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Showtime for Kids teaches balloon sculpting basics at the library

By Staff | Jul 1, 2010

Cayla Colbert was happy to receive Lori Chartier’s “monkey in a banana tree” sculpture, while sister Caitlyn and grandma Ruth Gorman look on.

They’re colorful, they’re exciting and they bring joy to children and adults near and far. What are they? Balloons, of course!

Though, the same could be said for professional entertainers Jim and Lori Chartier of Showtime For Kids and Eye FX Entertainment.

For more than 20 years, the Chartiers have been wowing fun-seekers of all ages with everything from marvelous magic shows to spectacular balloon sculpting.

Last Thursday, as part of the Captiva Memorial Library’s 2010 summer program series, the Chartiers came to the library for a special balloon sculpting session.

“We’re trying to get them to get a book somehow. If they get a book on balloon sculpting, that might encourage them to get something else,” Jim said. “And we’re also trying to educate the kids, because a lot of people are afraid of balloons. They all had a balloon and made their own sword so now they’re more comfortable handling the balloon. They might think, okay, maybe it’s not as scary as it may appear to be.”

Lori and Jim Chartier.

The Chartiers made a wide variety of balloon masterpieces, including penguins, pelicans, flamingos, dolphins, mermaids, parrots and even a motorcycle.

As the Chartiers whipped through their arsenal of unique balloon sculptures, participants learned twisting techniques, balloon safety, the history of balloon sculpture and tips and tricks on how to be creative and entertain friends and family with balloon sculpting.

With lots of practice, and perhaps some help from an instructional library book, the Chartiers assured their audience that anyone can become an expert balloon sculptors just like them — and perhaps make a career out of it.

And while some people may think that balloon sculptures seem small and simple, “We’ve had lines 600 or 700 people long. Some people will wait two hours in line just to get a balloon,” Jim said.

As participants watched and learned, some were shocked to learn that most of the Chartiers biggest balloon sculpting fans are adults.

Ann Kamman helps granddaughter Emily Repetto try on her “parrot in a swing” hat while sister Nicole Repetto Watches.

The couple often takes their Eye FX Balloon Sculptures operation to fairs, colleges, malls, corporate events and conventions, and according to Lori, some grown-ups are shy at first about asking for a balloon — but, they always come around.

“Balloons bring out the personality in everyone,” Lori said.

By the end of the program, as attendees were preparing to leave the Captiva Civic Center with their arms loaded up with colorful balloon sculptures, the Chartiers received a volley of applause and gratitude for their program.

But according to the Chartiers, the balloon fun doesn’t have to be over.

“We have an instructional balloon DVD coming out. We’re hoping it will be out by the end of the year,” Lori said.

Jim Chartier gives Henry Doucette and his mom Sally a motorcycle made entirely out of balloons.

And if you simply can’t wait until 2011, the Chartiers have a website where you can learn more about Eye FX Entertainment and the creative couple behind it.

“We’re actually having our whole website redesigned. We’re going to add things like a ‘trick-of-the-month,’ balloon tips and games. At the same time, it will also be interactive for kids,” Lori said.

To learn more about the Chartiers, go to www.eyefxentertainment.com.

Wynn Puller watches as Jim Chartier makes a holster for the sword Wynn made himself.