Thursday, April 17, 2014

Have you ever wondered what it is like to take part in a competition? Part 3 continues our fantastic journey with more great personal stories and a little insight as to what a 'twister' can gain from attending WBC!

I am very excited to introduce my next two contributors Bram Parola from Belgium and Jill Shortreed from South Carolina, USA.

We're going to start with Bram Parola, Bram's competition experience was very different from our other contributors,  his adventure did not take place in the competition room, in fact he had not planned to compete at WBC until he entered the Jam Room!

 Bram Parola -

Bram Parola

Here is my Story on the WBC Challenge.
For the 2nd time I went to the WBC.
As a Twister it is maybe a strange choice to do a massive investment for a primery decorantion focused convention.
Although this is really the reason why we come to WBC! You can see top-twisters on a relaxed way. Another reason why to choose for WBC was the location.
USA and people from all over the world.  As a Belgian (Europe) I really have seen the European style. Even more important, after years I really know my personal style!  And when you have no new influences or are not open to it you keep turning round and round and get bored!
For that reason WBC with the international character and influances is perfect.
(Example, all creations with round balloons on the mouth are chinese :-)
If you have an Asian or Chinese little kid (or adult) in front of you and you create a mouth with round balloons on it you will see the magic in their eyes!
No one in Europe likes the design, but as an artist I like the magic eyes and the respect you get from the multicultural environment after those creations.
Those things you can not learn in Europe.
So I went to Denver and WBC with again a new open mind and ready to learn, see and develop my skills. Not to compete in any competition due the level is VERY VERY VERY high!

Suddenly it happens then, you are in the mood @ Jam-Room and they start competitions. 3 Competitions where planned.
Competition 1 = 1 colour competition
you are free to make what you want, balloon choice (type) is free, and amount is also free; Only 1 rule: 1 colour only.
 For me it was a 'whauw' effect, you see top-level twisters and new twisters (even a child was competing) with awesome creativity. You can feel the stress and power. That's the most amazing on those competitions. Host Shanna was leading this also with a lot of respect to all!

Competition 2 = closed envelope

Again a new competition started and there where some places available. Like mentioned before I had not planned to join competition, this time my friends motivated me to join the competition, and I accepted.

The 1st competition since a long long time ago!!!! What I felt was really a nice stress, that I call engine that started when I opened the envelope. And of course the Quick Links where in. Never worked with them before. So a challenge. First option was to make a nice clown, but that I missed some balloons. So I decided to make a nice bird. And really, every twister remembers the last time he had shaking hands! That competition I need to say, yes, I had some shaking hands.  Thats not bad, because it was the first time since long and sometimes you really need the challenge to grow.

Competition 3 = Non Cilinder

Last competition was non cilinder. Euhm that means no 160, 260, 350 or 646.
Like the 2nd competition I had not planned to enter and nothing was prepared. Although the endorphines or positive stress that has generated the 2nd competition changed my mind and last minute I went to the jam balloons, grabbed a few hearts, and rounds, a 321 and could start into the competition. Started with pumping the hearts I noticed they are too big. Notice the green qualatex pumps are bigger then the purple one. as a twister I count every pump. for the creation I remembered 3 pumps each heart. only a bigger pump = 3 is TOO MUCH!!!!  Noticed that issue on time with only 6 hearts left. That means no spare available! And OK this time less shaking hands! whauw I really enjoyed the competition. I created a nice flower. Maybe for a twister a basic figure. And I took time to change it to what I think was the perfect flower. A double stuffed balloon inside created a whauw effect. And the flower was hanging over and keep standing. So you can use it as a nice base. like a real flower. before the 15 minutes where done I was ready to enjoy my flower and see other competitors struggle. Is it bad to say, I really had a fun time on that competition???

Bram with his winning Star Flower!

Final decision.

Then @ midnight they choose 3 pieces. 1st, 2nd and 3th place.
2nd competition really was high quality and ok my bird was not in the running due to the high level.
3th competition a lot of people where taking pictures of 2 figures, and refering them as winner. One of it was my flower :-)
Even if I didn't win, that alone was worth competition.
so they started, 3th, Dog, 2nd, Elephant and 1st... the Star Flower.

That moment was worth all the investment of WBC! OK, no prize money, only my moment because I had some fun making it, and for me it changed a lot in my mind. You don't get always the appreciation like that, the moment you feel you did something awesome. We always are working with balloons and give them to people, thinking, ohw, that little knot is still visible. Right now I had made a perfect flower (for me) and took notice on details, was happy with it. And also the jury noticed that and recognised this in some high points. That I won changed my personal mind a lot. What I did @ USA another continent with the best of the best was more then giving myself the reward no one gives you here.

And I remember again my last time with shaking hands. The competition @ WBC 2014 where I got the first place.
 Bram Parola

Jill Shortreed of Charleston Balloon Company, South Carolina, USA

Jill and her great WBC Team!

Which competitions did you enter. Medium Sculpture and Deliverable Sculpture 
What inspired you to compete? I wanted to step outside my comfort zone.
How did you plan for your competition/s: I worked with several past competitors asking lots of questions and getting advice. I wanted to use a Rouse product so I worked with Graham Rouse on designing  a concept of what would work using a newer technique and product. There were many design changes, as with any job to see what would work best. When it was time to compete I did not go in looking to win, I went in for the experience of working with other like minded artist and to push limits, but also to have fun and create lasting friendships. 
How was the competing experience for you? This experience was absolutely worth doing, and yes I would do it again in a heartbeat, we created lasting friendships and had such fun. Although I have done large scale builds for client's, I have never done one for us, I also have never been the one in charge before that was not an employee situation, all our teams members were volunteers so I was a little nervous about asking them to do things, however this was part of the stepping out of my comfort zone, and not feeling judged by my peers. 
What do you think you gained from competing? As this was our first "live" competition, it was truly a learning experience, to see how we could improve on our next competition. it was also amazing to see how other teams were organized and how creative everyone was.
Would you compete again? Yes, absolutely, we even worked on some ideas on the way home.
What do you think about the award scheme (Bronze. Silver, Gold & Platinum) ? I was happy to get the Bronze award for both of the competition pieces, it gives me room to grow and it also says that it was not a failed piece. I was happy to see the sketches come to life and be close to what the original design was.
Medium Sculpture - By Gill Shortreed and team
Did you do any sort of press release when you returned home from WBC? I send out 20 press releases, as of right now we have a interview to be the featured business in our main newspaper at the end of the week. 
What advice would you offer someone who is considering competing in the future? Prepare, prepare, prepare again. We ran over time, so the time you think it takes, will really take longer, we had an hourly timer set so we could keep track. I also thought of it as a "job" if I was on a job and something was not going as planned, what would I do to fix it. Just have fun. also I was the one who "tested" every technique it would be helpful to have had others test it so that I was not always pulled away from my tasks to answer question.
Team members: Jill Shortreed, Scott Shortreed, Janice Whitehead, Phil Whitehead, Jenny Murphy
Deliverable Sculpture by Jill Shortreed

Finally, what was your WBC 2014 highlights, this can be your favourite class, party, competitions… Competition was one of my biggest highlights, the learning opportunities not only in the classrooms but from talking with others, and again the lasting friendships you make, being asked to do  a TV interview and working the Festival of Balloons. All I can say is that WBC was an amazing experience overall and we are looking forward to 2016!
Thank you to both Bram and Gill who share their own very personal experiences from taking part in competitions at this years World Balloon Convention.  I have found that each of the stories have a very common bond, and bring back so many great memories of my own! The excitement of taking part in the competitions, the shaking hands and rush of adrenaline, meeting so many great new people, making lots of new friends and for me and I believe for those who have contributed to these blogs, taking part in the competitions has truly added value to their WBC experience!

Happy Ballooning!


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