Our Penguin is the result of Exclusive Ballooning's 15th Birthday Facebook competition where we invited online designs for a character balloon and said we would turn the winning design into reality. Our winning design is based on a character from a sketch by UK based artist Tom Moore.
The balloon will be built in Spain by Ultramagic and you can follow his production from sketch to reality here and also on our Facebook page and then continue to follow his adventures around the world. At 70,000 cubic feet and flying over a Tekno bottom end, our Penguin was designed and built with portability in mind. Ultramagic are incorporating a number of new lightweight design features in order to keep the envelope at under an amazing 70KG.
Follow our Penguins life right here......!
Tom's original sketch of the penguin below wins our competition. Working with paint, digital and mixed media at his Bristol based studio, Tom was trained in lacquering techniques whilst working for three years as a special assistant to Damien Hirst at his Gloucestershire studios. See TomMooreArt.com
"Having heard of Exclusive Ballooning's 15th Birthday Competition, this was not an opportunity I could miss.
I started simply with my sketchbook and drew several penguin cartoons, trying to imbue them with character. Having submitted the drawings to Exclusive Ballooning, I was thrilled when they asked me to work with them to develop the idea into a balloon". - Tom Moore
Work begins on transferring Tom's design into a balloon visual that captures the character but that will also work as a special shape hot air penguin!
"The design was honed several times with the eyes and shape of the balloon being modified, to ensure the penguin would work with the technical aspects of a balloon, while retaining the feeling that this was a character who could have a story of its own.
It has been a great experience and I loved working with Exclusive ballooning. I am really happy how the final visual looks and I can't wait to see it inflated!" - Tom Moore
Above - how Tom's sketches developed into an initial balloon visual.
Our penguin is signed off and the order is placed with Ultramagic balloons in Spain. Below - the final visual from Spanish hot air balloon manufacturer, Ultramagic. The eyes are slightly more rounded than the original sketch as this seemed to work aesthetically on the balloon.
"We are really excited that Ultramagic Balloons has been chosen to design and produce the special shape Penguin balloon for Andrew Holly at Exclusive Ballooning. This project allows our company to continue to develop our desire to make our technical special shape balloons easier and lighter to handle. Also it is such a fun shape to produce and we can't wait for the test flight, photographs and videos to be made!"
"All of us at Ultramagic UK are very excited to be working with Exclusive Ballooning on the ‘Penguin' Project. From the very outset the brief from the client was absolutely clear. The balloon has to retain the character of the Penguin but it has to be super lightweight for easy transportation around the world and yet still tough enough to fulfil the demands of rigorous flying. Using a combination of special lightweight fabrics, load tapes and a brand new envelope design to Ultramagic we are thrilled with the outcome and very much look forward to seeing the Penguin in the air soon!"
Our penguin is announced and a competition on our Facebook page to name him begins. In the first 24 hours since the announcement, our Penguin received over 2,500 Facebook likes!
The design work is now underway turning a visual drawing into a technical drawing ready to cut the panels.
Now we feel our Penguin is really being born! Today his feet are being designed....!
The process of manufacture has really started today as the first fabric is being woven.
The most talented and famous pair of hands in the ballooning world are currently preparing the burner for our Penguin. Paolo Bonnano building our burner in his workshop Mondovi, Italy.
The fabric has arrived at the factory today and is now ready for cutting!
The burner is now in the factory being finished off...
Cutting is now well underway. All of the panels are cut at once taking several days, these are then transfered to a seamstress for sewing together!
Sewing is now underway and this final part will happen very quickly! One seamstress will work on the balloon sewing each panel together creating the gores from top to bottom which are then sewn together....
Look! An eye taking shape.....!
The balloon has a registration and it is G-UINS
The basket and burner are ready and sewing is nearing completion! Exciting times - the blue section is the mouth of the balloon and it is on track for a first inflation next Monday!
Our penguin now has feet! Sewing is nearly complete and today also saw the crown ring sewn into the balloon. This carries the serial number and suddenly what was a lot of fabric is now an aircraft! If the crown ring looks unusual and slim, this is all part of the measure to keep the weight down. The balloon will go for rigging tomorrow and will then be ready for test inflation!
His name is PUDDLES! The winner of our naming competition is Erin Burry from Atlanta, Georgia USA. We have pin badges available for pre-order here.
Exclusive Ballooning were with Ultramagic in Spain today, to witness the birth of our Penguin!
Weighing only 62kg, Puddles was born at 9am this morning on St Patrick's Day. Breaking records from the start, Puddles is now the world's lightest special shape.
The winner of our naming competition Erin Burry was there on site to see Puddles come to life.
It is our intention for the Penguin to see as much of the world as possible and he has already been booked into balloon festivals on four continents. We are now inviting bookings from balloon festivals around the world and hope we can bring him to visit you!
To enquire about our Penguin visiting your event, please contact us here.