Day 1 – Chapter 5 – From Puppies to Giraffes

Chapters 1-4 are introductory material, so the sculptures begin in chapter 5.

This is the set of 7 figures that comprise the chapter:

one balloon animals

The first 7 figures in Captain Visual

By color they are: turquoise DOG, yellow DASCHUND, light orange CAT, brown HORSE, orange GIRAFFE, green RABBIT, and grey MOUSE.

All of them have the same technique. They are all basically, the dog, with varied legs, ears and tails. All are described with the same amount of tail, except the mouse. To many children (and adults for that matter) this is the extent of balloon animals. Having been to jams, and a convention, and with the DVDs I have, it’s hard for me to see a cat in the cat.

Cat and Mouse

There is no triangular feline quality to the face or ears yet. But we’ll get there. For now, the first building block is to see the proportions of one animal vs another. That’s how we call this a horse.

One Balloon Horse

A more complicated horse is promised in the book, in a later chapter.

So this is where it all begins. The dog and dog variants. Just as rock and roll began with a stick beating on what was probably another hollow stick, the beginnings of balloon sculpture are here in the simple three turn animal shape. As they say in the twisting world, once you can make a dog, you can make anything.

That’s not to say that the rudimentary material is without educational value. The whole reason to do this blog is to go through the basics and see what steps lead to the next level.

There was a subtlety I did not notice before in the giraffe from Capt Visual.


The back legs are to be smaller than the front legs. This gives more depth to the sculpture, as if you were looking at it from the front perspective. With only one form of media as the base, a tube of air, any subtleties or details can make a world of difference.

I was also reminded while beginning this exercise that it is only with experience that you begin to feel how to work the latex. I had seen many people snap off balloons on video, but until someone showed me face to face how to do this, it was a complete mystery. (Thanks Tristen!) While these one balloon figures require no snapping, they did remind me that you have to feel the tension of the air, so that you can control the evenness of the bubbles. The first several bubbles ended up tight and full of air, but when I got to the back legs, there was a shift in how the air flowed when squeezed, and I found it challenging to get back legs to match the front ones exactly. That may not be what you want in each piece, but it is good practice to be able to do so. It is as important as leaving the right amount of tail.

Here is a picture of Olivia in the middle of a sculpture. She is my 6 year old daughter, and a beginning twister. She will be doing this same exercise on her own time frame, working through it the way she does her piano book. I’ll post some of her work from time to time. I am not pressuring her to go fast, so her progress will be different. She is ambitious however, and should be teaching at Twist & Shout by her 16th birthday. That lost front tooth came out at Twist & Shout 2010.

Olivia the Twister

Next post will be the next chapter, and it won’t be long until the Captain moves the reader to multiple balloon pieces.



One Response to “Day 1 – Chapter 5 – From Puppies to Giraffes”

  1. Sherry & Isabelle Says:

    My daughter, Isabelle and your daughter, Olivia, and Lilly sat together during the stage competition night. Twist & Shout had a huge impact on her. I posted this on BHQ today. So with that said I will be following your blog and having Isabelle take part in the daily balloons. She is new to this and really excited about learning the art. I have the book so we will follow along with it too. Thanks, Sherry

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