It takes a lot to make people’s heads turn at Gen Con. A 13-foot-tall latex dragon — not a euphemism — is one of them.
Tim Thurmond, aka The Balloon Sculptor, was about halfway finished with the massive creation Friday afternoon. He said he’d been bombarded with comments from admiring passers-by since he’d started work at 7:30 that morning. As Thurmond and I talked, two men dressed in medieval garb stopped by to chat; one identified himself as a sculptor and expressed his admiration. Thurmond beamed.
“It’s great when a fellow artist sees value in what I’m doing,” Thurmond said. “He gets what I’m trying to do here. It’s not a toy, it’s actually art.”
Thurmond has been doing balloon sculptures for 22 years, and like most great artists, he started because of a woman.
“I had a crush on a girl,” Thurmond said. “Her church had a clown school, so I did that. That’s where I fell into the balloons.”
I didn’t ask if he ever won the girl, but he did earn a Guinness Book world record in 2006, for creating 6,176 balloon sculptures in 24 hours.
Thurmond expects to finish most of the dragon Friday night, adding embellishments Saturday before the charity auction. He hopes a group of cosplayers will pony up a couple hundred dollars for his creation to use — and potentially destroy — in a YouTube video.
You can check out other examples of Thurmond’s work at http://theballoonsculptor.com.