Balloon sculptor creates 40-foot dragon at Marriott in Ypsilanti
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Visitors to the Ann Arbor Marriott Eagle Crest on Huron Street in Ypsilanti this weekend were able to watch the creation of a 40-foot dragon that snakes from the first floor of the hotel up around the banisters of the stairs. The colorful dragon is based on a Mayan feather dragon — but this one is made of balloons.
It's the work of balloon sculptor Tim Thurmond, in honor of the the U-Con Gaming Convention, which is being held at the Marriott for more than 600 gamers from around the country. Thurmond began sculpting the dragon Friday at noon and with an estimated 20 hours of labor required, he expected it to be completed Saturday by 6 p.m.
"The dragon will be auctioned off for charity Saturday afternoon," said Thurmond, who is working hard to get the word out about his work as a balloon sculptor.
Thurmond, who lives in Brighton, has traveled all over Michigan and the midwest working with museums where he shows his balloons as art, and at conventions like this one. He will be teaching what he calls "balloon basics" in Livonia in November.
"You do a lot of construction in your mind," said Thurmond, whose sculptures include cars, school buses, Christmas trees and action figures like Superman. "I would love to build a life size F-15 fighter plane. I just need enough space."
Thurmond said another goal is to have a traveling exhibit that goes to famous museums around the world. He created his own version of The Last Supper for the Grand Rapids public museum several years ago.
As a child, Thurmond said he was interested in being a clown and a magician, but the kind of performance art he does with balloons became his passion.
On Sunday, visitors could donate money to help destroy the dragon. They raised more than $100 for the Education project for Homeless Youth.
Thurmond's next big balloon piece that will be open to the public will be in Fowlerville, Michigan on December 1 when he will build Santa and his sleigh for a Christmas parade. The sleigh will be pulled by hot air balloons that hold the reindeer.
Go to Thurmond's website to see some of his balloon sculptures.