Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the beginning of the hot air balloon story

The day before my hot air balloon ride my parents set a giant wooden box in front of me and my Dad handed me what looked like a report of some kind. They told me to read it out loud.

It turned out to be a story of how my Dad, at age 14 or 15, was at a shopping center with his mom when he saw a sculpture of a hot air balloon in an art gallery. It really intrigued him so he studied the work and mentally figured out how he could make it himself. He went home and started working on his own version of the sculpture. My Dad still studies things and figures out how to make them his own. One of my favorite things about him. :) {my Dad is an awesome artist & he attended the Academy of Art in downtown Chicago.}

He used materials that he gathered from the local hardware store and attempted to solder the pieces together. The heat source was a bit large for the delicate parts and as he would get one area how he wanted another would have heated just enough to fall apart. But he kept going.

The balloon was finally holding together and looked how he imagined, so he moved on to the basket, weaving it with thin wire. Then he found a rock to use as the base, going through several drill bits to make a hole, and his masterpiece was complete! He set it up in the house for his family's enjoyment.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have any photos of the balloon and after a while the soldered points started coming apart and some pieces got lost or discarded. He held on to a few of the main parts of the sculpture hoping to recreate it one day.

Fortunately, that one day was this summer. When he heard about my desire to take a hot air balloon ride, he remembered his balloon sculpture and once again set to work remaking his own version of the sculpture that he had originally seen in the 70's.

I read as much of the story as I could {since I get a lump in throat as soon as I get emotional}, and was finally allowed to open up the box and see what was inside.

A completely amazing and beautiful hot air balloon sculpture. {oh, and two tickets to take a ride in a hot air balloon.}

He used as much of his original recreation that he could, remade the basket, made a new flag for the top and added a new base. The balloon part is original - a toilet tank float. {I had no idea they used to be made of copper!} The new rock came from a lake near my parents home that we spent several summer weekends enjoying. The copper pipe holding up the balloon came from their old dishwasher, the flag was made out of a beer can.

Found object art at it's best. :)

I have it set up in my bedroom right now, safest way to keep it out of reach of the cats, and I spend a lot of time admiring it and taking in all the details. I love it. A lot. And I'm very happy to have something that was so meaningful to my Dad, something that he spent so much time on.

Best 25th birthday present ever. And there is no way I could ever forget my magical hot air balloon ride now. :)

xoxo, christa


  1. Seriously was a cool birthday present! I'm scared of heights but I still think this would be majorly fun.

  2. Wow, Christa! How cool is this?! I don't know which part of it I like the most -- the fact that your dad can sculpt something so original, or that they were thoughtful enough to give it to you on your birthday. Definitely makes the hot-air balloon story a little sweeter!

  3. Wow! That is so amazing! What a special thing for your dad to do for you. It looks like one of those really awesome things that will be passed through the family for generations.

  4. That is SUCH a cool present! It looks amazing and it will definitely become a keepsake, I'm certain!

    Love, Mere

  5. Beautiful sculpture! And so very special to have been around for so long and to have your dad make it.


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