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Michigan's Balloon Sculptor will try to blow away world record

Tim Thurmond has a big title to reclaim.

He calls himself Michigan's Balloon Sculptor. In 2004, he took the world record for, take a deep breath, most balloons blown up by one person's mouth and sculpted into individual animals in a 24-hour time frame. The total was6,176 balloons.

However, this past February, a man in Texas blew away the record Thurmond created by 55 balloons.

But not for long.

Thurmond, who became friends with the man in Texas, received a phone call from him after completing the feat.

"Ok, you're turn. Take it back."

And Thurmond plans to this weekend at the Taste of Brighton Festival. His goal is to surpass his beaten record by 550 balloon animals. For the math inclined, that means Thurmond will breath life into 6,836 latex animals in just 24 hours.

"The goal is to push myself," Thurmond said, "If you never have big dreams, you'll never achieve anything."

A 24-hour video stream will document the feat, a regulation by Guinness. He will begin at 5 pm on Friday, constructing the nearly 7,000 animals. His goal is to try and make them as  different as possible from one another.

The majority of the animals will be given out to kids and kids-at-heart, but some will be saved for pictures, and the rest will be put into a 4-by-4-foot clear box.

While speed is the nature of this week's event, typically Thurmond considers his sculpture work an art form.

"It's fun seeing how this art has changed," Thurmond explained, "When I first started, if you could make simple a Goofy or Mickey Mouse balloon, you were the top dog. Now, it's about how big can you make it, how detailed."

Aside from this world record, Thurmond has competed in sculpting competitions and conventions across the country. At one, he crafted a Dragon with a 20-foot wingspan that also breathed fire. At another, a gigantic Hulk sculpture that "walked" with help of its creator.

It all began at a church Clown Camp for Thurmond at age 9. Since that time, he has taken his art to be a tool for ministry.

Tim has traveled all over the world: Mexico, Costa Rica, and Russia three times using his skills in balloon art to teach others and share his stories.

"I have a unique skill set," Thurmond said, "I don't understand why He gifted me to be as good as I am at this, but He has. So I enjoy using that for churches. I create a story others leave wanting to tell about."

On his website, Thurmond says he feels "closest to Him when I am twisting latex in my hands."

An Art Bus created for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids

Thurmond says he has been given incredible opportunities for his art through companies and festivals that are looking for something different.

The "Balloonatic," as he nicknames himself, explains that this is a growing industry of art, much like painting and traditional sculpting.

-Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom