The Human Chandelier – By Pendeo

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Basic info:

Date: 1st September 2013
Amount of people Suspended : 13
Configuration: Chandelier
Styles Used: 12 people off 2 hook suicides and 1 person off 8 hook Lotus

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Rig: Consists of 3 tiers
1st tier 6 x Suicides
2nd tier 4 x Suicides
3rd tier 1 x lotus
2 x Suicides suspended from corners of 3rd tier.

Individual suicides did not have safety harnesses. Due to the testing we did on the hooks and suspendees. We were confident in the strength of the hooks as well as the skin of the suspendees. There were no signs of skin tearing at all during individual testing, and no signs of weakness on the hooks themselves.

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We will post these results later when our formal recorded breaking tests are complete, but for all intensive purposes we were happy that the larger hooks could easily hold 200kg each and that the smaller hooks could hold at least 80kg – 100kg each.

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Our heaviest individual was 100kg and spreading his weight over 2 large hooks proved sufficient. This meant the rest were safe enough on the 2 hooks as well.

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The lotus was a different story. Initially we used wire cable to make it more adjustable. But the catches we used to hold the cable in place let the cable slip in places. So we opted to use traditional line instead to minimize that risk.

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So we sought out the strongest thinnest line we could find, which happened to be kite surfing line with a breaking strength of 400kg. We encountered one hiccup while testing the line; every knot we tried even multiple knots would slip through; because of the way the line was braided it made it very slippery.

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We approached the company that sold it to us to find out what knot would hold, they in turn approached kite surfers and found out that the only way to do it was to splice the line, creating a loop at the top and then sewing the spliced line down in place down the center.

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This worked brilliantly during testing, the line and most importantly the stitching handled at least 200kg, which we were happy with. We added a second safety measure by individually attaching each hook and line to the rig, so that if by any chance any single line gave way, the others would pick up the strain. We did this because we knew that if the line would fail anywhere, it would be the stitching.

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It was for this reason that we added a 3rd safety feature to the lotus. This is why you see a slack webbing strap going down to a hook plate which is attached directly to the hooks in Debbie’s back. This was so that if any of the smaller hooks or lines failed, she had the safety of a suicide suspension to fall into, which we already knew could hold that kind of weight and force.

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All the rigging was put together by JSP – J-Sound Productions, a company that specializes in sound and stage rigging for big festivals and events. This aluminum rigging can handle many metric tons of weight, also all support cables and strapping (webbing) were construction grade, so also able to handle many tons each.

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We created and used 2 types of hooks. The entire system made of 316L Surgical Steel. Yes the pin included. This is one of the reasons why we had to do so much weight testing leading up to the suspension. All of the rig plates were steel as well. The only 3 rig plates that were aluminum were the bottom 3.  The larger hooks have a gape of 50mm. The pin itself was 5mm thick and tapered near the ends to fit inside of a 3.2mm needle or 8ga needle, which we imported.

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We also fabricated needle&bar pushers to make the piercing/stretch up quicker, and to give us, Svend and I, more control during piercing. The hooks and pins were made either by Svend himself or under his supervision, as he has a background and years of experience in working with metals and fabrication.  The smaller hooks have a gape of 25mm. The pins were 3.2mm thick and tapered to fit inside of a 12ga needle, also imported.

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When it came to the design of the hooks, Svend and I sat looking at all of the Gilson style hook designs out there at the time and drew elements that we felt were good and most effective, yet aesthetically pleasing. Using a “new” piece of equipment called a twisted d-shackle, it allowed us to hard rig the hooks directly to the rig plate without using any kite line. This made the assembly on the rig quick, eliminating another point of failure and speeding up the attachment to the rig.

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The Human Chandelier idea is credited to both Pendeo and the organizer of the Cool Inc. Tattoo Expo, Royston Chapman.

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As far as the preparation for the suspendees goes, the selection begun after we had our first open day suspension meeting where we suspended everybody that volunteered for the project. A lot of these people were first timers and we knew we wouldn’t have the time to deal with anybody passing out while the rig was fully extended. It would take too much time to get to the suspendee by bringing the entire rig down. So we carefully selected the people that suspended the best and were most comfortable with on the hooks.

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We put our strongest suspendees on the top tier, as they would be there the longest. And so forth regarding the other tiers. You’ll notice in the videos and pics, that we opted to put the first 2 tiers up, while we had the 3rd tier off to the side on some scaffolding. This was so that we could string the lotus up while the other guys found their “groove”, just in case anyone on the top 2 tiers weren’t doing too well.

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We then brought the 2 tiers over to the 3rd tier we did the lotus on and attached the remaining 4 cables to that tier and slowly guided it up through the scaffolding.

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We then took the rig back over to the center and picked up the remaining 2 suspendees, which we attached to the corners of the 3rd tier but much lower to not obscure anyone’s view of the lotus center piece.

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The approximate time up from start to finish was approximately 45minutes, with the lotus being up there for approximately 25minutes.  Pendeo would just like to thank everyone who was involved in the suspension; you all helped us make this possible. And we mean the suspension community worldwide as well, without your continued support and evolution for this art form, we wouldn’t have been able to draw on the right inspiration for the choices we made throughout this experience.

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Any questions or further info, you can reach Svend or Me on the following email addresses: Svend@pendeo.co.za or Conrad@pendeo.co.za

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