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Hobbies can lead to success: 11th grader wins Qualatex balloon contest

05/12/2024 11:21 AM
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Yen Jui-chun, 11th grade winner of the Qualatex Color Quest: Cactus competition, poses with his winning entry "Alligator" in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Yen Jui-chun May 9, 2024
Yen Jui-chun, 11th grade winner of the Qualatex Color Quest: Cactus competition, poses with his winning entry "Alligator" in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Yen Jui-chun May 9, 2024

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) A Taiwanese 11th grader who recently won first place in the Qualatex balloon twisting competition, said he hopes to receive more support from his family, as his win shows hobbies can lead to success.

Yen Jui-chun (顏睿軍), an 11th grade student at St. Viator Catholic High Schoolin Taichung, was announced as the winner of the Qualatex Color Quest: Cactus competition with his entry "Alligator" on April 25 in a post on the Facebook page of "Mr. Q," the mascot of American balloon supplier Qualatex.

The picture of the alligator shows it standing with a toothbrush between its left arm and body, while two white teeth can also be seen on one side of its mouth.

The post reads: "We just can't get over all the different techniques used here! And he keeps his teeth clean!"

In a recent interview with CNA, Yen said he is very happy to have won first place and noted that his entry was inspired by the Japanese children's book "Crocodile and Dentist" by Tarō Gomi, in which a crocodile has a toothache but is afraid of the dentist while the dentist is also afraid of the crocodile.

Yen Jui-chun is in action twisting balloons in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Yen Jui-chun May 9, 2024
Yen Jui-chun is in action twisting balloons in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Yen Jui-chun May 9, 2024

He said he thought of the character upon learning about the designated color, and created the work based on his memory of the book.

Meanwhile, Yen also won third place with "Parrot" in Color Quest: Chartreuse this January.

Qualatex holds annual balloon twisting competition in which contestants are encouraged to show their creativity through twisting balloons of colors designated by the company.

In the 2024 competition, the designated colors were: Chartreuse, cranberry, cashmere and cactus.

Yen demonstrated his creativity on the day of the interview, inflating the balloons and folding them into the shape of a dragon in just a few moves. He then added details such as eyes, horns, whiskers, and even a small lantern for the dragon to hold in its hand.

Yen said his interest in balloon twisting started at four years old, when his speech therapist used balloons as a tool to help him with pronunciation and speaking.

According to Yen, he initially taught himself balloon twisting, until he got his first phone around four years ago, when he started learning from Taiwanese and foreign balloon twisting masters through social media.

Yen Jui-chun poses with a balloon dragon he twisted on site for a recent interview in his Taichung home. CNA photo May 9, 2024
Yen Jui-chun poses with a balloon dragon he twisted on site for a recent interview in his Taichung home. CNA photo May 9, 2024

Speaking about how he creates his works, Yen said he first searches online for pictures of what he has in mind, then examines the details of the items by looking at the pictures from different angles.

He then thinks about the structure and techniques needed before he starts twisting the balloons, for example, he spent about a week conceiving his first place entry "Alligator," before finishing it in one go.

Yen sees balloon twisting as more than simply an art form, it also brings happiness to people. He visits orphanages and schools for children with special needs during the summer and winter vacations, and does balloon twisting with the kids, and seeing their smiling faces means a lot to him.

Yen said he often stays up late practicing and trying new ways of twisting balloons, and that he hopes getting first place will make his parents more supportive, as balloon twisting is very time consuming and they prefer he focuses on his studies.

According to Yen, balloon twisting means a lot to him and has brought him lots of new experiences. He plans to continue polishing his skills and participating in competitions in Taiwan and abroad, to showcase Taiwan on an international stage.

(By Su Mu-chun and Bernadette Hsiao)

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