Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Balloon Distortion Technique Part 3 - How to Make a Face

Sue Bowler
Easter Rabbit by Sue Bowler CBA
So far in Distortion Techniques Part 1 and Distortion Techniques Part 2 we have seen some incredible examples of distortion using balloons!

To conclude this 3-part blog, I want to show you how to create a simple 'face shape' that should help you to start creating your own amazing faces!

Step 1. 
Use four Qualatex® balloons
1 x 16" White 
3 x 11" White

Sue Bowler

Step 2
Using a straw or chopstick, insert the three x 11" balloons inside the 16" balloon making sure that they sit side by side with the necks all positioned at the opening of the 16".

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler

Step 3
Establish which balloon is positioned in the centre and partially inflate to create the top part of the head. Check that you have the two other balloons sitting on either side as the picture below.

Sue Bowler

Step 4
Knot the inflated balloon, you can remove the excess neck after the knot if you prefer.

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler

Step 5
Now carefully inflate one of the 'cheeks', it does not matter which one is inflated first. The balloon will curve a little, see picture below.

Sue Bowler

Step 6
This is a little tricky, you now need to inflate the second cheek, but without knotting the first one, as you will probably want to adjust them both by adding or removing air until you have got the 'perfect' shape and size!

Twist the neck of the balloon that you have just inflated and grip it between your fingers whilst you inflate the second cheek, as already mentioned,  it is a little tricky but with practice, it will become easier.

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler
This picture shows the shape that you are trying to make with the 3 x 11" balloons.

Step 7
You can now tie the necks of the 'cheek' balloons together, this means that the 16" balloon is still 'open' and you can add a little extra air if you want to make the face a little bigger, but you will lose some of the shapes definition.

Sue Bowler

Step 8
To complete the design you can draw a face. I have used this same face shape for a rabbit and for 'Casper' the ghost.

Sue Bowler

This is an image of 'Casper' that I used to copy the face

Now it's your turn to try out distortion, whether you create a face using the Nikoloon Tool as in Distortion Technique Part 2, or by putting balloons inside balloons, try it and see what you can create! Remember, practice makes perfect!

A huge thank you to all the designers who's pictures and designs I have shared with you to write this blog!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Balloon Distortion Techniques Part 2

Making those amazing faces!

For the past few years, I have seen more and more detailed faces using the distortion technique!

Masako Normura

The detail in Masako Normura, CBA of FuwaFuwa, Japan, sculpture, was awesome, we all studied the Geisha face with huge admiration! Masako's sculpture came second in the Large balloon sculpture category at the World Balloon Convention 2010.

Masako created another great large sculpture a WBC 2012, she used many different distortion techniques in this sculpture.

Masako Nomura
Masako Nomura, CBA

Today, many balloon artists are using a similar technique in their everyday work...

Here are some amazing ghosts heads made by PartyFiesta Shop, by positioning several balloons inside a bigger balloon these amazing faces can be created!

Party Fiesta
Partyfiesta Shop, CBA, Italy

This Witch was created by Mike Harris, CBA of For Every Occasion, the face detail is so good! Mike used a Nikoloon Tool to make the face.

Mike harris
Witch by Mike Harris CBA
Mike Harris
Witches Face by Mike Harris CBA

Mike Harris
Witches Face by Mike Harris CBA

Many of you may know Niko Fric, CBA. Niko has designed a tool called the Nikoloon Tool which allows you to do many fantastic things with latex balloons.

Nikoloon Tool

He has a great website filled with information, pictures and step by step guides! Here are a few of the faces that he has created using the distortion technique and Nikoloon tool!

Niko Fric
By Niko Fric CBA

Niko Fric
By Niko Fric CBA

Niko Fric
By Niko Fric CBA
Here is his guide to making a face... but visit his website to see these instructions and more in greater detail! Niko will ship the 'Nikoloon' anywhere in the world... free shipping!
Niko Fric

There are many different techniques used to create distortion with balloons, in the Part 3 of this blog I will show some simple ways to create shaped faces... but like anything, it is practise and experimenting that makes perfect results! Do you remember when you first tried to tie a balloon! Don't expect to make the perfect face the first time you try :)

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Balloon Distortion Techniques Part 1

By definition distortion is the alteration of the original shape... we can use various distortion techniques with balloons to enhance our designs!

My first public attempts at distortion had varying degree's of success. However, before I talk about my own experiences, I have taken a look back through my IMAGES magazines archives to see when I was first inspired by distortion!

Dream Maker - Jim & Pat Skistimas 1993

Jim & Pat Skistimas created 'Dream Maker' at the 1993 International Balloon Arts Convention (IBAC). The wizards face was created. Balloons, foam board, and wire frames were stuffed inside balloons that were sometimes partially inflated to create facial features! 

Up until then, there had been very few examples of the distortion technique... bearing in mind, we did not have the luxury of the internet and the World Wide Web to see all the amazing balloon work that we see almost by the minute today!

Distortion can apply to both latex and Microfoil balloons.

When we think of distorting balloons, we generally think of using latex balloons, and in the main creating faces. But there are other forms of distortion techniques!

4" Lime Green Microfoil Star & 4" Red Microfoil Heart... I have drawn a line to show where to heat seal these balloons,  remember not to fully seal as you will not be able to inflate both sides!
I like to distort foil balloons, we can use 4" & 9" Microfoil Star and by simply heat sealing the star down the centre we can create a Holly leaf or with 4" & 9" Hearts some great lips!

These would look fantastic in a Valentines centrepiece design!

Ideal as leaves using both Lime Green and Green Microfoil Stars... for other leaf shapes try the same technique with Microfoil rounds!

Mardi Gras Centrepiece by Chris Horne
You can be more adventurous with Microfoil balloons using an Iron, I found a fantastic 'vintage' travel iron on Ebay that has a small but heavy solid base, perfect for 'ironing' balloons, which I used when I created the shade for my 'Tiffany Lamp'  earlier this year at BACI, but a good 'Craft Iron' works well too! 

Create a template of the shape that you want to make in the foil (keep the valve within the design so that you can easily inflate the balloon once you have created the shape), draw around your template, then using the hot iron, seal around the shape you have drawn! To keep your iron clean use greaseproof paper between the balloon and the iron as the heat will remove some of the colour from the balloon.

Chris Horne created this beautiful centrepiece using this method!
Craft Iron

Stuffing machines can really help when distorting a latex balloon, look at these awesome 'eyes'! Perfect for Halloween! Pat Billups CBA, created these 'eyes', using an 18" Diamond Clear (stuffing balloon), opened it up in her stuffing machine, and the "pupil" and "Iris" positioned between the Diamond Clear and a 16" White!

Eye's by Pat Billups, CBA

My first true attempt at using the distortion technique was at IBAC 13, where I used it a few times in both my large sculpture and my centrepiece design.

I encountered many problems with my large sculpture, I really wanted to create an exciting and large Alien head, but after popping too many 3' balloons in the process, I ended up making it far too small, and the head became totally out of proportion with the rest of the Aliens body! This was one of my first big sculptures, it is not my favourite but it was a great learning curve!
Sue Bowler
Alien and Boy! by Sue Bowler CBA

Sue Bowler
Frances Meyer Bear - by Sue Bowler CBA
My other attempt at distortion at IBAC 13 had much greater success and in fact it came first in the centrepiece category... my first IBAC and a 1st place, you can imagine my excitement!
Sue Bowler
I used a combination of foam board and balloons to create the Bear

Here are a few more examples of distortion. Distortion is fantastic for making shaped heads, like the bear and rabbit!

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler

Today, I see many very advanced techniques used to create amazing distortion effects for faces and heads.

Qualatex Event
These amazing hands where part of the sculpture built by the Brazilian Team at the Qualatex Event UK 2011!  

Qualatex Event
The heads on these 2 fantastic character would not been the same without the use of the distortion technique. This sculpture was built by Team Russia also at the Qualatex Event UK, 2011 

Please read part 2 of this blog where I will give you some good pointers towards making a face!

Happy Ballooning!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Drawing on Balloons... and bring your designs to life!

Drawing on balloons, some great tips from two industry experts!

I draw very simple faces on my character designs, but I must say that I am in awe of those who have a natural talent when it comes to drawing on balloons!

So I invited two of our industries very talented balloon artists Yolanda Verberk of Yollie Balloons, Belgium and Lily Tan of My Airtitude, Singapore, and asked them both if they would kindly share some of their top tips when it comes to drawing on balloon's.

Tiger by Yolanda Verberk

Hi there!
I’m  proud to have been asked to write down a few tips and tricks in 'The Very Best Balloon Blog' about drawing on balloons.  I hope I’ll inspire you to try drawing more details on balloon sculptures.
I sincerely hope I can show you that you can do so much more with a balloonface than just 2 black rounds for the eyes.    
First I’ll introduce myself, and you’ll learn it’s not a coincidence that I love drawing on balloons…  

Yolanda Verberk
Yolanda Verberk- 'Yollie'

My name is Yolanda Verberk, most twisters know me as “Yollie”. I’ve been twisting professionally  for about 8 years now.  I also do facepaint and together with my sister I participate in bodypaint competitions throughout the world.

In 2012 we may even call ourselves the Dutch champions!
I love painting on faces and bodies, so why not try pimping my balloons in the same way!? After treating myself to a set of 30 Sharpies in different colours (and believe me, it’s hell to get your hands on those when you live in Holland or Belgium!!)  I started experimenting.  In 2009 I was the winner of the Iron Latex Man competition in Mol, Belgium. It’s there where I learned that you could dazzle people with art-work on balloons. Of course it’s important to twist a fabulous balloon sculpture, but the drawing makes the sculpture complete! 
For my drawings I use Sharpies, Edding paintmarkers, deodorant (!), tissues and my fingers.
Sharpie Pens

Most pictures speak for themselves, but I’ll try to give you some explanation about how I work. But first of all, my most important tip:
Take good care of your tools!!
 How to do that:
- Always use the lightest colour first, than the darker ones and finally you use your black Sharpie
Otherwise your light colours absorb the darker ones and they will all turn to some sort of grey-looking colour and lose their brightness.
- Use your Sharpie markers for drawing on balloons only! Do not let your kids use them to fill in their colouring pages… that way your Sharpies will last a long long time, as a balloon does not absorb the ink.
- Always use your Edding paint marker  last. If the paint’s not entirely dry, you’ll ruin your Sharpie by trying to draw something over the wet paint.

Edding Paint Marker - White 

- Always put the caps back on the markers as soon as possible!
Although a lot of twisters don’t like drawing on balloons, most twisters feel the need to draw eyes on their sculpture. So I’ll start by explaining how to draw beautiful eyes. These eyes help you to bring your balloonanimal or balloondoll to life.

First draw the blue (or whatever colour you prefer, try making a match with the colour(s) of your balloon!) outline. Then draw a black inner circle and immediatly draw an extra circle within. Add two extra circles.
Make sure that the three small circles are big enough. The white circles in the eyes, the twinkles shouldn’t be too small!!  
Then you fill in the remaining space with a black Sharpie. And finally you partially outline the blue circle. Not with a neat, straight line, but like in the last drawing.
 If your eyes are drawn on a coloured balloon, and not on a white one, you can draw the twinkles with a white Edding paintmarker afterwards.
When using a black balloon, draw the entire eye with a white Edding marker first. Be SURE your paint is totally dry, before you start drawing with your Sharpies.
More tips and tricks:
- A bottle of deodorant and a tissue are of great help when you make a mistake! Spray some deodorant on a tissue and wipe the wrong bit off!
- In order to draw a nice blush on the cheeks, rapidly draw a red smudge or circle on the balloon. Even more rapidly fade the paint with your finger, in order to get a nice blush
- Try adding some freckles, eyelashes, eyebrows to your balloonface, it’ll liven things up!
- Want to add a nice detail to your balloon? But this detail is too difficult of too small to make out of a balloon? Try drawing it! Like a baby’s pacifier for instance!
Well… there’s a lot more I’dd like to tell you, but I’m sure this will enough to get you started!
Thanks for reading my tips and tricks and enjoy looking at my balloonsculptures! 
Hope to see lots of your nicely drawn faces on balloons soon!

Here are a few of Yollie's beautiful Balloon Sculptures!
Yolanda Verberk
Ferrari by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Tess by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Ape by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Clowns by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
'Dirk' - by Yollie
Yolanda Verberk
Drill Instructor - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Freddie by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Giraffe by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Hampster - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Witch - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Turkey - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Maternity Gift - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Large Princess - by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Snail by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Snow White by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Dachshund by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Twins! by Yollie

Yolanda Verberk
Butterfly- by Yollie

Lily Tan - My Airtitude
Lily Tan
Lily Tan

Lily Tan

Lily Says....

"I usually use Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker or Pilot Wytebord Marker to draw faces cause its work well for drawing the faces on the balloons. It contains quick drying, water resistant ink that permanently marks most surfaces including glass, metal, photos, foil and most ... They come in many colours.
Again I always like to do some research before I create some new things... and it's always good to see Other Great Works for different artist. Do practice and practice cause practice makes perfect."

Lilly Tan

Lily Tan
Wow! A huge thank you to both Yollie and Lily who's contributions have made a great blog! I think that I need to go away and practice practice practice, as I think all these designs are amazing, with such beautiful pen work... what do you think?

Happy Ballooning!