Her specialty is the "flying mouse," one of the only balloon animals known for its ability to actually do something - it can fly through the air when the mouse's tail is pulled.
Ashley Ball, 15 - also known for making sabres for her South Mecklenburg High School peers - has turned a small talent into a big opportunity.
A couple of years ago, her dad, who loves magic, was putting on a show at a preschooler's birthday party. Ashley went with him, and when they stopped at a store on the way, she convinced him to buy some balloons and a book on balloon animals.
However, "Dad wouldn't buy the balloon pump," said Ashley.
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The magic show was a bust; the kids were too young to understand it. So Ashley sat down in a chair and became the hit of the party with her balloon animals. She needed that balloon pump after all, so they stretched an air compressor hose out to the yard.
"For about a year after that, Ashley didn't go anywhere without her balloons," said Ashley's mom, Kathy Ball. On one occasion, when their family was eating out, Kathy said, a child at a nearby table was crying. Ashley said, "Mom, I just can't stand to see him cry," so she stood up and had him smiling in no time with her balloons.
Ashley said she really would like to entertain at Levine Children's Hospital, but that effort would have to wait until manufacturers start making balloons out of latex-free material: some of the hospitalized children may be allergic to latex.
Ashley and her brother, Matthew, 13, and her parents, Scott and Kathy, have lived in Charlotte for 16 years. Her dad is a pilot for Republic Airways, and her mom is a real estate broker with Helen Adams Realty.
It was Ashley's parents who suggested she take her show on the road to Salsarita's Fresh Cantina. She has a tip jar with her, but, Kathy said, "she doesn't do it for the money. She does it because she truly likes to make kids smile."
But the smiles don't stop with little kids. Ashley keeps a stash of red, black and white balloons on hand: South Mecklenburg High School colors. The school administration doesn't seem to mind her making a few sabres and funky hats, especially for homecoming games. Ashley has many interests. She is a fast reader and she's on the junior varsity soccer team at South Meck.
Does she have any advice for teens looking to find a talent? "Find an original idea, and something you enjoy doing," said Ashley. "You need to be cheerful and enthusiastic about it and be sure to ask advice from other people."