A Chaigley mum - who only started learning balloon art by chance four years ago - has just created a lifesize balloon sculpture of TV - radio presenter Paul O’Grady for his television show.
Balloon artist Joanne Anderson, 42, who is known as “Betty Balloon” is still trying to digest her delight at being asked to create Paul as well as his dog Olga in balloons.
She said: “It was amazing. I am just still trying to take it in. I am quite humbled because I just love to share my balloon artwork.”
Anyone watching the show on May 5 will have seen Chaigley mother of two Joanne’s balloon charicatures of Paul and Olga at the start of the show when, after entering the set and seeing the sculpture on his chair, Paul refers to the selfies as “smashing”.
Afterwards, Joanne was invited behind scenes, also to have photos taken and during which Paul said he had been very impressed with her balloon artwork.
When first contacted by show’s team, Joanne said she thought it was a joke, but after having been left a number of messages, decided they must be genuine and got in touch.
“They asked if I could do Paul in balloons and Olga his dog in balloons and I said absolutely no problem,” she said, adding they had seen the photo of her with her own balloon selfie as well as her previous work and said they were looking for lifesize sculptures.
In just four years for Joanne - now a fully fledged balloon artist and children’s party entertainer, also gaining a reputation overseas - has come a long way.
It all began when her daughter D’arcy, who is now 10, asked if she could invite some friends around for a tea party, the number escalating to 23.
She said: “I thought how am I going to entertain the children and my friend Adrian Catch showed me how to make a balloon dog.” Joanne was immediately hooked, although she said her son Luke, who is now 20, created the better dog!
The former Longridge Youth Centre worker progressed to creating well known characters and animals and started to do children’s parties, also building up her storytelling.
She then started to make balloon charicatures of people, progressing still further to create installations from lots of small balloons or one piece from a very large balloon.
“And after being recognised for my balloon artwork people are now wanting me to do more corporate events and TV appearances,” said Joanne, who has made sculptures for TV show The Slammer and has also been working abroad, doing story telling and big sculptures - installations for large festivals.
She was recently in Soho Square in Egypt; has been to a festival in Las Vegas where she won first prize for a dress created from more than 1,200 balloons and which took 40 hours to make; and has also created a balloon sculpture of the late pop star, Michael Jackson.
But Joanne still loves to entertain and tell stories at children’s parties, where she gets the youngsters to take part as characters within her stories wearing head costumes made from balloons, and tells all her favourites including The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Enormous Carrot.
If anyone would like to see Paul, Olga and the charicatures on the show, there is link to it on Joanne’s website, www.bettyballoon.com