Dale Obrochta admits there isn't anything he wouldn't try to make out of a balloon.
Golf bag. Headless Horsemen.
Motorcycle. Wild-looking Tazmanian devils.
"I've had an 8½-foot clown in my living room." Obrochta
Some hecklers tell the Oak Forest entertainer, who makes his balloon sculptures in
restaurants and even bars, to get a real job. Obrochta just laughs. He realizes what he
does is kind of silly, but he enjoys twisting balloons into weird shapes.
"It's a way I can make an idiot out of myself and get paid," Obrochta admits.
The energetic entertainer cracks jokes as his fingers are furiously twisting and turning
several balloons and even painted on faces on the animals with magic markers.
"Playing with audience," Obrochta says, "gives me material. I try to
create a vaudeville atmosphere." Obrochta says people are often blown away when they
see what he can do with a few balloons and a little creativity.
"They say, ', it really looks like a dog. It really looks like
Mickey Mouse. It really looks like the Starship
The kids who asked Obrochta if he can make a cockroach was genuinely surprised when the
entertainer calmly twisted his balloon into an exact likeness of the nasty insect.
Even bikers in bars smile at Obrochta when he hands them a motorcycle with painted
wheels and then gives their girl-friends bouquets of balloon flowers.
The creative performer, who watches cartoons for inspiration, says he likes to
challenge himself. "I can only make 15 Mickey Mouse's in a row, and then I start to
get bored," he admits. "You have to do the cool balloons," He emphasizes,
"otherwise, you're just another guy doing puppy dogs and swords."
While appearing on AM1000 Radio, Obrochta surprised its traffic reporter when he handed
her a helicopter made from balloons. "A lot of
people want to know the hardest balloon I can do," he says. "It's usually the
balloon I'm working on because if it breaks, I have to do it all over again."
The balloon artist can't be too squeamish. He goes through 600 balloons in a typical
While taking a clowning class at Moraine
Valley Community College several years ago, Obrochta learned
to make balloon sculptures. He says he discovered a way he could
entertain kids with out boring their parents. He hung up his clown
suit and made his goal to be "Chicago's best balloon artist,"
Most of what Obrochta learned as a balloon sculpturer he picked up on the job.
"You have to not be afraid to break balloons," he points out. "I've had the
balloon break in my face. It doesn't faze me. I just reach for another balloon and keep
Not every balloon sculptor can make a row boat with two men in
it, they turn around and create a stork holding a baby. Obrochta
is so good at what he does he is invited to Chicago Bulls game to hand out hats shaped in
the face of a bull.
The balloon artist says he enjoys taking things to an extreme. He says he gets a big
kick out of handing some "burly guy" a silly hat and then
watching him put it on while his kids laugh at him.
Obrochta doesn't like it when he's worked hard on a balloon sculpture and then someone
tosses one of his creation into the trash. Most of the time that doesn't happen because
people think what he does is clever and fun.
"You're able to make something out a balloon without breaking it, and people are
really amazed," Obrochta say.
"Everyone likes balloons," he adds. "It bring out the kid in us."