Balloon Skills

Learn the basics of making balloon sculptures.

Hi, WOW Kids. Are you working on your diablos? Are you all doing some magic with your Velcro change bags? Are you creating stories and practicing your ventriloquism? These are all things we learned during our WOW program this past summer. In this month’s article, we want to review what we learned about balloon sculptures.

The hardest part of working with the long sculpture balloons is inflating and tying them. Use a good pump that pumps out air when you push it either way, in or out. If you have trouble tying a knot in the balloon with just your fingers, try using our balloon tying tool made from two sharpened pencils and a rubber band:

  1. Hold the inflated part of the balloon and the pencils in one hand and the lip (or nozzle end) of the balloon in your other hand being sure not to let the air come out. (Sometimes it helps to let a little air out of the balloon, which is called burping a balloon.)
  2. Wrap the nozzle end of the balloon around the two pencils. (See the drawing in Figure below)
    Pencils being used as a tool to tie a balloon.
  3. Take the nozzle end down under the balloon (between the inflated balloon and the pencil).
  4. Put the lip in the notch of the two pencils as in Figure 2.
  5. Roll the wrapped balloon over the lip and off to tie the knot as in Figure 3. Think: around, under, in, then off. It will help to practice using your balloon tying tool with an uninflated balloon first.
Preparing to tie a balloon using pencils.
Tying a balloon using pencils.
A balloon with a lock twist.

Start small and learn to make a basic lock twist. That’s 3 bubbles twisted off, bend it in half on the middle twist 2, and then twist 1 and 3 together. This makes a head and ears and completes a little mouse with a long tail.

When you tie 3 sets of lock twists on one balloon, you have made a basic dog. The first set of 3 is the head and ears. The second set of 3 is the neck and front legs. The third set of 3 is the body and back legs, and the aired up section left before the uninflated tail is what holds it together. (See Figure 4.)

Once you can make a mouse, you can use 3 lock twists to make a dog, and then you can make variations on that animal. A “dog” with long ears is a rabbit. A “dog” with a long neck section is a giraffe. A “dog” with a long head is an elephant.

A balloon with a loop twist.

The next twist you will use a lot is called a “loop” twist. You make one twist in the balloon then bend the balloon into a donut shape, make another twist at the end of the donut and then lock those two twists together by twisting some more. That loop can be used for sitdown back legs for a rabbit or for little loop ears for an elephant. (See Figure 5.)

The third twist we worked on is a “Z” twist, where you bend the balloon back and again forward and then grab the middle of the “Z” and twist it. That makes a good sword or legs for an alligator. (See Figure 6.) While we learned some basic balloon sculptures, what we really tried to work on in WOW was how to use our balloons to tell a Bible story. No matter how simple your balloon shapes, you can make it into a story from the Bible. Simply inflate the balloon all the way to the end and call it a snake. Eve was tempted by the snake to eat the fruit in Genesis. In the New Testament, Paul was bitten by a snake and shook it off into the fire. Here’s how to make your story from whatever balloon you can make:

A balloon with a z-twist.
  1. Make whatever simple or complex balloon
    animal you can make.
  2. Brainstorm and list all the qualities and concepts of that balloon shape: things like color, abilities, likes, dislikes, fables, nicknames, and anything unusual.
  3. Brainstorm and list any Bible verses, words, or concepts that might relate to the list in #2 above.
  4. Use your Bible concordance to find the right verse and context for your message
  5. or story.

An example would be:

  1. Make a basic dog balloon.
  2. Dogs eat, drink, run, play, bark, and have
  3. Satan has to flee (word play on flea).
  4. James 4:7 “Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will have to flee.”

And now for the fun part – how and where to use your balloon sculptures and messages. Do you ride a church bus or a bus to school? Make a balloon and tell a story to the other kids on the bus. Do you go to youth camp? Use your balloon talent to entertain the other children and then tell them a balloon story. Does your Dad, Mom, Grandpa or Grandma do ministry at your church or visit other churches? Go with them and make balloons before the program or help with some time in the show.

Remember, every talent and ability God has given you can be used to win souls for Him. Share your talents and make simple balloon sculptures a powerful asset to your ministry.

By Janet & Larry Tucker – Diane & Greg Chalmers

Stack of FCM Magazines

This article originally appeared in The Voice of FCM, vol. 56 num. 6.

Members of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians have access an online library containing over 50 years of FCM magazines filled with articles on sharing the Gospel using magic and other visual arts.