Friday, August 19, 2016

Balloon Basics - Inflating and Tying Latex Balloons

For many of you that regularly read the Very Best Balloon Blog, you probably already know all the basic techniques that we use. However, there are many that are new to the wonderful world of balloons, others that are self-taught, and those who might like a quick refresher! 
I would like to start by saying that there are no right or wrong techniques, just those that might be a little easier or have benefits when working with multiple balloons. I know that I tie balloons a little differently from some of my ballooning friends, but like many, I was self-taught and don't feel the need to change my technique as it works really well for me.

Latex Inflation
When inflating Qualatex® round latex balloons, it is important to fill them until the balloon forms a teardrop shape. An over-inflated round balloon develops a pear shape, whilst under-inflated balloons are more round in shape.


This rule does not apply to the giant latex 30" to 36" balloons, which are produced on different forms* and should be round rather than teardrop-shaped.

Latex balloons may be filled with air, helium*, or balloon gas.* Balloons that are 9" or smaller are generally filled with air rather than balloon gas or helium as they have a very limited floating time, which is generally not suitable for decor.

Balloons filled with air do not float and stay inflated considerably longer (weeks rather than hours) than those inflated with balloon gas or helium.

Balloons inflated with balloon gas or helium are affected by extremes in temperature and altitude. Helium expands in the heat and contracts in the cold. On hot days, when moving balloons from a cool environment to a warm or hot one, ensure that you slightly underinflate your balloons to allow for expansion. It is better to pre-inflate your balloons to their full size first using air, and then re-inflate to a smaller size with helium. For example, an 11" balloon can be pre-inflated to 11", deflated, and then re-inflated to 10.75" or 10.5". By not pre-inflating your balloons you may find that they will still pop even when underinflated.
On a cool day, slightly overinflate the balloons when moving from a warm environment to a cooler one.  In normal conditions, balloons inflated with balloon gas or helium should be inflated to their correct size to ensure maximum float time.
Personally, I would do some floating tests or trials when working in different temperatures to ensure that the balloons offer maximum float time in different conditions.

I recently wrote a blog, Balloons and the Great Outdoors, that may help you when working with balloons in different weather conditions.

Sizing Balloons
Sizing balloons is important for two reasons:


Very Best Balloon Sizer
Available at European Qualatex Distributors.
  • Ensuring that all your balloons are inflated to the same size when creating decor will offer a professional finish.
  • Balloons filled with balloon gas or helium will have the maximum floating time when inflated to the correct size.
You can use a sizing template to size a balloon. There are various options available to purchase, or you could make your own. 



This helium chart shows each latex balloon size, the lift ability of each size of balloon when inflated with helium or balloon gas, how much gas each size of balloon takes when inflated to its correct size, and its average floating time. To download this chart, click HERE



Tying Latex Balloons
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many different techniques. Especially when it comes to tying a balloon. However, there are a few things that we should never do:
  • Never pull on the neck of the balloon after tying it; this can cause friction and create microscopic holes in the latex causing the balloon to tear and deflate.
  • Never tie a ribbon onto an inflated balloon above the knot as this can also damage the latex.
In the video clip below you will see Luc Bertrand, CBA, of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, demonstrate how to tie latex balloons, and at the same time incorporate the balloon ribbon, making this a one-step process. Luc also shows how to successfully apply Hi-Float®* to a latex balloon and how to prepare large groups of balloons for transporting.



  
About Latex Balloons
Qualatex latex balloons are made from 100% pure natural latex. They biodegrade at about the same rate as an oak leaf. Qualatex balloons are available in more than 70 fantastic colours and finishes and range in size from 5" to 36" in the round shape. Qualatex also produces latex hearts, GEO® Donuts, GEO® Blossoms, Quick Links and 160Q, 260Q, 321Q, 350Q, and 646Q modelling balloons.


To download this chart click HERE



Glossary of Terms

*A balloon form (or mould) is the metal shape that is dipped into liquid latex to produce the desired shape and size of a balloon.

*Balloon gas is a product that is often sold by helium suppliers. It is a mix of helium and air and is a recycled product collected from industries that use pure helium. The mix is approximately 98% helium and 2% air. Because air molecules are much larger than helium molecules, this can help to reduce the osmosis process by colliding with the helium molecules thus slowing them down. Balloons filled with pure helium will not float as long as a balloon filled with balloon gas, but to be honest, I am not entirely sure what the floating time difference is.

*Helium is an inert gas. An inert gas is a gas that has extremely low reactivity with other substances, therefore, it is impossible to cause fire or burn. It is the second lightest element next to hydrogen - unlike helium, hydrogen should NEVER be used for filling balloons as it is highly flammable and very dangerous.
Helium is colourless, odourless, and tasteless. 
WARNING; It is not safe to inhale helium from a balloon. Helium is an asphyxiant. Inhalation of helium can kill.

*Hi-Float is an aqueous solution containing a special water-soluble plastic. It dries inside the balloon to form a barrier coating which helps hold in the helium. This coating greatly increases the floating life of the balloon.

For full instructions on how to use Hi-Float for best results, watch this short video clip.






I hope that this brief introduction to inflating and tying latex balloons has been of help to some of you. This is the start of a series of Balloon Basics blogs that will be featured over the next few months.

In the UK and around Europe, Qualatex Europe runs a 1-day course for beginners. This full-day seminar embraces all aspects of the balloon business, including health and safety requirements, balloon inflation, bouquet construction and simple garland creation. It includes a comprehensive, full-colour manual that will be a valuable reference guide on float times, pricing, basic design principles, and more. To find out where and when the classes are being held, check out the Education Calendar HERE for full details.

The Qualatex Balloon Network℠ - QBN® program, is also a great way to learn the foundations of running a successful balloon business. This 3-part DVD program covers:
To find out more about the QBN program and the benefits of becoming a QBN member, click HERE


Happy Ballooning!

Sue

www.suebowler.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why should we use social media to promote our balloon business?

Social media is all about conversation, community, and content. Today, most people have at least one social media account, with Facebook still leading the pack with 1.65 billion monthly active users. That is a 15% increase over last year, (Top 20 Facebook Statistics by Zephorial Digital Marketing.)

The current fastest growing networks are Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Linkedin. Social media networks are a major resource for both small and big businesses to promote their brand or services online.

So why should we use social media to promote our balloon business?


90% of consumers go to the internet first to learn about or to be inspired as to what they want to buy.

      • Traditional marketing is very expensive and its effectiveness is questionable, especially for small businesses. Digital marketing in many cases is free, and a targeted campaign can be relatively low cost. It does take time to administer accounts, so make sure that you use your time and resources wisely.
      • Balloons and decor are extremely visual. What better way to show off what you do really well with photographs and videos - show it to sell it!
      • It's a fantastic way to reach a large but targeted audience.
Using a variety of social media channels to get your business noticed has to be an essential part of your business marketing. However, choosing the right social media channels for you and your business is very important. For most businesses, the best approach is to handpick social media channels that make the most sense for you and your brand, rather than try to be everywhere as you don't want to spread yourself too thin.

I have looked at three of the most popular social media channels and given a short assessment of the benefits of each one.


Facebook
Facebook still appears to be one of the best social media channels to use. You can use it to share photos, videos, promotions, and seasonal activities. Facebook can be more low-maintenance than other social networks.

Facebook cites these as being the main reasons why you should use Facebook for business to reach your business goals:

      • Driving online sales
      • Increasing local sales
      • Increasing brand awareness
      • Promoting your app
      • Finding leads
      • Social customer service
Looking as some of the more successful balloon related Facebook pages, it appears that regular posting is important, once a day, maybe twice occasionally, but don't be tempted to over post. Use a variety of post styles. Could show staff having fun on a job or even at a company social event, but don't use your business accounts to post personal stuff. Lifestyle photographs, even simple slogans or “saying of the day” posts, are useful in generating user interest in your page. Each type of post will generate a different reaction from your followers and it will keep your posts fun, interesting, and fresh. 
It is important to check your social media accounts every day, and respond to any comments, good or bad. 
Twitter
Twitter is an interesting platform that everyone has heard of it, but not so many people know how to use it as reported recently in the press! Posting on Twitter is fairly straight forward; it is mostly text based with a strict 140-character limit, but you can add links, images, GIF's* and videos.
  *The term GIF means - Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs are image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time. The proper pronunciation of the acronym is a soft "g" sound: like JIF as defined by the Urban Dictionary.

There is a great article "Twitter for Business" Everything that you need to know in Business News Daily. It gives a very comprehensive overview of Twitter and how it works.

When starting out it's important that you target the right people to follow:

      • Your customers
      • Your business partners, suppliers, and vendors
      • Your competitors or peers
      • Industry trade organisations or professional organisations 
      • Businesses in your neighbourhood
      • Businesses run by people you know (your professional network)
I am certainly no expert when it comes to Twitter, far from it - but from what I have read, the biggest benefit of Twitter is that it allows you to follow anyone. That means you can find and follow those people who you could target as potential customers. Simply search keywords such as Event Planners, Event Coordinators, Wedding Planners or any other category or groups of people that could lead you to a great contact. A word of warning, don't try and build your "following"  list in one day as Twitter will react to your excessive activity and potentially suspend your account.


Pinterest
Unlike other social media channels, Pinterest has a very high percentage of female users -approximately 80%! Pinterest is a visual discovery tool helping people find ideas and inspiration making it a great place for balloon professionals to show off what they do best! Firstly, make sure that you sign up for a Pinterest business account. It's important to make this distinction because business accounts, while free like personal Pinterest accounts, give you access to features to help your business thrive on the platform, like analytics tools. Taking the time to set up quality boards is the key to success. Each board should be given a title that relates to the season or event that you are promoting and a catchy description that entices viewers to view your pins. 


Probably one of the key points that I have learned about Pinterest is that it is lifestyle-lead. Therefore, when you create a board you should fill it with a variety of different types of pins - balloon decor related photographs and re-pins from other boards that fall into the same category. This will make your board interesting and keep viewer attention for longer. Below is an example of one of my Pinterest boards - "Pink & Sparkly." On this board, I have pinned some of my designs along with other fun things like glitter, a slogan, and some fun swizzle sticks - All fun ideas that will inspire someone looking to have pink and sparkly theme party.



For a very comprehensive guide on Pinterest for Business - Everything that you need to know, click HERE


Set yourself goals
There is little point working hard on your social media presence if you are not sure what you are trying to achieve.


        • Grow a positive online community rather than have the most followers. 
        • Interact with your followers. Getting people talking about you and your "brand," is very important. iIt's the new word of mouth! People will see how you value and work with your customers.
        • Work hard to build new relationships by joining in on the conversation. Connect with new leads and expand your reach. Liking, commenting, and re-tweeting posts can help with this mission. 
It is important to ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic.

Measure your Success

If you don't bother to monitor the effectiveness of your efforts, you will have no idea if all your hard work is paying off. Every social media channel has reports that you can view. If you use a social media management system such as Hootesuites, it will help you to manage all your social media channels in one place. It will also help you to track your progress.
Also look at what your customers respond well to:
      • Posts on certain days of the week
      • Fun posts
      • Helpful party tips
      • Photos of you working on a job
      • Lifestyle photos
Experiment with the types of messages that you use to reach your customers and the ways that you reach them. Find out which ones work the best.


Fun posts always get a good reaction!
http://www.lovethispic.com/image/96523/i-love-fridays


Decide what are your best opportunities to communicate

There are many key dates in the balloon and party industry calendar that we can use to highlight products and use for different sales campaigns, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's, birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and so the list goes on.
Make up a yearly calendar of events and schedule posts that relate to each of these campaigns. Start early enough to get your customers in the mood for seeing what's available and where they can buy it. Make the posts exciting, informative, and fun, with lots of variety!

Social media can be an amazing tool for business if used well and wisely. With a bit of effort, your marketing can prove to be very successful!

Good luck & happy ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A creative hobby that turned into a wonderful children's book - an interview with Steven Mayhew

Recently, Steven Mayhew announced the completion and impending launch of his fabulous new ABC Balloon Book. I have known about this incredible project for some time, and each time Steven showed me one of his amazing designs I was simply in awe of his incredible talent. I am very excited that Steven has turned his dream into a reality and look forward to seeing many more exciting projects from the Balloon Workshop! 




What inspired you to create the ABC Balloon Book?
‟I was seeking a creative outlet of some type that I hoped would become a hobby. One day while searching for a project, I came across a greeting card for children that had a picture of an illustrated owl on it. Immediately everything clicked and I thought, I could create him out of balloons and make a picture book for kids. That then developed into creating an alphabet book as I felt the concept would be easier for a reader to understand exactly what they were looking at. So not only did I find my project, I felt like the work I was doing was for something greater than myself - using balloons to get children excited about reading.” 
When did you start working on the book and how long did it take from conception to completion?
‟I started working on the book in March of 2012. I really kicked it into gear two years ago and worked on the project almost every night and every weekend. I created an album in my phone and when the next image was finished, I'd add the image to it so I could visually see what each one looked like next to each other. This little task inspired and motivated me to keeping going as I literally saw the book coming to life before my eyes.”
Where did you start? Did you have a logical process?
‟I started with the frog. I immediately had an idea of this tropical, colorful frog sitting on a branch and thought, 'Well, if I'm inspired to start a few letters in, why argue with inspiration.' From that point I would just jump around from letter to letter as an idea would hit. Friends and family would ask, 'so which letter are you at now?' and I had to explain, I wasn't going in order. I didn't want to force anything. Some animals I wasn't looking forward to, only because I had no idea what I was going to do. However, at some point an idea for an animal would jump out at me, and I was immediately excited to get to work. Looking back, I'm glad I went with my inspirational instinct and didn't force myself to work on an animal when I wasn't ready, otherwise it would have been drudgery.” 
How did you choose which animals to show in the book?
‟I have a sister who had a toddler at the time I began the project. I spent many hours talking through each letter with her to decide on which animal I'd create for each letter. She'd have all of my niece's ABC books out and the many I had purchased on my end were out as I figured out each letter. I had to continuously compromise on things like, I can't create an iguana because I already have a lizard like creature, the newt, so I have to pick another 'I' animal, but one not too difficult for kids. I had already three or four animals created by the time I finalized the entire list. I already knew certain ones I wanted to develop and I was excited to get to work!”

Which would you say was the most complicated, challenging, or technical design that you created for the book? 

‟Each animal had its own complicated design element at some point. However, I would say the most difficult was the jellyfish. I created the structure three times before I finally got what I wanted. The first one had no personality in it by the way it was positioned to portray movement. The second was far too large at almost 5 ft., and again, it didn't give me the look I was going for. It wasn't until I decided to create an armature that would hold the wiring for the tentacles and devised a way to double stuff the head with a Qualatex® SuperAgate®
balloon and a 3 ft. clear balloon. I finally settled on a technique I learned from Sue Bowler where you press a flat board against a fully inflated balloon. As you push down, the air is pushed out of the balloon and it wraps around the back edges of the board. I went through about ten 3 ft. balloons of each color trying to get two balloons on to the same board; not to mention trying to inject just the right amount of air into each of the balloons before they would snap off the board. That design took me three months to finally complete.” 

The book really does not fully show the scale of all of the designs that you made. Which was the biggest animal and biggest scene that you made? 

‟I think in any art project, the final design never shows the full scale of what it took to get there or how big something might have really been. This project was no exception. You are correct though, you don't see how big some of these designs were or what happened leading up to the final image. I'd say the largest design is tied between the giraffe and the elephant. The giraffe’s body and neck (not including the head) stood about 6 ft. tall with an intricate aluminum rod frame I had built.



The elephant's head on the other hand was massive, but horizontally. The head was about 2.5 ft. wide but each of the ears stretched about 3-4 ft. in either direction, which were cut from 5 ft. chloroprene balloons.”

Did you make all the designs in their entirety or just partially for the shoot?
‟Yes and no. My goal was to create as much as I could for one shot, but that's not realistic as colors and shapes of balloons are not available in every size and color under the sun. For example, I wanted to create a fat, blubbery look for the walrus' body but next to filling 3 ft. balloons with water and battling them to stand on top of each, I opted to fill 11" balloons with clay, suck out the air, and mold them into place. The walrus' head, however, was much larger, and due to the fact that 160Qs are the smallest entertainer balloon available, I had to create the whiskers on a 3 ft. balloon. However, some animals like the monkey and the owl, to name a few, were taken in one shot.”

Which was your favourite animal to make and why? 
‟It's hard to pick a favorite. There were animals I was excited to get to, and then there animals that I was a little less excited to create, but then the final design turned out amazing. My favorites are the ones I feel show the most personality or expression such as the alligator, the giraffe, and the vulture. But if I had to choose one, it'd probably be the alligator. He wasn't the original design for 'A.' I had already built and photographed a whole scene with an aardvark and its baby eating ants from a balloon ant hill. It was one of my first designs I built and coming back to it at the end, my work had evolved so much that how I made it didn't fit with the others. That's when the idea of an alligator in the bayou with lightening bugs and weeping willows at sunset popped in my head...and I immediately got to work.” 

You have used a lot of distortion to create fantastic shapes for your animals. Do you use anything to help you when you distort your balloons?
‟Distortion was a very important technique used to create parts of the animals as I didn't want them to all just look like the balloon animals we all know and love. I kept my tools simple when it came to distorting the balloons - a balloon straw, a basic pump, an Air-Pro inflator, the Nikoloon System by Niko Fric, and whole lot of patience.”
To find out more about distortion techniques check out my earlier posts:
Distortion Techniques Part 1
Distortion Techniques Part 2
Distortion Techniques Part 3

Can you tell me more about your education program? 

‟At the beginning of this year I connected with a gentleman who has a lot of experience working with authors and school presentations. He was extremely impressed with my artwork and the fact it was all geared towards early literacy, so we began collaborating on a presentation about the book. I felt it wasn't only important to cover the fascinating history of balloons but also cover balloon safety as it pertains to children, and give them the opportunity to make a balloon design themselves. Most importantly, though, is the literacy side, which is why I also developed activity guides based of the book that kids will have a chance to work on to better their abilities to recognize letters, differentiate lower and uppercase letters, writing words, and more. It's designed to be interactive, educational, and keep kids' attention.”
Are you planning to teach any of these designs in the future?
‟At this time I do not. My focus right now is getting this book into children's hands and then getting to my next balloon education projects.”
Do you have any future plans or projects?
‟I do! In the process of learning the world of children's book publishing, I have taken classes and courses on a variety of topics that has allowed me to develop my own stories. I have big plans for The Balloon Workshop and I'm looking forward to creating some of these ideas that have been in my head for the past couple of years, all geared towards early childhood development. So stay tuned, because you haven't seen nothing yet!” 
In what format will the book be available?
‟At launch, the book will be available in a hard cover format. It's 8.5" x 11" and includes 26 balloon landscapes along with original design sketches and a photo collage of the making of the book. I wanted to make the book a high quality product that anyone would be happy to give or receive as a gift, which is why it also includes a beautiful, custom-designed dust jacket. If you stay connected to us through social media (links below) we'll announce new formats of the book as they are available.”


When will the book be available to purchase?
‟Pre-orders for the book will open in the coming weeks, so make sure to sign-up at www.TheBalloonWorkshop.com to be notified of when they will be available to order. Books will begin shipping at the beginning of December 2016, perfect timing for Christmas!”

Steven Mayhew, CBA

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised in Mesa, Arizona, Steven was introduced to balloons through his first job as a children’s entertainer for parties. Moving to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s, he opened and ran his own balloon decorating company before transitioning to the corporate world of the balloon industry. Later Steven earned his CBA®(Certified Balloon Artist™) and began teaching the art of balloon decor at seminars and conventions around the world.
Combining his many years of experience in balloons and graphic design, Steven developed this new medium where the art of storytelling and balloons come together.
He now dedicates his time to bringing new products and educational materials to life through the fun and colorful world of balloons.

I am really excited for Steven, I think that anyone who can turn their dreams into a reality should be very proud of their accomplishment! And to think it all started with a Qualatex balloon! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue


To sign-up to be notified of when you can order the ABC Balloon Book and for more information about Steven Mayhew’s Balloon Workshop visit: www.TheBalloonWorkshop.com

Follow Steven Mayhew’s Balloon Workshop on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Balloon-Workshop-975952179125383/
Twitter @ balloonwkshop
Instagram @ balloonwkshop
YouTube: The Balloon Workshop






Thursday, July 28, 2016

Creating the perfect photo opportunity with balloons!

Mardi Gras Costume Party - World Balloon Convention
2016 New Orleans.

Balloons and photo opportunities go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s an entrance arch at a wedding or a balloon wall at a corporate event, you can bet that most guests will have their photograph taken using the balloon decor as a backdrop!





Over the past few years, balloon-inspired photo frames have become increasingly popular and can be seen regularly in a balloon professional's portfolio. Clients love them as do their guests who eagerly line up to have their photograph taken, making a lasting memory of the event. 


At the World Balloon Convention earlier this year, I helped to build a circus theme photo frame in the Welcome Centre.  The design was by Cam Woody, CBA of Pioneer Balloon Company in Wichita, KS, USA. It was really fun to make, and the end result was fantastic! The fabulous clown and ballerina sculptures that sat either side of the frame were made by David and Shana Brenion of Nifty Balloons in Los Angeles, CA, USA.




Recently, I was playing around with the poles from the Ikea NOT lamp system* and wondered how easy it would be to use it to make a structure for a photo frame; I was very happy with the result!
* The Ikea NOT lamp is an inexpensive up-lighter, that consists of a base that weighs 2.2kg (4.8lbs) and five 33.5 cm (13") poles that screw together to make up the height of the lamp. It works well for balloon decor when used as a lightweight pole and base structure.



To make my "NOT" photo frame, I used sixteen poles - 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 plus 2 for each of the legs and two bases. This equates to four sets (lamps) in total. You might want to add two more poles to make the frame a little taller. 

To connect the poles together at the corners, I used a combination of plastic Speedfit® connectors that easily fitted onto the poles.








For the top corners, I used 15mm Equal Elbow fittings and at  the base corners, I used 15mm Equal Tee fittings.





The design for the photo frame was inspired by the "colours of summer," using shades of green - Lime Green, Spring Green, Green, a few Pearl Lime Green, and Green Rainbow Agates; the flowers were made from multi-coloured Qualatex® 260Qs. I decided to use a more organic approach to the sizing of the balloons. The balloons were sized from 3" up to 6", plus I included a couple of 260Q spirals, too. Although the organic look is pretty random, it actually takes longer to create this look rather than using balloons all inflated to the same size!




The frame itself is not totally rigid due to the connection points, but it is sturdy enough for its purpose. I have seen other frames used that have been made from aluminium conduit  or PVC piping which look as if they would be sturdier, especially if the frame was bigger.

I really enjoyed making this summer theme photo frame and look forward to working on a few more seasonal designs that I will feature in the Very Best Balloon Blog in the future.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com







Friday, July 22, 2016

Congratulations to the Very Best Balloon Blog!



Wow, what can I say! I’m excited to announce that as of today, we have crossed the traffic milestone of one million pageviews!




A special thank you to all of you!

The blog is very much a team effort, from our amazing contributors who very generously share their passion, experience, knowledge, and inspiration, and also to our many readers who regularly inspire a new post topic even if they are not aware of it!


Let's keep working together to make the balloon industry the very best it can be.

It's time to celebrate, and I look forward to announcing our next Very Best Balloon Blog million milestone!






Happy Ballooning from a very happy blogger!


Sue
www.suebowler.com






Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Finding the Perfect Air-Filled Balloon Decor Solution

Fulfilling a customer's needs is what we all strive for, and finding the perfect decor solution is very rewarding.

Several months ago, I started discussing decor ideas with an event organiser. The event was one that I had decorated two years ago, so I had a little background knowledge of the venue and some of the difficulties decorating this particular event.

This event had used balloons for its decor for many years, but due to a number of circumstances we needed to find a good alternative to a helium-filled table arrangement or a domineering air-filled design. Our mission was to create the perfect air-filled table centrepiece.

The customer's requirements were very specific:
  • The design needs to have a good visual impact without interfering with sight-lines to screens around the room.
  • It should have a little actual movement, like helium without using helium.
  • Each centrepiece needs to display the names of the event sponsors.
  • Should be heavy enough to withstand strong winds as the venue is an open-sided marquee.



A few years ago we were hit by a short-term world helium shortage. As a result of this shortage, we had to find good alternative solutions to creating different types of decor with air-filled balloons. 

To help with ideas, inspiration, and solutions, Qualatex® produced a wonderful flier called, ‟The Qualatex Air-fill Advantage.” The flier is still available to download. Click HERE for your copy!








One of the design concepts that inspired me greatly was by Sandy Pressley, CBA, of Creative Balloons in Warren, MI, USA. Sandy showed some wonderful no-helium balloon bouquets using ceiling tile wire to support the balloons.

When I knew that I had to find an alternative way to make my centrepiece designs for this event, this for me was the perfect solution.

I believe that ceiling tile wire is readily available in hardware stores in the U.S. However, to find straightened wire in the U.K, I had to go to a specialist ceiling tile company, that sold pre-straightened wire in 3m lengths. This wire is also known as 12-gauge hanger wire.


Having found a solution to support my air-filled balloons, I needed to decide which balloon would be the best for the job. This was not too difficult  to determine as my customer's requirements were quite specific. We needed to be able to display each of the sponsor logos within the design, but we could not make the centrepieces too big as we needed to ensure good visual lines to television screens around the venue. 

I decided that working with 9" Qualatex Microfoil® would be perfect! I would be able to use five stars per table, and on each of the stars I would have the sponsor's logo printed.

The Design - Starburst Centrepiece




The colours that we used made these designs boldly stand out in an extremely large, white marquee, injecting an element of fun and festivity to the occasion.

The Method of Construction

Considering the number of centrepieces that we had to make - 95 in total - it was not a quick and simple design. As I mentioned at the start of this post, there was a number of factors that we had to take into consideration when making these centrepieces.

For the base of the design, we used a 33cm x 33cm (13" x 13") white floor tile. The weight and size of these tiles made it impossible for the centrepieces to be flipped over in windy conditions.


As I have already mentioned, each of the Microfoil Star balloons were secured to ceiling tile wires, but again, that was not quite as simple as it appeared!
















For each centrepiece, we cut five different lengths of wires. Each wire was bent over at one end and then a short length of balloon stick was slipped over the bent wire. Each wire was then covered with a Caribbean Blue 260Q and secured at the end using binding wire, much in the same way as a fantasy flower. Once each wire was covered, an Original Cello Cup™was secured to each of the wires. This fitted neatly onto the balloon stick that was hidden under the covered wire.



As you can imagine, this took quite a long time as we had 475 wires in total to prepare, but we were able to work on these well in advance.















To hold the five wired stars in position, we needed a short pedestal.  I chose to use a 14" Lomey Clear Pedestal for this job. I secured each of the Lomey Pedestals to the floor tile base using Gorilla Glue™.  Finding the right glue for the job was very important, and reading the glue's description gave me confidence that it was the right product. I allowed the glue 24-hours to set and fully dry, and it worked perfectly!




TOUGH, WATERPROOF, STICKS TO EVERYTHING
The product that started it all. Original Gorilla Glue built a name for itself with its incredible, industrial holding power and versatility. Water activated, it expands into materials to form an incredibly strong bond to virtually anything. As your solution for almost any project or repair, Gorilla Glue is 100% waterproof, weatherproof, you-name-it-proof. It's safe for indoor and outdoor use and strong enough to stand up to intense heat or cold. Sand it, paint it, stain it. Simply stated, it’s the Toughest Glue on Planet Earth.






Each of the 9" Microfoil Star balloons needed to be inflated and heat sealed. If heat-sealing is something that you are not too confident doing, check out my blog:

Heat Sealing Qualatex Microfoil Balloons and turn those 'little balloons' into BIG profit earners!



This is another job that can be done well in advance, and I strongly recommend that you do, as it will give you the opportunity to re-inflate any of the foils that deflate I think I had about 5, which was an easy fix. 

Assembling the 95 centrepieces took approximately 24 hours in total, which I did over several days and stored ready to deliver on the morning of the event. 
For each centrepiece I secured 5 different coloured stars to a Lomey pedestal. I then "wrapped" the pedestal with a 350Q to cover the wires and hide all the mechanics. At the base, I added two clusters of balloons, the Purple Violet inflated to 4.5" and the Caribbean Blue to 3.5". I also added two 4" Magenta Microfoil Stars. At the top of the pedestal, I added a "split-duplet," using two 5" Caribbean Blue balloons. Once we arrived at the venue, we positioned each centrepiece and arranged the stars to make a starburst effect. Each centrepiece looked slightly different.

With preparation and assembly time, I calculated that each centrepiece took approximately 25 minutes each to make; Not quick and simple, but very rewarding, especially when the client tells you that they are absolutely perfect!

I was extremely happy with the outcome of this job. It taught me a number of things. Spending time with a customer to find the perfect solution is paramount to success and a happy customer. And that good preparation is key when making so many centrepieces!




Happy Ballooning!


Sue
www.suebowler.com

































SaveSaveSaveSave