Dylan Gelinas has a unique twist on life - balloon twisting to be exact.

What started with a simple kit purchased at a supermarket when he was 11, has ballooned into a creative outlet for the 2010 graduate of Del Norte High School.

Gelinas, a self-taught balloon twister, has been doing it since he was 11. In middle school he purchased a book and taught himself the basics. A year later he was asked to do some balloon sculptures for someone and he "hasn't stopped since."

He recently was asked to show some of his work during the Arcata

Economic Development Corporation's "Spotlight on Success" banquet.

He wowed the 200-plus audience members with his life-size renditions

of an African elephant, gorilla and Russian bear riding a unicycle. "I

started building the elephant in a room with a standard size door," said

Gelinas. "I didn't realize this until I was about halfway done. It took

some creative cramming to get it through," he said with a chuckle.

While these were his biggest creations yet, Gelinas regularly does

balloon creations at kids' parties -- he had three last weekend.

He also makes balloons at the Del Norte County Fair and the Crescent

City Farmers Market, and said he even landed a spot on "The Suze Orman

Show" recently

"I'm a little bit everywhere," he said.

He's not sure where he's headed with his balloon creations, but "I'd

like to see where I can go with it."

Still, he avoids emotional attachments - "if one pops I can make

another," he said.

In the meantime, he's a nursing student at College of the

Redwoods-Del Norte.