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Topic: Any balloon-tying advice for an absolute neophyte ?
Message: Posted by: Turk (May 14, 2013 01:51PM)
Hello, All.

As a strict absolute beginner when it comes to tying balloons, (I seem to recall, on a lark, [i]maybe[/i] tying a poodle dog or a sword about 15-20 years ago...or, in another life), I see all of these balloon sculptures being made by Dylan Gelinas, Christopher Lyle, David Brenion and others, and, other than being in a state of absolute awe,... a few questions immediately spring to mind, to-wit:

1. Are these balloon sculptures things that are made on-the fly in front of the person that will be given these types of balloon items, or, are they pre-made in advance and then brought to the event? Or both? (I'm looking at the Mickey Mouse Sorcerer's Apprentice as I ask this question.)

2. How long does it take to learn to be able to proficiently tie such balloon sculptures? (See, I told you I was an absolute neophyte when it comes to balloons.)

3. How complicated is it to begin to get down a good 10-20 basic balloon animal item repertoire for use by a table-hopping strolling magician? Is each twist and turn soooo complicated that a person with short-term memory (...What were we talking about?) should not even consider getting into the craft? Are we talking years and years? Months and months? What? In this regard, are a lot of the twists, "tricks" and techniques "generic"? (i.e., utilized over and over again in many of the various balloon animals and balloon sculptures?

4. What balloon DVDs (and books) would you recommend for a balloon neophyte?

See, I told you that I was a absolute beginner when it came to balloon tying.

Thanks for any info in these regards.


P.S. It sure would be helpful if one or more of the balloon-tying pros that frequent this Ballooning 101 thread created a beginners' thread (that dealt with these types of "beginner questions")
Message: Posted by: curtgunz (May 14, 2013 03:27PM)
Those guys are way better than me but I am working two restaurants a week twisting so I'll weigh in.

First, MAKE IT FUN for the people you tie for. A simple sword or wiener dog with a lot of smiles and laughs is a lot more entertaining than the awe they feel when they see a great creation. The thing is, those guys you mentioned (and a lot of other great twisters) do both. Create beautiful, amazing sculptures and still have their clients laughing until tears come to their eyes. But, if you have to do one or the other fun and laughs will trump technique every time.

Second, it is a "performing art" so perform. Practice doing the things you see on DVDs and YouTube or PDFs at home but don't wait until you feel you are "good enough" to twist in the wild. If you have two creations you can do, work those in to your performance. Then learn one more and do those three next week and then add another etc.

Each of the people you mentioned (and all of us really) began with dogs and swords. Dedicate yourself to getting better, but don't wait until you are perfect until you start twisting for the public.

Third, get DVDs. YouTube is great, free forums are super but when you buy a few top notch DVDs your twisting will take quantum leaps. I don't have a DVD to sell, I don't personally know any of the guys selling them but I can definitely say that when I purchased quality DVDs is when my twisting (and tips) really took off.

Fourth, as you add a new sculpture to your repertoire when you are at a birthday party, line work, or a restaurant do the new one a lot. Twisting in front of people will quickly teach you how to do it quickly, without having to think about it too much. Again, just add one a week. Don't worry about adding 20. If you can do two or three and add one a week in a short time you will have dozens you can do.

Fifth, BALLOON JAM, BALLOON JAM, BALLOON JAM. If there are other twisters in your area get with them and twist together. That is one of the fastest ways to learn and as a bonus you will make good friends. If there are not any balloon jams in your area you can organize one. Call a few twisters and meet at a public place to twist.

Often a local restaurant will have a room you can use. Order food and tip the waitresses so the management will welcome you back. Then twist like crazy. See what others are doing and show them what you have. Restaurants are good because everyone can meet and you don't have to worry about booking a room or a home to host. Call the management before, tell them what you are doing and ask if it is okay. You'll have a built in audience because the other patrons will see what you are doing and will want to get some of the creations to take home.

Even if you can't get a balloon jam in a restaurant get with other twisters. It is a great, fun way to learn and enjoy fellowship.

Sixth, you asked if it takes weeks or months. From what you have written you could go out now and spread smiles and joy. It takes a little investment of time to learn the basics but after that you are set to go.

BUT, here is the thing, even though you can twist after a short time you should try to learn and improve for your whole twisting career. Each of those guys you mentioned, and Buster Balloon, Mark Byrne and even Ralph Dewey are constantly trying to learn and improve. So, start now twisting what you can. Be satisfied that you are bringing joy but never stop learning.

Next step...I've been preaching a lot here. What I'd do next if I were you would be buy a bag of 100 balloons that you are going to dedicate to practice. Twist all of them and pop them before you twist one for the public. After 100 balloons you'll have a very basic feel for what you are doing (again you'll spend a lifetime improving but this is a great way to start). What other art form can you do that with an investment of less than $10?

Good luck to you and I'm looking forward to seeing what you create.

Message: Posted by: plink (May 14, 2013 09:20PM)
Hey curtgunz where were you thirty years ago when I got started???
Message: Posted by: Turk (May 16, 2013 02:50PM)
WOW!! Curt!! What a wonderful post to wake up to! Your post was one of the most amazing and helpful posts I have ever read on the Café. Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly and completely to my inquiry. It is obvious that you love ballooning and people and are a very caring individual. Thank you for all that information. It was an absolute pleasure to read and to ruminate upon. Frankly, your post brought more than one smile to my lips and absolutely made my day.