Kinetic Balloon Sculpture Recruits Help from Local and International Twisters

In case you haven’t heard, something really big is coming to Maker Expo this year! Kayloth, the Water Dragon is one of our largest sponsored exhibits for 2016.  She will be brought to life in the wee hours of Saturday morning, right outside Kitchener City Hall inside the fountain! This installation is being lead by none other than Mr. Drew Ripley. However, a balloon sculpture of this scale (and difficulty) cannot be done alone, so he’s recruited a couple of his very talented balloon twisting friends to help.

We’re here to give you a spotlight on two balloon twisting ringers: Lisa McIntire and Derek Wong. Theses two incredibly talented balloon artists will be travelling in from out of town to lend their expert skills to the project. We asked them a few questions so you could get to know a little more about the folks who create these amazing air-filled displays.

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Where do you live?

Lisa: I am a recent transplant to Rochester, New York, USA.
Derek: Richmond Hill, Ontario

How long have you been a professional balloon artist?

Lisa: I worked my first professional balloon job about 5 years ago. It was a magical evening and I knew then that I would be working with balloons in some way for the rest of my life.
Derek: I started being serious to learn balloon twisting in 2011, and decided to go professional in 2013.


Have you won any international balloon twisting competitions? If so, what?

Lisa: This is a tough one to answer. I’m not much of a glory-seeker so I haven’t competed much since I started attending conventions 2 years ago. But, I do like to challenge myself which has resulted in a desk drawer crammed with certificates and some medals gathering dust on my wall. These are some of the highlights:

Twisticology, 2014
1st Place, Star Wars
2nd Place, Teddy Bear
3rd Place, Table Column
1st Place, Life Size Car (group build – I was team designer)

Florida Super Jam, 2015
2nd Place, Latex Ironman Competition

Twisticology, 2015
3rd Place, Latex Ironman Competition
1st Place, Centerpiece
3rd Place, Arch
2nd Place, Large Sculpture
1st Place, Best Overall (group build, I was the team leader)

For those of you unfamiliar, which I assume most of you are, the Latex Ironman is a timed competition and it’s probably the most challenging. Competitors are given a random amount of balloons in random colors and shapes then we all have to quickly design and complete a sculpture that uses every one of those random balloons somehow. There is no time to prepare or plan. It is a stuggle just to complete a recognizable sculpture before the buzzer.


3rd Place, Balloon Figure – World Balloon Convention, 2016 (see photo above!)
Bronze Achievement, Medium Balloon Sculpture – World Balloon Convention, 2016

1st Place, Golden Rod color sculpture – ColorQuest balloon sculpture contest, 2015
2nd Place, Coral color sculpture – ColorQuest balloon sculpture contest, 2015
3rd Place, 12-Minute Balloon Sculpture – Twist & Shout Convention, 2015

Silver Achievement, Deliverable Sculpture – World Balloon Convention, 2014
Bronze Achievement, Balloon Fashion – World Balloon Convention, 2014
Bronze Achievement, Balloon Hat – World Balloon Convention, 2014
Bronze Achievement, Balloon Column – World Balloon Convention, 2014
Bronze Achievement, Balloon Figure – World Balloon Convention, 2014

Best “Get Through The Door” sculpture of Rochester stop – Tjam on the Road, 2013
1st Place, Rose color sculpture – ColorQuest balloon sculpture contest, 2013
3rd Place, Blush color sculpture – ColorQuest balloon sculpture contest, 2013


Why did you agree to participate in this year’s Expo?

Lisa: I’ve had the good fortune to work with another balloon art studio, Airigami, on balloon installations at our local Mini-Maker Faire the last two years. It was an amazing experience sharing what I do with other Dreamers and Doers. I leapt at the chance to help Drew Ripley Entertainment bring a new element of whimsy to this year’s Maker Expo in Kitchener.

Derek: I heard it is fun! And Drew has an awesome plan and I cannot resist not to be part of his new creation.

What are you bringing to Maker Expo 2016?

Lisa: Lots and lots of imagination. When Drew first told me about this project my head was swimming with ideas. The crew and I have spent many months brainstorming on just this one sculpture. We are striving to create something that you’ve never seen before. Honestly, it is something that *we* have never seen before.  We are going to be making a figment of our imagination into a reality. Even though I have a pretty clear picture in my head, I am always amazed at the outcome and I hope you will be, too.

Derek: Balloons, my balloon-modeling skills, and more balloons

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How is this different from work you’ve done in the past?

Lisa: Well, for starters, I’ve never installed a piece in a water feature before. It will definitely be a new experience assembling the sculpture while wading in water. This will also be my first time working on sculpture involving kinetic movement.

Derek: I have made many creations incorporating balloons with other materials, but this will be my first time combining balloons and hydraulics. Cannot wait for the final product.

What is you favourite Balloon Creature to make?

Lisa: This is a hard one. I am in the business of making people happy so, if I had to choose, I would say that my favorite balloon is the one that is going to put the biggest smile on your face …and that is probably the lady bug. She’s a real cutie.

Derek: This is hard to say, I like everything I made with balloons. But if I have to pick one creature, it will be human.

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Do you have anything else you want to share with Maker Expo fans?

Lisa: Drew is always planning something impossible  …and I like to encourage that ridiculousness as much as possible. Keep a look out for me on I’ll definitely be back!

Derek: If anyone happens to have any events in the GTA area, come find me and let me make balloons for you! And make sure you check out the creations I have on my Facebook page.


After several months of dreaming and schemeing with an ambition to stretch the boundaries of what balloon art can be, Drew and his team are finally ready to bring this friendly dragon to life! In addition to the sculpture, Drew has designed a passport and scavenger hunt for attendees to collect stamps at various pre-selected exhibits at the Expo. Get all seven stamps and you can activate Kayloth’s magical powers! Passports can be picked up at any of the following exhibits (click here to see the event map):

  • Drew Ripley’s tent (#1 on the map)
  • Cardboard Kingdom (Artspace Gallery)
  • The Big Book (#115 on the map)
  • Wheat Paste Art Jam (#128 + 129 on the map)
  • Tinker Truck, Rocket Launch & River Safari (# 5 + 6)
  • Binary Beads (#88 + 84)
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