After a house fire I spent a lot of time in museums. Bag check meant I could ditch my bags and relax. While imagining how much better the Philadelphia Museum of Art gift shop would be if stocked with blow-up Brancusis instead of key chains, I was struck with the idea that Bird in Space could be remade as a space balloon and then it would be Bird in Space in Space. I needed something to do to fill the spaces and times while I was stuck in between. Inflatables are big, space-transforming things that can be made out of trash in rooms smaller than themselves. I could fly to space and off of borrowed couches, if I could only imagine its plausibility.
I made my first solar hot air balloon out of cheap convenience store trash bags in April of 2008. I seamed the bags into a 10’ spherical balloon with a chip bag sealer. It took two long days in a friend’s attic to make, and a gust of wind destroyed it within minutes of its first inflation. This brief flight was captivating. Propelled by its mass and momentum but weighing nothing, the balloon drifted in confounding ways, its unpressurized surface hovering. I was hooked on watching flight transform everyday materials and objects.
At first I viewed tethered balloon flights as practice for a high altitude flights, but quickly became interested in tethered balloons, kites, and kite balloons. Through Grassroots Mapping I got into flying helium balloons and cameras.