Posts Tagged ‘captain visual balloon art twister twisting’

Day 7 – Chapter 11 – Heart Designs

March 23, 2010

Heart Designs

This is a short chapter, and a pretty easy one. The 5 inch heart balloon is a very versatile add-on. You don’t have to do much with them to get a big response. I have blown them up only to have a little girl ask to have just the heart. I try to put it on something, but she just wants that heart all by itself.

When I first ordered balloons, I got the “sweetheart assortment” of red, pink and white. I had no idea why anyone would want other color hearts. Now I’ve purchased a multi-color assortment, and an entire bag of 100 black hearts. Why, you say, would I want 100 black hearts? Bird beaks. The heart balloon has been incorporated into some really innovative designs. As a center of a princess sculpture, as the face on a cow, or as beaks, the heart gives great possibilities.

For now, we’re sticking to the traditional shape of the heart, in both 5 inch round, and in bent 260s. Here’s where I once again have a struggle. I have had pretty decent success at bending balloons, but this definitely should improve with experience. My hearts are so-so. I think this is the 3rd zen balloon figure that everyone should try to perfect. Dog, swan, heart. I seem to be working on a balloon version of the Chinese calendar here.

As I look at my less-than-I’m-happy-with bends for my 260 hearts, I think what I notice is that I end up with a fatter section of balloon where I make the bend. This is easily covered up in other bent designs I like to do, but with the heart it may be problematic. Any tips on bending and not getting a deformed swelling? I’ve really appreciated the input on other posts, this could be one for some discussion.

So without further delay, here are my figures from Chapter 11.

Shaped Heart

Lovebirds on a Heart

My difficulty with the proper bent heart shape gets worse with the smaller size. The loop I made here was quite tight with air, and was less pliable when bending the shape. When the 5inch heart is added, it helps greatly.

Heart Wand

Heart Wand with Teddy Bear

My lack of articulation is the same on the butterfly.


I intentionally switched colors to show how clover-like this flower is. My kids called it a 4-leaf clover as opposed to a flower. It’s a versatile pattern.

Heart Flower


Other Patterns Shown Without Names

Teddy With Heart

Bigger Wand

Braided Wand with Bear

Two Bears on a Heart

Day 3 – Chapter 7 – Bears, Poodles, and Floppy-Eared Dogs

March 5, 2010

Woo hoo!  The pinch twist!

I love weaving, and I want to get really good at it. At Twist & Shout, I was working on something in the hall (my own private jam room since it was hard to get Olivia into the real one even with her ear protection. Somehow it took the charms of a 10 year old boy to get her in there.

Slipped into Dad mode there, where was I? Oh yes – weaving. A kind soul saw me struggling, and reminded me of something I learned, but forgot: use the pinch twist to stabilize a weave. It’s for holding, and changing directions.

Before anyone learns to weave, I would venture to guess their first pinch twist is for a one balloon teddy bear. Before I knew of Captain Visual’s book, or that you could make a carousel from latex, I had one of those cheap Waldenbooks paperbacks. And I learned the pinch twist as a teddy bear twist.

It was the night before my first gig. OK, before anyone yells at me, I don’t mean I booked a twisting gig with no experience. I was doing magic for a daycamp for our church, and we had a bounce house donated for the day, my wife was painting faces, and I thought – hey don’t I have a balloon book around here somewhere? I learned that night, a sword, dog, one crazy hat, and the teddy bear. If you’re an experienced twister, think back to when you first learned to twist. You learn the lock and fold twists first, then, the most versatile twist you’ll ever have: the pinch twist. If it were guitar playing, it would be the barre chord.

So here are my teddy bears from chapter 6, as shown in the book. I must say that the Captain does a really good job of describing in print, what a pinch twist is. When I first learned, it took a long time to understand the text, and I had no video. If I had had this book first, I would have not struggled so much.

lTeddy Bears

Look at them. Simple as can be, but when you’re starting out, that face from the ear twists becomes a major stepping stone in your ability to make a latex tube of air look like something else.

Next up is the poodle, which while not including a pinch twist, does advance the student with a couple examples of multiple bubbles staying distinct while unlocked. The extra balls on the feet give more detail to the poodle.


The rest of the chapter, interestingly enough, does not include any more figures with pinch twists. It does however, include the most frustrating move/twist I’ve seen, and I am half embarrassed to say that this still gives me trouble. It’s the flop-eared dog. Where the captain gave excellent instructions on the pinch twist, I myself could have used more explanation on the following page on what it takes to get the effect. The first picture is a white-on-white dog that was a terrible attempt on my part.

Bad Little Doggie

I struggled with several balloons, trying to get the face to come through the ears without pointing upward like a standard dog. I can’t get this right. This is a similar technique to the nose poking through the bear face, I think. This makes it a logical extension of the chapter. but without some anchoring pinch twists, I am lost. Here’s the best I could do in a red dog.

Flop-eared dog, looking lame

Still, the face points upward. I know the captain is reading here sometimes, and I would love if he or anyone else would leave a comment on how to get this flop eared dog look right.

The above two dogs also introduce the sitting figure concept, with the same technique of bringing the balloon around the animal to create the effect. This yields a three legged animal, which may explain why it needs to sit. 😉

Sitting Cat

Sitting Rabbit

It should be obvious that I think every twister should have this book to begin a twisting education. It’s a must-have. I will also from time to time on this blog mention other resources I absolutely love. Not a comprehensive list of every twisting book/cd/dvd in existence, but stuff I’ve bought as a newbie and found great stuff in.

Today I made a helicopter for my son from a new resource. It’s been out less than a couple weeks. Thelma Levett is a twister in the UK who puts out really well-made ebooks. In the video-centric world of instructionals, I have to say I may now prefer the e-book if they’re all this good. Instead of pausing and backing up a video, I have the pictures right in front of me on my own timeline. Her new e-book “Something for Everyone” is aptly named, with material from a tnak and huge detailed bicycle, to a great toadstool and fairy. Her book can be found at . Here’s my son Jack enjoying a new helicopter.

Jack and Helicopter

And here it is by itself

My Helicopter a la Thelma

My Helicopter a la Thelm

(Later edit – I realize this helicopter is sideways. I fixed that, and added the rotor tops that were missing in this picture.)

Next Chapter: 8 – roll through bodies

Day 2 – Chapter 6 – Using the Fold Twist

March 4, 2010

The next chapter in the book teaches the fold twist. If I am assessing the progressive nature of learning balloon twisting, this can be a step forward, and a step back at the same time. On one hand, it’s quicker than twisting 3 or 4 bubbles and locking. It’s a very fast move. But in many cases, it leaves less articulation of detail, so it isn’t necessarily a better choice. Of course, in some cases it is definitely better, for example the elephant. It’s all a matter of the balloonist using the best option. The exercise here includes a couple figures from chapter one, to show the various ways you can achieve the same thing.

I’ve been doing multi-balloon sculptures mostly, so going back to single balloons is still presenting challenges, mostly in handling. It’s an interesting discovery, since one would assume that multi-balloon pieces are inherently harder. But I’m finding that getting a one-balloon piece perfect is sometimes more difficult. You need to use the whole balloon, space it just right and get the air exact. With a bigger piece, you usually take off the excess so that whether you have an inch left or four on one particular balloon, it doesn’t matter.

Perhaps the goal later should be to return to perfecting a one balloon dog. Excellence in simplicity is its own reward. I have a good friend that studied the Japanese tea ceremony. To an outsider, it looks very simple. To one who studies it in depth, perfection in a simple thing is worth practicing and studying for years.

Zen and the art of the balloon dog. Hmmmmmmm…. there’s a book in there somewhere.

OK enough waxing philosophical.

Here are the first four figures in the chapter, all variants from chapter one. with the simple fold twists, the difference between them becomes even simpler: body for daschund, neck for giraffe, tail for cat.

Basic Fold Twist Figures

The next two took two attempts each, the first ones popped.

The elephant ran out of room and popped when the tiny tail was attempted. The alligator popped when putting too much pressure on the first set of legs. I softened the next attempt.

Elephant and Alligator

The basic sword and flower both utilize a triple fold twist. Interesting how a symbol of beauty and a symbol of violence can be so similar in structure. (OK I don’t really want to get too philosophical on that one. Too controversial. This is balloons!) Returning to the theme of back to basics, I had learned the very difficult 6 petal twist from Don Caldwell’s youtube video before I did a simple fold twist flower. This was the first I made one like this. It’s nice in its simplicity.

Sword and Flower

The birds come in chapter 8, but we have the bees here. First is the one balloon bee, nice and simple, using the uninflated tail as a shaped contrast. Then the second one utilizes a bee body, with one full 260 for the wings. The bee body is the first multi balloon sculpture in the book. It seems to me that at one time the bee body was a lot more popular. There were not  a lot of variant shapes in the early days. They are still made, but I don’t encounter them much in the newer balloon materials I see. Undipped 321s are more in vogue now.   I am assuming this is the source of the dinosaur teeth in the 2010 Twist and Shout award winner shown on page one of this blog.


So after only 2 basic twists, a lot of variations are already possible. You may notice that I haven’t added any artwork to any balloons yet. For the purposes of this blog, I won’t be doing any drawing. First, my drawing isn’t that great. but more importantly, I think a sculpture needs to be recognizable on its own as a balloon. Added work is a nice enhancement, but what it is supposed to be should be evident from the latex alone first, then give the kicker with the drawn on bits.

Next chapter: drumroll please……… the pinch twist! Then we’ll be cooking with fire!