It's a Balloon World After All - Netherlands

Goedendag, Hoe gaat het?

I like the Netherlands, I am lucky that my ballooning has taken me to the Netherlands twice so far and I am excited to be going again in a couple of weeks time. I had two options when planning this picture, the easy option or the hard option. I could have thought long and hard about 3 or 4 things to make from balloons, maybe a boy with his finger in a dam? or some Gouda? how about some Delft or a Van Gogh? nope, I took the easy route and I chose the 3 most obvious things I could think of, Tulips, Clogs and Windmills.

I recently saw my friend Dave (a balloon man) make a tulip and after talking to Twistina (a balloon lady) about her Tulip design I kind of created a version half way between the 2. I have strolled through the flower market in Amsterdam a few times but I have yet to see the tulip fields, Maybe next time. 

My Windmill is based on one I saw Pieter Van Engen make, he made a fantastic scene sometime ago and I loved it, I have made my design slightly different but it is heavily inspired by Pieter. I saw a couple of Windmills during my last visit to the Netherlands, in the beautiful town of Leiden. During my first visit to the Netherlands I was taken to the amazing Open Air museum in historic Arnhem by Ingrid and Dennis, several windmills can be seen here.

Next we have a Clog, Wallie gave me the idea at a recent balloon event so thanks Wallie for reminding me of this design, would you believe it is made from a heart shaped balloon?

The Orange border of this picture is a nod to several things, Most importantly it is the color of the Dutch Royal Family. Orange is the colour of the Netherlands Football team home shirt, also the colour is also a nod to one of the greatest musicals I have ever seen, 'Soldaat van Oranje' is a technical marvel and mind blowing theatrical creation and an incredible story that I recommend to everyone. 

Finally we have the lady in traditional Dutch costume, costumes vary across the country but the lady here is wearing a traditional hat, this would often be made of lace or stiff material, I think they are called Square hats. She is also wearing her long black dress with a white lace front. 

Tot de volgende keer, doei.



It's a Balloon World After All - New Zealand

Tēnā koutou, Kei te pēhea koe?

Hello everyone, This week I am heading south and taking a look at my first country situated completely in the southern hemisphere, yes it is New Zealand. 

When I think of New Zealand one of the first things I think of is Sheep, New Zealand has a population of about 4.5 million humans and about 27 million sheep so I could not resist making some sheep for my picture. The green swirl is called a koru (Māori for loop), it is a spiral shape based on the appearance of a new unfurling silver fern. It is an important symbol in Māori art, carving and tattooing, where it symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. 

Talking of ferns I felt had to make a fern, New Zealand is well known for its silver fern, It can be seen all across the country on flags, products and on the New Zealand coat of arms, It is also used at the symbol of many Sports teams in New Zealand including The All Blacks (Rugby), The Tall Blacks (Basketball), The All Whites (Football), and The White Ferns (Women's Cricket)

New Zealand has some amazing flora and fauna, I was going to make a Kiwi or a Kakapo but in the end I opted to represent the whale population. Almost half the world’s whale and dolphin species are found in New Zealand waters and the whales tale (Muri Paraoa) features as a Māori Symbol. The Whale is the most important animal in the life of the Māori, it indicates the support often shown by whales to people in distress and is a symbol of protection. But also of speed, strength and sensitivity.

I think many non New Zealanders will be wondering what the yellow Bee is doing there, well when researching the country this little character kept popping up, it is the face of a Buzzy Bee and it a very popular toy in New Zealand, I had never heard of it before but it does look cute. 

The person I chose to represent New Zealand is of course one of the Māori people. This young Māori man has the traditional Tā moko on his face and body, these are the traditional markings and are different to the tattoos we all know as these marks are carved into the skin with special tools. These markings are worn by both men and women and there are some pretty amazing and intricate designs.

I hope you are enjoying this virtual trip around the world. until next week, Haere Ra





It's a Balloon World After All - Canada

Hello everyone, Bonjour,

This week I am taking a virtual trip to my biggest country so far and the second largest country in the world, it is a land of mountains, vast forests and arctic tundras, this week I am taking a look at Canada.

The first thing I think of when I think of Canada is the Maple leaf, It has been an important symbol of Canada for many years and it may have first been used as a canadian symbol as early as 1700. In 1965 the leaf was most famously the leaf used on the flag of Canada and has been flown across the country ever since.

There are 2 National sports in Canada, the official summer sport is Lacrosse but I decided to make something to do with the official winter sport of Ice Hockey.  Now personally I hardly know anything about Ice Hockey, everything I know comes from 2 places, firstly from those few minutes I occasionally see at the various Winter Olympic games (this year I didn't see any). The second place I get to see things about Ice Hockey is from a few facebook friends (mainly Hal) They always say it is exciting to watch, as you can see I have made 2 Hockey Sticks and a puck.

The Moose is the largest member of the deer family and can be found all across Canada. In 1897 a Moose was discovered that was an amazing 2.34 m (7 ft 8 in) tall at the shoulders and it had an antler span of just under 2 metres (wow that really is huge). Generally they are calm animals however the females can get dangerous when protecting their young.

Finally when it came to making my little canadian character I really only had one choice of what to make, yes it had to be the Canadian Mountie or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Mounties have such an iconic look, they are instantly recognisable with their bright Red Serge tunic and the wonderfully shaped Stetson-type hat, I really do think this is one of the most well known uniforms in the world.

Because Canada has 2 official languages (English and French) I shall end this post appropriately.

Until next week, Bonne journée!


It's a Balloon World After All - Romania

Salut, Ce mai faci?

For the second week running I am looking at a requested country, A few weeks ago I was asked by Nicole to take a look at Romania as it was where she was born, so here you go Nicole. 

Romania was another difficult country to research, I did manage to whittle it down to a few key elements tho. first of all the strange structure on the left is based upon a sculpture by the Romanian artist Constantin Brâncuși, it is entitled Endless Column and it one of 3 sculptures built to commemorate the Romanian heroes of the First World War. 

Romania is the home of the Danube Delta, the place where the Danube reaches open water (The Black Sea). The Danube delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as you can imagine is home to some wonderful wildlife including Europes largest colony of Pelicans. More than 20,000 pelicans are currently living in Romania and according to a recent census of the birds  19,993, are great white pelicans while 534 are Dalmatian pelicans.

While looking into the cuisine of Romania one dish kept coming up, it is the dish of Samale, This is a dish consisting of minced meat with rice, wrapped in either pickled cabbage leaves, I never imagined I would ever be making anything as random as a dish of stuffed cabbage leaves out of balloons but there is a first time for everything. 

Finally I thought long and hard about what little character to do for Romania, I did look into traditional Romanian dress (which is lovely) however I kept going back to one of the most well known Romanians, Vlad III, prince of Wallachia, AKA Vlad the Impaler and the inspiration for horror legend Count Dracula. The most likely home of the Count is thought to be Castle Bran in Romania's Transylvania, Dracula as we know him however is just a horror legend and the stuff of stories . . . . or is he?

I currently have no idea what part of the world I am taking a look at next week, for the first time in this project I have no plans of where I am going to be taking my virtual journey so you will have to wait and see, do you have any suggestions? why not let me know and I can include your country in my series.

Until next week - Vă doresc o zi plăcută!


It'a a Balloon World After All - Colombia


This week I am taking a look at a country that has been requested a lot, in fact it has been requested more than any other country so far. It is my first look at South America and the country of Colombia.

Now this was a difficult country to research, I really didn't know what to choose to include in this weeks balloonagraphic. The first thing I think of when I think of Colombia is Coffee, it is the third highest producer of coffee in the world and has been producing the coffee bean since 1808. As you can see I have included some coffee beans in the photo.

While researching the country I discovered an amazing place called the Cocora Valley, it is in this valley that you find the national tree of Colombia, The Quindío wax palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense) is the world's tallest palm tree and can stand up to 60 m (200 ft) tall. the sight of these amazing wax palms in the valley looks incredible. 

Something that really stood out while I was doing my research was the town of Guatapé, I really couldn't do this place justice with the balloons so it is really worth looking it up. Guatapé sits on the banks of the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir in North west Colombia. What makes this town so interesting is the fact that most of the buildings are painted in all different colours and feature fresco like illustrations of animals, people many other things. Doors, balconies, steps and windows are all brightly coloured and I would go as far to say it is probably the world's most colourful town. It really is worth a look. 

La Pollera Colora ("brightly colored skirt") is probably Colombia's most well-known national costume for women. It usually consists of a vividly colored skirt with a matching blouse adorned with ruffles and lace. My balloon lady is wearing her costume in the colours of the Colombian flag. 

Next week I am going to be heading back to Europe for another requested country. 

¡Hasta luego!


It's a Balloon World After All - Spain

Hola ¿Cómo te va?

Last week I mentioned I would be visiting South America, well I changed my mind, I was going to do this one next week however I brought it forward a week for various reasons. Mainly because this week I am taking my balloon twisting to Spain, Barcelona to be precise, I figured it would be a good idea to actually share my Spanish balloonagraphic in the week I actually go to Spain.

I found Spain quite a difficult country, Spain is known for so many different amazing things I found it tricky deciding what to make out of balloons. While researching the country I found a lot of references to lots of well know Spanish artists, Picasso, Salvador Dali, Goya, the list goes on so I figured it would be great to do something related to art, I WAS going to do something that looked like a Picasso painting but I ended up making the paint palette as that covers ALL the artists of Spain. 

The Spanish are passionate about their football so I thought it would be a good idea to make their national football shirt,  plus something that Spain is well known for by us Brits is the wonderful long hot days sunbathing on those glorious sunny beaches. 

The Traje de flamenca is the traditional dress worn by women to festivals usually in the Andalucia area of Spain, Flamenco dancers will also wear flowers in their hair and that is what my little balloon lay is wearing to represent her country. 

Next week I WILL be taking my first virtual visit to South America on my balloon world tour, so until then, Adios.


It's a Balloon World After All - Vietnam


Hello everyone, This week I am taking a virtual trip to the exotic far east with a trip to Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of world's richest agricultural regions and is the second-largest exporter worldwide, it is also the the world's seventh-largest consumer of rice which is why I included the bowl of rice and chopsticks to this balloonagraphic (balloon+graphic).

While researching the architecture of Vietnam I discovered that there are a lot of similarities to neighbouring countries , one of the buildings I saw a lot of was the Pagoda which is more commonly linked to Japan, I was going to make a pagoda for Japan but made something else instead so I was delighted to be able to include a pagoda here for Vietnam.  

The Vietnamese junk (boat) was made at a recent balloon jam, Vietnam has a lot of links with water and the sea, fish is a major part of Vietnamese diet and I really love these types of boat. 

Last but not least I have my little Vietnamese person, wearing her traditional Asian conical hat, this type of hat serves many purposes, it protects from the sun and rain, it can also be dipped into water and worn as an impromptu evaporative-cooling device. These hats are usually worn by farmers so I would like to imagine my little Vietnamese lady is a vietnamese rice farmer. 

Next week I am taking my first trip to South America.


It's a Balloon World After All - India


नमस्ते । 

Hello everyone, I am certainly covering some miles in my virtual journey around the world, If I was actually doing this journey then I would already be over 25000 miles of travelling. This week my virtual journey is taking me to the very colourful country of India. (I must stress here, I am not actually visiting these countries, this is a virtual journey around the world)

India is such a diverse country with many different cultures I found it hard to pin down and choose the items to make from balloons, Items which I thought represented this beautiful country. I first started by making one of the most sacred animals in the country, the Cow, Worshiped by millions of Hindus across the country, the Cow provides life sustaining milk and therefore is seen as a maternal figure, a caretaker of her people. The cow is a symbol of the divine bounty of earth. 

Another sacred animal is the Snake and I could not resist making a snake in a basket, Snake charming has been a form of performance in India for hundreds of years and although it is still practiced today Snake charming has become less and less common on the streets of India. 

The musical instrument that looks a bit like a long guitar is called a Sitar. it was first developed in the 7th century and seems to be a very complex instrument with either 18, 19, 20, or 21 strings (and I struggle to play my 4 string ukulele). 

One of the most famous sights of India is of course the Taj Mahal, Situated in Agra, this 365 year old mausoleum stands on the banks of the Yamuna river and was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Finally I have my little Indian princess in her Saree with the Bindi decoration on her forehead.

Next week I am staying in the exotic far east so until then, जल्दी मिलेंगे ।


It's a Balloon World After All - Japan

Konnichiwa, O-genki desu ka,

Hello everyone, This week I am having a look at Japan, the land of the rising sun. I have always wanted to go to Japan, I am sure I will do one day. 

So first off I wanted to recreate the Japanese Torii, this is a type of gate that is found at the entrance or within a Shinto shrine, it marks the transition from the profane to sacred. Personally I think the most famous Torii is the Itsukushima Shrine, found in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, at high tide it appears to float on the water. 

I love the architecture of Japan, there is something so wonderful about the traditional Japanese designs and I just had to include an element from the Japanese Rock garden (or Zen Garden). Rocks are an important part of the Japanese garden and as you can see I have created a small pile of balloon rocks.  

Every year in spring an incredible natural event sweeps its was across Japan, starting in the far south of the country the cherry trees come to life with their amazing pink blossom, slowly moving north over the spring months the cherry blossoms attract thousands of people to partake in hanami, which literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the trees.

The folding hand fan was invented in Japan and may date back to the 6th century, here I have made a hand fan, they would typically be made from Japanese cypress and paper or silk. Finally I felt I had to make a Geisha, a traditional Japanese female entertainer who would act as a hostess. They have many skills including Japanese classical music and traditional dance, witty games and conversation. I always imagine them performing the Japanese Tea ceremony.

I do hope you are enjoying my project, do you have a country you would like to see? Let me know by commenting on this post, it would be great to hear some suggestions. Until next week, sayōnara.


It's a Balloon World After All - Israel

Shalom, Mah Ha’Inyanim? This week I am in the country of Israel, the land of milk and honey.

The star of David was something I just had to make, I think it was actually my friend Danny who suggested I make this for when I visited Israel and it is lucky that the Star of David is such an easy shape to make with balloons, all it took were 2 balloons, each one with 3 simple twists in them.

The next thing I wanted to make was a menorah, a sacred candelabrum with between 5 and 9 branches depending on what it is used for, this one is a 7 branched menorah and should originally be made out of solid gold. 
According to the Times of Israel "Becoming not only Judaism’s oldest symbol, but also the Western world’s oldest continuously used religious symbol, the menorah once stood in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The seven-branched candelabrum (nine-branched for Hanukkah) has been a source of fascination and illumination for Jews, Samaritans, Christians and also Freemasons for three millennia."

Below the menorah I have made a diamond, Israel is one of the world's three major centers for polished diamonds, diamond cutting is a traditional Jewish craft going back centuries. At the top left of the picture I have created a balloon version of one of the most familiar buildings in Israel, The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. I am not really a religious person however I am always fascinated by religious sites like this.

Last but not least we have my little Rabbi, He actually came about by accident, I was trying to make a different character and then suddenly this little chap appeared, a very happy accident. 

Well that is it for Israel, I found it a difficult country to research and I really didn't want to get anything wrong so apologies if I have made any mistakes with this country. 

Next week I am off to a land made up of over 6,800 islands.


Its a Balloon World After All - Morocco

Ssalamū 'lekum, This week I am taking a virtual trip to my first African country, it is Morocco, I have never been to Morocco so it has been very interesting researching it for the project. 

The first things I made for my photo were the moroccan slippers, when I started researching the country these were one of the first things I discovered and felt I really wanted to have a go at making them. In real life these slippers are often made of leather or covered in fine embroidery and decoration but I have gone for a plain pair.

The next thing I made was a Moroccan lamp, I have made mine to have brightly coloured glass, these are often highly decorated and the sides have elaborate shapes and patterns cut into them. The Ship of the desert was an obvious choice and in Morocco the camels are mostly dromedaries (one humped) and are usually owned and domesticated to a certain degree. 

The Tower I have made is based on the tower from the largest Mosque in Marrakesh, the Koutoubia Mosque. This mosque has been standing for well over 800 years and stands at about 77 metres high. 

Lastly I have my Moroccan man, when I first started to create my little balloon figures I knew I wanted to make a Fez and this led to a discussion about the origin of this well known hat. I knew it was named after a place and it soon became clear that it is named after the City of Fez in Morocco. 

Next week I am off to a country whose capital city is home to over 100 Sushi restaurants making it the city with the most sushi restaurants per capita after Tokyo and NYC, it also hosts a rollerblading party every Tuesday night. 


It's a Balloon World After All - Norway

Hei alle, hvordan har du det? This week I am taking a look at one of my favourite places in the world, it is Norway. Norway is a country full of fascinating history and culture, it is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

The main thing I wanted to include was a Norwegian troll, here I have made a cave troll, very different from the current popular troll seen in the movie and as toys as those originate from Denmark. Norwegian trolls date back thousands of years and come in all shapes and sizes, they are often dim witted and slow but can sometimes look a bit like human beings too. These days Trolls are described as dangerous and they should be avoided. 

Tourism has become a huge business in recent years and part of this is due to the Whale watching trips that take place throughout the year. There are 21 different species of Whale that visit the waters of Norway from Dolphins and Orca to Blue Whales and Humpbacks. As you can imagine fishing is also a major part of the cuisine with Salmon, herring, trout and cod being the main catch.

The history of Norway is dominated by the Vikings, the Viking age started in the year 793 and Viking settlements could be found all across Scandinavia. I have included a viking shield in my picture along with the whale and the school of fish.

Finally my Norwegian lady is wearing the traditional Bunad, an elaborate costume with embroidery, typically it is worn with scarves, shawls and hand-made silver or gold jewelry known as sølje.

Next week I am heading somewhere much warmer than Norway, it will be my first African country and is the worlds largest exporter of Sardines.



It's a Balloon world after all

A new balloon project starting on January 2nd 2018, I will be taking a virtual journey around the world visiting a different country each week.