Ancestor Balloon was made in honor of my grandfather, who was a hot-air balloonist with a Southerner's
flair for "spinning a yarn." I created a ten foot diameter balloon from 250 sheets of two by three foot Kozo paper cast onto a styrofoam sphere, hand-sewn, and made airtight with glue strips. I mailed participants sheets of washi paper I had made, asking
them to fill them with text and images about their ancestors and send them back. The stories were sewn into small books and tethered to the balloon.
Where would we be without what we have learned from our ancestors? These stories about ancestors are the ballast of the balloon that keeps us grounded.
During the Second World War, Japanese school children were forced to make nine thousand of these washi balloons, which were eventually launched toward the US carrying incendiary bombs. Students had only half days of classes, because of
"the war effort". Cutting out education for bombs negates the future.