OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ A few twists and turns and presto ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ another work of art and another smiling child.
You can find her at various festivals and special events around the area, such as the Oswego Framers’ Market. Usually, she is surrounded by a large group of youngsters asking her to cerate something special for them.
She comes prepared, with a bag of 250 (sometimes more) of the special balloons in a variety of colors.
“When I was 11 years old, I signed up for a summer program through SUNY Oswego called the Sheldon Institute. Through this program, I was able to take exciting mini-courses in different areas of interest. One class was a Clowning class,” she said.
It was during that class that she discovered the art of balloon twisting.
“I was hooked ever since then. It’s been 19 years now, and I am still creating balloon sculptures,” she noted.
She first started making the balloon swords, hats, animals and other figures the summer after the Sheldon Institute.
“With the help of my mother and sister, I participated in my first Harborfest at 12. Soon after, I was at the Oswego County Fair and the farmers’ market,” she said.
After all these years, why does she continue to be a ‘balloon artist?’ One would think her hands would get tired.
“I don’t think I could ever get tired of making balloon animals. And, as for my hands … everyone asks me that! Normally, no, they don’t hurt. But, ask me how they feel after the Fall Jamboree or the Great Pumpkin Fest,” she explained with a smile.
The most popular balloons are definitely the princess hat for girls and the sword for boys, she pointed out.
“Everyone wants to be a princess or a knight!” she said.
At Thursday’s farmers’ market, close to a dozen youngsters asked her to create balloon swords in just a few minutes after she arrived.
More and more kids are seeking her creations.
Last week she nearly ran out of balloons at the farmers’ market. Thursday night she again came very close to exhausting her supply.
“I can’t really explain it. It’s just something about balloons ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ the children just love them,” she said.
At the market, she created dozens of swords and princess hats as well as teddy bears and bunny rabbits.
Her son, Nate, is “an awesome 10-year-old skateboarder.”
Not content to make just a sword for her son, she once created what every good knight should have.
“I made a full suit of armor on my son. He couldn’t sit down,” she said.
She also made a set of six-foot palm trees, fully equipped with balloon coconuts, for a Hawaii-themed business party.
And, she can also keep things simple.
“I think the funniest balloon I made was when my nephew asked me for a snake,” she recalled. “I blew up a balloon and just handed it to him like that. He was absolutely amazed.”