Let me bring you up to date!

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog (isn’t that always the case?) so I’m going to give you the highlights since last time I posted and then we’ll be all up to date.  Sound good?


  • I did a beautiful and very fancy first/third birthday party at the Four Seasons Boston.


  • I learned how to make a balloon Hello Kitty and my daughter was very pleased.
  • Not balloon related: I had a baby!  He turned 1 and wore a balloon hat.


Now I’m all up to date and hope to keep it that way!

Read for the Record 2012: Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad

Every October, Jumpstart helps kids around the nation get a jumpstart on their reading.  Jumpstart is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing literacy to underprivileged children in the United States.  Their national headquarters are on the sixth floor of the Boston Children’s Museum.  This office also happens to be next door to FableVision Studios, an educational multimedia animation studio where I work during the week.  So I’ve become friends with a lot of staff at Jumpstart over the years, because, you know, we share an office kitchen and bathroom.

Anyway, Amy Schroeder at Jumpstart noticed my balloons at a FableVision event one year and contacted me about helping created some large balloon sculptures for their Read for the Record Event held every year in the auditorium at the Boston Public LIbrary.  This is a pretty large venue so we’re not talking about dogs and flowers.

Last year, the Read for the Record book was Llama Llama Red Pajama and I recreated baby llama and Mama Llama for the event (with some help on Mama’s apron by Sara Krakauer).  Jumpstart had a full-size bed on stage for the event which helped really recreate the scene from the book that we were depicting.

This year, the book was Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad and I decided to pull inspiration from this page of the book.

 This sculpture is probably one of my biggest installation pieces.  With internet and phone wisdom of some talented balloon decorators, Johnna Perry of Up, Up and Away Balloons and Lauren Beigel, I created 3 green columns for the backdrop of the sunflowers, using over 100 11inch round standard green balloons.  I stacked the columns on wooden bases with two 7 ft tall polls and fishing wire.

Next, I created 3 extra large sunflowers.  The sunflower design was my original design, with some inspiration from photos on BalloonHq.com.  It was my first time experimenting with 321s, which I used for the leaves.  These balloon shapes were all the rage at Twist and Shout 2011, so I may be a little behind in incorporating them into my work.  But that’s one of my favorite reasons for doing these big sculptures:  I always learn new and interesting techniques and expend my repertoire. So, yay!

Once the sunflowers and backdrop was built (and completely took over my bedroom!), it was time to build Ladybug Girl herself. Ladybug Girl has so many parts of her that are so fun to do with balloons–her skirt, wings and antenna, especially.  But one thing I struggled with and (hopefully) fixed in the end, was how to make her face big and also cute.  Many twisters far more talented than I have a large repertoire of types of balloon faces that they can do.  My friend Rob Balchunas is amazing when it comes to this and can do caricatures that are really likenesses of the person.  This is an area I’m hoping to improve on and will hopefully get some pointers when I attend the Florida Super Jam in January.

Anyway, In the end, I decided to stick with her being big because I thought it would have the best impact in a large room. Up close maybe she wasn’t as cute as she is in the book, but Amy and her crew seemed very happy, which is what made me satisfied.  So I loaded her and sunflowers up in the van!

So another great event and great gig with Jumpstart!  Looking forward to hearing what the 2013 selection will be so I can start planning!

Freshly Squeezed

I often think of my Grandpa Joe (of blessed memory) when I’m building large balloon sculptures. He passed away before getting to see some of my favorite big pieces (llamas, Today Show likenesses) but he used to keep photos of the hawks in his own portfolio because he said he was proud of my artwork as if it was his own.

My Grandpa Joe himself was an incredibly talented woodcraftsmen.  Although always proud of his work, he was always very humble. One time, after completing a particularly awe-inspiring creation (an ark to house the Torah for his synagogue), I remember him looking at the sculpture and saying to me:

“You know, sometimes I can’t believe I made this.”

That’s how I felt about the dress I built for FableVision Studios Creative Juices Art Show this year.




Every year, the staff at FableVision Studios puts on an art show to showcase the creative talent everyone in the office does outside the office.  It’s always a great show, full of everything from food art, knitting, felting, wood painting, animation, illustration, puppetry, photography and, of course, my yearly contribution of balloon art.  This past February, I began to learn the craft of balloon couture at Twist and Shout and made my first dress.  I decided I wanted to get better at balloon couture and took on the challenge of making a better dress for this year’s art show.  And since I work with a bunch of crazy fun artists, I knew I would be able to convince one of them to wear the dress at the show.  And I did!  Thanks, Taryn!

The theme of this year’s art show was “Freshly Squeezed,” so I decided to make the dress have lots of bold and bright citrusy colors.  But I started out by making a “test dress” with whatever extra colors I had around.  I used the test dress to work out some kinks in the structure, size and shape of the dress.  Taryn came over to try on the test dress on Tuesday night and I figured out how her size matched up with the bust model I was using.

One of the trickiest parts of building balloon dresses is the very end, when you “unbutton” the dress from the bust and then have to twist right on your human model to make it fit just right.  Luckily, the test dress try-on session helped me figure out what needed to be changed for the final (a wider and longer bodic, and a more full skirt).

Another very tricky thing about building balloon dresses is that fact that you have to build it pretty quickly because balloons (especially the type of balloon-160s-that make up most of the dress lose air pretty quickly over 24 hours.  So Wednesday night, I got started on the real thing!

Anyway, the final dress probably took me about 6 hours total to build (so about 10+ hours twisting over the course of the week–my fingers and arms hurt by Friday!) I’m so happy with how it came out!  I accessorized the dress with a little flower on the bodice, a balloon corsage and a tiny top hat. Taryn looked amazing in it and seemed to have a great time wearing it the whole night.  Structurally, it held up very well, which I was very proud of, and several times through the evening, I did look at it and say:

“I can’t believe I made that.”