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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ballooning 101 » » Setting my mind right for learning ballooning (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

revlovejoy
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I tend to micro-analyze every new venture I get into, so here it goes.

I've recently taken an interest in ballooning and have been looking up videos online, and I have an impression that I am not sure is accurate. Tell me if I'm on to something, or if I am off....

Whereas the dexterity for close up magic may involve countless moves and techniques, it looks to me like the "alphabet" for twisting is pretty finite. While it appears that you can make anything with balloons, the actual "moves" are few. What leads to complicated structures is not a slew of fancier moves, but better designs, or what I've seen called here "recipes." I prefer to think in terms of "sequences."

So if I want to progress quickly into complicated structures, I need to master all the twists, and get good at memorizing sequences. Or is there a second level of moves that I won't be able to do for a long time? (Example in beginning guitar playing is the ability to play a barre chord, which most beginners have trouble with until one day it just pops and now you have a whole new level to explore.)

Am I going about this with the right mindset?
revlovejoy
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I just re-read my post and realized it could come out wrong - I am not saying I think this looks easy and I will be a master overnight - I have huge respect for you all as artists and I want to learn. I do not think "there's nothing to it" at all, but it looks like I had that attitude. Back to a music analogy, there are only 12 1/2 steps in the Western musical scale, but that does not mean composing a symphony or playing an instrument is that simple.
jakeg
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Depending upon how advanced you want to get, it is much easier to learn to twist than it is to learn most slights. Certainly easier than learning to handle a deck of cards. The number of twists that you have to learn are simple and relatively few. They are learned in a matter of minutes, and, there are no secret moves, so you're not concerned about screwing up.
In my opinion, the real skill comes in in finding the correct proportions so that your figures looks right.
I suggest that you purchase Captain Visual's Big Book of Balloon Animals as a starter before you get into the dvd's. It will give you a good foundation. After that, look at some of the dvd's. There are also a pot full of sites on youtube explaining how to twist, (in 5 minutes they teach you how to make an figure, so how hard could it be?), and there are some very good forums with lots of information on them.
Mr. Woolery
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I'm still very new to it, but here's a bit of my take:

For lots of balloon shapes, you only need a few twists and a basic understanding of how to put them together and get a result that looks enough like a critter to pass for one. Not too hard, really. I find that the hardest part for me is just estimating how much "tail" to leave on the balloon for a particular model.

For the more involved or the improvisational, it seems that some people are able to visualize the shape and figure out on the fly how to make it happen. I would sort of lump this in with your barre chord analogy. It is the transition between the basic worker and the artist. I have not made it yet, but I see people able to take just about any request and make a kid happy with the result.

Want some advice?

Go ahead and get some balloons. Watch the videos on You Tube about making basic one-balloon creations. Spend a couple of months giving balloons away to kids. Then decide whether you want to step it up. If so, there are plenty of DVDs that will probably help a lot. But having a lot of practice knowing how far you can push a balloon will mean that the DVDs will help you a lot more than if you are still trying to figure out a pinch twist.

-Patrick
nums
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I tell people when they ask me "How long did it take you to learn to make balloons?" 6 years and 1 day. The reason is I only made single balloon animals for 6 years, doing the same basic 10 twists that are needed. Then one day I met a really great balloon guy and with his permission I kept up with him with the complicated (medium/advanced level) just by watching.

SO the best thing, IMHO is to learn the basics well and the complicated will come along easy.


NUMS
docbarnes
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I thought I was getting pretty good and then I went to Twist and Shout. There are other skills that are not secrets, but are not written in books. Ralph Dewey, has 100 of them. They are the little extras that make the balloons that something extra special.
Steve Yarosko
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I concur with everything that Docbarnes said. In addition, there is a lot of "knacky" things that are not taught in books or on video like breaking off an unwanted section of balloon. You will see it a lot in videos, but I don't think anyone has taught how to do it, because everyone has their own technique for doing it, and it is something that has to be taught one on one if you can't figure it out on your own. It comes with practice.

The individual twists are one thing to be learned, but there is so much more. For example, It took me a long time to figure out how to make different pieces stand up on their own. There are different ways to do it, and I will use different techniques depending on the piece of art I am constructing. Earlier on, I would have a great idea, and start making something, and spend more time adjusting and making alterations just so the piece would look right and stand up without falling over. I once made a Carmen Miranda Figure with a huge hat with all kinds of fruit. It was for a Caribbean themed party. I had the piece finished, and as I was looking at it, I thought, "her bust is too big, I better make her chest a bit smaller." Well, it was her big b@@bs that were holding up her head with all the fruit. I went back to the bigger chest. At least I had a logical reason in case any one called me on it. Sorry to ramble, but it was a funny, yet educational experience.

There is so much more to balloon art beyond just twisting. Learning to weave is mandatory if you want to make some of the cool advanced stuff. There are lots of different kinds of weaves for different purposes. One of the newer things is incorporating some of the techniques that balloon decor people use. I've always marketed myself as an artist, and I really approach the balloons that way. The balloons are the media, but also the different kinds of balloons are the different brush strokes. I believe I learned that concept from Don Caldwell. To carry on your music analogy, I know a lot of musicians that can play all the right notes at all the right times, and it is music. However, a true artist can impart feeling and emotion into the music. The same goes with magic and balloons. You can take it just as far as you want to and that your talents allow. Again, I apologize for the rambling.
revlovejoy
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Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I am not looking to be the top artist in a month or anything. My children have birthdays in the fall, and I have some ideas for specific sculptures that I hope to be able to do by then, and I think with some focus I will be able to do that.
MiketheMagicDude
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CT
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Best thing anyone can recommend is to get a couple of beginner books and videos and a couple bags of balloons and just play.

Follow the instructions. Learn the twists and shapes...but do not limit yourself to what you see and learn. Don't be afraid to experiment.
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