Children's entertainer, Flossie Pallesen. Photo by Tim Cuff.

Flossie Pallesen, Balloon and Bubble Artist


It was thanks to a book she bought for her son Sam that Flossie Pallesen found her destiny in life – as a professional balloon and bubble artist.

In fact, as a naturally shy person, Flossie still can’t quite believe what she does for a living; putting herself centre stage in front of crowds, not just at private parties but high-profile events.

The former accounting clerk and vet nurse has become such a popular local character in the Nelson Tasman region that children recognise her and her vibrantly coloured hair wherever she goes.

Flossie balloon animal INP

Flossie Pallesen, who performs as Flossie Fizzberry, is a popular children's entertainer in Nelson. Photo by Tim Cuff.

“The balloon twisting book was the first thing I ever bought online,” says the mum of four and grandmother to three. “I’d wanted to find something to fire Sam up, a new hobby, and bought a pump and balloons too.”

The pair set about making some of the creations in the book, starting with simple balloon dogs, flowers and swords, getting more ambitious as their skills progressed. “Sam was only ten and really good at it straight away,” she says.

The book had suggestions of how to make money from the art, so the two decided to attend galas to raise cash for youngest daughter Mikaela’s school.

“People started asking me to do birthday parties and then a couple of years later while I was working at the local council as a receptionist, I approached the person in charge of festivals, who said I could go along to some of their events. My first professional performance was for an event organised by them at the Elma Turner Library in Nelson in 1990.”

Adding to her repertoire, Flossie responded to regular requests for face painting to accompany the balloon art, mastering a few colourful designs. Later, she also added magic to her menu, having joined an online academy and taken part in workshops and courses.

“We’re not talking David Copperfield,” says the entertainer, who now goes by the name of Flossie Fizzberry and performs in 1950s-style dresses made from brightly patterned fabrics with full skirt and petticoat.

“The magic’s a bit of comedy that helps create some wonderment with a playful spirit. My act is a kind of ‘magician in trouble,’ intentionally making very basic mistakes, which the kids enjoy telling me about, loudly. I love it when they laugh and they’re completely in uproar.

The most recent addition to Flossie’s talents has been bubble art – a skill she mastered after a request came for her to perform at the top of the Centre of New Zealand for Nelson’s former Lantern Parade.

Flossie balloons bubbles INP

Flossie's giant bubbles have been a hit at events around Nelson. Photo by Tim Cuff.

“I did some online courses and spent so much time and money testing bubble recipes,” she recalls. “It worked so well though, and to be performing up there on the hill as the sun set, with these enormous bubbles, bands playing, and so many people dressed up and with lanterns – it was just beautiful, magical in fact.”

One of her favourite tricks is to create a giant bubble dome or tube around a kneeling volunteer – usually a small child, but sometimes adults too.

There’s nothing better than the look of wonderment of the person inside, she says, or the gasp from a child who catches sight of the painting on their face or the balloon animal she’s presented them with. She’s now performed as far afield as Hokitika and last summer became a regular attraction onboard the Interislander ferries between Picton and Wellington.

In 2010 Flossie gained the official qualification Certified Balloon Artist, but it wasn’t until she attended a balloon twisters’ convention in Australia in 2013 that she proudly wrote her profession as ‘Children’s Entertainer’ on the official Customs documentation for the first time.

Flossie balloons portrait INP

Bringing joy to others is a big part of Flossie Pallesen's career. Photo by Tim Cuff.

“It makes for a good conversation, saying what I do,” she says. “I’m proud because I’ve done it completely off my own bat and it’s been driven by something I really love.”

The smiles of her audience make her heart sing. “That's what's always been the big motivator for me, to bring joy to others. It’s just lovely when people tell me ‘This is the best thing that happened to me today’ and I get told that quite often.”


Story by Fiona Terry for the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Fiona Terry is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to AA Directions Magazine.

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