How It All Began
As a junior in high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica on a Georgia Baptist Convention mission trip. As it turned out, the footnote to that trip has become a header in my life. One adult on the trip was Buddy Lamb, an expert clown who taught us some basics of balloon sculpture. I never got interested in clowning, but I immediately latched on to this twisted skill. Armed with my 260 blaster pump, a bag of Qualatex balloons, and a beginner balloon book by Christian sculptor Ralph Dewey,
I sat on my grandmother’s couch learning new sculptures. Before we left for Jamaica, I could do a larger variety of sculptures than my first teacher, and I had found a long-time hobby and ministry tool.
My early balloon sculpture days usually involved a pump and a bag of balloons at whatever camp or conference I was lucky enough to attend. The balloons were fun and helped me make new friends. At the time, I was perfectly content to create single-balloon sculptures and never thought that would change. After years of simple sculptures, I stumbled across balloon weaving and thought, “I can do this!” Weaving balloons in college was the first time I dipped my toe into advanced sculpture. Balloons never stopped being a way to connect with, encourage, and entertain people, but this new evolution inspired me to think of them as an art as well.
The inspiration for The Inflated Story of Noah actually began around the time I completed college, during my first summer working on staff with a camp called M-Fuge. It is hard to label the ideas that motivated me. For starters, I like to do unique things that stand out. I can remember seeing stories done with Legos and thinking, “Hmm… something like that would be cool with balloons”. Plus, a challenge is fun!
The earliest version of the book was done on a summer weekend at my childhood church. It was neat, but simplistic. The sculptures were small. In the end, it was nice, but I was not satisfied. That’s when I realized I’d have to go big or go home. These sculptures would need to be big and a Photoshop backdrop was not going to cut it. I needed to make balloon sculptures and photograph them in real locations. And so, The Inflated Story of Noah was born.
This project has been in progress for over a decade. Whenever I have an opportunity to travel somewhere that seems to fit the book, I take balloons and make plans to sculpt another leg of the project. After all these years of trudging toward completion at a snail’s pace, I hope to have The Inflated Story of Noah in print within the year. None of these photos are Photoshopped into their locations. Each one has its own story.