It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your social background is, or what country you reside in; everyone loves balloons! This blog is not about big commercial balloons that float high over skyscrapers in holiday parades. It is about balloons that are twisted into various shapes right before your eyes. They appear at numerous public and private events like parties, fairs, restaurants, hospitals, and assisted living homes. The audience is mesmerized by each twist and turn of the balloon. Unknowingly some hold their breath with each twist and let their breath out with each turn. They wait anxiously for the creation to appear in its finished form. Some in the audience cannot contain themselves and start yelling out dog, giraffe, flower, sword, etc., whatever they think will be the finished creation.

People who create art with balloons have several descriptive titles (balloon benders, balloon artist, and twisters, but the technical name is balloonologist. Whatever name you refer to them by, they are people who twist special modeling balloons into various sculptures. The sculpture can be made using a single balloon or multiple balloons; how many balloons are used to make one creation depends on how elaborate the shape. Twisters use Qualatex 260Q modeling balloons. The numbers tell you the balloon is 2 inches in girth and 60 inches long. Very seldom do you see a balloon bender using lung power to blow up balloons. It is quicker (and more sanitary) to use a hand pump. To really speed things up, many use a dual action pump which propels air when pushed in as well as when it is pulled out.

Serious balloonologists attend conventions where they can take instructional classes to fine-tune their skills. Balloon sculpturing is an art and, like all art, can be frustrating at times for the artist. The conventions provide a great way to form friendships with other twisters from around the world and share business information and concerns.

There are elaborate sculpture competitions. Participants come from Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The balloon entrees can be very sophisticated. The sculpture can have sound. It can have button activated movement. It can have tape, glue, wire, paint, and other decorations attached. The balloon artist can select from numerous categories for the competition. The size of the balloon sculpture is one determining factor.

Today balloon art can be a high paying career. It takes years though to reach this level. Corporate clients pay thousands of dollars for high-end balloon twisting entertainment. There is a demand, like ice sculpturing, for elaborate balloon sculpture displays at various social and corporate events.

Balloon artists have shared their techniques by posting videos on the Internet.  They are fascinating and entertaining. A fun family activity could be to watch a video on how to make a sword or dog (these are good for beginners) and then make one together. A balloonologist in the making might just be discovered.

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