Utah County’s balloon extraordinaire
‘I want a Yoda,” yells a child, in between eating slices of pizza at Brick Oven Restaurant.
“I want a bumblebee,” yells another child, full of excitement.
Jeremy Telford of Balloon Guy Entertainment can take a handful of balloons and shape them into anything he puts his mind to.
Telford, 31, of Pleasant Grove, is a world-renowned balloon artist. He started twisting six years ago as a member of Brigham Young University’s juggling club, Y Juggle. That’s also where he met his wife.
“I think of myself first and foremost as a balloon twister,” Telford said, even though he started with juggling.
Telford has juggled since he was 13 years old — and still occasionally juggles — but now prefers balloon twisting. “The balloons are what I love doing the most.”
When he started college at Brigham Young University, he was a computer science major. But he changed his major a few times, finally settling on recreation management and youth leadership with an emphasis in commercial management. His juggling and balloon twisting was just a way to earn some money. “I did it to get through college and fell in love with it,” Telford said.
After he decided to pursue balloon twisting as his career, he married his wife, Kristin. “There is no way I could pursue this as a career without a supportive wife,” Telford said.
Kristin not only supported Jeremy, but before having kids also worked side-by-side Jeremy with juggling and balloon acts. They even juggled during their wedding reception.
Now that they have two children — Nichole, 4, and Joshua, 1 — working side-by-side with his wife has became a thing of the past because she stays home with kids while he works.
Telford often visits Brick Oven Restaurant in Provo as a way to spread the word about his business and to show off his talent in a family-friendly environment.
“My guests love him,” said Lee Reader, general manager of Brick Oven Restaurant. “People call and ask when the balloon guy is here. He is very sought-after. People line up for him and wait for him.”
Between performances, Telford occasionally teaches his craft to aspiring balloon twisters or finds people who are willing to work with him. Brendan Rowlands, a friend of six years, helped Telford when he needed another person to help make balloon structures.
“He taught me pretty much everything I know about balloon twisting,” said Rowlands, who used balloon twisting to help pay for college.
Rowlands is still astonished by what Telford can make with balloons, even after knowing him for so many years.
“I’m always mind-boggled seeing his new designs,” Rowlands said. “I’m used to it and still amazed.”
One example is the 45-foot T-Rex Telford made for his senior internship capstone project. With the help of seven other balloon twisters, the T-Rex was made from 2,300 balloons for Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life.
During the summer Telford typically books three to five shows a week, with winter being the slower time of the year and only having two to three shows a week. Most of the shows Telford does are children’s birthday parties, but has had requests to do Sweet 16 birthdays, corporate events and even weddings.
“I love working with kids,” Telford said. “It is different every time.”
Telford tries to keep up to date with the latest characters children adore. With the new “Transformers” movie, he gets more requests for some of the robots in the movie.
When trying a new design he usually starts with online research. There are rare cases where he does more planning, but that is usually with bigger structures, such as the T-rex for Thanksgiving Point. The hardest part is making everything is proportional, Telford said. Though, “it usually only takes a few minutes to see if you have it proportioned right.”
Most of Telford’s big designs take anywhere from 200 balloons or more and can take four to five hours to complete. But most of his designs are small, which take only a few minutes to complete.
But Telford’s heart lies in big designs. To get in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest balloon sculpture is one of Telford’s “life goals.”
Big designs are also where Telford has made the most money. In March, American Filmworks contacted Telford through his Web site to hire him for a Wrigley’s Orbit Mist gum commercial.
Telford was flown to Uruguay where the commercial was filmed. Telford does not appear in the commercial, but many of his designs do, which include a butterfly, a coat a little girl wears and a 9-foot long and 4-foot high motorcycle, which was built around a stool that the actors sit on.
Telford is currently working on an instructional book to teach people how to build bigger balloon designs, as well as the basics of balloon twisting. Telford hopes to make more of a living off instructional books, while occasionally doing performances. “I don’t ever want to give up shows,” Telford said. “I love performing.”
Balloon Guy Entertainment can be reached at (801) 623-3264 or by visiting balloonguyentertainment.com.