While you can go to your local drugstore, general, party or "big box" store and purchase long balloons that are meant to be used as decorations, you'll find that if you want to create complicated sculptures, these balloons won’t be able to handle the stress.
Balloons for Twisters and Balloon Artists
To start, balloon twisters typically use high-quality balloons produced by reputable companies such as Qualatex and Betallatex, which are specifically manufactured for twisting. These balloons come in a wide variety of colors, and you can purchase a bag of like-colored balloons or a bag with a mix of colors--typically 100, 144, or 500 to a bag. You can expect to pay between $6-10 (US) for a bag of a hundred balloons.
The most popular size balloon for twisting is those known as "260's." There are "fatter" "360" balloons, which are sometimes used by experienced twisters. There are also "thinner" "160" balloons that are used by some twisters, particularly those with small hands. Most of the standard sculptures are geared toward the use of "260" balloons. The balloon animals that we teach in our collection of instructions require 260 balloons.
Variety of Balloons
Balloons that can support your twisting come in a wide array of shapes and sizes for specialty sculptures, which include: traditional-shaped oval balloons, which can be used as a head or eyes in some creations; heart-shaped balloons, good for topping off hats; bee-body balloons and much more.
When you're starting out, you'll find that 260-size balloons will serve most of your needs. Balloons for twisting can be purchased from a variety of online sources.
If you purchase balloons that are designed specifically for balloon twisting and balloon animal making, you'll have less of a problem with balloons popping. High-quality balloons are thicker and designed to take the stress of multiple twists. You may be able to take common party long balloons and twist a basic dog or sword, but try to make a more complicated balloon such as a tiger or motorcycle, and the balloon probably won't be able to take the stress.
You can reduce popping in your balloons with a couple of simple techniques. Watch the inflation of your balloon. If you inflate a balloon with too much air, you'll run out of uninflated balloon and won't be able to finish your sculpture. If you do finish your sculpture, you'll find the twists to be very tight and under pressure.
A technique for reducing stress in a balloon is called burping. Here, you inflate a balloon to its designated length, as described in our balloon instructions, and before you begin twisting the balloon and making your sculpture, you release a bit of air just to reduce the balloon's internal pressure and stress. You'll find that burping helps to reduce the pressure inside the balloon and will also make it easier for you to make your twists.
It's important that your hands be in good shape before you twist and make balloon animals. In particular, check your fingernails to make sure that you don't have any sharp edges. If you've just trimmed your nails and they are rather sharp, you can file them down with an emery board. Sharp edges on your fingernails will pop balloons, particularly when you're pushing one balloon segment through another one, as when making three balloon push through segments.