Balloon Tidbits

Feb 26, 2023

Balloon Tidbits

by Ralph Dewey

In this month’s column I’m going to ramble a bit. I’ll share some ideas,
human interest news, and tips.

One interesting bit of news was a story about a balloon twister who made
animals with his feet. I didn�t get a chance to witness this skill but I
was told that he took off his shoes off but kept his socks on. He then
used folding and twisting techniques that involved pressing the balloon
against the floor (carpeted, I assume) and rubbing/rolling the bubbles to
twist them. He made a simple dog. My first thought was, �How
interesting!� But wait a minute! Who would want a balloon after it had
been all over someone�s socks? At another time, I was at Circus Magic in
Virginia. I met a teenage girl who made balloon animals. I was told that
she learned to make balloon animals with her feet and as a ministry taught
paraplegics to also make balloon animals with their bare feet. I sure
wanted to see firsthand how that could be done. Unfortunately, she was
too embarrassed to show me. So I still haven’t seen anyone twist balloon
animals with their feet.

I met a teenage balloon twister who was also a cornet player in his school
band. He had so much lung power that he could instantly (well virtually
anyway) blow up a balloon by mouth. He used the thumb and first fingers
of both hands to stretch and open the nozzle slightly. And with almost a
spitting action, he blew one quick blast of breath into the 260. Viola!
It was fully inflated. And I thought that I had some lung power.

I�ve seen people who could blow up two 260 balloons simultaneously. That
was impressively until I met Sammy �T� Clown from Utah who could do five
260 balloons at a time. Wow, five at a time!

Here is an interesting story that happened to me. It�s one of those
learning experiences. I was doing a gospel balloon program at an
encampment. They had a chapel building with wooden benches. At the end
of the program I shot some 350 airship balloons out into the audience with
Jesus Saves printed on them. In case you don�t know how to shoot a 350 or
260 like a rocket, poke your index finger into the nozzle end of the
balloon while holding it with your thumb and middle fingers. When you
release it, the balloon flies away about 30 or 40 feet. At any rate, for
my finale I had about 20 balloons in a plastic bag with the printing on
them ready to go. At the appointed time, I quickly started shooting the
balloons to all areas of the audience. I had done it many times in the
past without any problems. The following year I was asked to return to
the encampment and do another balloon program. But this time, the leaders
decided to remove the first three rows of wooden benches to allow more
kids to sit on the floor and be up close to the action. So far, there was
no problem. Again the program went well until the balloon rocket finale.
When I started to shoot the Good News Rockets out into the audience, I
soon heard one of the adults yell, Stop, stop! They’s killing the kids!”

Now that’�s not what you want to hear at the end of your balloon progras.
I quickly discovered that the bigger kids were chasing after the balloons
by jumping and lunging over the smaller kids. In the process, the smaller
kids were getting trampled. The year before, the benches had acted as a
barrier and kept the kids from stampeding, but not this time. Thank God,
none of the smaller kids had gotten seriously injured, but now I watch out
for that scenario.

One of the great things about BalloonHQ, balloon conventions and jams is
the idea sharing. One idea that I learned was how to make a 260 slightly
longer. Have you ever tried braiding three 260�s or three 160�s? They
never seem to inflate to the same exact length. There is at least one
balloon that ends up being shorter. You can make that balloon longer by
grasping it lightly and then sliding your down the full length of the
balloon. It�s somewhat like trying to make the balloon give off a
squeaking noise.

One problem with multiple balloon creations like my pelican shown below,
is that they easily fall over with a slight gust of wind. I have found
that by wedging a penny into each foot, it will add enough weight to keep
the balloon creation more stable.

One secret for shaping and bending 260 balloons is to make sure they are
soft. Take the heart made from a 260 for example. After fully inflating
it all except for a � inch, I burp the balloon well. Usually a couple of
quick burps will be sufficient. I tie the nozzle and nipple ends
together. I find the middle of the balloon by stretching it between my
thumbs. I then fold the middle into a �heart� shape as shown below.

I grasp the center of the heart with my right hand. I then squeeze the
air (all of it) out of the middle of the heart and quickly open my grasp
to allow it to abruptly re-inflate. I do this about three times.

I grasp just above the middle of the balloon with my left hand. With my
right hand, I pull the bottom of the balloon down firmly a couple of
times. When released, the balloon will have the shape of a heart.

Some people like to hold the balloon against their body while forming the
heart shape to help steady it.