Betty Balloon’s ambition to bring smiles back to people after lockdown
The talent of balloon artist Joanne Anderson has taken her across the world.
But with the pandemic temporarily putting a damper on much of her work, her latest creation was closer to home – outside her front door to be precise.
We recently reported how a life-size balloon sculpture of England football manager Gareth Southgate appeared in the Ribble Valley village of Chipping on the day of the Euro final.
Its creator turned out to be Joanne, otherwise known as Betty Balloon, who had recently moved to Chipping.
She explained that she had reflected on the fact that she had not been able to make her usual full-size balloon models, which are in demand at corporate events and large shopping malls. Instead, she decided to use her skills to create a scene to support the England team and spent several hours creating model Gareth.
It turned out to be a popular addition to village life, with many people stopping to take selfies alongside the manager.
Now, Joanne has opened up her photo albums to share some of her best creations and explain how her unexpected career as a balloon artist and children’s artist blossomed before the pandemic lockdown. She also shared her ambition to bring smiles back to people with her balloon sculptures.
It’s been a decade since Joanne discovered an unexpected talent for making balloon models, when she was puzzled as to something to do to entertain her daughter and friends at her daughter’s birthday party.
She asked a friend who was a children’s entertainer for inspiration, “I said how am I going to entertain all the kids? He said: have you ever made a balloon dog? It all really started from there and I entertained the kids by making balloon dogs. “
She started experimenting with different models, studied how to make better models, and began to create pantomime characters and other well-known characters. She also began to tell stories to children, memorably adapting the story of the huge turnip that needed the inhabitants of a village to get out of the ground to a tale featuring a huge carrot – and made a corresponding model.
She said: “Then I started experimenting with life-size models and doing full-scale models. It was really good. I was called in to do ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ (TV show) in 2017 and I was asked to do the judges, Siomon Callow, David Walliams, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon. I was spotted there and it gave me more opportunities to travel around the world. was traveling and doing other talent shows in Romania and Italy as well. I do events in UK and I also do dresses now – balloon dresses. “
She continued, “During the pandemic all events were canceled, so I started making displays for birthdays.”
In 2019, she made a sculpture of Freddie Mercury of Queen which remains one of her favorites, as did the sculpture of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who had collected so much for the NHS during the lockdown. In 2020, she created a special arch in support of the NHS made of rainbow colors.
Joanne said it all starts with the faces of her subjects: “You just have to focus on the faces and what’s most important. Obviously with Freddie Mercury it’s the teeth, with Gareth it’s the nose and the bone structure. for traits that stand out. Gareth has a blue shirt and has his arms crossed a lot, while Freddie was holding a microphone – I just have things like that to make him more recognizable. I always start with the face because everything else falls into place, that’s the most recognizable feature. “
She also notes the hair color and skin tone and uses special modeling balloons that are stronger than the usual balloons and “weaves” the design to make it structurally solid. She said: “It’s all made out of balloons. It’s hours of work. I just have patience. That’s the goal.”
Some of the highlights for the 48-year-old mother-of-two included the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for a mall in Aylesbury and again for an event in Copenhagen. A Christmas dress with Santa Claus and Buddy the Elf was also a special creation.
Joanne is from Wolverhampton. Her parents ran a guest house in Blackpool where she attended school and then worked as a nursing assistant in the Cardiology Department at Victoria Hospital in Blackpool.
She now works as a hotel receptionist at the Inn at Whitewell and said that in the future she plans to focus her balloon model by doing business on corporate events and creating models for the markets. and shopping malls and hope to continue working overseas as well. She said: “I want to go out and start making people smile again.”
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