I have made people pretty happy. . . what kind of problems will be created from teddy bears, weiner dogs, flowers, and the like?
- Lorna Paris
Balloons have helped me to approach and speak with natives when traveling abroad. (Once I attracted a mob that was broken up by a man with a machine gun. That taught me not to get out the balloons unless I had the time and resources to make one for every kid there.)
Latex balloons grow, shrink, and change shape almost as if they have life. Objects in nature aren't a static size. Most of the man made objects we know of are a fixed size. A foil balloon looks to me like a bag. Even when full, it doesn't look "right". There are wrinkles in it. It doesn't shrink when the gas leaves it. It just flattens. A latex balloon always looks like it's the right size (as long as there's some air in it). The latex stretches to adapt to its contents. A latex balloon is always smooth, no matter it's size and shape. What other objects are that smooth *and* flexible (and smooth after being flexed)? Most importantly it looks so simple. (Paper is another item that seems so simple and basic to me that I'm fascinated by what can be done with it. Paper and latex even come from the same place... kind of.)
To quote Devon Snyder
"Nothing fills a space with shape and color quite like a balloon." Or the Swedish fruit sculptor who said "It's the roundness like that of the female form, that attracts people ...."
Size to Weight
A balloon is so light for its size that it seems to defy gravity. The larger the balloon or group of balloons the more amazing this effect becomes. A balloon's air resistance and elastic skin add to it's seemingly unnatural properties. When hit it does not go far and it nearly disappears when it breaks.
Energy and Practicality
Try telling a non-balloonists that an 11 inch round balloon, fully inflated, has just under 4 square feet of surface area! Then ask them if they know of any other decor medium that offers as much color intensity and visual energy and features as much surface area for so little money.
Balloons are associated with good times. The more the merrier. They are commonly used by advertisers to symbolize fun.
They are easy to break and require special care. Giving something personal attention makes it more valuable to the giver. Fragile also implies fleeting, A balloon by nature is not going to be around very long (or if it is, it will look a whole lot different than it did when first made). This is, from a marketing point of view, a great benefit because there is always product need. The twisted balloon adds even more to this fleeting product because you may be able to find a balloon quickly, but you cannot always find someone to twist it up for you.
A balloon pop startles people. It can start your juices going to make for a moment of 'fight or flee' response.
Too many people, not sinus problems.
Getting the twister stopped to keep the main event on schedule
Distraction from the main event
Don't compete with Santa for a line, you might win. It's better to work with Santa's line, working the waiting line or making them something after they've seen Santa.
It is a possession and instant gratification thing that is very strong. If they think they will get a balloon and don't they are disappointed, no matter how entertaining the show is. In fact, if the audience has lined up for balloons, things that slow down the line become an irritation. Like taking a long time making something special for one person when 30 people are waiting or repeating bits that may have been funny the first time but this is the third time and they have been in line for 20 minutes and they are about to miss their bus. They want the balloon.
Involve the customer in the balloon. Give the customer choices of shape and color. Offering figures that are symbols of love and security (Hearts, Teddy Bears, Puppies) can help insure a personal and emotional response. Choose something you know to be personally important to the customer. Writing a kid's name on his balloon or making the IBM logo for a convention personalizes balloons.
The twisters ability and speed are amazing to people. Like a juggler. What will the final product look like causes curiosity. Like a construction sight.
the bigger it is the more valuable it is and the more interest it creates.
Adults appreciate detail/original/art more than kids.
This varies by the person and the situation. It can add a great deal to the value of the balloon. It can also detract from its value.
Teaching kids to twist helps them with manual dexterity, self esteem, and even structural engineering (right Mark?).... Right! Even better than an Erector Set. Large sculpture design requires consideration of framing and support.
'Round' balloon artists use 11" or 9" balloons attached to lightweight aluminum rod or conduit frames (or netting attached to such frames) to create 'round' balloon sculptures, including bird cages, Eiffel Towers, city scapes and many more.
Royal and Patty Sorrell's IBAC sculptures were self-supporting. An impressive aspect of their Dragon (see photo section) was that it was all twisted latex: no balloons attached to netting draped over a metal skeleton. Here, form was truly in harmony with structure. This sculpture stands about 10' high and has no framing and no monofilament. The only glue is holding the gossamer fabric to the wings, this fits our definition of a 'pure' sculpture. (There are round balloons inside the dragon to fill him out and support the exoskeleton... if he were hollow, he would collapse under his own weight.
... a child is told say thank you and the child looks you in the eye and gives a tight-lipped baby style kiss right on the lips of the balloon animal you just made.
... you meet up with kids from another country who have never seen a balloon hat or animal before and YOU are the one who gets to show them this wonderful art for the first time.
... a child brings back a balloon that you made for her over a month ago... and for some reason it is STILL in perfect condition, well, as perfect a condition as it can be after THAT long.
... a child comes in after not having seen you for at least a year and STILL knows what you look like.
There was no sense of possessiveness or "That balloon is mine." I'd get a request for a hat or a dog by one child, but very soon it would be in the hands of another, with no tears or discussion. Two boys were sharing a sword, passing it back and forth and giving each other ideas with it.
Everything was going very well. Then one balloon POPPED!! Lots of exclamation of surprise, but I went back to twisting. Pretty soon I began to realize that most of the balloons had disappeared. I caught site of a young boy, running off with as many balloons as he could carry. Turns out he was storing them all in a special room - to protect them and save them all for later.
It was very difficult to make them understand that most of these balloons were transient items and best to be enjoyed in the present moment.