Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Have a Great Birthday Party!

Get Bookings:
Before you can have a great party, you’ve got to have a great client. On another day, I’ll write some about advertising, lead generation, and database maintenance. For today, however, I’m just going to say that you’ve got to make sure you get your name out well enough to get the event in the first place.

Make sure when you book the event that you get plenty of facts and information pertaining to the event. The more you know, the more you have to work with. On the same note, be sure not to ask too many questions or you may scare away an otherwise great potential client.

It is always a good idea to map out your route to your event ahead of time. By doing so, you are well aware of the estimated time of travel and can allow yourself plenty of time for accidents and traffic delays along the way.

Giving 110%:
This section pertains to how you use your intel that you gathered to give your client more than they expect. For instance, if you find out that Birthday boy Sammy likes Batman, you can learn ahead of time how to make a great batman lootle. You can then go to the event prepared to awe and astound the crowds with an amazing sculpture you planned to make ahead of time.

Get there:
Get there early or on time. You do not want to have the party mom stress out over when you’ll be there. Know that she’s plenty stressed about the party already. She doesn’t need your help making her hair fall out.

Get Going:
I start with the birthday child and usually make the figure I planned out on the way there. If it is a boy, I’m usually making a super hero or a crazy costume. If it’s a girl, I make a full princess outfit with crown, dress, wand, and ear rings.

Nip it in the Bud:
Stop any and all problems before it gets too big to handle. If you notice a child is acting up as soon as you get there, make note of it and draw extra attention to them. Sometimes you’ll find that if you set the right tone in the very beginning, things will work out really great for the rest of the party. This section could be a whole book by itself (In fact, there are MANY books on it.), so I won’t be spending time on it other than letting you know it should be dealt with appropriately.

Heading Out:
When you leave, be sure to thank your client for their hospitality. Many times they are going out of their way to invite you into their homes. They are inviting some of their closest friends over and honoring you by presenting you to them as an entertainer and sometimes even a family friend. Do not take advantage of it; and, certainly you should be grateful.

Get Out:
This last point has been added to emphasize the importance of leaving on time. Your client has planned their event around the times you were scheduled to be there. Be sure not to get in their way by staying too late.

Last Notes:
Okay, so I know these weren’t complete notes on how to perform at a party or even how to get a party or go through with an event, but I hope that you’ve at least seen an outline for what I do and how I go about doing it. If you have any specific questions or you would like for me to expand on a certain section above, let me know and I’ll be more than glad to do what I can.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Yup... This is just a post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hope you are all doing well!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stage Show: One bite at a time

I’ve always wanted to put together a stage show. I have always been fascinated by the idea and, though I didn’t really know where to start, I knew I needed to find a way to make my dream become reality.

This week I was able to get a step closer toward developing a stage show.

I have a habit of asking The Amazing Kenny (Insert Link) on a regular basis how I can improve myself as a performer. Not only do I ask him, but Jimmy Leo and Mike Clay. There are a number of others, but those are the ones I most often call for advice.

This week it was Kenny that helped me out. I asked him what I should do to improve my performance in the restaurant and he told me something quite amusing. He said “Act like Jimmy Leo.”

For those of you who know Jimmy Leo, you know exactly what he’s talking about. And for those of you that do not yet know who he is, I suggest you look him up and learn a little about him. Jimmy Leo is a GREAT entertainer and balloon artist. He is very creative and I can’t think of a better person to call when I need motivation on a new bit of performance I’m working on.

I went to work this week and I made sure to keep Kenny’s advice in the back of my head. And when the time came, I totally took on an aura of Jimmy Leo. Even better than that, I was able to use a storyline that I gathered from one of Guido Verhoff’s classes at Diamond Jam.

I went up to a table with 6 children and 4 adults and proceeded to tell a story of a prince and princess, dressing them in balloons and entertaining the entire section of the restaurant.

I’m not going to be going into detail about the specific story here, but I told a story as I made very simple balloons for each of the characters. Not only was it a LOT of fun, but I also noticed that it was VERY similar to a stage show.

That being said, I feel it has moved me a step closer to actually developing and presenting a full stage show of my own. From here on out, I am going to use my restaurant gigs to not only help with my individual gags and routines, but I will also be using them to help develop and refine entire stage shows.

With time, patience, sacrifice, and a little luck, I should be refining a stage show within a time frame of about 3-6 months. Once I have that refined, I will be able to attend Jeff McBride’s School of Mystery where I can get personalized coaching on my show, performance, and polish.

And for those of you who are restaurant entertainers out there… Have you developed a stage show yet? Have you tried it in the restaurant? If you don’t have a show, have you considered piecing one together in a restaurant setting?

And for those not in a restaurant… Have you ever considered piecing together a stage show from event bookings? What could you do at your next event to mimic a stage show and help yourself grow as a stage performer?

And my challenge for the week:
Attempt to tell a story with your balloons in a way you’ve never done before and at a place you’ve never considered. Let me know how it goes. I’m interested in hearing about it.

Monday, December 22, 2008


So, I did not work much of any balloon gigs this week, but I did go visit some family. Actually, I visited a LOT of family.

I took my girlfriend and we drove up to Alabama and saw a lot:
Her Aunt and Uncle, My mom and step dad, my 2 sisters, my brother, my grandma and grandpa on my mothers side, my nephew, my aunt and uncle on my fathers side, my grandma on my fathers side, my cousin, and all the awesome people and places in between.

It was a great experience I thought... It was really hard trying to see everyone all within a weeks time since they do not live in the same area.

The experience taught me a lot. So, here's my reference to balloons, especially with my experience in line work:

I've found that doing line work gives you two main choices. You can either try to get to as many people as you can or you can spend as much time with each person as you can. You can't really do both.

In reference to family, I chose to spend time with as many people as I could and then I made sure to let them all know that I enjoyed what little time I had with each of them. Some I spent a day or two with and some I was only able to spend a number of hours with. Just the same, it doesn't mean I care any less about any of them. It just means I only had that much time.

Balloons, like life, always offers a choice. Be sure you are aware of what you are choosing, what you are sacrificing, and what you are getting in return.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays over the next few weeks!!
May your quality time also be quantity time.

Your Balloon Man,
Jonathan Fudge

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party... With Balloons!

So, I went to Disney for the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with my girlfriend and some of our friends. And, as you can imagine, some balloons were thrown into the mix.

Before I start talking about the balloons though, you totally have to make it to the Christmas party if you haven't already. There is FREE hot chocolate and cookies. That alone is AMAZING.

Anyway, we started the night making balloons for Peter Pan and Wendy. After I made them simple swords (So we could play "lost boys"), Wendy wanted a hat and Peter wanted a monkey to sit on his shoulder (not pictured).

Yeah, I was just as suprized to get the request as they were to actually see me make it. Well, here's the pic.

After making the balloons, Peter Pan asked us to follow him and wait. Well, we did. He soon returned with an awesome piece of paper or certificate certifying my awesomeness and he and Wendy both signed it for me. So, yeah... that was awesome and totally made my day, let alone all the other cool stuff we did.

On the way to the next section of the park, Briar Fox stole away one of the girls in our group and totally started to flirt with her BIG TIME. I thought it was hilarious, but her boyfriend might not have felt the same way. Just the same, everyone in the group laughed and had a great time with it.

After we chased them around a bit and goofed off, it turned out that Briar Fox, Briar Bear, and Big Al were all going to ride on the Aladin's Magic Carpet ride. So... Lucky us, we were invited to ride along with them and were automatically pushed to the front of the line with them to ride.

Not only that, but afterward, I got to make them a balloon. (What can I say, Briar Fox kept telling us he really wanted a rabit... What was I going to do? I can't deny Mr. Fox.)

This is him trying to catch him. Don't worry though, Briar Fox decided he was too chewey and gave him back to me.

I also made Big Al a balloon teddy bear. He liked it. So, we then went on to watch the parade. What I didn't know is that we were now being followed by one of the park employees....

He soon followed us to Aladin's group where I made a Lamp for Genie and then Abu told us he wanted Carpet made out of balloons. So, I did so. I even added another little "Abu" on there so that he would have some company.

A little scared with the guy following us, I decided to ask why he was there.

Yeah, it turned out that he just liked the balloons and wanted to see what else I was going to make for other characters in the park. So, that was really cool. We ended up having our own private our guide by the time the night was out. So that was REALLY awesome.

Before the night was over, I made balloons for Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eyore, and a few others at the park as well. Yeah... It was definately a Magical Experience.

Hello Circus!

I was at a restaurant and I was twisting away and doing my thing when all of a sudden one of the tables I had been entertaining calls me over. The lady looks me dead in the eye and says, "Try not to laugh at me when I tell you this..."

As you can imagine, there were a whole multitude of things that were going through my mind when she said that. I have been around long enough to know that there are some crazy people out there doing some crazy things. So, I wasn't going to let anything she could share suprise me.

I noticed she was pulling out a business card as she was telling me this, so I knew she had to have some conection with entertainment. Needless to say, I was still suprised when I found out that she was a seasoned worker with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus. I think she told me she had been working with them for 15 years. So, she told me she knew Bello (Yay!) and I told her that I'd assume she knew who to contact if I wanted to work with the circus.

So, yeah... I was really excited about that. I think she enjoyed my entertainment and she informed me that she would be handing my card out to someone of importance at her office.

Either way, I'll be calling her in the next day or two.

I'm smiling.

Jonathan Fudge
Your Balloon Man
Florida's Balloon Guy ;-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Xmas Jam!

So, Kenny and I totally got together and went over some Christmas balloon shapes.

You can see his post Here.

The balloon Jam was only about 20 mins to an hour long, but we made it a point to take pictures of most everything we made. The focus was mostly on Christmas balloons, however we did make a few "Holiday" balloons that we could twist for those that did not celebrate Christmas.

And in addition to the ones below, I also was reminded by Merissa that I could very easily make a wreath or a candy cane. Along the same lines a dreidel, star of David, or other Hanukkah items can be made as well.

Without further adieu, here are some of the pics from the Jam.

This balloon Christmas tree was made from a couple of green 260s, a brown scrap, and a white 260 for the "lights" or "ornaments."

This angel was a white 160, a blush and yellow, and then a diamond clear 260 for the angel wings and halo.

This hat was meant to be Santa stuck in a chimney. I thought it was hilarious. I can't wait to be able to make it at a party or event.

And the last picture are the other shapes made. It was a tiger, santa, monkey, and an elf. The tiger and monkey each have a santa hat on to keep with the holiday season. I could see how adding a simple holiday hat could change any figure to match for the holidays.

On a side note, my trip to Japan was AWESOME! I was able to twist for the locals of Okinawa and had a blast while I was doing it. I also stayed on the military base and twisted for a number of events there. It was wild seeing how even the military base was a different culture than I was used to, let alone the being in a different country.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Alright... So, I've been in Japan for a bit now, I've worked a few gigs, and I've eaten some GREAT food.

I've taken a number of pictures and I have them all on my camera to download, but this computer isn't working with me too well. So, as soon as I can figure out what is not working correctly, I'll have them up and posted for you to see.

My Haloween gig was a lot of fun, but I was COMPLETELY out of balloons. I had placed an order way before, but there were complications and I did not get balloons until today. (It's past Halloween in case you didn't already know.)

So, I had NO: Orange, Yellow, Green, Mocha, Lime, Dark Blue
And I was VERY low on: Red, Orange, Black, Clear, White

The only colors I really had were: ALL my blues (Blue monkey anyone??) and I had some Purple Violet

So, yeah... That made halloween a little difficult to say the least.

Just the same... Even though I didn't get the balloons in time, Steve from LP Balloons was VERY helpful in doing anything and everything he could to fix the problem once he discovered that there was an issue with my order. So, for that I'm very thankful.

And I also have a HUGE box of balloons that I can't take back on the plane with, so I'm going to do everything I can in order to use them all up while I'm here... So, hello street busking! I'm totally going to a few different places accross the island so that I can twist for the locals. I can't wait to try out what little Japanese I know and I can't wait for the chance to learn more.

Speaking of Japanese...
I can totally read Hiragana, most of Katakana (the alphabet), and I can understand about 20-30 Kanji (the chinese-looking symbols that stand for complete thoughts and phrases). There are VERY FEW that I actually know how to "read," but I can interpret a number of their meanings...

I can understand Kanji for: fire estinghisher, days of the week, numbers, man, woman, bathroom, tool, stop, enter, exit, sake, power, king, Okinawa, tree, big, water, ice, and a few others...

I'm also learning to say things too:
I can say hello, here (as in, here, this is for you or here, please take this), thank you, your welcome, goodbye, most of the numbers, and I'm going to next be working on all the colors and animals (for balloons)

Of the week or so I've been here, I've mostly been working on learning the alphabet. So, that is hard enough and has kept me plenty busy. I definately had a breakthrough once I started using flash cards. So, that helped.

Well, that's an update on my Japanese and the balloon stuffs.

On a more personal note, I miss everyone back home. I LOVE japan and the culture here, but I kinda wish I could be back home every now and again too. So, that's made life here kinda difficult sometimes.

Other than that though, life is great. ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An introduction to Japan

So, I totally am sitting in the most awesome room I've ever been in. Well, it used to be the dining room, but they've decorated it with Japanese art and wall hangings. And to top that off, I've got an amazing bed with red silk sheets. I'm so happy with this room, I'm seriously considering decorating my room at home like this. I'll have to upload some pictures when I get some time.

And, as always, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I got to make balloons for an entire group of Japanese high school children and I had a blast! It was great seeing the respect they showed the balloons and myself. I can't tell you how many pictures I had taken with me. I only though of it now, but I really wish I would have taken a picture with all of them before I left the final airport. I want to throw some of their pictures here on my blog. (I'll put up the ones I have when I have time over the next day or two.)

In Japan... So far, so good. I love it here. Granted... There are a few things I miss quite a bit in the states, but it is pretty awesome here as well.

I also ound out that my first official balloon gig is Saturday. So, wish me luck! In the meantime I'll be meeting locals, trying to learn the language, and taking as many pictures as I can.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's all about the entertainment!

Hey sports fans! It's Keri again!

I just wanted to stop by and mention why entertaining is such a big part of twisting. I'd even go so far as to say it's the biggest part of twisting. Not that the actual twisting isn't important! I don't care if you're Carrot Top - a balloon dog must look like a balloon dog!

But I digress. Slightly.

Tonight I worked at Fuddruckers, in Las Vegas. I work there every Friday and most Saturdays if I don't have other parties or what-not. I was going along, doing my thing, making average money, whatever, when I approached a table. They had been giving me "the eye" but had yet to flag me down. So I snuck over, very James Bond-like, and said in a loud whisper, "Do you guys like balloons? Cause I can totally get you some." Then I looked around like I was being followed and as I looked back at the table gave a great big stage wink. You know, the totally obvious one that involves your whole face.

This is just how I am in a restaurant. I didn't think it was all that great... but they did! I ended up making some fairly simple balloons for the kids. I think it was an monkey and a flower or something... I really don't remember because I have short term memory when it comes to that kind of thing, and I didn't take pictures. But the whole time I was doing what I do, namely, talking to the kids about they're names and relating the names to things or people I know, asking about their ages and showing them how huge their brains must be based on the size of the hat I'm making. All while being very upbeat and interactive. I entertained them. I made sure they were having fun.

And I got a $100 bill as a tip.

I am totally not kidding. I almost passed out. Well ok not really, but my mouth totally dropped open like a fool. I even asked the gentleman (he was the grampa) if he was sure he knew what he gave me. My exact words were, "Um... uh, uh, uh... er... um... I would, uh, just like to, um, verify... uh that you are aware of, uh, what you just gave me..."

According to Gramma (again, NOT kidding): "Actually we were thinking we might have short-changed you."

I *probably* could have handled the situation better, but because I am who I am (and you'd have to meet me to understand!) I could tell that they loved me and everything was great. I'm not full of myself, I'm just trying to explain the situation.

Anyway, the whole point of the story is that the balloons I made weren't woven or complicated or even required any special twists. But because everyone had fun, (including the adults), I received the biggest tip I've ever gotten to date. And it totally made my night.

Well... it kinda made my entire year...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


First of all, I had the most amazing weekend ever! I went to Disney World and I loved it!

At Epcot, we walked around the food and wine festival and tried some amazing foods. There was Manatee in Istanbul (They mispelled it as Manti though. It's okay, I can't spell that wall either.), there was an AMAZING chedder soup in Canada, and there were some pretty decent pot stickers in China. What can I say? Food is awesome.

While walking around Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Friday night, I was privaledged to run into Billy Damon ( twisting on the Main Street. He recognized me (even though I was dressed up as Harry Potter) and went out of his way to make a Birthday hat for one of our group. Not only is he a super nice guy, he also is a great balloon artist. It was great getting to see him perform.

And of course, I had to twist a few balloons while I was there too... A Minnie Mouse in honor of the parks, and I made a bracelet for Stephanie who wore it around ALL day long. It made me smile when I realized that walking out of the park.



On Monday, I went to a balloon jam in Tampa, put on by miss Kathryn. So, thanks is definately in order for her. It was a lot of fun and I was able to meet some new balloon artists in the area. So, that's always good.

Actually, I found out I'm suposed to be teaching her Halloween stuff too. So, I'm throwing in a picture of a balloon I made Tuesday night while I was working that got a great reaction from those around me. So, yeah... This is for you Kat.


Speaking of Beefs on Tuesday night... I totally went to the wrong Beef's. So, I just wanted everyone to know that I was late and felt like a complete idiot to say the least. Either way, I threw on my smile and kept on twisting.

The couple of highlights I have for the evening are a nice tip, crazy hats, and a new design.

Not only did I make a $20 tip at a table, but I also got to make a LOT of different crazy hats all night long. As always, those are my favotire and I'm going to post another picture just because I can.


Not only did I create the cat on the pumpkin above, but I also was trying to come up with some more romantic shapes. I started making a giraffe and then tried to turn it into a heart. This is what I came up with.


I liked it. I think it could use some work, but I liked it.

Anyway... That's it for this week. Hope you were all able to get something out of it.

Oh!!!! And I almost forgot. I will be in Japan on Monday. So, after that, I may have to start typing in Japanese.

Okay, maybe not. I still think it would be pretty cool.

While I'm over there, I'm hoping to be able to twist at a number of different types of places and I am looking forward to sharing stories and photos with you all once I'm there. So, keep a look out and keep your fingers crossed that I'll be able to adapt to the culture. I heard it is quite the learning curve. I'll need all the help I can get.

Thanks again!
And until next time...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Twisting the night away

Saturday at Vallartas I had a LOT of fun as I always do. I did two things that I really loved. First, I made a bunch of abstract, conected hats. It was bunches of fun to make and I had a blast goofing off with the children.


The second thing I did was create an entire costume for someone at the restaurant. This guy was an AWESOME sport and totally let me dress him up in all kinds of crazy balloons. I saw his shirt and decided he was going to be a spear fisherman. So, this is what I came up with.


China Buffet was a LOT of fun! This table was great. Everyone was very open to getting a balloon and I was able to have a blast designing and creating a conected hat. If you'll notice the young man on the right, he's in handcuffs. He was slick enough to steal my five dollar bill out of my shirt pocket, so I had to make sure he wouldn't be able to do it again.


I was asked to make a wolf, but I failed drastically and decided to turn this into a Wiley Coyote that I saw Darin Williams make a long time ago. I do not make one anywhere as nice as he does, but I'm going to definately look him up and see if I can't figure out exactly how he does his version. (She liked it anyway and it turns out that her grandpa absolutely LOVES the Road Runner cartoons. So, it went over VERY well.)


So, as you can imagine, I recieved another request at the same table... The Road Runner. Here's the completed pair.


At this table, I had a blast too! I made an octopus bracelet, a giraffe, and I was getting ready to make something else crazy and wild when I was challenged to make a Mickey Mouse. So, this is what I came up with. The heart is something I came up with to create a shortcut for my self so I wouldn't have to try and figure out how to make the body.

This figure actually caused trouble later in the night because I had two other tables ask for it. I told the first one no. (Which I later realized was probably a mistake.) And so, to be fair, I didn't make one for the second table either. (Instead I made them a beautiful row of ducks based on I believe a Ralph Dewey design I saw a long time ago. I did not take a picture of that one. Sorry.)


After working all afternoon at China Buffet, I headed to the Zendah Grotto to swing dance and to celebrate Liz's birthday. Last week she wanted a llama. This week, however, she decided on a turtle hat.


Also at her party, Sam wanted a pig. Mostly because I was lazy and tired from swing dancing and twisting all day, I added giant eyes on it so that I wouldn't have to draw them. Even though it was orriginally just me being lazy, I think it is a GREAT touch and I'll probably start adding it to all my large pig sculptures.


Right before I could leave the Zendah Grotto, I had this lovely young lady come up to me and request a balloon. So, I willingly picked up my apron and was going to give it a go at another balloon before I headed out the door.

She asked for a heart. I didn't want to just make a quick heart, so I decided to add some things to it. I started with a monkey, then two, and then I decided I was going to try something completely new. I added a tree. AND I LOVED IT! So, I added a couple of coconuts and added the cheesy phrase, "I'm cocoNUTS for you!"

She loved it. And I found a new favorite sculpture.


This is from TX Roadhouse and is a logo or a mascot for something. He said to make a monkey in a red cape playing baseball. I liked it. I only wish I could remember what it was for.


This is my new favorite hat. It is a good picture of the people at the table, but not the best picture of the hat. That's my fault. Once I can get a better picture of the hat, I'll add it into another blog.


Again... Another favorite hat and the last hat of the night working at Tx Roadhouse. This is actually a friend from school that I grew up with and I hadn't seen him in a long time. So, when he asked how long it took to put together a hat... I didn't just tell him, I showed him!


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Texas Deja Vu

Before I get into today's blog, I wanna say that I'm really excited to have found a restaurant to replace Bennigans. For the past two days, I've been eating at Tiajuana Flats and I love it. The people there are pretty awesome and $7 goes a long way toward filling me up.

It's totally my new place to go and chill when I'm hungry and bored. (Just thought I'd share for all the people that knew how much I loved going to Bennigans.)

And on to today's blog:

So, as many of you know, I just moved back to Tampa from Houston, TX.

Tonight I totally was able to reminisce about my days in TX. Firstly, I was able to work at one of my favorite restaurants, Texas Roadhouse. And to top that, I also was privileged to work at a Country Line Dancing Bar called The Round Up (

As I walked into Tx Roadhouse, I notices that EVERYTHING was exactly like TX Roadhouse in Houston. So, that was really cool! Also, Alla from Bennigans BBDowns works there. So, I'm totally excited that I know people there! (I forgot to make her a balloon. So, I'm going to try and do that tomorrow when I go in there for dinner. We'll see how that goes.)

Between that, the country music at The Round up, and the side efects of pure exhaustion... I definitely felt a few episodes of deja vu tonight.

While I was there, I didn't just make things for the, I also made some pretty interesting things for the customers as well.

For instance:

These two wonderful ladies wanted to surprise their husbands with a visit and decided the absolutely best way to do so would be to show up with the "Loudest" balloons possible. I had a blast making their balloons and hope that I can work with them and their church in the future.

And this lovely family was a lot of fun as well. The boys were very awesome, well behaved, and totally open to whatever it was I was going to make them. (I graduated from high school with the nice blonde in the center and decided it was fair game to try and embarrass her.)

I connected their hats and challenged them to wear it all night in the restaurant and, more importantly, to get out the door with out either of the hats sliding off their heads. It was AMAZING!! I absolutely LOVE watching this type of hat try and leave a restaurant. On a side note, the most I've ever connected like this was about 15 and it was at Crazy Buffet off of Dale Mabry. I don't work there anymore, but really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Yeah, so like I said before, this group was the best. They wore their hats with pride all night long and really helped to make my night.
Connect a kid

When I meet famous people or when I find people that I really enjoy making balloons for, I like to take their pictures so that I can write about them here. Tonight, I was blessed to have a table that not only had "famous" people, but really awesome people.

I had a blast making a rose, octopus bracelet, and princess crown for this group. For those that don't know, the guy on the right is John Cena. I just want to put my two cents in and say that he (and his friends) are very awesome, very nice, and totally have my respect.

John Cena and Friends

I made this at Las Vallartas the other night, but wanted to add it in here because I thought it was the most amazing hat (and cutest kid) ever.

Abstract Hat

Now, as far as the Round up goes...

I loved it. It was a LOT of fun. It was a whole lot easier to get along with everyone than I expected and everyone seemed to totally love the balloons.

I did not think to take too many pictures tonight, but I did get one. Luckily, I also got myself in this picture. So, that's good. I found that is something I don't do as often as I would like.

This is highlighting a necklace that I made for one of the cutest girls there. She was probably slightly intoxicated, but kept telling me how "adorable" I was. So, it went quite the lengths in building my ego. It's always nice, especially when in a new place you're uncomfortable with, to have someone who's sole purpose is to make you feel confident in yourself. She played that role for me. So, it was definitely nice to have her around.

And back to the balloon note...

This is the first time I'd ever made a necklace like this and I LOVE it. I think it is quite amazing. It stayed just the way I wanted it to, it is a decent size, and it wasn't too terribly difficult. (Though, it was slightly time consuming...)
Balloon Necklace

Overall today I worked (including the sorting of my balloons) from 3pm-3am. I worked a full 12 hours. So, needless to say, I can't really feel my legs, my throat is sore from all the talking, and I'm exhausted.

So, I'm off to bed for the night and I look forward to my next post as I hope you will as well.

Until then,
Jonathan Fudge
Your Balloon Man

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cody's Jumping Jamin' Jungle Safari

So, tonight I was able to accomplish a number of things.

Firstly, I was able to watch Jimmy Leo's Jungle Safari DVD right before work. So, I was able to make a number of his creations (or variations thereof) while I was working.

I LOVE the monkey face/ caribou hat base and I used it to make a number of different things. The thing I'm probably most proud of is the bird variation that I came up with. yes, it is very similar to Jimmy's stuff, but I like it. (Later on I added a tongue and some drool and the girl LOVED it!)

Also, I was able to meet Jason Young and his band. They were all pretty cool and I'm rather upset I didn't get to hear them play. By the time I got outta work, they were already done playing. You can hear some of their music at:

If you vist, be sure to let them know it was Mr. Fudge, Your Balloon Man that sent you ;-)

And for all the previous posts that I didn't upload photos for, I've got some more ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The economy and business

I was inspired again today.
I am finally focusing on my business again.

Recently, I've been just going with the flow and slowly gotten business as I needed. However, I finally made a choice to act and get more business done.

Last night and today I have been working on my website. It should be up and running within a week. So, let's keep our fingers crossed and see how things are going.

On another note, I'm watching TV for one of the first times in a while and they are talking about some type of recent crisis. I'm a little out of the loop for not watching TV or reading the paper recently. So, I am about to start some serious google action so that I can find out what has been going on.

So, thinking to self, "Is now a good time to buy a home?"

And on a Balloon Note...

I got to make the most awesome balloon creation ever on Tuesday!!!
I was able to make... Well, here, take a look!

Yeah... It doesn't get much better than that... ;-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

They're pulling the plug...

Mrs. Maxine is the only reason I ever ended up at any Balloon Jam what-so-ever.

She emailed me and told me that as long as I brought a case of Fudge, she'd pay my way and give me a room to stay in. I might have been 17 then. I jumped at the opportunity, even though I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into.

I'm now 22 and can say that she's helped me get to numerous Orlando Jams, Chicago, Boston, Diamond Jam, and more importantly... She's helped me get to where I am today.

She was responsible for introducing me to a number of the Balloon community (and Idaho Spud Bars) and I thank her for that. Without her, I would never have met any of the balloon artists that I now call my mentors. She pretty much adopted me as her grand kid and it even went so far as for me to have her in my phone as "Gma Maxine."

My heart goes out to each and every one of you that knew her. I know she's touched a lot of lives. Mine was definitely one of them.

On the same note, I just got word that my Grandpa has some serious cancer issues. So, Ma told me he's expected to live about two months. So, I'm doing everything in my power to earn enough money between now and October 20th (When I'm supposed to be in Japan) to be able to drive up and visit him. Yeah... Even though I'm a smiling, happy, fun-loving entertainer... I've got a few family issues too.

Just the same, tomorrow night I will be throwing on my apron, tossing on a smile, and walking into the door of a Cody's Roadhouse Restuarant where I will be goofing off, twisting balloons, and making people happy. Cause yeah... Tomorrow, it's not just going to be fun and games, it's my job.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things that make me smile...

So, tonight I had a few different things happen that made me smile.

-Someone recognized me as "The Awesome Balloon Guy!!!" (Even though it's been WELL over a year since I've ever walked in the door there.)
-I saw someone I knew from high school days and got to say hello to her again. That was tons of fun!
-Some lady was practically pulling money out of her husbands wallet for him to tip me. (He tried to hand me a dollar and she started running through his wallet for him to find me a better tip. It was pretty comical from my point of view.)
-A guy tipped me somewhere between $40 and $50 for making some things for his wife and kids. (He was a really cool guy and tipped me well even though the wife tried to convince him $5 was enough. Yeah, I'm glad some husbands don't listen to their
-I was challenged to make "Silver." He is apparently some character from the new sonic the hedgehog serries. So, that was pretty cool. And when the kid tipped me, he handed me a $10 and said, "You can keep the change."

Yeah, I laughed. It made me smile.

Overall, I had a much better night. It was lots of fun... You know, the way balloonin' is suposed to be ;-)

Back to Twisting...

It's been a while since I've posted.

In fact, it's been over a week and a half. So, I'm sorry about that.

This past weekend, I was in Miami taking part in a US Chess Tournament. I did pretty Cheesy. (Pretend like that's a pun.) And soon after that I have been back and forth doing all kinds of "busy" things like: catch up on sleep, sort balloons, order business cards, and try and make time to clean out my car.

Through all the craziness, I finally did manage to work a gig today! I know, I'm excited too!

I worked at a place where I totally bombed. It was a nicer place with mostly richer families and their children and I walked in with a huge ego and expected to make balloons for only adults and totally just goof off with the children.

Yeah... It was a great idea... But it totally didn't work. Also, because I went into the gig with such a closed mind (being tired didn't help), I pretty much shot myself in the foot from the get go.

I learned:

It doesn't matter how much you plan or how much you prepare, things will always go differently then you expect.

So, as a very wise man once said, "Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."

(So, 10 pts. to who can tell me who said that.)

Next gig, tomorrow... I will be like water. I will clear my mind rather than planning ahead. I will let the crowd decide how I react. I will not let it control me because I am still the one that is suposed to be in control, but I will not try and force my ways upon them. I will be myself and I will let them be themselves and together I know that it will be an awesome combination.

From one drop of water to the next,
have a happy voyage down the stream of life.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Barrel of Fun!

So, in the last restaurant I worked, I ran across a large table. It was a party of about 15-20 people and I started to twist balloons. I did my regular spiel and made a balloon for about every child at the table, when all of a sudden a girl jumps out from no where and nearly scares the living daylights out of me!

She jumped out and told me that she wanted a balloon. So, I asked where she was sitting (assuming she was at a different table in another part of the restaurant) and she informed me that she was at the table I was at, but off in the corner.

Yeah, that's right. Somehow I didn't even see her there.

Her parents told her to have a sit and reassured her that I wouldn't forget her. (They told her that I knew she was there the whole time and I let them keep that

After I finished the balloon I was on, I gladly moved to her side of the table and realized she was about to ask for something. So, I stopped her. I let her know that I wasn't going to give her a choice in what she wanted because I already had the perfect thing in mind.

Now, so you all know... This is just a clever ploy to get away with making whatever you want for a child. Once you make so many awesome things that it is hard to remember them all, this is a great way to keep some variety in your life.

That being said... Sometimes it works out really really great! This was one of those really great times.

Well, apparent from the looks on the faces around me, I clearly offended a few of the adults by refusing to let the girl choose what she wanted. One of them was brave enough to speak up.

"Well then, Mr. Balloon Guy... What is it exactly that you think she should get?"

I responded with a cool, calm, and relaxed, "Well, if I had to pick out something special for you right here and right now, I'd have to say you wanted a horse."

At that moment in time, all the looks of disgust, shock, and offense suddenly changed. Everyone gasped in awe. Then, soon after, everyone was asking, "Wow! How'd you know that she likes horses?! She's actually the world champion barrel racer and she just got back from a competition she won!"

Well, yeah... Like I said, sometimes things really work out. So, being I forgot her (I didn't see her) and being I guessed right on the money, I decided I'd make her something special.

So, yeah... I was privileged to make the world champion barrel racer a balloon horse. It's amazing the things you get to do and the people you get to meet as an entertainer.

Yeah... I love my life.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Orlando Jam!!

Balloon Distractions Jam
September 4th, 2008
The Gang!
Randy Crain - Orlando Regional Leader
Randy decided we were going to duplicate the Betallic Survivor Challenge. So, we had ourselves a little contest and I think it turned out great! There were some awesome sculptures and I only wish I knew how to post them all without taking up so much space.

So, rather than post them all, I'm sticking to the 3 finalists. Hope you enjoy! I know I had a blast watching everything come together. I attempt the Betallic Challenge every year at the convention and I know just how hard this contest can be. Just the same, EVERYONE on the crew did a GREAT job and I had a blast getting to watch all the creative minds come together.
Nate Beaver & Danielle Moses 1st place $25 Regal Card

Justin Osborne & Jenny Cassey 1st place $20 plus a bag of Betallic balloons

Rami Shafi 3rd place $10 Publix Gift Card & bag of Betallic balloons

In light of the most recent Balloon Distractions Jam in Orlando, I decided to post a few pictures from past Jams as well...

Above (from left to right): Bowling ball hat, Lauren Blanset with her Yoshi, A display piece for a restaurant, and the "Traffic Girl" or hostess for Winners Grill.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Creating something from nothing

Hey guys. This is Keri again. I am writing this with my daughter sitting on my lap in front of the computer, and periodically she says things to me along the lines of "More juice!" So if it's not as easy to read as my last post, you'll have to take it up with her.


So I've mentioned before that I am not exactly "experienced" when it comes to the world of entertaining with balloons. This puts me in a very interesting position when blogging for my good pal, Fudge, over here. He has been doing this 14 years longer than me.

He's a dinosaur! (Sorry. Inside joke.)

Anyway, of the two of us, he is decidedly the person one should go to when asking a question. Which is great, because I have alot of questions! But Mr. Fudge has trouble when it comes to relating to those of us that, for instance, don't exactly know what a tak weave is.

Yay for me! I am more able to connect with the newbie crowd!

That being said, how awesome is it when you make something up? Totally awesome, right? I had a table the other night where the lady was a scuba diver for La Reve. (That's a show in Vegas that is mostly in and under water.) She decided she was going to stump me and ask for a scuba diver balloon. Great. I just barely learned how to make a human parody and now I'm supposed to add flippers and a helmet with an air hose and an oxygen tank to it?

Why yes, that's exactly it. Also, a spear gun. (Which was just a silver 260 almost all the way inflated.)

scuba diver by me

Many of you may be saying "I know how to do that! I do it all the time! It's a Ken Stillman hitch hiker with a double stuffed head and all that other stuff added on! Duh!"

Well that's all fine and good, but *I* didn't know that. I had to figure it all out based on what I had already known. That's not always the easiest thing to do for someone that's brand new. It's hard to get your head out of that box labeled "This Is How This Is Made." But once you do, it's amazing what you'll find yourself coming up with. For instance... did you know a heart raisin twisted to a 260 hat can be a Hello Kitty or a strawberry just based on the color of the heart and the artwork?
hello kitty and strawberry hats

I didn't know that until the other night! Why would I have known that? Where is the book/DVD/website that says it? (Of course it might totally be somewhere, but I haven't seen it yet, is my point.)

It's really satisfying to be asked for a particular balloon, and then be able to make said balloon. Even if it's not exactly what you envisioned, or even close to something someone else made, it is totally and completely YOURS and that is something to be proud of. Not to mention the fact that no one but you knows that what you have created might not be your best work, or might not be exactly what you thought it should have been. Or really, that you haven't made 1000 sculptures exactly like this one, and get asked to make a black and purple unicorn with tentacles all the time! (Yes I got asked for it. I TOTALLY made it.)

Which reminds me... always bring a camera to gigs!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Diamond Jam Starts to Kick In...

So, this is my version of what I could remember from what Don Caldwell made in the Jam room. His dogs were some of the most awesome balloon dogs I have ever seen. Each one of them had an amazing personality that you could just read in their faces.

This week, I finally was able to sit down and try to recreate what I remembered of his puppies.

This is what I came up with. After finishing it, I decided that it was the eyebrows that I like the most...

So, I decided I was going to take Robbie Furman's advice and make a bird. And to top that, I was going to make a bird that had the AWESOME eye brows that Don's dog had.

This is what I came up with.

It has a similar face to the dog and then I used a similar technique to that of my rose t make the body and wings for it. Overall, I liked it quite a bit.

However, the body looked like it could be something else to me...

And that's where this guy came from!

Actually, I tried to make a Lamb first, but it looked horrible. Lucky for me, I was able to see the face of a turtle in it. And, sticking to the theme of "personality," I had this turtle become old with age and despiration as it constantly chased that perpetual apple on a stick.

For Contrast, and so I could show off one more photo, I added this guy in here.

This is a fairly intricate sculpture that I made recently and I (later) noticed that it has a very neutral look to it.

So, my next challenge is to make a pirate with attitude.

Next time I am asked for a pirate and have time to experiment, I will be adding that to my photos and making an update to this post. Keep out a ready eye. We'll see if I can twist up another treasure yet... ;-)