Coming events for balloon artists
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 22:57:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Larry Moss <moss@balloonhq.com>
To: Balloon Twister List <balloon@balloonhq.com>,
Subject: Review: Bruce Walden's Balloon School

I'm doing something I rarely do.  I'm cross-posting this review to the
twister and decorator lists.  This is a review of two balloon twisting
videos.  But it's a review that I think balloon decorators will be
interested in reading.  My apologies to those of you that are receiving it
twice.  

--

Bruce Walden's Balloon School Videos
Figure Tying - Parts A and B
US$39.99 US each tape or $139.99 for 4-video set that includes the two videos
with Jim & Pat Skistimas (Balloon People, Balloons on Parade). Available
from many major balloon distributors (Flowers Inc., US Balloon, etc... call
1-800-268-7084 or e-mail walden@idirect.com for full list or other info)
Part A - 87 minutes
Part B - 82 minutes
VHS

Review by Larry Moss, Balloon HQ, LLC


Bruce Walden is known in the balloon industry for his creativity and
teaching skills.  That's probably why his instructional balloon videos sell
so well.  Having seen him in a classroom setting, and having had several
opportunities to talk with him at length, I was excited about the
opportunity to review two of his latest videos.

Since my area of expertise is balloon twisting, it only makes sense that
these are the first of Bruce's videos that I've watched.  These are,
however, volumes 9 and 10.  If you're new to the balloon world, and have
never seen Bruce's work, rest assured, you don't need to buy the previous 8
tapes to make use of these.  They do stand entirely on their own.  In fact,
now that I've seen these, I am interested in seeing some of the others.

One of the things that I've always found makes a good teacher is the
ability to admit limitations of knowledge.  Well aware of his own strengths
and weaknesses, Bruce makes no attempt to teach balloon twisting by
himself.  Instead, he has created these tapes with twister/entertainer Jody
Braxton.  Using Jody's knowledge of twisting, Bruce has added his own little
insights into the use of these skills for decor purposes and adds a fresh
spin whenever possible.  

Figure Tying Part A includes a brief intro of basic twists.  The target
audience seems to be balloon decorators that are new to balloon twisting.
This is a group that, to my knowledge, has been ignored by publishers in
the past.  Many twisting books and videos exist for those that are either
completely new to ballooning, or have some background in twisting.  The
decorators that know something about balloons and want to add new things to
their decor using twisty balloons haven't had many places to turn for
help.  

Nothing is left out of Part A regarding terminology, so that you'll be able
to progress rapidly through the remainder of the tapes.  Unfortunately, one
of my biggest complaints about the video, is that the terminology Bruce
chose to use does not necessarily match what balloon twisters have been
using for years.  After watching this video, you'll certainly be able to
follow the instructions provided.  I suspect the difficulty for me in
watching this had more to do with my background than anything else.  If
you're new to this particular art form, the differing nomenclature won't
bother you.  Just expect to run into some confusion with works produced by
other people as you do more twisting down the road.  Out of fear of
scaring anyone away from the videos, I want to make it clear that it's only
a few terms that Bruce and I disagree with.  And the confusion will take
only a short time to get over.  Those familiar with my own writing will be
aware of how picky I can be regarding the terminology I use.  For that
reason, I just couldn't ignore it in this review.  Others probably won't
make as big a deal out of it.

Other things found on the videos include use of 350's, flowers and baskets.
Tips and tricks include how to easily inflate 260's for flowers. Jody
provides recipes including specific lengths for bubble sections for those
that like recipes. The camera angle Bruce chose for many of the shots is
becoming more common in more modern tapes on twisting and I'm glad to see
he chose to do it.  We get to watch the hands of our instructors from over
their shoulders so that you see exactly what you'll see later when you're
holding the balloons in your own hands.

Balloon twisters have traditionally made videos that are hard to watch.
The philosophy is that it's more important to get the material in your
hands than waste time on production.  Bruce has gone in the other
direction.  He wouldn't release these tapes until he was satisfied with
their appearance.  That's not to say that watching them is like watching a
cool special effects movie.  He's just made sure that you can sit through
them and catch on to everything being presented.  I'd give it a good score
for production quality.

Very few of the designs presented on the video are new or unusual.
Variations on most have appeared in other works by other twisters.
However, what Bruce and Jody have accomplished is to compile things that
decorators will find useful.  Bruce, using his eye for decor, also presents
uses for many of the things on these videos that other balloon twisters
wouldn't be looking for.

All of the ideas are presented with clear recipes to follow so that you're
not left stranded, unsure of how to proceed.  If you're like me and prefer
to skip the recipes, using the ideas in your own ways, that's easy enough
to do given the format of the presentation.  You will have things you can
make just by the time you reach the end of Part A.  Part B will bring you
up a notch with things like a working marionette so that you're ready for
more difficult creations of your own later.

There are a few shortcomings in explanations of things like the poodle
tail.  I fear that someone trying to make a poodle tail for the first time
with just the explanation provided will have trouble.  But that's only a
small point.  It was a noble attempt to try to cover everything a balloon
artist might need on the subject of twisty balloons in only two tapes.
This is certainly a good overview of the art of figure tying for someone
that would like to add these things to their decor.  I expect that a
balloon decorator looking to expand their knowledge and skills will be able
to make good use of the material here.