Opportunity Pops

Phileas FlashWe all know the feeling, you’re just putting the finishing touches on a sculpture and suddenly, POP! One of the crucial balloons decides it’s doesn’t want to be part of your vision. Whether you’re building a one balloon dog or a multi-balloon caricature nothing is more frustrating and strains the nerves of the poor balloon artist. When you have a long line up or are working to a strict deadline these little explosions can feel like huge disasters, but the next time it happens I’d like to propose you look at it in a different way.

When a balloon pops try and see it as a gift or opportunity and not as a hindrance.

When a balloon pops try and see it as a gift or opportunity and not as a hindrance. I know it’s hard to do sometimes, but if you take a breath and calm yourself for a second you can use it to your advantage. In line work that little sound can almost be a relief for the audience if you make light of it. For example my stock response to a popped balloon is to throw my arms up and say “Happy New Year”, the audience laughs and they forget that this is going to mean that they have to wait longer for their balloon. Another thing I’ve started doing recently is to explain to my line that all balloons will eventually pop. They don’t see me crying or being angry because of it so they shouldn’t be upset either when their balloon pops (as it eventually will). Since saying that I have heard a lot less children crying and had less parents bring me balloons for repairs. So for me the popped line work balloon has become a tool I use to help kids learn a valuable lesson about the nature of balloons.

When you’re making a large scale sculpture the popped balloon presents a different kind opportunity, this time it allows you to look at improving your design. There have been many times in my work that a deflated nose or eye has made me reassess that feature, instead of remaking the exact same piece I will often remodel it and use a different technique that I hadn’t thought of before. It may even mean I use a different shape or size balloon to fill the place of the deflated balloon. Sometimes I’ve even found that the broken balloon actually helps the internal structure and binds it together better. Believe me when I say that although I was upset at the time, the final product is often actually better than the one that popped.

So next time you are faced with one of those little explosions do your best to remain calm and not explode yourself, because if you try and treat it as a ‘popp-ertunity’ you may find that it was the best thing that could have happened.


5 thoughts on “Opportunity Pops”

  1. loving the rid on balloon and the ethos of your blog

    remember kids balloons pop its a life lesson in the temporal nature of reality…. is the line i use on my crowd i know its over some heads but it makes me smile and that means a lot some times.

    and if a dog dies…ever hear of reincarnation?

    keep up the good work

  2. Thanks Mike.

    When I was just rereading it I remembered something that I had been intending to add and had forgotten. One thing that I learned in the circus is that sometimes small failures make the final trick look better, for example the tight wire walker stumbling or the juggler dropping the clubs. It signals the audience that what they are doing isn’t easy. The same principle could be used for balloons popping too.

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