Solid Form with Texture – Inflatables

Here are some key take-aways to succeed with creating an asymmetrical inflatable form. It’s important to work with a partner, you can’t do it by yourself. The structure has to be 12 feet in height or length. Think about the easiest way to achieve this, without creating an insane amount of work for yourself. If a sphere/circle takes an hour to make but a cone takes 10 minutes to make; make the main part of your form a cone. Add visual interest to the form by creating visual and physical texture. To create visual texture flip between the white and black side of the material, and for physical texture create small multiples of a shape.
The goal of this project is create a non-representational solid form sculpture with texture. This form will be a blowup like a bouncy house and it has to be at least 12ft in height or length. To get started I used images of microscopic animals, to inspire a non-representational form. After I got the basic shape of the animal I would add on a geometric square or circle, and organic shapes of tails, wings, or legs. Even though the sculpture is suppose to be solid form, which means equal dimensions, to make the form more dynamic there is freedom to add on varying forms. The addition of physical textures will also add to the interest and dynamics of the piece. Of course these sketches aren’t of any object we’ve seen and don’t represent anything, but our mind likes to identify non-representational shapes/forms, so we could place parts or the whole form to something we know/identify.
After creating twelve sketches I partnered with someone else to combine our sketches and ideas into a new form. The first two detailed sketches are of our combined figures that I drew. The other more simplified figure is the basic form and our first thought of how we want the 12ft inflatable to look like. With this part we started to worry how the figure would stand, how would we attach other forms and how it would inflate. Because of this it did stop our ideas of the form being so dynamic. As we went along as you can see in the later photos we started to add more forms onto the basic form and changed the placement of the form to make it more dynamic.
Getting to the point of making the maquette was challenging. It was difficult turning a 2D picture/idea into a 3D form. Unsure of how to use the material (plastic sheeting/lumber wrap) and how the material will hold and shape, it took a few tries and remodeling the sketch of the maquette. Even once me and my group partner got to the point of making the maquette we realized the maquette was to symmetrical and we needed to add an element to make the form more dynamic. We decided to add a sphere to the top and spikes for texture. The maquette is measured out in inches where 1 inch equals 1 foot. For example, the rectangle form is 12 inches interpreting to 12 feet (the requirement).

To add visual texture and pattern we created a checker board design by taping black and squares together. Cones/spikes were added to the top of the inflatable to add physical texture. To create more visual interest the cones vary in white and black with a white or black polka dot added to the top. To connect these various parts together and seal the form up so no air could escape we used this double sided tape that was about a quarter inch thick, and with pressure the tape would seal the two piece so it couldn’t come apart.



I think the most challenging part of the project was visualizing what to do next on the project with the material, because the work was flat/2D while you were working on it. So you had to think about what it looks like 3D and blown up and translate to how you’re working on it in 2D form. You also had to really think about what you are doing with measurements and cutting because with this project if you make a mistake cover it up and move on. A mistake would mean a big setback and replanning, discussing, and redoing work.

Our structure being so large in width, height and mainly length it took a little while to blow up and reach all the parts. One thing I noticed with other groups is that they were able to meet the length requirement of 12 feet with forms that had less width and height, which I think is smart and resourceful. We created the main bulky form to reach 12ft then added other forms to it. Next time I would make the main form great in length, and less in height and width. The main form also wouldn’t be 12ft but around 8ft because the other added forms could make it reach the 12ft goal.



One important thing to note is that the spheres are challenging to blow up. To make sure the sphere blows up I would put it close to the fan opening with a wide hole where it’s attached to another form so enough air gets into it. If you make a big sphere then I recommend putting the fan hole on the sphere in the least obvious spot because the big/heavy spheres had trouble supporting themselves to blow up.


Original writing by:

Grace Brown,

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