Student finds balloon profession a stable means for college

Mot Buchanan’s take on the balloon dog. Buchanan started making balloons objects when he was about 12 years old and is now putting himself through school with this skill. Photo by Valerie Brown.

Rachel Hagenbaugh

Buchanan’s Blog

Buchanan also has a blog that he calls “365 Days of Balloons.”

He said it’s a challenge he sets for himself to post a new picture of a balloon object every day of the year. He said the blog forces him to re-evaluate his designs so he can improve them. So far, Buchanan has over 150 posts of his creations.

Students support themselves while going to college in a variety of ways. One Kent State student puts himself through college working as a professional balloon entertainer and magician.

Mot Buchanan, sophomore early childhood education major, said he’s been twisting since he was 9 years old. Twisting is the art of twisting balloons together to make various objects.

“I’ve always been a fan of picking up random skills,” Buchanan said. “If something caught my interest, I gave it a shot.”

Buchanan’s career in making balloons began when he checked out a book about balloon twisting at the library. He meant to check out a beginner’s guide to balloon making, but he later realized it was a level-four twisting book.

Instead of starting out making dogs and hats, he was making a monkey climbing up a tree with a banana in its hand. Buchanan said coming at this skill from a higher level ultimately helped him become a better twister.

When he was 12 years old, his friends’ parents hired him to do shows for them for parties. Buchanan said it was important that he got a lot of experience early in his career.

Years later, Buchanan made friends with professional entertainers at state fairs and learned the skills to become a magician, including card tricks and other magic tricks. He owned three gaming stores and one comic book store and did entertainment work on the side.

“I did the ‘real world’ thing with the real-world job, but entertaining always paid more,” Buchanan said.

Seven or eight years ago, the balloon entertaining business really took off, Buchanan said. He was a private contractor and entertainer. He would post videos on YouTube and iTunes teaching people how to twist balloons.

Five years ago, he met Jeff Wright, the regional manager for a company out of Florida called Balloon Distractions. Wright said the company was looking for somebody to properly teach people in the area how to twist balloons.

Buchanan accepted the job and began teaching people not only how to twist balloons but also proper etiquette in a professional setting.

Buchanan also started his own business called Balloon Entertainment.

“It’s entertainment with a twist,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the only restriction he has on what he can make is the amount of time and balloons he has. He said he’s made balloon objects ranging from arches to centerpieces to dresses.

The first balloon dress Buchanan made was for a friend’s wedding three years ago. It was a pirate-themed wedding, and she wanted a pirate’s dress and hat made out of balloons, he said.

He’s made dresses for weddings, proms and charity fashion shows. He recently learned how to make a dress with a corset back. He holds the universal record for the most balloons used to make a costume. According to Universal Records Database, Buchanan made a dress of 97 red balloons and two black balloons. A hat was constructed using 47 red balloons and two black. A purse and bracelet rounded out the outfit for a total of 154 balloons.

Buchanan is now putting himself through college being a professional entertainer. He said he’s given up on the retail world. Owning the comic book and gaming shops burned him out, he said.

“Everyone might not be able to do what I do, but everyone has something they are great at,” Buchanan said. “This is a good example of someone finding something they’re good at and making a career out of it.”

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].