Author Topic: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan  (Read 4155 times)

Graham Lee

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Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« on: January 07, 2010, 06:36:14 PM »
Laura has been waiting to do the interview for a while now and has some free time coming up so that she can spend the time answering the questions on the forum. Laura lives in sunny California and specialises in balloon storytelling. So any more questions than the usual ones that are here are always welcome; set-questions-from-forum-members-t977.html

Laura's website; http://www.balloonstoryteller.com/
Portfolio; http://diva.balloonhq.com/
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Graham Lee

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2010, 08:38:28 PM »
Laura here is the list of set questions for you; set-questions-from-forum-members-t977.html
If anyone has any othe questions to ask Laura then please fire away.
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Danny the Idiot

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2010, 09:14:38 PM »
Hi Laura,

thanks for taking the time to answer questions and be on the forum.
I met Don in London and at TMJ, please say hi to him from me.

Some questions for you...

What's your favourite colour of balloon?

What's your favourite size/ shape of balloon and why?

Will you becoming over to TMJ later this year?

thats all for now,

best wishes
Danny
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2010, 09:14:18 AM »
Here's the beginning of the questions.  More to come.

1, What road led you into balloon modelling?

I have been performing all my life, mostly opera and musical theater.  
Not much money but I’ve had lots of fun with it.

One day, while helping out at my church, I was asked to learn to twist.  However, they forgot to tell me it’s addictive, so 11 years later I’m still doing it.

2, when did you get started with balloons?

1998 a couple of weeks before Halloween.

3, What’s your best twisting experience?

It’s hard to pick just one.  I really love getting together with other artists and creating something big, like Balloon Manor.  I love performing on a stage and pushing the limits of what people think I can do.  I also love connecting with a small audience and sometimes just one child, especially a child who isn’t normally comfortable with strangers.

4, What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during a ballooning/entertaining session?

Oh, the many horror stories.  Most of them are difficult at the time but make a great story later, like the time the star volunteer of my  
show got overwhelmed and retreated into the fetal position on stage.  
The same weekend I also had a volunteer pee her pants on stage.

How about the time a small piece of balloon flew into a 4 year old’s eye and stuck on his eyeball? Good thing his dad was a paramedic.

I think the worst feeling is when I think I haven’t done a good show or the client isn’t happy.  At the first school show I did in California, I didn’t realize how militant the school was about the length of the show.  I had ten minutes to go in the show (the finale!) and the teachers just filed the kids out of the auditorium.

There was also the time when I actually lost my pants when climbing into a clear six-foot balloon.  Thankfully the lighting was horrible on the makeshift back porch stage.  I keep telling myself I was the only one who noticed.  Right after that I changed my costume, though.

5, What do you most enjoy about twisting & why?

The kids.  They just crack me up.

6, What's your favourite age to entertain?
Large audiences ages 6-12.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 08:22:02 PM »
Hi everyone.  I've been battling some yucky cold virus here and now I'm back to join the living.  Graham, thanks so much for inviting me to be on Balloon Chat.

I lived in London for five months a few years ago and I miss England very much.  For a week I'll live vicariously through you all on this forum.  I'll also get to the rest of the questions ASAP and keep putting answers up all week.  

Here are some questions from Danny the Idiot (I'm a big fan!)

What's your favourite colour of balloon?
Rose, Lime Green, Spring Lilac, and Orange, in that order.  I have a problem choosing just one.  I want all the colors in all the shapes and sizes so I don't have to limit the colors that I use for sculptures because the balloons aren't available (sigh).  I may never get what I want.  

What's your favourite size/ shape of balloon and why?
My faves change all the time.  Right now it's 350s because when I super size even a simple sculpture it makes a huge impact.  

Will you becoming over to TMJ later this year?
I'm not sure.  I'd really like to.  How's that for noncommittal?  

That's all for now, but I'll keep coming back to check now and then.  

Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller
(aka Laura Caldwell)
Because Every Balloon Has a Story . . . .
www.Twitter.com/BalloonStory
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
Because Every Balloon Has a Story . . .
www.BalloonStoryteller.com
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Graham Lee

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 08:56:18 PM »
So what was it like to get married in a balloon dress?
Did you just wear it for the ceremony or at the reception all night as well?
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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 11:53:21 AM »
Hi Laura

I am thinking of doing a childrens writing course, I was wondering if you have been on any you would recommend.

Many thanks

Mike
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2010, 06:50:37 AM »
Quote from: "Graham Lee"
So what was it like to get married in a balloon dress?
Did you just wear it for the ceremony or at the reception all night as well?

It was great fun.  Of all my family and friends, only my sister didn't think it was a good idea.  Since my sister and I are complete opposites, I took this as a confirmation of our plans.

The day before the wedding, there were 6 or 7 twisters in our room making balloon leis for all the guests while Buster was making the dress.  The day of the wedding he laced me up in the dress while I was wearing it.  The trip from the bride's dressing room to the chapel was hilarious.  It was blistering hot in Vegas and we had to cross a hot parking lot, so I had three people holding up the bottom of my dress while I walked.  We only lost 4 or 5 balloons.

The dress came out fantastic (see pic below).  I was going to change before the ride to the reception, but each of these chapels comes with your own very efficient wedding coordinator, who whisked me immediately to the limousine.  After my friends shoved the dress in with me, I traveled about 15 min to the restaurant on my knees with Buster helping me balance and half my family with us in the limo (another long story).  

Before I left the chapel, I quickly asked Tawney Bubbles to grab my clothes and bring them to the restaurant.  45 minutes later she finally showed up with some lame excuse about cleaning out the bride's room.  So I spent about half the reception meal standing up in the dress and wandering around talking to my guests.  Guess I probably would have done that anyway.

Now what Tawney and Todd Neufeld were actually doing was decorating our hotel room with honeymoon themed balloon teddy bears.  Those of you who know Todd and Tawney will completely understand why we will always remember that present.  

When we went back to the chapel after the reception to get the car, we gave the dress to the bossy wedding coordinator lady, who turned out to be delightful once I got a chance to talk to her.  She and the staff took all sorts of pictures with it and they still remembered us six months later when the Twisted: A Balloonamentary people contacted them for footage of the wedding.  

p.s. I learned that day that the bride should never be in charge of anything but herself on the wedding day. After so many of us worked on the leis the day before, I completely forgot to give them to the guests.  A couple of weeks later one of my guests was telling someone how awful it was that someone had stolen the leis and we couldn't use them!  I really hated to set the story straight.
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Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 06:56:37 AM »
Quote from: "Blowmeover"
Hi Laura

I am thinking of doing a childrens writing course, I was wondering if you have been on any you would recommend.

Many thanks, Mike

I'm also looking to take some courses, and am planning to take one offered by Ann Whitford Paul.  I took a short class from her at a convention and was floored by what I learned.  http://www.annwhitfordpaul.net/

I think the best way to learn how to write children's books is to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators ("SCBWI").  They have conventions, local classes, and lots of local writers and illustrators groups.  You can also look at my twitter page www.twitter.com/BalloonStory and follow some of the people on my storytellers-kidswriting list.  I'm learning so much from them.  

Hope that helps!  I'm just a beginner myself in that area.
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Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2010, 07:20:28 AM »
Ooops forgot the picture.
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Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2010, 07:35:38 AM »
Here are more answers to the questions.  

7, Do you have the same act but vary the presentation for all ages or do you have set acts for different ages?

Combination of both.  I have a preschool (ages 3-6) motivational show, elementary school (ages 6-13) literacy show, and an elementary school science show.  I don’t do shows for entirely adult audiences but I twist for any age.  

In the elementary school shows and the twisting, I’ll vary the humor according to the age of the audience.  

8, What’s your favourite thing to make at the moment?

The coolest thing I made recently was a simple castle from four 646s (sides), two 350s (pointed roof), and four 260s (horizontal supports for 646 sides).  It took 5 minutes and the birthday girl got right inside for a picture.  

I’m also obsessed with hearts.  We jam at least twice a month here, usually more with impromptu jams.  So really my fave thing is jamming with friends, making anything.  

9, What is the most asked for model?

Depends on the audience, but mostly swords, princess crowns, and wings.  I just try to make them really cool, and I also tell the kids that if they get a surprise it will be cooler than anything they’ve seen yet.  (I don’t have the Jedi power that some possess to make them take a surprise and love it.  You know who I’m talking about.)  

10, What do you tend to do more of if stuck in the 'balloon production line' model?

Play.  I tell stories, make up stories with the kids, make interactive things, tease the kids and parents, have the balloons make funny noises, have the kids tell me jokes (I can’t remember very many myself so I make them do the work).  Sometimes I’ll give out numbers, go from shortest to tallest, have stupid contests to see who’s next, or institute the “ball of choice,” which will determine who’s next.  

11, Who is your market aimed at?

Kids.  Rarely I’ll do events just for adults, but really unless you add wine or something, those can be pretty dry.  Except once I did a 10-minute presentation at a networking lunch and still have pics of the mortgage broker dressed up as a cowboy, complete with horse.  That was a proud moment for both of us.  

12, What kind of work do you do mostly - parties? Corporate? Etc

Elementary school and library literacy assemblies, private parties.  The school market will be crowding out the private parties in a couple of years.

13, What is your favourite/ideal gig to do?

Before December I would have said the elementary school assembly.  However, in December I went to Singapore and did some shows in malls.  That was awesome and I want to do more and more of that type of show.  It allowed me to really go crazy with the show because I had a full crew.  This next year’s show will be even more over the top.  I’m now in love with confetti cannons.  

14, What irritates you most at a gig?

Parents not letting their kids make a decision as simple as deciding what kind of balloon they want.  Does that kid ever get to practice making decisions before he grows up? (Soapbox moment, sorry.)  Adults talking at the back of a show like nothing important is happening.  When I make the wrong call on how to handle a group of kids, resulting in me not doing the best gig possible.  (This recently happened at a gig where the first thing I heard when I walked in was “Oh, thank God you’re here. They’re out of control.”)  

15, How do you book yourself?

Not sure what you want on this one.  People usually call me as a result of seeing me at a gig or at a showcase.  I make sure I’m right for their event and we book a date.  Then they fill out a booking form and my administrative gnome Chip then takes care of the paperwork from there.  I’m working on a follow-up system for existing clients because I’m really bad at that now.  I also touch base with the client a day or two before their party so they know everything’s all set.  

16, What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever made?

Balloon Manor! The most complicated thing I’ve made at Balloon Manor was a 5-foot wide manhole cover out of black 6-inch hearts (eek) and 260s with a monster coming out of it.  It was the entrance to Underworld Studies.  I have no idea how many hours that took me.  I’ve made some dresses, usually short ones that end up looking more like lingerie because it’s hard to stick with it that long. I really love doing it though, and we keep our dress form Joann set up for inspiration.  

17, What has been your proudest achievement in our wonderful world of twisted latex?

Definitely the show in Singapore last December.  I wrote, directed, stage managed, and performed 28 45-minute shows followed by 30-minute mini-workshops in two weeks.  I loved my crew, my host agent, and my audiences.  It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked and the most proud I’ve ever been of my work.  Here’s to doing lots more of these (I have big plans).
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Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Tonya

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2010, 04:16:54 PM »
Hi Laura,

I love your wedding dress ~ it's gorgeous!  And thanks for sharing some of your stories...they are so funny!

I know you do a lot of library shows... do you use storylines from childrens books, or do you write your own storylines?  Also, how many balloons on average do you make onstage for your shows and how many do you take pre-made?  Do you have any tips for someone wanting to do more shows of this sort?
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
Have a happy day \":-)\"

Tonya

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2010, 06:53:28 AM »
Quote from: "Tonya"
I love your wedding dress ~ it's gorgeous!  And thanks for sharing some of your stories...they are so funny!

I know you do a lot of library shows... do you use storylines from childrens books, or do you write your own storylines?  Also, how many balloons on average do you make onstage for your shows and how many do you take pre-made?  Do you have any tips for someone wanting to do more shows of this sort?

Thanks for the compliments, Tonya.  :)  

For the library shows I make up my own stories or use old traditional stories.  I don't like using existing books because I don't have specific permission from the author.  If I were a librarian doing something in my own library, I wouldn't think twice, but since I'm actually making money, I would feel I should get permission before using a story in a book.  Luckily, there are so many stories out there!  

I use mostly premade stuff during the shows because it slows the pacing to try to twist anything more than just really quick twists.  That said, I always try to some kind of twistin and balloon nonsense in there because people love to watch it - a little.  After about a minute or two, they're done with it and want to see more active stuff.  

Tips?  Join a storytelling group.  Join a theater group too.  Search YouTube for storyteller performances.  Then get out there and do it.  

John Abrams, www.RebelEntertainer.com, has a great little course about how to write a show, and another on how to market a show.  He's a friend and mentor of mine and I highly recommend the show building course for any variety entertainer who wants to learn to build a show.  I use it as a refresher when I'm thinking up a new show.  

Tonya, are you going to be going to Twist and Shout this year?  I'd love to see you.  

BTW that holds true for everyone - come on over.  Chicago is a short flight from the UK!
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
Because Every Balloon Has a Story . . .
www.BalloonStoryteller.com
www.Twitter.com/BalloonStory

Professor T Wist

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2010, 10:27:55 AM »
Hi Annie, I would like to ask

If you could make anyone (ever) a balloon model who would it be and why?
What would you make them?
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Tonya

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Re: Laura Caldwell, Annie Banannie 18/24th Jan
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2010, 01:49:05 PM »
Thanks so much for the info Laura, I appreciate it lots.  And yes, I get to teach this year at Twist & Shout so I will definitely be there.  I'll see you soon!  :)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
Have a happy day \":-)\"

Tonya