November 10, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:55pm CST
JONESBORO, AR - Where there are children in a room with Tim McGowan, there will also be faces full of amazement.
"I let them pick whatever they want, and we go from there," said McGowan.
His small customers talk with him using his magician and stage name, Elrod, but they know him by his noisy knots. Ty Garner requested he make a lizard.
Ty described his balloon animal, "It's green. It has big orange eyes. It has a long tail."
Patrick Moore, a 4 year old boy, his mother and his grandfather go out to eat together on Wednesdays. Eating with Elrod is a repeat request.
Moore talked about his solicitation, "A monkey climbing a tree."
His grandfather, Jeffrey LaFollette explained, "He's made Bob the Builder, swords, guns, rocking horses. I've seen him make ships."
Balloons are McGowan's paints. His hands are his brushes.
"I can make anything, but a John Deere tractor," McGowan admitted.
The artist wears a carpenter-style apron full of bountiful colors of balloons in order to keep things in a convenient location and his supplies in order.
"For the flowers or cats, I have spray, and I've got the markers over here to paint up the balloons," he added.
Tim said he can take a picture of something and twist it into a 3D version using two by 60s. That size is the trademark balloon. They are 2 inches wide and 60 inches long.
McGowan said, "Once you get the basic twisting down, the rest is pretty easy."
It's taken more than 15 years of that twisting to get to his level. Even balloon men who have reached this level still need mentors to help them along.
"A balloon man in California, Don Caldwell, and I get on the internet and look at a bunch of his stuff," explained McGowan.
Tim McGowan will continue twisting his art as long as his cheeks hold up, and kids keep making requests.
"I mean you never grow old. You're always young. I have fun doing it,"