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Don't Get it Twisted: Making Balloon Animals Takes Lots of Practice

Joe Capraro/KUT
Kristen Crandall and Michael Hale work for Austin Kids Parties, a small business that does balloon twisting and face painting at birthday parties, festivals and corporate events.

It’s time for another edition of KUT’s Summer School! Every Friday this summer, we head out to learn new skills from people in Austin who are experts in their field. Today’s subject? Balloon Twisting.  

KUT’s Kate McGee teaches us how to learns the squeaky, yet delicate art of creating shapes out of balloons.

Michael Hale and Kristen Crandall are part of Austin Kids Parties, a local small business that provides balloon twisting and face painting at birthday parties, festivals and corporate events. Hale and Crandall says anyone can learn how to become a balloon twister, but it takes a lot of practice to repeatedly make the same shape accurately. 

Credit Joe Capraro/KUT
Kristen Crandall poses with a horse balloon she twisted. Crandall says in the beginning, she popped a lot of balloons.

Crandall and Hale both taught themselves to twist balloons using YouTube and DVDs. Hale and his wife started the business as a side job to make some extra money. When Crandall moved to Texas about a year ago, she decided to learn the craft, too. 

"I was horrible," Crandall says. "My first party, I knew how to make like five things. I popped a lot of balloons that day and there were a lot of kids with their hands over their ears. It was kind of a mess, but I have improved drastically since then." 

Crandall and Hale say one of the easiest and most popular balloons they create is a pirate sword: 

  • First, you stretch the balloon and inflate it, usually with a pump.
  • Leave a few inches at the end to tie a knot.
  • Then, twist a one-inch bubble and fold the next piece of the balloon over and twist like a loop. That way, 
  • it's big enough for the opposite end of the balloon to fit through it. 
  • Next, twist 
  • four or five tiny, one-inch balls in a row.
  • Pull the top of the sword through the loop to create a sword handle.
  • Straighten it and start fighting. 

As for my first attempt at balloon twisting, I made a small unbalanced dog with an extremely long neck and way too tiny legs. It ended up popping at my desk a week later – but don’t worry, no real animals were harmed in the making of this piece. 

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