Adventures in Belgium and 1st Balloon Convention Part 7


It is Thursday, November 12th 2015.

Last day of the convention. I am all about the workshops baby.

I go to this guy named Peter Kramer’s workshop and I was so blown away.  If you ever see his name anywhere at an event and he is teaching, trust me, you will want to get front row seats.

This guy is cool. He has great Jois De Vivre and has tips and tricks I have never seen before anywhere and he blows the mind. His tips and tricks are amazingly simple but highly stylish, exciting and entertaining. You could be a highly experienced twister and be like, “Oh my God, you just made twisting so much more fun and amazing, I have to do this now all the time!”


When he shows us his twin-twist technique, I realize that that is what I had been doing all along to make my pixelated characters, albeit just a tad differently but same concept and overall mechanics. It was something I just figured out and I thought it was the pinch line technique I was doing but it wasn’t. I would learn the pinch line technique later that day from a workshop by Antonio Becares Rodriguez, the creator of the technique. I realized in Antonio’s class that I really did not know the pinch line technique after all, it was exciting!

So anyway, I will have to go back and edit my posts with this new information!

I just loved this workshop, his and Antonio’s were actually my top 2 favorite workshops.

I then go to another Russian workshop where they teach us how to make a rooster that opened my mind to even more possibilities that can be done with balloons and it was amazing. I loved it.

Then I learned how to make the prettiest balloon legs ever made via Ken Stillman’s workshop. These legs would give Betty Grable a run for her money and her legs were insured by Lloyd’s of London for 1 million dollars thanks to 20th Century Fox! I love old movies and realize that most people will not get my Grable reference, lol! Check out his site, to learn all kinds of amazing things from him.

Then my last workshop was Antonio Becares Rodriguez’s. This guy is super entertaining and is a really cool guy. He wears a top hat and the most colorful wonderful pants that his mother makes him and they are just fabulous!

In his class, I must have shouted Oh My God! a dozen times. He would say,”Please, I am not God, I am just Antonio.” and he was hilarious and had a great sense of humor.


This guy is amazing. I learned his pinch-line technique and I was just floored that all this time I thought I knew it but no, I did not man! It is awesome. He showed us all kinds of mind blowing, amazing, oh my god did that just happen! kinds of techniques that I am still not sure I really saw or are in fact real they are so amazing.  If you ever see this guy anywhere- just follow him, watch him, attend anything he is teaching, he is an amazing balloon whisperer.  Check out his site,

So I just had the best day of workshops ever which was wonderful for the last day.

I had dinner with Graham, Thelma and Rob. It was an amazing dinner and we played can you guess what song I am humming. I just loved their company and it was sad that I wouldn’t get to hang out with them anymore. The meal I had was lovely and delicious. I took pictures of all the food, lol. Rob is a dear, just a super sweet and meek guy and he is exactly how I would want my son to be if I ever had a son. He is a still waters run deep kind of a person and I just loved him.

I think Rob had to run when we got dessert. Me and Thelma got some waffles for dessert and they were horrible, I mean HORRIBLE! We couldn’t even eat them after one bite. We just ate the ice-cream that was on the top. Graham insisted that we were not going to pay for our waffles. He stood up for us and championed for us and we didn’t pay for the waffles and the server was very nice and we tipped him nicely.  I really admired how principled Graham is. He didn’t think it was right to pay for something that bad and if he doesn’t something think something is right he will stand up and say something.

Thelma is one of the most thoughtful people you could ever meet. She would tip people she didn’t have to tip because she just wanted to show  a person that their caring and being nice mattered. She dropped off little gifts for lots of different people throughout the convention and is just a person always thinking of other people and likes to do things for you to show you she cares.

They were both very welcoming, inclusive and both have great sense of humors and don’t take themselves too seriously. They treat people well and they notice the things that often get overlooked and appreciate things that often go unappreciated.

After dinner was over I sat with Colin Myles who is Scottish and the Russian instructors who just arrived at the restaurant for just a little bit and visited with them. The U.S.A. and places people liked and wanted to go came up in conversation. It was neat getting to talk to them all a little. I had had a whole beer again so I was quite affected and couldn’t walk very well, lol. I mostly listened and loved hearing everyone’s accents.


Then it was time for the Gala. The final event of the whole thing. There were awesome performances and award ceremonies.

I was preoccupied with trying to track down Liz as I promised to buy her a drink and I couldn’t find her. When I saw her right hand gal Clare at the bar I bought she and Liz a drink which made me feel like I could relax finally and made me really happy. It meant a lot to me to be able to do that as they had been so generous and nurturing to me. They were sitting several tables behind me.

I sat with Tanya during the Gala and that was nice. Tanya to me is like Sam from Lord of the Rings. She is a very faithful kind of friend and she is all in and just a lovely hearted person. Tanya, Liz and Clare are some of the most beautiful hearted people you could ever hope to meet. They will take great care of you and make you feel loved and at home. I really loved how they treated people, it wasn’t just with me but with everyone. They are just natural nurturers.

I will just say that I had very conflicted feelings during the Gala. I felt very confused and didn’t know what to feel, I felt many different feelings. I had heart melting conversations and encouragements. I felt extremely alone and also extremely close to people. It was interesting.

I talked to a guy named Dan who is just a super guy and full of joy, and he teared up when talking about his wife and kids and I just think he is a beautiful soul. We were both home sick and missing our loved ones. He had like a glow about him. He just glowed, he could totally be cast as an angel in a play.

There are so many things I can’t talk about when it comes to this trip both negative and extremely positive which is killing the journalist in me but people come first. I feel like I would be show-boating and cheapening the tender and meaningful moments if I shared them here because I don’t know how it would make the other parties feel if I shared them. I don’t want them to feel like I am trying to capitalize on their emotional gifts to me. The emotional gifts I received were my reward and I still can’t believe they happened. I got the most beautiful compliments I have and ever will receive.

I learned from this that I don’t want to go around competing, I have no interest trying to make a name for myself that way and the pieces I want to focus on making will never meet the criteria for judging. I want to strive for excellence of connection, not perfection. I am an idealist of impractical proportions, lol. There is a bigger fish to fry  and a bigger picture that I want to venture towards.

I realized during this trip what I personally want out of balloon art and what my aspirations with it are. The purpose of art is to make the invisible visible and it became very clear to me what that means for me. I want to make purposeful art geared towards the world at large. I don’t want to make art for other artists. My focus will be on content, not on form or craft.

“XTC versus Adam Ant

Content versus form

Fighting for their place in rock and roll

There is no right or wrong”

XTC vs Adam Ant, They Might Be Giants

Both craft and content are important but there is definitely a tendency to focus on one or the other.

I hope to have my craft developed enough that I can manifest well what I have in my mind but I am going to manifest what I have in my mind no matter what. I have to share what I have inside me to say and I have something important to say. I have my own voice. This is what I want out of balloons and myself.


I left the event at 2 a.m. to pack. My time ended with me sharing a taxi with 2 other people at 4:30 a.m.  You could still hear music blaring from the resort from the gala even from way outside.

I rode the train all the way to Brussells airport with a lady named Melissa. Again I didn’t have to travel alone and scared. Our flights were just 30 minutes apart. She is an amazing person. She was the same person who gave me crackers and water when I was starting to have a panic attack.

I cried a lot on the plane. I cried a lot in general. It was a very intense experience with amazing highs and lows. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. I had given up on ever hoping to go to a convention and can’t believe I got to go to one in Europe of all places!

While I was flying across the Atlantic ocean, there were horrific terrorist attacks happening in Paris. The perpetrators and planning took place in Brussels Belgium, the place that I just left! Wow. I feel so lucky and blessed to be home. I feel so sad for folks back in Paris and folks across Europe. Stay safe please.

My husband had a really hard time while I was away. Our dishwasher broke, computer monitor broke, puppy had diarrhea, daughter got sick,  the car needed repair, and the puppy chewed up the kitchen floor. He was happy for me that I got to have this experience.

He made a huge sacrifice for me to go to this event both mentally and emotionally and monetarily. He and my daughter mean the world to me and I am so happy to be back home. I will miss and treasure everyone I got to meet and can call friend. I conquered many fears on this trip and because of this adventure, I am not afraid to say yes to more.

Thank You All for the wonderful memories!


(Photo above courtesy of Dan Catt. I am wearing the Panda hat, Graham made it.)

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Hat that I made below.

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2015-11-09 20.10.23


7 responses »

  1. Hey Patricia!

    I love your posts about the jam! We met briefly in the hallway waiting to get into one of the evening events, but that was it (there were so many great people to hang with at this convention, but I still missed half of them!). I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to hang out more, but I have a feeling we’ll get our chance another time!

    Thanks for putting it out there – your feelings, your wonderment, your insecurities, your discoveries – it really makes the word a smaller place because I can guarantee you, I think more people feel the way you do than you think, and by you voicing it, it can bring people together knowing they aren’t alone!

    It’s great hearing your first time experience – I’ve been to many conventions (balloon and other allied arts), including the last Millennium Jam, and it’s delightful to be reminded of the specialness of them. I hope you start to come to more – there are so many awesome experiences awaiting, and friendships to make, and your spirit is definitely a plus! Consider coming to Twist & Shout in Feb in Dallas (much closer to home!) and also Airigami’s Balloon Adventure (January in – gulp – Rochester, NY!) I know they are right around the corner time-wise, and it’s not easy on your family when you leave, but they are 2 experiences I think you would fit right in with and get so much out of!
    Disclaimer – I am affiliated with both events as 1.a longtime attendee, 2. a sometime faculty/ambassador for T&S, and 3. project/artist manager for Airigami. But I started out like you, as a wide-eyed, “holy cow I’ve found my people this world is amazing I can’t believe we can make art together like this” person and happily, have been able to stay that way ever since!
    T&S –
    Airigami Past projects –
    Join the crew –

    Welcome to the big wide world of awesome balloon pals!
    All the best,
    Suzanne Haring
    Entertaining people internationally for over 30 years (and I’m only 29!) as

  2. I haven’t had the chance to read through everything yet but had to comment because I think the “Dan” you refer to as the “Angel” is my Dan…the one who sent over the group photos earlier today? If it is him, thank you – those are beautiful words to say about anymore but even more about the love of my life xx KJ xx

  3. I have to remember this…”I want to strive for excellence of connection, not perfection.” It’s like a thought that was in my mind but I have never been able to put into words. Thank you!

    I love the way you write! You’ve confirmed that I need to make the necessary sacrifices to attend the World Balloon Convention in New Orleans next April!

    I’m so glad you didn’t have to experience the terrorism in person… Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience!

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