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Topic: What is the best resource to get started in ballooning
Message: Posted by: erockk (Sep 25, 2017 07:02PM)
Hi there guys,

I have been In magic for a while and have lately started to get interested in balloons. I was mainly wondering what advice you have to offer and what supplies you recommend. Also what resource do you think will be best for learning. Thanks
Message: Posted by: Amazing Magic Co (Sep 25, 2017 08:53PM)
There are so many ways to get started here and nothing requiring any major $$$ investment. First ... Just get a bulk bag of fresh 260 (Qualatex or Betallatex) balloons and a cheap hand pump. Next there are numerous great DVD's including anything by Mark Byrne (Bad to the Balloon series) and Roger Godin (Restaurant Repertoire, Size Matters,) Shonna Flanigan (Bear Heads) etc.) and so many more. Today, there are so many resources online between YouTube and video downloadable services that offer such a wide range of designs. The important thing is to get comfortable with a few basic twists (loop, ear, locking, and making your balloons "soft", etc.) and being consistent in sizing your bubbles. The rest is simply trial and error in addition to having a little faith to dive in. Don't be afraid of popping as that is all part of the process. As your confidence builds, you'll find yourself trying more complex designs using more sizes and shapes and seeking specific things that you would like to learn. As you advance, you might want a floor or electric pump but none of this is necessary until you're really cranking more volume or multi balloon figures. You might also find balloon jams and/or conferences in your area which folks just get together to trade ideas, designs, etc. You also have numerous online resource including some good folks here on the Café. I'm sure that I have forgotten a few things but just do it!

Have fun!
Message: Posted by: erockk (Sep 26, 2017 11:26AM)
Thank you so much for the advice Dan. What brand would you recommend, Belated or qualatex.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 26, 2017 12:16PM)
Thanks Dan, for your very detailed "duking in" as we old carnies say.

I've been corresponding with Eric since way last spring. He "comes across" as a very bright eighth grader. He is full of questions, and, he LISTENS to answers! So far, he has proven to be well worthy of my time.

I started in balloons in the late '50s, when we still had only 3" balloons. (long & short!) The first 'skinnies' were 1" x (I think) 45". They were imports and were liberally coated with powder. It was necessary to inhale with the closed end in one's mouth to get a bubble! The 245s were great!

I had a Balloon Animal Safety Program which I did in schools, for awhile. I used 245s for a brief segment in my magic program (all the inflates: bottom, middle, etc. and a basis "2 dogs long and half a dog high", etc.

I dropped the balloons when all the amateur and Shrine clowns, started to use them, so, I'm "out of date" with the rubber, now.

I really appreciate your helping Eric get started.
Message: Posted by: Amazing Magic Co (Sep 26, 2017 02:32PM)
Always a pleasure. I remember a time (not very long ago) where a basic balloon dog or a heart flower was an advanced sculpture. Now the creativity is incredible.

Eric ... you should be fine with either Qualatex or Betallatex ... You say toe-mato ... I'll say toh-matta. There are slight differences between the 2 as to incremental length and thickness but both are usually very good quality. Just pick up a few bags and have fun ... don't be afraid to laugh at the ones that didn't go as planned. Start simple and build upon what you learn. Your only limited at first by some basic twists and your imagination. After you get a few comfortably under your belt ... you'll need to decide whether you want to just make balloons or be entertaining as well. Like magic, the same rules apply .. be interesting and have fun!

Message: Posted by: erockk (Sep 26, 2017 07:08PM)
Thank you so much for your help, I always enjoy coming onto the Café and reading what people have to say. I will make sure to laugh at the balloons I mess up and I will definitely have fun.
Message: Posted by: Karen Climer (Oct 1, 2017 11:19AM)
Agree with what others have said. You can learn the basics from YouTube. Holly Hopper and Michael Floyd both have extensive youtube channels that start with the basics. Once you get the basics down (dog, sword, flower, etc.), you have to start paying for DVDs or downloads for the better stuff. But free youtube videos are a great place to start.
Message: Posted by: erockk (Oct 1, 2017 03:33PM)
Thanks karen
Message: Posted by: Karen Climer (Oct 2, 2017 07:34PM)
One more tip for beginners ... use opaque balloons. There are opaque colors and transparent colors. The opaque ones are a little thicker (less popping). For most things, they look better too. I use Qualatex, so I would recommend the carnival assortment. They are all opaque. I'm not sure what the comparable set would be for Betallatex.

I'm not sure there is a huge difference between the two brands. I think it is largely a matter of preference (Coke vs. Pepsi). Usually people start using one and stick with it. Maybe get a bag of each, try them both, and decide what you like.
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Oct 4, 2017 06:14AM)
For Betallatex (B) it's the fashion assortment.

I used to use Qualatex (Q) but switched to B for a few reasons.
B's have a slightly thicker wall so there is a lot less popping. Also they are a little longer, almost a true 60". Neither brand is truly 2" or 60". Q's are a little closer to 2" diameter. I think it's because the walls are thinner so they expand more.

Also the B black balloons are opaque so they are a LOT less likely to pop. It becomes an issue when you get into more complicated figures where you're twisting the same balloon many times, and twisting it into tight spaces between many connected balloons.

The B neon are a little harder to work with, but the extra length makes them good for flowers, and they have a yellow in the assortment which Q doesn't have anymore.

Betallatex also sells the single colors of 260's and 360's in bags of 50, instead of 100, so you can try new colors more easily, as well as expand your "palette". Since switching to B, I now carry 5 different shades of blue and more shades of other colors.

Lastly there has been a lot of complaining about Q's quality control (irony anyone?) due to many Siamese twins, (balloons stuck together near the tips.) and an increase in popping, or so I've heard.

Having said all that Q's are far superior when you get into the different shapes - rounds, hearts, etc.

Stay away from the metallic balloons for a while. They are very stiff and require an experienced hand when inflating. They also pop "hard" and since the coloring contains some metal I believe. They can actually hurt. I never use them for hat bases for that reason. No sense putting something like that near a kids face.

Both companies have a FaceBook page which you should join.

Mr. Boma has an excellent video on the subject.
In fact his whole channel is gold, though many of his figures are intermediate level.

There are many good distributors and, after trying them all, I settled on LaRocks -

I've ordered from them over a hundred times without a single mistake or late arrival. That plus they are two days away from me, very competitive prices, huge selection, and ease of ordering (you can order all 260's on one page at the same time) is why I've settled on them. They offer free shipping when you order $150. which isn't hard to do.

One last bit of advice - if you're just starting, STOP! Turn around and run away! You'll get addicted! Balloons will take over your house!! You have been warned!!!
Message: Posted by: coma185 (Dec 28, 2017 08:15PM)
For me it was the basics from youtube videos then Bad to the Balloon 1 & 2 (I started before 3 came out) from Mark Byrne. Those DVD's alone got me soooo many gigs!
Message: Posted by: Graham Lee (Jan 6, 2018 12:40PM)
I have a few tutorials up on youtube,

BalloonTube with Graham Lee, this is the link, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV8BZoHyBE9A19Ua_9KUcAg

I also have over 80 instructions up on balloon chat with full step by step instructions, http://balloonchat.co.uk/model-the-month.html

This month the model is a two balloon shark
Message: Posted by: TKD27 (Jan 28, 2018 05:08PM)
I know I'm late to the party on this one, but I put together a small website with a lot of info to specifically help people trying to get started in balloon twisting. You maybe find it useful. You can find it at http://balloon411.weebly.com .

As to the question of brands, I greatly prefer Betallatex over Qualatex. In the last few years Qualatex has suffered a massive downturn in the quality control of their products. At the same time, Betallatex has improved their quality immensely. While Qualatex is still probably the market leader in the US, Betallatex has developed a strong, loyal following among many of us... especially those of us who relatively newer to balloon twisting and don't have as deep of a nostalgic association with Qualatex.

That's just my opinion, though, and I've had spirited debates with Qualatex fans who disagree with my assessment. You would be wise to try buying a few bags of each and seeing for yourself. Each brand feels very different and has advantages and disadvantages.