Friday, November 13, 2009

the frontiers of balloon art

One of those quirky articles on the front page of the WSJ-- this one by Timothy Martin...

Photo from of Tutankhamun, a balloon sculpture created by balloon entertainer Twistina, was entered into a 2009 Twist & Shout convention competition.

View Slideshow

Jonathan Fudge studied his subject closely, furrowing his brow and taking it in from different perspectives. Then he dipped into his palette: a bag containing 2,000 balloons in 19 colors.

For the next 10 minutes at a birthday party here, he blew up more than 15 balloons, each with a slightly different amount of air, and twisted them in pairs and triplets.

"Getting one step wrong could be the difference between a masterpiece and an unrecognizable mass of balloon bubbles," says Mr. Fudge, a gregarious 23-year-old.

Finally, he handed the birthday boy the finished product -- a portrait of Luigi, a character from the Super Mario Bros. videogame, complete with twisted brown mustache, green body and white gloves. The boy smiled and asked him to autograph it.

Balloon entertainers are looking to inflate their image. Gone are the rudimentary swords and fishing poles of the past. Today's best and brightest construct 25-foot-tall sculptures of soccer players, life-size Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 3-D balloon versions of European art....

Big-name balloon artists such as Mr. Caldwell -- aka Buster Balloon -- of Garden Grove, Calif., and Larry Moss of Rochester, N.Y., earn as much as $2,500 an hour, compared with about $35 an hour for a typical performer....


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