Merry Christmas everybody!!!
Our intern Dan is really good at balloon animals. Really good.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!
Our intern Dan is really good at balloon animals. Really good.
As October comes to an end, I’m trying to learn some new stuff for Halloween. My dear friend, Sam Allard, drove all the way out to New York from Cleveland today, so the least I could do was give him a witch.
Big thanks to Mr. Dave Twister from 3 Ring Entertainers for sharing this design. You can check out his work here: http://www.3ringentertainers.com/mrdavegallery.php
My idea is more harsh. Talk to a VERY BUSY restaurant owner (OUT OF TOWN) and volunteer (her) to work on a busy night. If she does not stress out too much she is ready. If she bombs out it will be in a neighborhood you do not service and no harm no fowl… You can go to the restaurant with her should she need help or is overly stressed you can come to her aid.
Before I even suggest to have someone fill in for me, I do this… and to stack the odds against them to make sure it is PACKED (I am cruel) I do the restaurant 3 three weeks in a row before I “audition” them. I also drop off big lobby displays a few days before and tons of signage announcing a balloon artist on “THIS COMING THURSDAY”. I have two families that I know come to Heckle the balloon artist. One uses the “You’re not as good as the guy here last week” role. The others are the “in your face” “Can I get a 8 legged armadillo” spoiled BRAT kid and the ALWAYS UNDER FOOT ANNOYING KID who keeps nagging “Can I get another balloon and another balloon and another balloon interrupting you while you are trying to entertain another table following you everywhere . Seeing how they deal with these situations determines if I will agree to hire someone out upon my shirttails. Only 2 people have ever passed my test. However, I know I can trust these people to be able to manage themselves and do not charge them a “booking” fee as some other balloon artists are known to charge.
However, since this is a family member, you may not wish to have the “paid” evil kids, but it does give you an idea of how they will handle the most stressful situations.
Just a suggestion… use it if you feel it will help.
A lot of people don’t realize that there is a large community of balloon twisters on the Internet. This is how twisters share instructions, stories, advice, etc.
I recently came across this hilarious post at the balloon-animals.com discussion board about when a balloon twister is ready to go professional. The post is from Peter John, and he’s responding to a fellow twister who wants to know when she can start booking her sister-in-law (a balloon artist in training) for birthday parties.
Having spent thirteen years twisting balloon animals, I have definitely encountered all of the hecklers Peter describes. I can’t say I agree with his maniacal restaurant test for a new balloon artist, but I definitely respect his creative tactics.
Only two people have ever passed Peter’s test. God help those who have failed it.
So in addition to updating the blog every Sunday, I am also now hoping to learn a new balloon sculpture every week and post a picture on Thursdays. I just ordered 1,800 balloons, so I figure I should expand my repertoire.
This week I finally figured out Don Caldwell’s monkey design, which I’m very excited to make in the park! Next time I’ll probably give him a bigger palm tree and some bananas.
Drop me a line if you have any particular ideas or challenges for next week!
Sometimes kids don’t understand that I am a human being.
As I mentioned in last week’s balloon blog, a child recently stared at me and then all of a sudden said, “WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?”
I told him, “The far off planet of New Jersey.”
Today I met a boy, who said, “YOUR HANDS ARE LIKE A MACHINE!”
I wondered if there will ever be balloon-twisting robots, who rob me of my only marketable skill post-college.
Whether the kids think I’m an alien, robot, or just a weird dude, they don’t always comprehend that I have a human body that needs to sustain itself by eating food.
Two weeks ago I was entertaining at a Vietnamese Harvest Festival that my aunt and uncle were hosting. There was a big crowd of children waiting for their third and fourth balloon animals, but I was starving and ready for my dinner break.
Since the kids had to get ready for a lantern parade, I told them I’d make more balloons before they left, then snuck over to the buffet to pile my plate with as much lemongrass chicken and mooncake as I could.
When I finally sat down to eat, a little girl suddenly ran up to me in shock.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOUR SERIOUS?!"
It was way too hilarious to find rude or annoying.
It was almost as if I had betrayed her… as I had been sent to Earth as a robot slave with the sole mission of making her balloon animals.
"I’m eating food so I have more energy to make balloon animals."
This answer was not satisfactory.
"UGGGH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HOW MUCH LONGER?"
At this point, I was feeling very happy. Not only was my work being truly appreciated, but I was also eating a delicious crab roll.
As the girl continued to berate me, her parents took her away and said, “Let the man eat his food.”
That’s right. “Let the man eat his food.”
It’s funny how the only time anyone will ever refer to me as “a man” is when I am making balloon animals.
I take directing very seriously.
There were Qualatex 260s in the office today. I never thought I’d get to make Sam Reich a balloon hat!
So this weekend was pretty awesome. After a very rainy Friday, we had beautiful weather, and I got to spend a lot of time in Central Park entertaining the masses. I have officially claimed a spot around the corner from the Alice in Wonderland statue — it’s right between my arch nemesis, the frozen Tinkerbell lady, and an old man who plays the accordion. I actually like them both a lot (especially the guy who provides me live music), and I hope they don’t hate me for stealing any customers.
The coolest part of twisting balloon animals in Central Park is that I meet a ton of people from around the world. In the past couple weeks, I’ve entertained people from Japan, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Slovakia, and the Netherlands. I also meet a lot of families who help me practice my Spanish (El Hombre Arana is technically how you say Spider-Man, but the kids just yell, “Espiderman!”
The other cool thing about twisting in Central Park is EVERYONE TIPS! As long as my backpack is on the ground with a pile of cash, I don’t have to wear a button.
Sometimes a kid first approaches and says, “How much is a balloon?” to which I reply, “Any tip is greatly appreciated.”
Since most children expect to hear a number and don’t know what a tip is, they generally stare at me, very perplexed, then run to their parents for help.
Today two boys who were WAY TOO EXCITED ABOUT THE BALLOONS (one wanted a gun that could shoot swords and the other one wanted a mongoose) came back very sad to report that they’re not allowed to get anything because “we don’t have two dollars.”
I had a big crowd of people, but I told the boys I could quickly make them swords.
"But we want werewolves!" one of the boys suddenly decided.
"I’ll make you a sword for free, but not a werewolf."
So the boys got super excited about their swords and started dueling around the pond (see picture above of their battle).
And sure enough, at the end of the day, they both came running back waving singles in the air.
Until next time, I’ll be working on a mongoose.
Best quote of the week: “WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?”
Weirdest request of the week: a toolbox
Special thanks: Laura, Josie, Karen, Sarah, and Evan for visiting
this is my new favorite balloon photo. james is awesome.
Bear on Motorcycle
By: Dan the Balloon Man
So I’ve finally settled into my new apartment in Brooklyn and guess what means… the Balloon Blog is coming back!
I fell very behind towards the end of the summer (for that I apologize), but I have a lot of good stories and pictures to post during the next couple months.
My humble goal is to update the blog just once a week on Sundays. I’ll be twisting every Saturday in Central Park so at the very least, I’ll probably have a funny encounter from that. I’m also 99 percent sure that I spotted Spider-Man Joey buying a Metro Card at Penn Station in a full clown costume. We still have to work Coney Island together.
Anyway, I promise to update this Sunday! In the meantime, check out these new pictures from my awesomely talented roommate, James Daniel, whose photography you can check out at jamesmdaniel.com.
References to Wedding Crashers this summer: well over a hundred
Whenever a boy asks for pink, I always want to honor his request. At the same time I’m twisting for tips, and I don’t want to disrespect the parents.
I’ll never forget two years ago when I was offering a balloon to a five-year-old boy who was sitting across from his giant macho motorcycle dad.
Me: So do you know what you’d like to get?
Five-year-old boy: An elephant.
Me: Okay, cool! What color would you like?
Five-year-old boy: Pink.
Giant Macho Motorcycle Dad: A blue elephant? Did you say you want a blue elephant?
At this point, the boy just stared at his father. He sadly nodded his head, and I sadly made him a blue elephant.
Stuff like this happens all the time. Last night a boy asked for a pink bow and arrow. A couple weeks ago a boy asked for a pink sword. Some parents are supportive and encouraging. Others immediately groan and tell their son to pick something else.
If the boy is a little bit older, he often has enough confidence to ask for pink as a joke (see photo below).
But many times a little boy just thinks it’s a nice-looking color, and he hasn’t found time to look up “Pink” on Wikipedia:
In Western culture, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s. From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary. Since the 1940s, the societal norm was inverted; pink became considered appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued into the 21st century.
In this day and age, it always surprises me how people get hypersensitive when it come to their child’s gender identity. Girls are discouraged from getting swords and scorpions. Boys are discouraged from getting flowers and butterflies.
And God forbid I accidentally say, “What would she like?” when it’s a boy or “What would he like?” when it’s a girl.
I’ve made that mistake before, and let’s just say the balloons were on me.
Although I don’t like that boys and girls can’t get whatever color and balloon animal they want, I have to admit that I’m quite relieved when a child is wearing a blue shirt or pink dress to help clue me in.
References to “Wedding Crashers” this summer: 20
Nicest compliment from a kid: “This is the best day of my life!”
Worst insult from a kid: “It doesn’t look anything like a cat, but it looks okay when you draw eyes on it.”
Funniest dialogue with a boy named Ethan:
Me: So Ethan, is this your baby sister?
Me: What’s her name?
Ethan: “Ethan’s sister!!!”