Day 5 – Chapter 9 – Unusual Twists

Chapter 9 – Unusual Twists

It appears I may have come to my “boning a duck” moment. Let me explain: in the movie Julie and Julia (the inspiration for this blog), the one thing that Julie is dreading is the task of boning a whole duck. She saves it for the last day of the year.

I have been trying to get one of the concepts in this chapter, and it eludes me.

It is the pop twist. You anchor two spots with split twists, and pop out the bubble between. This is a common method for making independent arms or legs, or the top of the letter X. When I pop, my other twists deflate.

Truthfully, I’m pretty lousy at the split twist too. I don’t see how it’s different from making two small pinch twists in a row. I think everything ends up the same. I could be wrong. It’s a lot more difficult for me to make a split pinch twist than it is for me to make back to back smaller pinch twists.

but in the interest of going in order, here are the other unusual twists first:


A simple enough process once you get it down, but it took me a while as a beginner. I think I was failing to push the knot back through the bubble once twisted. That made all the difference. Here’s a close copy of the diagram in the book:

Teddy Bear with Tulips

My daughter Olivia was interested in making tulips. I tried to show her how, but we found that her tiny fingers were hard to get back out of the balloon once the knot was caught by the other hand. Maybe we should try poking in with 2 of her  fingers.

The pig nose is probably the 2nd most common use of the tulip twist.

Pig with Tulip Nose

Next up is Inserts or Seeds

This is where I expected to have problems, but I got it on the 2nd try. A nice twister showed this to me at a jam, using two different color bubbles going into one balloon as a toy. I followed it at the time, but didn’t really get it. The directions in the book are just right.

Hot Dog With a Meatball Inside (AKA Pregnant Pup)

You could do the same technique with anything that you don’t mind being covered in a layer of clear balloon.

Here’s something that’s not covered in Capt Visual, but can make inserting objects into balloons very easy.


You can find this device in farm supply stores. It’s in veterinary equipment. It takes a small rubber band and stretches it to a few inches around. If you need more details, do a google search.

I know this can put a hot wheels into a 260, but I am not that adept with it yet. I did get a hot wheels into a 16inch clear donut, which made a nice racetrack. I used it to get this blue ball into the dog.

Superball in Dog

I need to find a better use of stuffing objects in balloons. This just reminds me of the $1500 surgery bill we had last year for our beloved labrador who has a sock eating habit. She survived the surgery, and at age 12, she is still quite energetic.


As I wrote earlier, I’m not the biggest fan of this method, but I gave it a shot. I would love any comments to clarify whether I’m right that this is no different than 2 small pinch twists, or whether there’s a qualitative difference I am missing.

Whichever method is used, they are very useful for making figures where you want angles between straight segments of balloons, implying lines. In another book, The Big Book of Balloons, Captain Visual demonstrates a full alphabet and 10 numerals. The examples in this book are 2 J and 5.

I Call Him........Number 2

The proportions are off, but this is the 5th attempt at a 2, since I broke so many trying the split twist.

J is for Jack

Number 5 is Alive

I will be coming back to the Monkey, Airplane and Motorcycle when I get this pop method down.

My twisting friend MikeofPA (his youtube name) was online as I was blogging this, and put up a quick video on pop twists for me. He has some good technique videos, especially on weaving. Check out his video on the pop twist.

The last special twist in chapter 9 is the spiral. This can be done a lot of ways. I learned from Don Caldwell’s Mad Hatz and Wild Wearables Vol 1. He teaches the octopus that I am wearing here in my facebook icon picture. If you’ve been around the balloon world for more than five minutes, you know the name Don Caldwell. His stuff is great. This is a ten balloon sculpture that is really easy to do but gets a lot of attention.

Swallowed by a Giant Octopus

Back to the book: the one example for spiral in chapter 9 is the cobra.


OK so this is definitely not my best work, but I was so frustrated by the pop-twist problem  I rushed through some stuff to finish this part. The basic idea of swirling is there. You don’t need to mouth inflate to do this. I have used pencils, fingers, sharpies, etc… held in one hand while using a floor pump.

So that’s most of chapter 9. I will come back to the pop twist (or deboned duck) when I get a couple more chapters finished. There are only 5 more to finish before the end of the month, but they get progressively more involved.



5 Responses to “Day 5 – Chapter 9 – Unusual Twists”

  1. Balloon Man Mike Says:

    I have watch S. Frank Stringham’s videos and he does not use split twists. Instead he just uses 2 pjnch twists in a row. He makes many letters and the two pinch twist meathod works fine.

    As MiKeofPa says you can do the pop twists without doing a split twist. If you make the pinch twist tight enough it won’t come undone when you pop the middle bubble.

    I learned a technique for doing the split twist that came from either Bruce KAlver or Mike Decker.

    You take the pinch twist and rotate it so it is underneath the side bubble and the middle bubble. Then you pull up the pinch twist so it is separated by the junction. Then twist it the other way to make the split twist. Let me know if have questions.

  2. airweaver Says:

    I love Frank’s DVDs. That 4 disc set was an early purchase for me, and very helpful. I noticed too that he did a lot of back to back pinch twists. I will come back to this pop twist in a week or so with your description in mind. Thanks BMM!

  3. Bonnie, The Balloon Lady Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and watching your skills expand. I just wanted to point out that there is a difference in appearance between two small pinch twists and a split twist. A pinch twist is typically kidney shaped whereas a split twist gives you 2 round bubbles. I make a few designs where I use the split twist bubble(s) as hips because I like the “look” of the rounded bubble.

    The split twist is also used to ‘save’ balloon. One split twist (when not needed as part of a pop twist series) uses less balloon than 2 pinch twists. This small saving can sometimes mean the difference between needing a 2nd balloon or just using 1 balloon. reference: balloonhq photo ID# 16977

    A small lesson on doing the split twist in a pop twist series (like for the airplane): Make your split twist bubble(s) rotating each new bubble half in opposite directions. Next take the balloon and wrap it through the center joint of these two new bubbles a couple of times. Then grab both bubbles and rotate them a couple of times. Doing this extra wrapping and extra rotation will keep the bubbles from deflating even in the hands of a determined child. 😉

    Keep up the great work and happy twisting!

  4. Captain Visual Says:

    There was a day when only a tightly wound pinch twist came before the pop twist. Of course this rarely held for long. It’s my recollection that I created the split twist and shared it with Mike Decker who had originally taught me the pop twist. The idea of splitting the pinch twist in half by rolling it over and dividing by the juncture is how it is intended to be done as described by Balloon Man Mike above (good job) The purpose was to create an easier way to make two tiny pinch twists that simulated hands and also did a better job of locking in the air.

  5. Smarty Pants Says:

    Keep up the good work! You are doing awesome and your dedication to this balloon blog is admirable. I can’t believe that a decade ago I went through the Captain Visual book and made every balloon (in order) – my book is even still marked up with the “*” I put next to each balloon when I mastered it. Glad to see another balloon talent is being born right here, right now!

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