Monday, September 9, 2013

From professional tennis player to professional balloon artist.... Fiona Fisher 's incredible journey!

very best balloon blog
Fiona Fisher CBA



Well known for her amazing balloon sculptures Fiona Fisher's balloon career has grown from strength to strength since she first discovered balloons in 1999!
Fiona has very kindly shared her 'balloon adventure' with the Very Best Balloon Blog...





I have had a very varied working life over the past 36 years:  professional tennis player, antique furniture restorer and cabinet maker, cafe owner and finally, a balloon artist. 


I fell into balloon artistry by chance, when in 1999 I visited the International Halloween and party show in Birmingham, UK. At the time I was at a loose end after just having sold my cafe. My husband, Rodney had opened a shop in our local shopping centre selling gifts and gadgets and he asked me to go over to Birmingham and have a look at partyware to see if was a type of product that we could sell in the shop.
When I first arrived and saw all the amazing balloon competition pieces, in particular the large sculptures, I knew straight away what I wanted to do next.
During that show I was like a sponge, soaking up the amazing fun atmosphere and learning from some great instructors. I was in awe of the things you could do with a simple balloon, how it could transform a boring room into a colourful, emotional and fun space.
I returned to Ireland, so excited with what I had seen and learnt and very eager to get practicing my new found career. I found a local distributor in Belfast and bought my first balloons. My first attempts at making an arch, were not very good, at the time I thought it was wonderful, but I cringe now looking back at the photos.
After a short period of time I got better and then had the confidence to offer my balloon services to the shopping centre where our shop was located.
The shopping centre very kindly gave me a commission to decorate their malls for Christmas and The Millennium. I was lucky, the decor turned out really well and I have decorated for that particular shopping centre for many years, the last time for the 2012 London Olympics.
My confidence grew even more after passing my CBA exam in March 2000. The following year I attended the first of many IBACs in Chicago, USA, (international balloon artists convention). I thought I was amazed at the balloon artistry at Birmingham, but in Chicago I was blown away with the quality of the balloon competitions and the classes. That experience sowed a seed and the very next year at the party show in Birmingham, I took part in my first non-round balloon competition and came third, behind Jodie White and David Grist. Encouraged by that result I decided to compete at IBAC 2003 in Chicago.

F1 Ferrari balloon sculpture
Fiona & Rodney Fisher 
My first large sculpture subject was the famous Italian F1 Ferrari, it was a bit scary at first, but the whole experience was amazing, the amount I learned about myself  and what you can do with balloons was endless and I came a fantastic 4th place. At that same event, Roberta and Jack Lever of Balloon Express, Florence, Italy very kindly asked me to come and take part in their BACI convention, build the Ferrari and teach. Before I went to Italy, I had already entered the competitions at the party show in Birmingham, so I built the Ferrari again plus other pieces and subsequently won 2003 decorator of the year, then went on to win in Italy. 
2003 was a vintage year for me and Rodney, as our shop also won Qualatex retailer of the year at the Qualatex Event in Amsterdam.
After that, I caught the bug for competing and subsequently went on to collect many awards around the world, including joint European Decorator of the Year, 2005. I have to give a very big thank you to Rodney, as he is not only the best husband in the world, but also, ”the best framer in the world”!! 

I highly recommend competing for many reasons:
Competing gave me more confidence in my abilities, moved me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to make things I would not normally be able to build, (because of the space required and the costs involved), but the most invaluable thing ever was to be able to take incredible photos to show prospective clients.
Flowers & Butterflies Wedding Centrepiece
By Fiona Fisher CBA
With my growing portfolio, I would go around and cold call on my local shopping centres, showing them the photographs. Through the photos alone, I got many commissions for decor and sculpture work, in particular at, Halloween, valentines and Easter. 
 Our shop specialised in three main areas: balloons, fancy dress and hen night accessories (bachelorette parties). I concentrated on balloon decor and my husband concentrated on the fancy dress and the hen night side of the business.
Over the years I built up a very large balloon portfolio covering all aspects of the party industry: weddings, birthdays, christenings, corporate, seasonal and many more.

Mr Smiley by
Fiona Fisher CBA



We had many popular designs, in particular for weddings and birthdays, the top two best sellers in the shop were Mr smiley and Flowers and butterflies wedding centrepiece.









I think the highlight of my balloon career so far, was to be commissioned to build the most iconic ship in the world “The Titanic” on the 100th anniversary of its sinking. It was a great and fun experience, especially as I had a fantastic team helping me to put the whole project together.

Fiona Fisher
The Titanic - by Fiona Fisher CBA
Sue was part of our amazing team and has done a great blog on the incredible project and you can also see the whole works from start to finish, including the framing, at www.buildingtitanic.com.
I began teaching for Pioneer Balloon Company in 2003 and have travelled around the world passing on my knowledge and experience ever since.
I am really excited to be given the opportunity to teach at the 2014 World Balloon Convention, Denver for the second time. It is the most fantastic event ever, for learning new designs, new techniques, business ideas, networking, meeting new friends and soaking up an amazing atmosphere!!
I will be teaching a four hour fundamental class at the start of the event, which, is a “must” for those who are just starting out in the business of balloons. Then a class on shopping mall decorating and all that is involved in creating a successful and lucrative decor business. One of the most popular pieces of decor with the public and clients is the giant spider below, which I hope to demonstrate in the class.
Giant Spider - Fiona Fisher CBA

I am really looking forward to seeing you all there, to see some old friends and meeting lots of new ones.
I want to take his opportunity to thank all the people who have helped me in my balloon career. It has been a pleasure meeting people who are so talented and generous with their knowledge .I have made some great friends through balloon conventions, and I am looking forward to meeting lots of new ones in Denver Colorado.
Happy ballooning!!
Ciao Fiona. XXX
www.balloonsintuscany.com

Fiona will be in the UK this month demonstrating some great design ideas at some of the Qualatex Seasonal Bonanza Demo Days, being held around the UK... for more details click HERE
Fiona is also teaching in Mexico later this month at CMAG

And finally, Fiona shares one of her top selling designs:
The recipe below was my best seller in my shop.




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