Balloon twister Pip Milford-Hughes with her winning creation yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The only way is up for Pip Milford-Hughes.
The Dunedin balloon twister, who performs as Pippity-Pop, won
first place in the delivery and gift section of the Qualatex
Balloon Sculpture Competition in Melbourne last month.
Mrs Milford-Hughes (45) fell in love with ballooning as a
9-year-old schoolgirl at the South Otago A&P Show.
''I was just fascinated with the balloon man there, so I
saved all my pocket money and the next year I bought as many
as I could. Then I sat down and undid them all, so I could
see how they were made,''she said yesterday.
Mrs Milford-Hughes has been sculpting daily for the past six
years and will practise a new design at least 20 times before
performing it in public.
''It's endless what you can do. You might use 12 or 14
balloons in one sculpture. Then you can get into costuming,
which is a lot of fun. You can do balloon cari-catures of
people and even `blue' balloons, which are a bit X-rated, for
adult parties,'' she said.
''In the United States, you can go to 'Ballooniversity' to
learn to twist balloons. But you're really only limited by
your imagination. Just when you think you've done it all, a
wee kiddie will ask you to make something like a peanut with
a ray blaster on a motorbike.
''I had a wee boy once who only wanted a worm. But I didn't
want to send him home with just a worm. I mean, what would
his mother think? So, I made him an apple with a worm popping
''Other unusual ones would be a water-skier with a Zimmer
frame for a 50th birthday and a Ranfurly Shield, for when
Otago won the shield.''
Her Indian ring-neck parrot, Pepe, takes care of any rejects.
''He loves them. He flies down on them and pops them. He
likes popping them so much that I can't have him in the room
when I'm making them.''