In case you missed it, Chicago-based design collective, Object Design League set up a Balloon Factory at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. For five days, the group workshop set out to demystify the process of producing a seemingly simple object of delight through a completely handmade process: handmade balloon molds, hand painted balloons, an oven made from upcycled IKEA products, and more!
"Balloon Factory" replicates the existing balloon manufacturing process inside a gallery. The installation is organized into a balloon production line, with eight stations: preparatory dipping, drying, latex dipping, handpainting, soaking, heating, stripping, and inflation. The group explains:
Balloons are familiar and loved objects, but few people realize that with some amateur kitchen chemistry techniques, the process for manufacturing them can be replicated on a small scale. "Balloon Factory" functions as a workspace and spectacle at once. Through it, the Object Design League explores methods of producing objects for consumption in a direct way, collapsing fabrication, distribution and purchasing into one space. The designers are replicating a hidden manufacturing process, but more importantly, taking ownership of it. By making a product by hand that is only known to be made industrially, they locate their practice on the fringes of mass production.
Even if you weren't able to check out the factory, the balloons themselves are on sale at the MCA giftshop and the larger exhibition, We Are Here: Art and Design Out of Context will be showing through July 31st. Check out more pics of the awesome balloons that the factory produced and see more images of the workshop after the jump!
UPDATE: Check the video to see more about the process! Balloons will be on sale at o-d-l.co for $5 each!
40 balloon molds pass through the production line several times each day. Formal characteristics must be exaggerated in the hand-sculpted molds to remain legible in the inflated shape.
In the last step of the process, the molds are heated in a low-temperature oven to strengthen the latex.
The oven is made from light bulbs, aluminum foil and an IKEA futon frame.
The finished balloons on their molds, ready to be stripped and inflated.
Various shapes and coloring methods produce a variety of unique, handmade balloons. Over the week, techniques continue to evolve through experimentation in the gallery.