Pioneer Balloon Company
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 1999 16:25:32 -0500
From: "Kevin Kinney" <kinneyk@msm.edu>
To: <balloon@balloonhq.com>
Subject: Larry's CD



>This sunflower and ways of working with hearts is actually on my cool new
>CD-ROM that no one has reviewed yet (hint, hint).  CD info at
>http://www.fooledya.com/book/attackof.html



Alright, Larry, here we go.  I know I promised a thoughtful review, but things keep interfering.  But here we go:


Attack of the 50 foot demon.

An Instructional CD-ROM by Larry Moss

Available at the above address for $20 plus $3 shipping


Quick Capsule Summary:
     An excellent, informative introduction to the production of balloon fabrics (aka balloon weaving, see below).  Get it.


More detailed summary:

This CD is Larry's second, or possibly third, instructional volume (I just found out he has another one that he's edited-check his website), and this time, he's gone to a medium with which I think he's more comfortable, putting together an instructional CD-ROM.

The data is accessed via any common web browser (IE or Netscape, for example), meaning that anyone who uses the Web, regardless of platform, can use it (For example, I';m using a Mac, and it works fine).  

THe data on the disc takes the form of text, line art, photographs, and Quicktime video, and is probably the most comprehensive thing written to date on the subject of Balloon fabrics.  

What's a balloon fabric, you ask?  Well, the first part of the CD explains this.  Basically, the premise that Larry is putting forth, with help from several other experts, is that the term "balloon weaving" is a bit of a misnomer, and he's proposed the terms "balloon fabric" and "balloon plaiting" to take their place.  It's a matter of semantics, and probably a good idea to have it discussed, for the purpose of establishing an "industry standard" nomenclature-something that is currently missing.  I'm not going to get into the details of it-Larry explains it in detail, and cites a good set of references, and makes a good case for the change.  Whether the balloon twisters/decorators out there will adopt it is another question.  I'll admit, "Balloon fabric" doesn't roll off the tongue like "weaving" does.

With the philosophical/semantic discussion out of the way, The CD next goes through technique, starting with basic braiding and moving on to techniques for creating 2D and 3D objects out of balloons, including basket-like forms, tubes, and planar objects.  Each is explained in detail, both in text, line art, and generally video (there is about 20-30 minutes of video on the CD, of good visual and audio quality-this is a *great* thing).  Additionally there is information on quick ways to fill in loose, quickly assembled frameworks-very nifty things I had not though of before.  Don't let the brevity of my summary of this section fool you:  thewre's a lot here for someone who is an experienced twister but looking to get into the big stuff.

What's great about this is the unique learning perspective that this medium offers:  books are great-you can work through them at your own pace, flip hwere you want to, skip forward por back, etc.  But there are times when static pictures, even stellar ones, just can get the technique across.  Video is good for showing you the moves to do something, but videotapes are hard to learn from at your own pace:  the tape marches on at it's speed, and it's a pain to zip back and forth continually.

The CD, offering small video clips with text and line art, encompasses the best of both:  if you can get it from the pics, great, if not, the video is there, easily accessed, easy to pasue and move around forward or back.  Since the  instructional set up is hyperlinked and nonlinear, it is easy to skip around in whatever order pleases you.  

Now, that part alone is great.  But wait!  There's more!  In addition, Larry has included a section, text and photo, on the Japanese Demon project he was involved in last December.  If you haven't been to Balloon HQ to see these pics, you're missing an astounding display of balloon decoration.  Well, you can see it, and more of it here.  The text is in Larry's open, storytelling style, and a lot of fun to read.  He mentions that the goal was a parade float-like structure, and that's exactly what came to mind.  Really, you have to see this.  

But we're not done yet!  There's also a section on twisting heart balloons-so often neglected by twisters.  This section is basically just theory, with a couple of finished sculptures to inspire you, but if you think you can only twist long skinny balloons, this'll change your mind.  

Finally, there's a "non-balloon" section that may be worth the price of the CD itself:  Larry has included some thoughts on the theory and practie (from his point of view of course), of busking (entertaining on the street for tips).  THis is a small section, but given the lack of easily accessed information of this entertainment form, it's a gold mine.  Honestly, this may be the section I use most.  

So you get:  instruction on how to make just about anything you can imagine out of balloons (provided you have the balloons and the imagination, the potential of balloon fabrics is that immense), a photo album/story of an amazing balloon project, and some tips on how to use your skills to make some money.  A good deal.


What, you want to hear something negative?  Well, see.

My copy had a couple broken links, but Larry's fixed those.  So that doesn't count.

Larry will be the first to tell you that a lot of this information is already available on Balloon HQ.  But not all of it.  Certainly not the video segment, as far as I know.  ANd honestly, it's been laid out nicely here and is easy to use.  

Finally, I'f you're looking for detailed, step-by-step instruction on how to mamke your own 50-foot demon, or any other complex wpoven/plaited/fabric sculpture here, you're not going to find it.  Larry's giving you the basics (which are not basic at all), and leaving the specific execution up to you.  What you do with all of these techniques is limited only by what you can think up, but the creativity portion is yours.  In short (too late), if you're wanting specific models to make, don't come here-this CD will give you a new balloon vocabulary to write your own latex stories.  

I've been known to spend $15-25 dollars on origami books for one or two models.  For about the same price here, you get a *lot* of potential figures.  

Anyway, I liked it a lot, as you may have noticed....




Kevin