Thad James, of Fenton, will be one of the featured instructors at an international balloon convention called Twist and Shout, set for Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 at the St. Louis Airport Marriott Hotel.
Twist and Shout www.balloonconvention.com will welcome more than 350 balloon artists from around the globe.
Other local balloon twisters and artists include Brian Styles and Robin Martens, of Premier Entertainment, St. Charles, Joe Tierney, of St. Charles, Brian Peck, of Creve Coeur, Dave Brannon (Taterbug the Clown), of Lake Saint Louis, Donna Wiles (Spunky Beans), of St. Charles, Pam Mullhall (Pokey the Clown), of St. Louis and Jill Schmidt (Silly Jilly), of Webster Groves.
Twist and Shout is said to be the largest annual gathering of balloon artists and entertainers in the world. James, who goes by his business name Sammy J when twisting and bending balloons into a myriad of large and small sculptures, will be teaching two different courses on advanced sculpture design, focusing on the use of larger-sized balloons. Emphasis will be placed on construction techniques to impress customers with large-scale figures. Class formats will include hands-on instructions with step-by-step directions to show students how to build each figure.
James said Twist & Shout began in 2000 as an entertainer-based convention specializing in balloon figure making. The convention is held in a different city each year. This is the second time it has been in St. Louis. The annual event has grown to include classes in marketing, customer relations and show performance. Attendees can participate in competitions including: small, medium and large figure construction, timed figure-making, balloon fashion designs and stage act performances.
“I have attended all of the Twist and Shout conventions. It’s something to look forward to every year. Being selected as an instructor is a huge honor," James said. "I enjoy giving back and teaching others. I have been fortunate to learn from some of the best in the business and it will be wonderful to pass that on.”
James is sponsored by St. Louis based Betallic, LLC. Betallic is headquartered in Maryland Heights and is the second largest balloon manufacturer in the industry, James said. Since the company’s founding in 1983, Betallic has become an industry leading manufacturer of foil and latex balloons with international distribution and a history of introducing innovative and unique products. It offers a complete line of creative, trend-setting balloons for any occasion, holiday or theme.
Some Betallic staffers even participate by attending a monthly Balloon Jam, often held at the Denny's restaurant in Maryland Heights. The Balloon Jam is an informal gathering of balloon artists who meet to discuss techniques and practice their balloon sculpture-making.
James is a well-known entertainer around the Fenton area. His company, Sammy J Balloon Creations began in 1998 and has been creating unique balloon designs in the greater St. Louis area ever since. Sammy J. Balloon Creations has produced some of the largest balloon installations in the country, including a Tropical Balloon Garden and the BEATLES Experience.
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