Magic Table: "Cloud Quilt"

Seattle, Washington

The installation came about in order to create a whimsical floating sculpture in the LMN lobby. The goal was to create a mirrored cloud that could reflect and absorb color from the surface of the lobby table or as we affectionately call it at LMN, the ‘magic table.’ We initially wanted to create spheres which would more closely resemble clouds, but the balloon making process proved difficult for this geometry. So we abstracted the idea during the testing phase. We decided to make one shape and aggregate the shape into a quilt which could then be manipulated by hanging the balloons. This let the balloons fall naturally at the edges with a manual catenary design. We then could start to push and pull points to create the fun undulating form you see with the installation.

Creating balloons

The most fun and challenging part of the project was to figure out and understand the balloon making process. The fabrication goes as follows:

  1. Lay out two sheets of Mylar foil.
  2. Create a form for the balloon shape. In our case we decided to make a pillow or diamond shape. We then laser cut a form for that shape with an outside edge for ironing around to make the seal. Also, we made a ¼ inch template for a cut edge. Once the balloon is iron sealed around edges you can take the next form and cut the shape out. You must leave room for a valve as well to add air.
  3. Once done your balloon is flat. You then add helium or air from a hand pump. We had 150 balloons so we decided to fill with air from a hand pump and hang the structure.