Anybody who’s been to even one kids party ever (including those during one’s own tenure as a kid) is likely unimpressed with balloon animals. There’s only so much enthusiasm a person can muster up for cylindrical-limbed dogs. Off the beaten path of the typical party-clown, however, there are balloon artists experimenting with brave new forms of rubber shapes. Magician, photographer, and avid balloon twister Rob Driscoll actually did so every day of 2013, and emerged with stunning latex versions of Mickey Mouse, Yoda, and even a full turkey dinner.
My Daily Balloon is only the latest in a series of daily projects Driscoll has undertaken since 2009. First came the photographer’s self-portraits, which he took every day for a year. Next, he started a blog called The Way I See It, a photo-a-day venture that went on for nearly two years. Additionally, Driscoll’s Highest Points blog chronicles his ongoing quest to ascend to the highest point of every county in the U.K. Finally, in December 2012, Driscoll decided that for his next trick, he would take something he was already good at, and become great.
“I had been ballooning for about 18 years before I started the project,” Driscoll says. “I could make all sorts of things and I was pretty fast too, I thought I knew quite a lot, however early on I realized I actually had a lot to learn.”
Before starting with My Daily Balloon, Driscoll relied on one type of balloon, the long thin ones, known as 260s. In order to create the challenging figures he assigned for himself, however, the balloon artist quickly began exploring all other shapes and sizes, as well as intricate techniques that sound like weird candy (Side Wall Bubbles, Raisin Twists, etc.).
Some days, the hard part was choosing an object to make. Driscoll solved this issue by outsourcing the idea-generation task to his plentiful supply of nieces and nephews, who all had birthdays coming up. Between these suggestions, those themed around various holidays, and hours of Internet-scouring, he was able to plan out the whole year in advance.
The more difficult balloons can take hours and hours to build. Multi-faceted creations like a large bicycle had to be approached cautiously. Driscoll would build one component first, say, the tires on that bicycle, and gradually attach things together. Lastly, he would add any additional details that might make the design pop, so to speak, like a horn and a chain. The process is not an exact science, but performing it every day for a year has gotten Driscoll close.
“With a lot of my designs, I have no idea how I’m going to make the sculpture,” he says, “but by just starting and seeing what it looks like as I go, I can build and create new things.”