---- 2015
1115 HeptaLink, Hong Kong

09-11 Wolf+Lamb, NY

---- 2014
---- 2013

1003-25 Tournament, NY

08 AirShipOne, NV

0610 Starfish, NY
0525-0818 Nexxt, NJ
0307 Bracelet SxSW, TX
---- 2012

11-12 Rafale, LA

10 RRC, NJ
0914 Wolf+Lamb, NYC
0825 Drop, BRC
06 ACR, NJ
05 Country Club, NY
05 BLB, NY
0419 Blue Man Group

0308 Cockpit SxSW

0308 Starfish SxSW

0303 GT Blow, NYC

0101 Starfish, NYC
---- 2011
0830 Drop, BRC
0830 Cuddlefish, BRC
0806 Cuddlefish, Hamptons

0310 Cuddlefish SxSW

---- 2010
1201 Drop, Miami
1023 RRC Show, NJ
1009 StarFish PDF, DE
0915 Blow LV, CA
0901 Drop, Nevada
0901 CuddleFish, NV
0718 Secret Garden, UK
0704 CuddleFish, PEX
0619 Opulent Temple, NYC

0612 Figment, NYC

0320 Matelasse, NYC
---- 2009
---- 2008
---- 2007
---- 2006
---- 2005
---- 2004
---- 2003
---- 2002
---- 2001

Texts & Drawings

Note: Dimensions are approximate.

Space Station Prog
by Jeff Franklin

This is an inspiring account of an inflatable structure project by someone who "just did it" at Burning Man 2002. Thanks Jeff for sharing this experience. AK

As usual with Burning Man stuff, the inflatable thing began by volunteering to do something--in this case rebuilding/renovating an existing inflatable that another member of Image Node had brought out in 2001. This thing (Space Station Prog v 2.0) didn't survive the trip back to Oklahoma very well at all, and eventually wound up being cannibalized to make SSP 3.0.

Despite hearing all sorts of advice on how to actually build the thing, I elected to "sew" this one together with staples and plastic tape. The original form was held together with plastic tape, but after a bout or two with Oklahoma winds I did a lot of seaming and reinforcing with the staples. We also found that the blower we were using would cause it to burst its taped seams unless we allowed for some pressure relief. The stapled seams are kind of ugly, but they're very strong and could be hidden by either reversing them or covering them with decorations somehow.

To further reduce stress on the seams, we covered the whole damned thing in .4 mil mylar. I used a spray adhesive from 3M, specifically something called Hi-Strength 90, because it doesn't melt mylar. We alternated the seams of the plastic with the seams of the mylar film--more or less covering the whole thing with four foot wide strips of mylar tape. The spray adhesive wasn't affected at all by the high temps in the desert, nor did the wind or dust affect it much.

The actual intention of using mylar was to reflect as much of the sun as possible, forming a unique shade structure. Someone from the camp next door donated his swamp cooler, and that combined with the blower made the thing a pretty popular place for sleeping during the day. One of our campmates purchased the mylar at Canal St Plastics, I think.

I'll confess to being tickled about how the thing was affixed. Theoretically, the thing was quonset shaped, 20' x 20' and about 7' tall in the middle. I'd noticed from our semi-successful attempt the year before that one of the least elegant things about free standing inflatables is how to affix them to the ground. In 2001 we used a kind of tether system, grommeting flaps onto the sides and using some sort of dayglo rope/twine to tie everything to stakes in the ground. Effective, but ugly, and and we did lose a few of the straps as the grommets pulled through over time.

I decided, mostly to mystify people, to nail the thing to the ground from the inside. Once the mylar was on I could see that it could look like a huge drop of mercury wobbling on the playa, which effect would be lost if you couldn't dispense with the green twine stuck on every 18" or so. Ultimately I decided to reinforce the floor/ceiling seam (basically the side seams) with plastic tarps, by kind of folding both pieces of plastic together with the tarp in between, and grommeting through all of these layers in two places to allow for rebar staples. I want to say we staked it in about 10 places around the 80' perimeter.

The only problem I had with this method was an inherent laziness and penchant for beer, as well as a job that works me ~60 hours per week. What actually happened was that it took me forever to get all of the stake grommets in, and the wind didn't treat the structure well in the interim. Essentially when the whole thing is affixed, it's sturdy as a dome, but when there's play, the wind tends to pull the grommets out. I ran out of time before this could be rectified (as usual), but it wasn't a problem (except aesthetically) out on the playa. My idea to eliminate stress on grommet points NEXT TIME: 1x4's or 1x6's drilled with holes to match the grommets, with the rebar staples driven through the wood and the grommets into the ground. I think it would even out the stress by not allowing the plastic to pull directly on the grommets, but rather allowing the strain to even out along the entire length of the boards.

Anyway, the result was an inflatable of decent size that took a direct hit during Friday's windstorm without being fazed. As this wasn't going to be central to the theme of the camp, I figured I could play around with it and if the wind tore it up, I'd do better next year. Consequently I built the thing with no intention of putting it behind a windbreak--and it did wonderfully. As long as the doors were closed.

The doors were another thing I just ran out of time to do, or rather were one of the few things I'd delegated to other people, knowing full well they'd fuck up. My own very rudimentary idea was to attach the two entrances to our 2 domes, and use velcro strips to close the entrances...which would have been great except my velcro wasn't wide enough, and I never in my wildest dreams thought we'd have that much traffic going in and out. Perhaps the velcro would work if the structure was in a more private area. Another great suggestion (by some random Burner I never saw again) was to attach the formerly velcroed edges of the door to bungee cords, and string the bungees side by side from top to bottom of the dome triangle. To enter or exit, you'd pull the bungees apart,and they would snap to behind you.

This worked great, but as with anything rigged with duct tape and bungees on the playa, suffered quite a bit by the end of the week.

All in all, I was very pleased by my first attempt. I think it's still got enough structural integrity to last another couple of years, although there's probably a Saturday's worth of repair work and cleaning before it goes out for 03. The thing was very sturdy and stable, until (as happened frequently) some fire-addled Burner left the freakin' door open, or one of our electrically challenged video people popped a breaker on the generator. On the other hand, rescuing people during a collapse is a great way to meet new friends.

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