Beautiful Balloons at Bergdorf’s by artist Jason Hackenwerth

Balloon artist, Jason Hackenwerth makes beautiful balloons for Bergdorf Goodman.

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Art + fashion come together as Jason uses his childhood  skills taught to him by his mother. He learned  how to make balloon animals for parties. From the Guggenheim to Hong Kong he creates art that slowly deflates to the size of a puppy. Here are several examples of his beautiful balloons. His body, face and lungs are his most important tools. This type of physical energy requires him to stretch and meditate each day. The balloon inflating machines just can’t blow up all the skinny beautiful balloons. At times, using over a thousand balloons, he must wear silk wraps on his fingers as the latex wears off his skin. Sometimes he has to make his beautiful balloons on site and make them in sections to be able to fit through doorways.

He began his career by creating these fantastical sculptures in the subway stations in New York City. He has figured out a way of knitting these protoplasmic beautiful balloons into monstrous creations. ” A balloon is a benign object that anyone can afford, but connected they transcend their individuality to become something greater, larger than life. It’s a metaphor for what we’re capable of as species when we unite.”

His works go far beyond the fashion world as he creates beautiful balloons for buildings, TED Talks, The Great Hall of Dinosaurs at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. In addition, he even creating swarms of protruding tentacles atop an ancient lava flow in Oregon. His beautiful balloons transformed Selfridges department store in London into a coral reef jellyfish colony. For this  project Hackenwerth and his assistants worked 10 hours to inflate and twist 35,000 balloons.

Lastly, while  beautiful balloons are not collectible art, he also creates large scale sculptures out of other materials.

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AN ARTIST’S INTERIOR



This month we are going to take a look at the art and living space of artist, Susan Ludwig. Susan specializes in mixed media collage. above is a collaged self portrait. We are going to look at how this talented artist creatively mixes color and texture in her collage work as well as in her furnishings. Susan’s home is a symphony of color. Her possessions are mostly thrifted and gifted.


First, we begin with a glimpse of her workspace. Simple pencils and markers create a little sculpture.


There are pockets of “theater” all around Susan’s home. Here in the dining room, we see a ceramic dish framed by an oval tray. The two look connected. It is important to layer your accessories. Unusual colors are placed together to form an interesting grouping.


Also in the dining room are a collection of cigar boxes when stacked become sculptural. What a great idea to place these next to a buffet, usually dead space in a room. The repetitive nature of the boxes work well with the stained Popsicle stick lamp beside it, also in repetition. Repetition can also be found in her use of mirrors even though the frames are different, just like all the different boxes. Repetition in an interior creates a balance and acts as a kind of anchor to support all the one of a kind things that surround the space.

Below we are looking at a close up of the kitchen cabinets.

Susan has taken a checkerboard pattern and applied it to white metal cabinets. The overlays are old National Geographic magazine covers. The checkerboard is repeated in the back splash. The bursts of color are layered over the squares like the oval tray which is layered are with the ceramic dish. The high contrast of color and the high contrast of black and white are quite dramatic in an otherwise small kitchen.

Susan’s living room has little treasures wherever you look. Below we see a collaged screen made of folding doors.


There are scraps of sheet music that are introduced to you by a bust of Beethoven himself! The screen becomes textured and performs as a backdrop for a variety of collected illustrations.

Below, the mantle becomes a stage for collectibles positioned in an interesting way. It is important to visually connect the wall and mantle (or a table) when you are accessorizing so that your eye moves around.


To help make this connection, the mantle items intersect the pictures above.

Let’s take a peek at the powder room.


If you need privacy, forget draperies, why not obscure the window view with art? In a small space, decorate with small accessories. The collection of shoes in graduated size make an ordinary windowsill and unlikely stage.

The bedroom is full of surprises.

This flea market chest has a painted surface and is decorated with buttons.

The nightstand illustrates the repetitive design of the cigar boxes, only this time, old suitcases have been used.

One of the most innovative ideas can be found in the bed area. Here, Susan paints found spindles of wood in different colors and uses them as a headboard AND they double as picture frames. Also, notice the variety of colors and textures on the bed’s landscape of pillows.


We’ve seen wonderful vignettes of objects places all around the home. Let’s take a look at some of Susan’s art! Here are a series of collages that she enjoys creating and has been exhibiting for many, many years.




The last photo before we get to my interview with the artist, is an example of a french tile technique called Pique Assiate, a special type of mosaic. Susan has covered her brick walls and surrounding windows as well as bowls, tables and picture frames with her unique tile work.


Here are a few questions I love to ask artists to find out what makes them tick…..

How would you describe your style?

Eclectic…..My motto is “Let no surface remained unadorned.”

What is the one thing you could not live without?
Laughter, ice tea with lemon no sugar.

What is your most prized possession?

My stash of “stuff”…. old, new, frivolous and unique.

What inspires your creativity?

Anyone or anything i see that engages me… particularly something I can re purpose in an unusual manner. Art materials such as Sharpie’s new Poster Paint pens and Caran d’Ache 11.

If you could collaborate with someone on a project, who would it be and why?

Henri Matisse without question. I would like to have been an apprentice to this master of color and pattern.

If you would like to see older posts and take a look at my full blog page, please go to www.Merlehillaryinteriors.blogspot.com.

Make a Room Feel Larger

We all want our homes to feel warm and inviting, but often a room needs to appear larger. A good way to achieve this effect is to mount window treatments several inches above the window. For example, in a room with an 8′ ceiling, if you mount a window treatment under a crown moulding or just below the ceiling, not only will the room appear larger but the ceiling height will appear taller as well. Another tip to maximize the illusion of greater ceiling height is to avoid adding a cornice with a straight bottom mounted at the top of a window. Below I have created a rendering with our “Minutes Matter Studio” graphic design software to illustrate the different look achieved when a cornice is mounted at the top of the window, as contrasted to a cornice that is mounted nearer to the crown moulding or ceiling. Notice in the design on the right how much taller the ceiling height appears and how much larger the room appears!

Here is another design tip when trying to make a ceiling look higher. Try adding a shape to the bottom of the cornice. By introducing an element of movement at the bottom of the cornice, the eye is tricked into moving up and down, prompting the eye not to stop at the longest point of the cornice.

You can also achieve the illusion of added ceiling height by using drapery panels and a decorative rod. Notice the difference when the drapery is mounted under the crown moulding or near the ceiling, as compared to mounting at the top of the window.


We recommend giving all rooms that extra lift. Would you like to see how new window treatments could change your room? As part of my service, I create computerized renderings to help my clients visualize how new window treatments will look on their windows. Pleas feel free to call!