Balloon Ferris Wheel
by Ralph Dewey
The Balloon HQ challenge this month is a carnival ride.
It could be a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, a roller coaster or your favorite ride. Instead of making balloon animals, this month I’ll show you something a little different. It’s not for line work, but when you need something special for a birthday party, why not give the lucky child a Ferris wheel? This version will actually revolve and as it goes around the riders stay upright.
You’ll need some #260 balloons and a few #160 balloons. Start by making the one of the two circular frames of the Ferris wheel. Inflate a fuchsia #260 fully except for about 2″ and tie off the nozzle. Twist off eight 4-1/2″ long bubbles and tie the ends together. Trim off the excess balloon. Make another circular frame to the same dimensions.
Next you will need to make four braces that span across and hold the two circular frames together. To make one, take an inflated blue #260 and twist off a 1″ bubble and ear twist it. Then twist off a 6″ bubble and a 1″ bubble. Ear twist the 1″ bubble. Then deflate the excess balloon. To secure the second 1″ ear twist, I like to tie the excess balloon into a knot around the base of the ear twist. Trim off the excess balloon. Twist-connect the four braces at every other twist on the circular frames.
Next make the spokes (side braces). From an inflated white #260 twist off a 1″ bubble and ear twist it. Then twist off two 5-1/2″ bubbles. Twist off a 1″ bubble and ear twist it. On each side you’ll need two side braces. Twist-connect the two side braces at their centers to form an “X” shape. By the way, I used some tape at the back to hold the two 5-1/2″ bubbles in position for the photograph. That’s in case you were wondering how I kept the bubbles from unraveling. Connect the side braces to the circular frame at the twists not occupied by the first four 6″ braces.
Make the axle from a Goldenrod #260 inflated fully except for about 4″ and tie off the nozzle. Twist off a 2″ bubble then three 1-1/4″ bubbles. Ear twist the 1-1/4″ bubbles then arrange them evenly in a circle. Then twist off a 5″ bubble and a 6″ bubble. Twist-connect the twists of the 6″ bubble to the center of the two “X” braces. Now that you are on the other side of the Ferris wheel, twist off a 5″ bubble and three 1-1/4″ bubbles. Ear twist the 1-1/4″ bubble and arrange them evenly in a circle. Twist off a fourth 1-1/4″ bubble and ear twist it also. Then position it at the end of the 3-bubble circle.
To hold up the Ferris wheel, you’ll need a support structure. First make a triangular piece for each side. Start by inflating a Goldenrod #260 fully except for about 2″, then tie off the nozzle. Twist off a 1″ bubble and ear twist it. Then twist off a 10″ and a 1″ bubble. Ear twist the 1″ bubble. Then twist off another 10″ bubble and another 1″ bubble. Ear twist the 1″ bubble. Then twist off another 10″ bubble and a 1″ bubble. Ear twist the 1″ bubble. Cut and discard the excess balloon.
You will also need two square bearings. To make one, fully inflate a white #260 except for about 5″ and tie off the nozzle. Twist off bubble in this order, 1″, 3″, 1″, 3″, 1″, 3″, 1″ and 3″. Ear twist the four 1″ bubbles. Twist-connect the end of the last 3″ bubble to the first 1″ ear twist bubble to form a square. Twist-connect the ends of one of the triangular pieces to adjacent corners of one of the square bearings. Make the other wheel supports the same way.
Then make two base braces for the wheel supports. Take a section of inflated white #260 balloon and twist off a 1″ bubble, a 14″ bubble and another 1″ bubble. Ear twist the two 1″ bubbles. Cut off and discard the excess balloon. Twist-connect the ends of the base braces to the bottom corners of the triangular pieces. Slip the Ferris wheel support structure that you just made over the axle.
To complete the design, you’ll need to make four riders. From an inflated section of a #160 twist off a 1″ bubble (the head) and six 1/2″ bubbles. Twist-connect the 6-bubble loop. Twist off a 2-1/2″ bubble (the torso) and two 1/2″ bubbles (the feet). Ear twist the two 1/2″ bubbles. Cut and discard the excess balloon. Twist-connect the two feet at the center of the 6-bubble loop. Mark the Ferris wheel rider with a black marker.
The four riders are attached at the spots where you attached the 6″ braces. To attach the riders to the wheel use a piece of uninflated #160 balloon and thread it between the top of the torso and the upper arm. Wrap the ends of the #160 to the 6″ braces. Don’t pull the #160 so that it is too tight, but only taut. To keep the riders vertical at all times wedge a penny between the two 1/2″ bubbles nearest their feet. The penny located at the rear of the rider will not be seen. The added weight near the bottom of the rider will cause it to remain upright.
That completes the Ferris wheel. All that remains to be done is turn the axle and watch the delight of the birthday child. This is a fairly simple version, but if you want to get fancier, you could add a motor from a Spin-Pop (motorized lollipop) and some blinking lights.