I have watched in awe as clowns twist and spin
balloons for a minute or two and all of a sudden
they are holding a very cool creation! It's amazing!
I have also tried to create some of those wonderful latex sculptures myself...
Although I had little succes at first, I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment the first time I attempted to make a poodle and the finished creature looked like... a poodle!
There are many, MANY, MANY excellent videos available online to show you how to twist those colorful lengths of latex into anything you could possibly imagine - as well as some things I never imagined! I have added one of my favorite videos to this page. To me, this guy represents what balloon twisting should be: fun, silly, entertaining and amazing!
Watching this video made me want to be able create balloon creatures. Maybe it will inspire you, too. But balloon twisters use their own language - a simple, but foreign language to a twisting newbie! Those who have some experience with simpler creations may be able to follow exactly what he's doing...
...but I got lost!
Okay, we're going to attempt to define the twisting vocabulary, explain the basic twists and, perhaps, help someone get started creating with a little less frustration than I felt!
Are you ready?
I've heard that you should always begin at the beginning so, let's start with the balloons...
Whether you call them twisting, sculpting or animal balloons, or just twisters, the technical name for them denotes the size when inflated. While just about any size & shape can be incorporated into a 'sculpture,' the most common sizes for twisting are the latex 160Q, 260Q and 350Q, so named for their measurements when inflated. The first two inflate to approximately 60" long, the 350Q is approximately 50" long when inflated. The 160Q is approximately 1" wide, the 260Q is approximately 2" wide and the 350Q is approximately 3" wide. Makes sense to me. (The Q after the number stands for Qualatex, our favorite brand!)
The 260Q is used most often and you can make enough creations with that one balloon style to last a lifetime. The other sizes (and shapes) simply give additional size, shape and detail options for your twisting creativity. They include the 6" Geo Blossom, 5" Printed Latex and the 6" Heart. For now, all references to the balloons being used will be the 260Q.
The first obstacle to overcome is how to get air into that skinny, stretchy span of rubber! While I have seen a few people blow them up by mouth, I do not recommend it - it is difficult (and parents may not care to have your germs from your mouth on something their child will be handling). A simple, inexpensive pump can be found online at any number of clown supply and party sites, at your local party store or, for those in the U.S., even at your local WalMart. The video below illustrates why NOT to inflate using your mouth. Watch it!
The best advice I ever heard on the subject of using a pump was from T.J. Meyers in his book, Monkeys & Puppies & Bears, Oh My!:
"Blowing balloons by mouth will raise your blood pressure. You may experience headaches, see spots, feel faint, rupture blood vessels and cheeks, fall over and die. If this happens, stop. Use a pump."
That about says it all!
The easiest way to tie the balloon is to wrap the nozzle end around your index and middle fingers, then push the nozzle through the indentation between your fingers. Pull your fingers out and you're tied! If you don't have enough balloon "burp" it first, by pinching an inch or so from the nozzle end and releasing a small amount of air. You can move the knot closer to the nozzle by gently 'rolling' it towards the nozzle with your thumb and index finger - this is often done after you've made your first lock twist, to give a bit more shaping flexibility to that first bubble.