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BalloonHQ has existed for 20 years. This is how it began. The following messages were posted to various places by Larry Moss, founder of BalloonHQ.

The following note was posted to the Usenet group alt.magic on Jan 7, 1992

Here's a topic that I haven't seen discussed and I haven't posted anything in a while. It isn't exactly magic but it is a concern of many magicians. I also figured this would be a topic that couldn't possibly generate a flame war. (yeah, right. This is usenet after all :-) Since I started doing magic I've played with balloon sculpting a bit. Balloons are great to give to kids at parties and often just random people on the street. Half the time I actually do it to cheer myself up as much as the person I'm giving it to. It's only recently though that I've realized just how great they are and what can be done with them. Up until now I was satisfied with just the simple stuff I learned several years ago.

I've looked in a number of places for books and generally what I've found is the real basic stuff. Most of the books I've run into do have something interesting in them, but not enough to by them all. I was ready to give up on my quest to find books when I was informed that there really are a large number of them. I was even told who sells them now. (thanks Jim, I'll go look as soon as I have time.) Now I was wondering if anyone has any favorite books on balloon sculpting, ideas about using balloons in performances, or anything of the sort.

Something else that I've been wondering about is a history of balloons. I get the distinct impression that latex wasn't available throughout history. :-) I've actually even been asked by a few people if I knew where they originated and when balloon sculpting got started. I know, that's probably like asking who did the first coin trick. As long as there were coins there were people making them disappear and as long as there were balloons someone must have been twisting them. What I'd really like to do, and I dont' know how feasible it is, would be to compile a collection of "public domain" (is it possible to own the rights to a figure you've created? anyone know anything about the legal aspect of what I want to do?) figures that could be made available to anyone interested. Other information is passed around on the net, something like this I think would be a lot of fun. Admittedly it would be a little more difficult distributing this than most stuff since pictures would certainly be needed, but simple line drawings in a reasonable format shouldn't be too bulky to handle. Have I completely flipped on this one? If there's any interest I'd be willing to write up and draw up the stuff I can do. Of course, this whole thing may be a little silly if there are good books around, but even so I'm interested in hearing what people think about this, especially the legal aspect.


Next, we have a note posted to rec.juggling on Jan 15 1992:

I recently posted to alt.magic looking for others interested in balloon sculpting. There has been some interest and I have exchanged ideas with a couple of people, but there actually has been less discussion than I expected.

I'd like to know if anyone that reads this group is interested in being on a mailing list. The point of the list would be to share figures you make or create.

If you're interested in the list or just have ideas on the subject (like books you've learned from) let me know.

Thanks, Larry

After attracting a few interested parties, the very first note was posted to the original BalloonHQ mailing list on Feb 2, 1992:

There hasn't been any discussion here yet. Perhaps this will start something. I also really will write up more of the animals I know how to do, like I said I would originally.

On Friday I was handed most of a series of articles by Jim Klein on balloons at birthday parties. His main theme was the use of only dogs (or only one type of animal) when presenting each child with a party favor. His reason was sensible enough: children (well, adults certainly can't be accused of this :-) will often decide they want the same thing that someone else has. If one child asks for a dog and then sees the next child in line receiving an alligator with 4 toes on each foot and clearly sculpted nostrils, the first one isn't going to be satisfied with his/her gift.

OK, I admit that given the two balloons I just mentioned it's perfectly understandable that some children would consider fighting for the "better" balloon. However, in my experience this is not the usual scenario. Most often when I ask children what they want they ask for things they've already seen other clowns/magicians/etc make. This means that they almost all ask for dogs, cats, swans, swords, and ninja turtles. (There is the occasional request for something as unusual as a chicken.) I do usually show off and make something nicer for the birthday child. I suppose it's only recently that I've had anything to show off with, but even when I started the birthday child always got at least an octopus from me. I never got any complaints about the birthday child getting something bigger. It was understood that on their own birthdays (if they could talk there parents into "inviting" the magician) they would get something like that also. All of the others were always happy with the dog, cat, swan, sword, or ninja turtle that they had since I was able to produce exactly what they asked for.

Much to my surprise, when we discussed this article at lunch on Friday, there was a general acceptance of the idea presented of limiting yourself to one figure at a party. Personally, when I'm making balloons I get bored constantly doing the same thing. I also find that many kids are happy with "personalized" balloons. When they ask for something less common I often make them think that they're putting me on the spot and forcing me to dream up some method of creating whatever it is they asked for. (this is often what's happening, which can make it quite a bit easier to convince them of this. :-) When this does happen it becomes as much of a game to see if they can stump me as a way to get their own balloon and they don't seem to care who gets what. When someone does succeed in stumping me, they just enjoy it and laugh at me when all I make is a dog that's completely out of proportion. As an aside, the parents never understand that I like the game and they don't need to feel sorry for the abuse the kids are putting me through.

Anyway, I was wondering how everyone else feels about this and what experiences you've had.


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