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!



Copenhagen Balloons said...

Thanks sue, I use limited distortion, and people like Alberto Falcone , Jim Skistmas , George Quintero , and Peter Lacagno helped get me past the fear of beating up those qua latex balloons, Tony Loiacono, CBA

Unknown said...

I love This! Especially the giant hands!

Unknown said...

Hi Sue,
I'm an amateur balloon artist from Trinidad and Tobago . I'm YouTube taught. Can a 160 be inserted into a round and pinched when inflated to create holly leaves?(will the bends stay?