Adventures in Belgium, 1st Balloon Convention TMJ Part 4

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It is Monday November 9th and the balloon convention officially begins!

I got my Badge! I’m a real person now!

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After breakfast I decide to go to Phileas Flash’s workshop where he shows how to make faces. He is very animated and silly and is a lot like a cartoon character which is terrific. He is there to entertain and be a ham as well as instruct.

He does a really good job. It was a lot of fun.

I then go to the Solomatin and Shushkanov workshop, a couple of absolutely fabulous Russian balloon artists. They are so humble. These guys only bring enough balloons for 30 people and over 100 show up. They don’t realize what a big draw they are and how much everyone loves them. They are just hoping some people show up,lol.

They show us how to make their winning 12 minute competition pieces.

Not everyone has balloons and we really don’t care, we are just having a blast seeing how their genius minds work. We are just fine having a window into their brain. I loved it sooo much. I loved how adorable they were, they were so humble and nervous. I found them to be poetry in motion. It was like watching Jimi Hendrix play his guitar.

I have said before that Russian balloon art is my overall favorite and if I could go anywhere to study balloon art and be an apprentice, it would be Russia.

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(In Heaven!)

There was a break for lunch and I saw Phileas, Matt Falloon and I joined them for lunch. Miss Ballooniverse joined as well as a guy named Mike and I am sorry to say I forgot the other 2 or 3 people.

I ask Matt Falloon what part of the States he is from and he says, “The Australian part.” I for some reason thought he was from the states but he is Australian. I didn’t really know anything about him and I made a fop au, lol. He even has an Australian accent which he pointed out but hey, there are Australian Americans, lol. There wasn’t much of a spark for conversation, lol. Interesting guy but we just didn’t have conversation spark.

I kind of just sat there and listened to people. Phileas was really engaged with some other people that I didn’t know.

Eventually Graham and Thelma saw me and dropped in and sat next to me. Now warning, I do not know what a normal person conversation looks like. I am a bit odd. I don’t know how in the world this came up but I started informing Graham and Thelma about the mating rituals of bed bugs and dolphins, lol.

Bed bugs are horrible creatures for a number of reasons but they even mate in horrific ways. The dude will stab through the stomach of the female from the outside with his thing, he will literally stab the female and deposit his stuff into her. (Graham inserts bank joke here as he laughs at my term deposit.) Most females die after mating as a result from infection because omg they just got O.J. Simpsoned in the stomach!

This is called Traumatic Insemination boys and girls.

But wait, there’s more!

I then tell them that dolphin mating habits are listed under traumatic insemination as well. Bachelor male dolphins will stalk, surround and gang bang style rape a female dolphin and even physically and EMOTIONALLY abuse her. I repeat, emotionally abuse her! It is horribly traumatic for the poor female.

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Matt Falloon is listening to two conversations going on between Phileas’ group and us but he doesn’t seem too impressed with ours, lol.

Graham and Thelma are just puzzled and fascinated as to how does a dolphin emotionally abuse another dolphin? What kinds of things do they say to each other? We crack jokes about it and I seem to remember even Matt interjected a couple jokes at that time too.

I tell them that I want to make and wear a t-shirt that says Kill The Dolphins, They’re Rapists.

Graham tells me that whenever they hear the word Rape or Dolphins, they will think of Patricia Gordon, lol. Yep I am doing a great job representing us Americans of the USA, lol. Give me a cookie and call me special, lol.

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Needless to say we made tons of Dolphin jokes throughout the whole convention.

They thought I was weird for sure but their love was unconditional for me and they found me to be entertaining, lol. What I have found is that people either love me or hate me. You will either find me entertaining and laugh both with and at me or find me absolutely annoying and there were people who just instantly did not like me at all, lol.

Somewhere during this time Graham and Thelma went off and I got to really meet and talk to Sean Rogers who is an amazing balloon artist from California and is a really cool guy.

He and I believe Tanya got some food from the restaurant next door as the restaurant we were at was sooo slow that it was unbelievable and they brought that food to the restaurant I was at, lol. We talked and got to know each other more. Tanya and Sean are just all sorts of awesome and the more you talk to them the more you just love them.

The Jam Room was open and it was time for me to see what this was like.

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The Jam room was interesting. There were tons of balloons but not that much of every color. Not like I had in my imagination, lol.

I knew I was going to make my Tree Lady piece there but I had some obstacles to overcome.

I had no balloon pump, how could I forget to pack a balloon pump on a trip to a balloon convention?!

I needed a pole and baseplate, how in the world was I going to get that?

Insert Colin Myles.

I go up to Colin as I had seen him be a behind the scenes guy and he is just someone who oozes competence and is in the know. He is very much a solid rock kind of guy, the guy who keeps his cool when the ship catches fire and puts those fires out. Really down to earth guy and I just loved and appreciated him so much. I just really respect him a lot and I loved his accent.

He gets me a pump and he hunts down a pole and base for me.

I tell him that he is my Fairy God Scotsman and he laughs at me and says, “Well Patricia, I’ve never been called that before.”

I grab like all the lime green and dark green 260’s, sorry everyone- that was me- and start making leaves for the Tree Lady. I use every single one as she takes a crap ton of leaves man.

All I do in the Jam Room is make a crap ton of leaves, and I still needed to make more!

Graham drops in and gives me a Balloon Dolphin that he made. I was absolutely delighted and I named it Grahamalina.

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That evening I meet Rob Driscol! I just love him, he is so adorable and meek and so stylin. I am a huge fan of his work and he is the third balloon hero I interviewed for this blog over a year ago! He is of course British. More hanging out with Graham and Thelma and meeting more British folks.

Fast forward to the Iron Man Challenge. About 100 people get to participate and I am one of those people. Rob is next to me as well as another really lovable balloon British guy named Dave. I wish I got to talk to Dave more he was just a super sweet and fun guy.

The challenge, everyone is handed an envelope with the same assortment of balloons inside each one. When it is time to start everyone has like 45 minutes to make something, anything and people not participating will vote for the winner.

Let me just say again, I am not an on the spot person. I know I will go down in flames but I want to just be a part of the experience.

It starts and I have no idea what to make. People are cheering me on and rooting for me but I got nothing. I had never even seen a bear head balloon before and had no idea what to do with that, lol. I ended up making a very abstract hat that I dubbed, Alien Space Fetus. It was awful, just awful, lol.

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(Behold, Alien Space Fetus! I panicked and just through stuff in before time ran out. Photo Courtesy of Graham Lee)

Everyone else was able to actually make something. Rob and Dave especially had fantastic pieces. I had the worst one and I love that I sucked so bad at this, it was hilarious. Antonio Becares Rodriguez won for his awesome spaceship he made.

( Photo below courtesy of Paul Curwen. From Right to Left: Roger, Dave, Myself, Rob, and Dan.)

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