Intricate Balloon Animal Art

Everyone pretty much agrees that the internet is like, 70 percent garbage fire at this point, if not more. But occasionally my net travels end up taking me to tiny worlds of wonder, small treasures that deserve to be shared with the world. Masayoshi Matsumoto’s Tumblr is one of them.

Matsumoto makes balloon animals, but they’re not like any balloon animals you’ve ever seen.

Pellucid hawk moth, in balloons vs IRL. Images: Matsumoto and Wikipedia Commons

They’re art. They’re sculptures. They’re not just “monkey,” “butterfly,” “dog.” They’re specific species, rendered as perfectly in balloon shapes as you could imagine.

Matsumoto says on his blog that he doesn’t use any secondary materials—no markers, no adhesive, nada. Which only makes his fidelity to detail more impressive. Check out the accurately rectangular octopus pupil below.

Image: Masayoshi Matsumoto

Via email, Matsumoto told me he got into balloon sculpture after a few years in the juggling community, and it’s taken him about six years to get this good. Each sculpture takes anywhere from two to six hours, requiring a great deal of patience.

I asked him if he had a science background, because of his attention to detail and his specific, biodiverse choices of subject material. Though he studied chemical engineering in college, Matsumoto says it’s because “I’ve liked creatures since I was small.”

Image: Masayoshi Matsumoto

This snail looks cute, but those aren’t eyestalks. The focus here is actuallyLeucochloridium, a parasitic flatworm that grows out of a gastropod’s eyes.

Image: Masayoshi Matsumoto

Everyone’s favorite lil weirdo, the axolotl, a Mexican salamander.

A stunning lily-of-the-valley. Image: Masayoshi Matsumoto

I asked Matsumoto what happens to the balloon sculptures after he’s finished with them. Tragically, they get popped after their photoshoots. But Matsumoto is as good at shooting his creations as he is at making them, so we can enjoy them long after they physically disappear.

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