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Archive of Past Columns and Features

By John Christianson, Bonnie Davis and Jeanine Von Essen

For October I proposed a challenge to my co-authors that instead of writing a normal column of instructions we would think outside the box about what could be done with facial print balloons. We could dress them up and/or give them makeovers to transform them into new things, the sillier the better.

Thoughts about markers

When it comes to the drawing effects that the different artists came up with, I thought we should share what markers and paint pens we used to create the designs. Markers seem to be a big topic of debate, whether to use Sharpie's, paint pens or other markers. The general rule of thumb I use is that black works on any color balloon. Any non-acid Sharpie will work on a white balloon but to draw on a non-white balloon you normally need some kind of paint pen. The Qualatex metallic markers work well for me and come in a 6 pack of colors. Bonnie Davis uses a number of Rose Art markers, and for white there seems to be a division between Decocolor, Eddings and Painters White Paint Pens. Eddings white paint pens are rare in the US, normally they come from Europe.

I find it's easier to shop if you know what it looks like ahead of time. So here is a picture of the RoseArt Metallic Markers. Make sure they say acid free on the package otherwise they might break down the latex of your balloons and deflate it prematurely.

Colors in this pack included gold, copper, silver, blue, green, olive green, purple, and pink.

You can most likely find these at a Walmart or your local craft store. In Walmart they should be in the same aisle as the Sharpies.
Markers from a 6 pack of Qualatex Metallic Balloon Markers.

Colors include silver, gold, green, blue, fuchsia and purple.

I've been getting mine from, but it should be possible to get them from other Qualatex balloon suppliers too.
A white DecoColor paint pen. This is the wider model.
DecoColor paint pens can be found at crafting stores like Michael's.
A Painters White Paint Pen.
Painters Pens should be in the photo album supply aisle.

Bring in the Birds!

Title: Nosey
Creator: Jeanine Von Essen
Print: Qualatex Bird Print
Markers used: Black Sharpie

Who would have known that a bird print would make a great face with a moustache when turning it upside down? Thanks Jeanine!

Title: Bird Mite
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Bird Print
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Green and Pink RoseArt Markers

Did you know Bonnie is also a talented painter? She has turned this print into a wonderful happy cartoon style face that would be a fun addition to any figure. My favorite part is how she colors in parts of the bird print like it was a page out of a coloring book. The lines on the bird print are her guide.

Title: Surfin' T-Rex
Creator: John Christianson
Print: Qualatex Bird Print
Markers used: Black Sharpie, Qualatex Silver Balloon Marker

This dinosaur can hang ten on the waves as long as he's got his life preserver and an aquatic surfing buddy with him.

John's comments:
I found the silver made a nice contrast to the red and black on the bird print. The eyes were too friendly so I drew over them, the eyebrows were also too friendly. No problem, draw in an outline of angry, bushy eyebrows and color in the interior with black sharpie. The beak of the print worked great for an upper mouth so all I had to add was the lower jawline and make silver teeth.

Fantastic Females

Title: Catwoman Trick or Treater
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Woman Face Print
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Green, Pink and Copper RoseArt Markers

Once again Bonnie shows her artists eye by making even more extreme changes to change the female face. She uses the mouth lines of the print to help place the muzzle of a cat face. The eyes were widened, but by using the print as a guide she can orient them perfectly.

Bonnie goes above and beyond to sell the idea that this is a trick or treater. The flashlight, skull necklace and pumpkin candy basket details really put this one over the top.
Here is a facial closeup of a simplified version of Bonnie's Catwoman Trick or Treater. If you look closely you can see the nose outline and mouth outline of the print showing through underneath Bonnie's artwork.

Fun With Frogs

Title: Frog Ballarina
Creator: Jeanine Von Essen
Print: Qualatex Frog Face
Markers used: Black Sharpie, Red Sharpie, DecoColor White Paint Pen

Jeanine has a love for all frog balloon designs. Here she shares her frog ballarina dancing in her busty pink tutu. This frog won't have any problem getting her frog prince to take her to the ball!

By adding red lips, some eyeshadow and coloring in the white of the eyes Jeanine adds character to the face.

Title: Frogfaced Fish
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Frog Face
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Green and Copper RoseArt Markers

Bonnie's comments: The mouth was formed by drawing a line just slightly above the lines under the eyes of the frog to make the top lip. The cheeks of the frog determined the width of the top lip. The smile of the frog became the inside portion of the fish's bottom lip. Everything between the lips was colored black and the copper marker was used to clean up the lines under the eyes and color in the lips. The entire eye the frog was colored black and became the pupil. The outline of the frog's eyes and forehead was turned into the irises of the fish's eyes and the metallic green marker was used to clean this area up. New outer eyes were added and colored white.
Title: Owl
Creator: John Christianson
Print: Qualatex Frog Face
Markers used: DecoColor White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Copper RoseArt Marker, Qualatex Gold Balloon Marker

John's comments:
This is a frog print turned upside down. A raisin was added to the inside of the balloon so I could tie a 160 scrap around it and attach the round to an owl body. Stealing a page from Bonnie and Jeanine's submissions, I colored in the eyes with white like they had done on other pictures. The nostril dots were turned into eyebrows, a beak was drawn in by the eye ridges and a lower jaw drawn to complete the face. The edges of the frog face were turned into little horn tufts on the owl.

Kitty Conundrum

Title: Bunny
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Pink Heart Cat Face
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Green and Pink RoseArt Markers

I'm sure many of you saw Brian Asman's Bunny design in Balloon Magic #44, here Bonnie does her own variation on a bunny and uses her artistic skills to turn the cat face into a cute bunny. She did so well that as I was was writing this column I had convinced myself that Qualatex had produced a bunny print only to realize that there is just the cat heart print.

Here is a closeup of the Bunny's face. Bonnie has colored in parts with her white paint pen and retraced lines for the whiskers as well as darkening some lines. The teeth are drawn in the circle that was the mouth on the cat print. The light eyebrow lines and eyelashes give it a gentle look.

Manly Men

Title: Pirate
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Male Face Print
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Copper and Gold RoseArt Markers

Spiders and Ham

Title: The Amazing Spider Ham
Creator: John Christianson
Print: Qualatex Spiderman Print
Markers used: Black Sharpie, Qualatex Green and Fuchsia Balloon Markers

John's comments:
Believe it or not this guy actually appeared in a Marvel comic book, though his chest logo was different. I wonder if he was given his powers by eating a radioactive can of Spam?

To do the makeover I used glue dots to attach loop twist ears and a tulip twist snout.

I used the markers to have some fun with a more appropriate chest logo than a spider.

When Bears go bad!

Title: Pirate Pooh
Creator: John Christianson
Print: Qualatex Pooh Print
Markers used: Black Sharpie, DecoColor White Paint Pen

John's comments:
Ok, so I'm a sick individual. I thought it would be fun to pretend what Pooh would look like if he was an angry pirate. A scar, eyepatch and sharp teeth help fill out the details on the drawing. Don't forget the piratey accessories to help sell the design!

Revamping the vampire

Title: Happy Bird
Creator: Bonnie Davis
Print: Qualatex Vampire Print
Markers used: Painters White Paint Pen, Black Sharpie, Metallic Olive Green, Gold, and Pink RoseArt Markers

Bonnie's comments:
Happy Bird used an upside down Dracula print. The reverse raisin twist caused the smile of the original print to form a peak which I used to help define the eyes. The top V of the upper beak originally was the eyebrows of Dracula. The pupils of the eyes are the originals. The fangs were turned into bushy eyebrows and the original cheek dimples were turned into eyelashes. The black inside portion of the beak was originally Dracula's hair.

Reverse Raisin Twist: The reverse raisin twist is a way of cleanly attaching scraps or other balloons to the outside of a round or other balloon. There are several ways to do one, but the end effect is that a knotted balloon scrap is pushed into the outer wall of a round balloon and tied in place with monofilament or a balloon scrap on the inside of the balloon. This pulls the knot out of sight making a very clean attachment to the balloon. Rie Hosokai is well know for using this technique on the faces of her competition pieces like the Geisha at Twist and Shout 2005 and the Samuri Shaman from Diamondjam 2006.

I would like to give a special thanks to Bonnie and Jeanine, for taking the time to share their ideas and photos with us this month. The column was so much richer for having different perspectives. We hope that you enjoyed this article and maybe it made you smile or had a good laugh.
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