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... ;-)

There's on and then there's ON

Sometimes when you first start working in a restaurant, it is hard to "go on" (get into character). So, here are a few things I've done over the past few gigs when I haven't felt too well.

I've also added a few little bits that I've used in restaurants for entertainment of the guests and of myself. Hope you enjoy!

Ihop, North Dale 116
Monday Sept. 1st 9 am-1 pm

Getting Started

I started out by not approaching a table, not saying hello to management, and by not really making any type of eye contact with any of the customers.

I then proceded to make a large display piece for the front of the store. (Specifically, I made a crocodile chasing a monkey up a palm tree. Thanks Jeanine for the inspiration for this one! Mine looked no where near as cute as yours did, but it was a great challenge.)

As I was twisting, I would periodically move to different areas of the restaurant and let people get little glimpses of what I was putting together. My goal was to make the customers start to ask me if they could get a balloon. I did not want to really "approach" anyone.

Well, It worked.
I'm sure it helped that there were children, but I eventually had someone ask if they could get a balloon. I said sure. However, I made them wait until I was done with the piece I was working on.

Also, after I finished, I made sure to walk around and show it to people. I used this time to interact with the adults, say hello, introduce myself, and (most importantly) hand out business cards.

Once I finally finished the little parade, I hung up the sculpture in the front of the store for everyone to see as they came and went. I also introduced myself to some of the staff and then headed over to my first table.

Hat Attack!!

I have to admit... I REALLY love to make hats. I made it a point to make a number of different hats today. It was a lot of fun!

I have had a number of people ask me exactly how I can get away with making a lot of hats. It's simple. I don't give them a choice.

When they tell me what they want, I ask them if they want to wear it on their wrist or on their head. Depending on the figure, I don't always give them those exact choices. Sometimes I give them the option of wearing it on their shoulder, pony tail, finger, wheel chair, etc.

It all just depends on the mood I'm in.

This is a table I made a bunch of balloon hats for. There are two crazy looking hats and a purple giraffe. I had a blast at their table and ended up spending a good 10-15 minutes there.

Beef O' Bradys 86
Tuesday Sept. 2nd 5:30 pm- 9:30 pm

For this segment, I am going to talk about a few things I did today on the entertainment and patter side of things. One of these I made up on the fly today and another one is just the continuation of a line I've been using for a few years now.

While we're out in the restaurants, if we're enjoying ourselves, we are constantly coming up with really great material. So, this is my attempt of writing some of it down for my sake and yours. I hope it helps.


This is a great technique to utilize when you can. Today I walked up to a table, introduced myself, and then their food came before I could even blow up a balloon to start twisting for a kid. So, I started talking (fairly quickly), saying something similar to the following:

"Okay, so I'll make you a balloon under one condition: You've got to be eating. So, while I'm twisting, you've got to be chewing food. Soung good?"


"What?! You're talking! You're giving yourself away. If you're talking, then you can't be chewing. And if you're not chewing, then you're not eating. And if you're not eating, then I can't be making you a balloon because you wouldn't be following the deal.

"So, grab a bite of that hamburger really quick and start to chew so I can start to twist"

Dad: "Wow... Can we take you home? He's actually eating his food"

To dad: "Sure. (Hands him a business card.) I do house calls."

Continuing with child: "So, Since you are going to be eating, you're not going to be talking to me. And since you're not going to be talking to me, then that means I'm probably not going to be able to talk to you either, which means it will be really quite over here and you will just have to watch me twist and twist until I can finish making your suprize.

"So, no matter what you do, don't stop eating. You don't want me to stop half way in the middle of making your balloon or you might not turn out with anything and that could be sad. And we don't want to get sad because we like to be happy, and if we're happy, then we can eat and enjoy our food and we can get balloons because we ate all our food and did what we were suposed to. And we like to do what we're suposed to so that our parents take us out to nice restaurants so we can eat. And we like to eat so we can get a balloon. And...."

Well, it went on and on until I finally finished the balloon. The best part was that I kept throwing in lines talking about how I would not be able to talk, yet I kept on talking the entire time.

Eventually, I found that the parents completely stopped eating because they were laughing so hard and the child had eaten so much of his burger that there was nearly nothing left on the plate by the time I finished.

This was AMAZING.

I hope you can find some way to use the circular reasoning self-conversation in your entertainment arsenal as well.

I love my job

This is one of my favorite lines to use while working in a restaurant situation:

"I really love my job.

"I mean, there are a lot of things I really, really love. I love to walk around and have a good time, I love meeting awesome people, I love getting to practice my art where others can appreciate it, and I really love that I can get away with this (bopping child on head with the balloons as talking to the parents).

"However... There are things I really don't like about my job as well. I mean, I'm walking around table to table, I'm starving, and I have to smell this delicious food all night long. The food always looks so great and I'm always stuck waiting until later in the evening to eat...

"So, I guess what I'm saying is... That food looks awesome! And I totally know what I'm going to be ordering when I get off"

I then follow it with a wink and a smile.

Some Pictures from the Restaurant

Baby Balloon for Mom-2-b

Baseball Player for the Rays