no corners To do that, he blows up one long white balloon, breaks off a section and ties it off, creating one tooth Then he breaks off a little more, ties that off and creates another tooth and so on

– And that's just simply blowing up balloons and I'll blow them up, now I pop, I get about five teeth every balloon I pump up I'm gonna need 40, 50 teeth on this thing, so to break up the monotony, I'll make 10 teeth and then I'll add those 10 teeth to the mouth Then I go back and make another 10 teeth and add those 10 teeth to the mouth – [Narrator] In the final few minutes of the build, Telford adds on even more details – So I'm taking this clear balloons and I'm just kind draping them on the demogorgon and trying to give this idea of kind of this jewel that he has

[monster growling] [gunshots smacking] And now we have our finished demogorgon! It's creepy and reaching out, ready to grab you I got this kind of compulsive need to add these details, so It's so important, gotta get this The more you can put on there, the more people just go like, how do you do that out of balloons? – [Narrator] Telford has spent years perfecting his technique One thing he does is adjust the length of balloons by popping one end and tying it off

– When you're building balloon sculptures, it's hard to know exactly how much you need to pump them up Like you're making the fingers or the toes and you've just got way too much balloon and there's a way you can pull the balloon part, tie the part you want, and get rid of the rest [loud popping] Use the scraps to tie things in later – [Narrator] When his hands are full tying several balloons together, he takes advantage of things like his elbows and his chin – A lot of times you're gonna tie more than one bubble together at once

You only have two hands, but you have a ton of places you can hold a balloon on your body You can hold them under yours arms, you can hold them under your chin, you can hold it in your elbow, press the balloon against your body It keeps them from untwisting as you're going until you can twist it back into itself That's one of the keys with balloons is it always had to kind of twist back into itself or it'll unravel [loud popping] – [Narrator] And a lot can go wrong

[loud popping] – One of thing you can attuned to is you can hear this subtle [imitates air hissing] It's a very disheartening sound Or, you hear balloons shifting on each other and they'll make these little squeaks and you know the only reason that they're shifting is because something is deflating and letting other things move – [Narrator] Telford has a tremendous amount of pride in his work He plans to continue to push the boundaries on what can be built using only balloons for as long as he can

– You will run across people that just, they just don't get it They'll look at your work and they'll be like, why don't you do something useful? You know, why don't you learn accounting or why don't you become an engineer? And I look at them and I go, you know what, the world has a lot of accountants The world has a lot of engineers You know what they don't have? They don't have a lot of people that can twist sculptures like this If you take art out of the world, if you take music, if you take painting, and yes even if you take balloons out of the world, you're gonna make it less

There's not gonna be as much fun, as much joy, as much of that whimsy They're squishy, shiny, colorful and they squeak And then when you can make things out of it, there's just something magical about that

Source: Youtube

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