Twisting Balloons Into Joy

Twisting Balloons Into Joy
by Janet Sever Hull

On any given night or weekend, balloon artist Al Curlett can be found working an event almost anywhere in the DFW Metroplex.  The Denton resident and owner of Big Al’s Totally Twisted Balloons, says he does balloon art because he loves “meeting and bringing joy to other people.”

Al brings his talent to private parties as well as to businesses and community events. You might have seen him at: Brookshire’s, the Texas Motor Speedway, Colonial Country Club, Dillard’s, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, the Ranch of Lonesome Dove, corporate parties, nursing homes, churches, schools, birthday parties, class reunions, the North Texas Book Festival, and many other community events in North Texas.

Al says the best part about being a balloon artist is he’s always around people who are having fun and he gets to be a part of it.  “Every party is a special day for someone.  My job is to make the party special for them.”

He learned the art of balloon modelling or twisting, years ago by chance when his wife, who was a post-intensive care nurse, was working weekends.  To be near her, Al hand-carved a dummy named Norton and developed a ventriloquist act to entertain patients in the hospital where she worked. Next, he learned to do magic tricks for the kids and then one of the moms suggested that he learn to twist balloons.

Al bought some books and started with the basics…dogs and swords.  He attended a balloon twisters’ convention in Austin where he learned more complex designs and became aware of some of the great balloon twisters such as Don Caldwell, Ken Stillman, and John Homes who were doing incredible things with balloons.  Al learned the concepts of twisting then took it to the next level and created his own unique designs.
Al’s balloon repertoire currently includes 42 kinds of hats and 80 more figures which he can twist from memory.  He uses 17 different colors for his balloon creations and says that adults most often request hats or roses.  When he is working a children’s event, girls most often want flowers or butterflies and boys ask for swords.  Al has even created balloon art from pictures people have brought to him.

He says adults appreciate the art behind the finished product and have a lot of fun and get a kick out of it.  “Kids are surprised and happy when they ask for something and it really looks like what they wanted.”

Nancy and Eric Fehrenbacher first met Al in 2005 when Nancy was pregnant with their oldest child.  They would go into Luby’s to eat and would see Al twisting balloons for patrons young and old.  After their son was born, they continued to eat at Luby’s whenever Al was working and they were such regulars that he began saving them a table.  A friendship developed between them and at some point, Nancy invited Al to their home for dinner.

Al calls Nancy and Eric his good friends and “original groupies” because they kept coming to see him.  Nancy says they were “drawn to Al because he was so friendly and down to earth.  He does fantastic work and you feel happy to be around him because he’s so interesting and he works hard to brighten a person’s day.”

Luby’s closed their Denton location in 2009, so now the Fehrenbacher family goes to CiCi’s Pizza to see their friend “the balloon guy” in action.  “But we only go if Al is working,” says Nancy.

Al has the soul of an artist, and his creativity isn’t just limited to balloon art.  In his spare time, he creates beautifully hand-carved wood pieces as well as stained glass lamp shades.  His home is filled with his beautiful creations and his fun and lively spirit.

If you would like to hire Al Curlett for your party or event, he can be reached at 940-300-7676.

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