Archive
2014
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
2013
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2011
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2010
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2009
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2008
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2007
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2006
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
May. 23, 2013

This Dinosaur Is Made From Balloons, Not Bones

by Julie Leibach

Click to enlarge images
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you—the dinosaur in the image above is made entirely out of balloons. It’s an Acrocanthosaurus, to be exact, fashioned for the Virginia Museum of Natural History by Airigami, a company that specializes in a singular kind of balloon art. Measuring about 20 feet long, the sculpture is life-size—indeed, it mimics an intact Acrocanthosaurus skeleton cast housed at the museum.
 
To design the sculpture, Airigami founder Larry Moss and his partner, Kelly Cheatle, first researched images online. "We try to get as accurate as we can," says Moss. Access to the museum's paleontologists, as well as its Acrocanthosaurus bones, came in handy—though Moss confesses that, "In a way, I almost felt like cheating to have a skeleton to work off of." It took Moss, Cheatle, and four crewmembers three days to sculpt the dino, aided by members of the community, from kindergartners to adults. All told, the rubbery reptile probably consists of around 1,000 balloons, not including those in the surrounding scenery. (Moss sent SciFri the time-lapse video below, which features the construction, after he heard our show’s remote broadcast in Utah discussing fossil treasures.)

Moss first got hooked on balloon art 25 years ago. He had been moonlighting in Central Park as a magician, trying to earn money to pay for college. To attract a crowd, he set up balloons where he performed and eventually realized that the real magic show was in the latex itself. Airigami was born.
 
The sculptures are ephemeral art, lasting about a week as they steadily deflate. Designs run the gamut, from a Frida Kahlo bust, to nursery rhyme characters, to a giant sand castle, Moss’s current project. But he would love to breathe life—or, at least air—into more dinosaurs. “I may make my living as an artist," says Moss, "but I’m a science geek at heart."
 
RelateD Science Friday Link
About Julie Leibach

Julie is the managing editor of ScienceFriday.com. She is a huge fan of sleep and chocolate. Follow her @julieleibach.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

topics