THEY’VE long been a staple of children’s parties – but these rubber masterpieces are taking the art of balloon sculpture to amazing heights.
Amy McPherson, 21, and partner Chris Willis, 27, started their balloon sculpting company earlier this year and have been blown away with the demand for their extravagant creations.
The couple have created shapes ranging from a six-foot Dalek to a horse-drawn carriage and spend days twisting some of their most impressive sculptures into existence.
Their pride and joy so far has been a full-size motorbike, complete with balloon engine, exhaust and throttle, which they completed for a 30th birthday. It took 24 hours to make.
Amy says they are now swamped with orders from across the UK via their Facebook page, Party Packages, and are busily working on their latest ambitious project, a 12ft 4x4 replica.
The mum-of-two only discovered former soldier Chris had a talent for balloon modelling at daughter Courtney’s fifth birthday party.
She said: “There was this amazing balloon princess and I asked Chris where it had come from and he said his mum had made it.
“At the party his mum asked if I liked what Chris had done, and that’s when I found out his little secret. He learnt how to do it from her but I think he was embarrassed by it.
“After that I made him teach me how to do it and we’ve been working together ever since.
“It started off just doing a few requests for friends but it has got bigger and bigger. People have asked us if we can make anything from a Spiderman to a golfer for a golf fan’s 70th birthday. We just say we’ll try our best and don’t know what it will look like but they’ve all turned out really well.”
The pair use around 500 balloons to create their most elaborate structures.
They are inflated with air by mouth, or by hand pump, before being moulded into shape. Glue would burst the balloons so each model – which can last up to three months – is carefully put together with a series of twists. Simple designs, like Minnie and Mickey Mouse, take just half-an-hour, with the more complicated structures taking the duo 24 hours to complete. They charge approximately £90 on average for a commission.
The Fernieside couple also do more traditional balloon displays for events like weddings and christenings but say it is the characters that bring them the most job satisfaction.
“My favourite things to make are definitely the characters. We’ve had someone ask to us to make Princes Merida from Brave, which will be fun,” said Amy. “It’s brilliant to see people’s faces light up when they are given a Dalek or Disney character. I think people love them because they are something a bit different.
“We started off doing them for children’s parties but we’re doing more and more for adults, who seem to appreciate them just as much, if not more.”
Career shaped up nicely by any stretch of the imagination
BALLOON sculpting takes “patience, repetition and a really good imagination,” says Chris.
The former soldier started modelling with balloons when he was about eight-years-old and found he had a knack for it. He started with simple, one-balloon models, and now creates designs incorporating several hundred. Chris started training Amy and the couple began the business from the front room of their home. He said: “Anyone can do it, our six-year old has even started to learn. It takes a lot of practice, especially to get your speed up.
“We’ll take on anything anyone asks us to do, I like the challenge.
“Business is going really well – we hope to move into a shop soon.”