Image: Taylor Castle

Even out of costume, it’s clear Sizzle is a clown. Sure, there’s her propeller hat and overflowing sack of balloons, but there’s also her demeanor. She’s got the casual patter of a performer, Santa’s belly laugh, and an easy way of sliding into impersonations. As she puts it, clown is a verb, not a noun: “It’s being able to invite people to laugh at the things they want to laugh at.”

Sizzle—not her given name, but the one she pretty much lives by at this point—discovered a talent for making people laugh while working, oddly, at a horror theme park in Idaho. She began twisting balloons as a basic clown skill, but six years and a balloon apprenticeship later, she’s “making a living playing with air,” a profession that’s half performative, half crafts. These days, she does “linework” on Seattle’s event and party circuit, creating things for people who queue up, but also builds jaw-dropping pieces that verge on dimensional art: cascading floats for Pride, even intricate Pokémon balloons for company events.

Watching Sizzle work is like watching a magician. She could explain each pinch, lock, and loop that goes into, say, a rosy-cheeked Pikachu, but it’s still a mystery when the toddler-size Pokémon emerges fully formed.

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