A Balloon Twister Named Seven

You know I should follow my hunches more often. As I got off the elevator to go to lunch, I remembered I had left my camera on my desk. “It’s ok”, I thought, “I’m just going to buy food and walk back to my desk today anyway”. I should have listened…

As I walked down the sidewalk I beheld one of the most amazing sites I’ve ever seen. A lady was sitting there dressed from head to toe in black! Not just any black – she had on combat boots that came up and over her calves, a black shorts down to her knees, a Motorhead t-shirt with the neck ripped out and the arms ripped off exposing multiple tattoos. To top it all off, she had her short red hair wrapped in a black bandana. In her hand she held…

A balloon butterfly. Pink and Yellow and Bright green. A balloon butterfly!


This is where I started kicking myself mentally – a photo just waiting to be taken and I don’t have my camera.

I approached her to ask how much longer she was going to be there. Her reply was “It depends on how long it takes me to make enough for the train ride to Ogden”. Ok, this was intriguing… She indicated that she makes balloon figures for tips, and that she only needed three dollars to make the train (indicating that if I wanted a photo of her, I’d better hurry).

I hurried! I needn’t have bothered. When I got back she was surrounded by kids and their moms mesmerized by what she was doing, and paying her tips for doing it. She had told me that kids don’t care how you look, they just need to know you care. I could see instantly how she put that into action. She would greet each child, ask them what they wanted her to make, and then try to talk them into something she actually could make! She wasn’t shy about looking at the parent and confessing “I really don’t know what I’m doing, just learning as I go”. Her hard exterior fell away and the kids were mesmerized.

Soon she looked up at me and apologized and asked me to wait. I did for about fifteen minutes, and since the group of people waiting for her was growing, decided waiting was the wrong thing to do – and just started taking photos and talking to her while she worked.

She told me her name was Seven.


I asked her how she got started, and she told me it was because of her strongest talent. I asked her what that was and she said it was “comprehension”. She has a talent of comprehending how things are put together and how they work.

Years ago she and her husband were stuck in a “bad” city. They were out of money, didn’t have a place to stay. They were working outside an arts festival playing music for tips – and getting next to nothing. As they played they noticed a guy twisting balloon animals across the way, and every time he handed a balloon animal to a kid, the parent would hand him five bucks. It took him less than a minute to twist the balloons, and they watched as he made $100 in 20 minutes!

Seven’s husband asked her if she thought she could do that. She has the gift of comprehension! Of course she could! She went and bought balloons, sat down and watched the other balloon guy very carefully for about half an hour, and started twisting balloon animals.

Since that day, she’s travelled all over, twisting balloons and “lots of other stuff” to make money – she even has a book published out of San Francisco called “Seven’s Way” with her own balloon designs and how to create them. She says she sees her butterflies at fairs all over the country, and is proud of the fact others have learned from her book.

She said she was “hot, hungry, and needed a drink of some kind” (I think those were her exact words). She very nicely shoed the waiting people away, and was gone. Leaving me with a very small glimpse of a very interesting person, her amazing talent of comprehension, and her way of life.

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2 Responses to A Balloon Twister Named Seven

  1. trailerparkqueen says:

    Another lovely portrayal. The selective desat makes the image that much nicer. There’s no doubt you have a knack for finding these fascinating people and bringing out their beauty. Your introspection and compassion is evident as you reveal your ability to transcend judgment and get to the heart of your subjects.


  2. Carl says:

    Great story and fantastic photography. Thanks for giving everyone a glimpse into the wrold of a twister.


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