The Ultimate Balloon Book: 46 projects to Blow Up, Bend & Twist, by Shar Levine & Michael Ouchi
The Ultimate Balloon Book: 46 Projects is a very good book, which lives up to its’ title — it includes 64 projects, made with 1 or more balloon animals. Okay, maybe it’s not the ‘Ultimate’ balloon book, but it is very nice. In a nutshell, it combines the best elements from two other balloon animal books ‘series’ — Aaron Hsu-Flanders‘ books, which are heavy on step-by-step photographs, but short, and Captain Visual’s longer, more detailed books, which rely heavily on line art. The Ultimate Balloon Book falls in the middle of these two quite nicely. At 96 pages, it’s much longer than Hsu-Flanders’ books, but doesn’t attempt to be the one-volume encyclopedia of twisting of Captain Visual. It does include dozens of color photographs, typically showing the finished creation, as well as numerous diagrams showing the construction of each creation. It also includes a difficulty rating for each creation, from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).
It’s a very good book for beginners , and even intermediate balloon twisters will find some neat projects. Please note that it does not include any tips on performance, working a crowd, handling lines, et cetera — for that, I recommend the much longer Captain Visual’s Big Book of Balloon Animals.
Table of Contents
- Materials, Safety Tips and Techniques
- Basic introductory material, starting with where to buy balloons, how to store them, the different types (320, 160, bee, etc.), and the basic twists and folds to make balloon animals
Chapter 1: Materials
- Types of Balloons, Where to purchase balloons, How a balloon is made, Storing balloons
Chapter 2: Safety Tips
- Working with balloons, Do’s and don’ts
Chapter 3: Basic Techniques
- Inflating a balloon, Burping, Tying a balloon, Basic twists, Difficulty Scale
- Beginning the meat of the book – the standard dog, but starting with the horse we get a little fancier – the horse has lips, and a main — it’s not just a dog with a long neck :o) Likewise, the other creations have a little more ‘oomph’ in them.
Chapter 4: Animals
- Dog, Horse, Pig, Cat, Teddy Bear, Butterfly/Dragonfly, Dragon, Stegosaurus, Scorpion, Fish
Chapter 5: Plant Life
- Daisy, Palm tree, Tulip
Chapter 6: Other Fun Things
- Guitar, Motorcycle, Airplane, Spaceship, Silly balloon figures
Decorating with Balloons
- Creating chains of balloons for decoration. Braiding balloons, either for decoration, or to use in larger sculptures, such as hats, or the ring toss game later in the book. A nice spider on a web, and a braided flower for a centerpiece.
Chapter 7: Chains and Braids
- Single circle chain, Figure 8 chain, multilink chain, three-balloon braid
Chapter 8: Special Occasions
- Halloween spider and web, Birthday centerpiece, Starbrush
- Making a bracelet, mouse & turtle bracelets, hair ornaments (for girls with longer hair), basic hats (I like the foolscap with three ‘ears’ for a quick, clownish hat), and the braid technique from earlier is used to make a ringtoss hat — toss a balloon ring over the hat to score a point. It really begins to shine when they get to the costumes, however; The angel wing is very useful, and quite versatile as well — I intend to use the angel costume in conjunction with a clown skit.
Chapter 9: Wearable Balloons
- Plain bracelet, Mouse bracelet, Turtle bracelet
Chapter 10: On Your Head
- Hair ornament, Two-balloon headband,, Basic hat frame, foolscap, Ringtoss hat, Starburst hat
Chapter 11: Costumes
- Body frame, Butterfly, Bumblebee, Angel, Pirate with parrot and sword, Robot
Fun and Games with Balloons
- The houses are simple, frame-construction houses. I’ve used the simple house (on a smaller scale) in Children’s Church, talking about the foolish house built upon the sand — with a tack hidden in my hand, I popped the different parts of the house (at the appropriate part of an accompanying song). For pure entertainment, I truly like both the ring toss (similar to the hat, previously mentioned) and the dart shoot — pull back an inflated balloon as the dart, and fire it through a loop in a ring-toss braid. The last game is the most challenging to make, with inserting 3 balls in a triple-braid balloon (transparent works best), racing to see which ball can get to the end first.
Chapter 12: Fun Houses
- Simple house, Fancy house
Chapter 13: Games
- Balloon darts with balloon targets, Ring toss, Three braid maze with racing balloon balls