Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's New at Qualatex - 2018

Wow, what a fantastic start to 2018! We have had some amazing new products, and a new live-streaming talk show launched already this year!

Centrepiece Design by Sue Bowler, CBA
This design was made using Chrome 11" and 260Q
The hearts are 11" Chrome over 9" 
Microfoil® Hearts.

I first saw the then "top secret" Qualatex® Chrome Balloons™ a few month ago when I was visiting Pioneer® Balloon Company, Head Office. I can honestly say I was completely blown away by this new and amazing balloon. It is unlike any other latex balloon with its unique, solid-looking metallic finish. The colours are rich and radiant, and when inflated, they have a reflective surface. I have had the opportunity to "play" a little with them and find them extremely easy to work with. They are soft, easy to inflate, and look fabulous! They are currently available in 11" and 260Q sizes to order from your Qualatex distributor.

Flower in a vase by Colin Myles, CBA.
Flower picture by José Luthman, CBA.

QCorner was also launched this month, with the first live show being aired on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018, at noon Central Standard Time — 6 p.m. U.K. time.

QCorner is a monthly live-streaming balloon talk show hosted on YouTube by world-renowned balloon artists — and wisecracking quip machines — Keith Stirman and Dominic Cassidy of All Things Fun in Peterlee, UK. In the span of 30 minutes to an hour, each episode of this “edutainment” (education + entertainment) program will feature a wide variety of topics, including:  

New Products
Q&A Sessions
Tips & Tricks

QCorner will also feature special guests from around the globe, and for those who can’t wait between episodes of QCorner, Keith and Dom will release pre-recorded mini-episodes, QCorner Quickies. 

Make sure that you subscribe to the channel, and don't forget to tune in on the 24th!

Many of you will be excited by the return of the Qualatex Latex Colour Portfolio.

Includes a sample of all 86 Qualatex latex colours (one extra slot for the next new colour)

Agate and Neon samples are 11".

All other colour samples are 5”.

Note: a sample pack of the 11” Chrome line is included until 5” Chromes are produced.

Added Bonus: 
Back Inside Panels.
  • Qualatex Custom Colour Chart showing how to make 70 additional custom colours.
  • Colour Wheel with explaination of the four basic colour harmonies.
  • Size comparison chart for entire Qualatex line.

To find out more, and how you can buy this fabulous tool click HERE

And finally, the 2018 Everyday Catalogue is ready! If you're like me and cannot wait to see all the exciting new products, you can view it online! You can also view the Valentine's and Spring Collections too! Click HERE - please note that this is the U.S. version. Please contact your Qualatex distributor for your countries version.

Not only does the catalogue show all the exciting new products, it is packed with inspiring design ideas, too! 

What an amazing start to the year! I know that I am very excited about working with the new products and very much look forward to tuning in to QCorner. I am sure that it will be fun, at time's hilarious, informative, and of course, action-packed! For those of you in the U.K. who are attending the Spring Fair next month, please make sure that you come and say hello to me, Alberto Falcone, CBA, Dominic Cassidy, CBA, and the entire Pioneer U.K team, and if you are planning to attend the Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany,  make sure you say hello to Luc Bertrand, CBA, and the Pioneer Europe, team! 

Happy Ballooning and I hope to see you soon!


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Creative Valentine's Ideas - Part 1

Valentine's Day has a habit of creeping up on us very quickly, arriving very soon after Christmas and New Year. We don't seem to get the same lead time as we do for other key seasonal occasions. So if you have not already started your Valentine's campaign, now is the time to get started! 

This morning I thought that I would have a little play with Chris Adamo's fabulous Balloons Online Design Tool - I have added a link that will take you directly to the page. Remember to save or bookmark the link for the future!  I have designed many balloon walls, but this FREE program makes it so incredibly easy!

If you are wondering where this little gem of a program is hidden, look on the menu for the Quick Link Designer. Once you click on that, it will take you to the design page where it will open in the last model that you used. To change the model, click on ADD MODEL on the right-hand side of the page and it will open a drop-down menu where you will be able to select the type of wall that you want to design. I selected the Alternate Size Pack wall as it allows me to add greater detail to my design versus Duplet Square pack.

Alternate Size Pack Walls

I really like this style of balloon wall. It is robust, always looks good, and is probably the most widely used method of precision wall. It is made by alternating clusters of four balloons in two different sizes packed on to 50lb Dacron line. This produces a square garland (see example below).
The first and last garland in your wall starts and finishes with one size of balloon cluster. The next garland starts and finishes with the alternate size of balloon cluster. The example below shows the green balloon being the bigger of the two sizes.
Sue Bowler
Square Garlands
The difference in size between the two sets is relative to the size of balloon used.

 2" - 4½" = use a ½"differential
4½" - 7½" = use a 1" differential 
7½" - 11" = use a 2" differential

5cm - 11.5cm = use a 1.5cm differential
11.5cm - 19cm = 2.5cm differential
19cm - 28cm = 5cm differential

Practice and see which size works best for you. The garlands are laid side-by-side and interlocked when built, then joined together using the elastic band method* 

Sue Bowler
Square Garlands locked together

Accurate sizing of balloons is paramount with this style of balloon wall. When making the duplets, we must make sure that the balloons are tied as tightly together as possible, leaving no slack latex between the knot and the inflated part of the balloon.

Everyone will pack clusters on the line at a particular tension. It is typical to have only one person pack the garlands while others inflate and tie. This may not possible when working on large-scale jobs, so you will need to practice consistent sizing and packing with your crew.

This method produces quite a smooth design with a flat surface that allows for good diagonal lines and triangles. Not all balloon wall types work with different patterns!

The inspiration for this Valentine's wall was from the Qualatex® "Love You Red Ribbon" Microfoil® balloon. If you made a display using both, it would look stunning and very eye- catching - perfect for a window display! 

18" & 36" "Love You Red Ribbon" Microfoil Balloons

If you would like to have a go at making this wall, here is the design recipe. It even tells you how many balloons of each colour you will need! If you right-click on the instructions, you can save the file to your computer and open it in its original size!

Image 1 - Balloon Wall as it will look when completed.

 Image 2 - Balloon Wall in columns.

To secure the columns together, I use the paperclip and elastic band method that I was taught many years ago by Ian Herd, CBA.

This is such an important part of the wall construction. If done badly, the wall can distort and not look good. There are many people who use 260Qs to fix a wall, but for me, the elastic band and paperclip method is the best technique!

If you have never made a balloon wall before, this style of wall is a great one to start with. Don't forget, you do not need to make it huge; use 5" balloons and you will get exactly the same results, but on a smaller scale!

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing more Valentine's design ideas to help you with your campaign! Don't forget that there is a fabulous INSPIRATION area on the Qualatex website where you can view and download BALLOON BOUQUET and DECOR ideas, like the "Embellished Heart" designed by Luc Bertrand, CBA. If you are a QBN member or CBA, you are also able to log in and download the recipe sheet and a high-resolution photograph that you could use for marketing purposes.

Once again, my sincere thanks and gratitude goes out to Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia, who continuously gives to the balloon industry and inspires many of us each day with his incredible ballooning skills! Thank you, Chris. Your gestures are truly helping so many!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Christmas Party with a 70's Disco Theme

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you had a productive and profitable Christmas and New Year! I thought that I would start the year by sharing one of my own Christmas experiences.

For the past few years, I have had the privilege of working with Ali Welsh to design and decorate a Christmas party in one of London's top hotels. Each year the theme has been very different, with this year being 70's Disco.

70' Party Decor by Sue Bowler - Ali Welsh Events Ltd.
Ali Welsh Events Ltd.
Balloons by Sue Bowler, CBA
Quick Link Disco Design by Mike Hurst CBA
When I started to design the party, my first two thoughts were — "Mirror Balls" and the word "DISCO"! 

I usually start my design process by surfing the Internet for inspiration and found this image. I thought that this would be perfect for the stage decor. 

I felt that the style of letters would look good made from Qualatex® Quick Link Balloons™. They would have a great visual impact and be light enough to hang. The only problem I faced was that I had no idea how to make them! It was at this point I called a good friend and expert, Mike Hurst, CBA, of Red's Balloons and Party in Brackley, England. Last year, Mike developed and ran a course teaching how to make numbers using Quick Links, and I really liked his style, so Mike was the perfect person for me to ask to design the letters for me. 

I spent an afternoon with Mike at his shop learning how to make the letters and to see how they would look. As you can see they were pretty huge, but I knew that they would need to be big to have the impact that I was looking for.

Mike will be releasing an online "NUMBERS" course later this year that will show you how to create all the numbers using this fabulous technique. He assures me that he will be starting on his letters course soon! 

"Disco" Stage Decor
To re-create the Mirror Ball look was a little easier! We made one hundred and fifteen "Mirror Ball" centrepieces! 

3' Confetti Balloons with Neon Tails
Photograph by Nicci Rene

Each balloon was prepared with Hi-Float and then filled with square-cut silver confetti — we used approximately 60 grams of confetti in each balloon.
Photograph by Nicci Rene

The balloons look fabulous grouped together before we put them out on the tables! 

Photograph by Nicci Rene

For the lower ceiling areas, we made an air-filled Bubble Balloon® version that worked perfectly! 

Photograph by Nicci Rene

One of my favourite foils is the Holographic Stars! These always look so fabulous when used for decor, but this was the first opportunity that I have had to use all the colours for the same job and they looked amazing!

This is a short promotional video created by Peter Lane Creative Studio on behalf of Ali Welsh events. It shows the magical transformation of the ballroom - we did it in less than two hours! 

Ali Welsh Events - Highlights video - Grosvenor Christmas Party from Peter Lane on Vimeo.

I would like to say a huge "Thank you!" to my amazing team who worked so hard — and made quite a lot of mess, too!

"The Confetti Queens" - Nicci Rene - Nathalie Saunders - Kerry Ferguson - Debbie Magill
"The Quick Link Disco Kids" - Stuart Davies and Aimee Smith
"The Base Boys" - John Bowler and Jim Magill

"The Bubble Girl" - Sue Bowler
"The Finisher" - Dee White
I hope that you have enjoyed a little look at how our day went! Did I have any sleepless nights before the event? Yes, of course! Did I have that sicky feeling all day in my stomach? Always! 

Happy New Year and Happy ballooning!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

What Was Your Top Ballooning Trend In 2017?

As I write this, there will be many of you who will be working hard on your New Year's Eve events. The months of meticulous planning and preparation ensure that each job gets done and goes according to plan! I wonder how many of you get that sickly feeling in the pit of your stomach that does not go away until the last balloon drop has been released and you can go to bed feeling like you have done a great job! I wish all of you that are working on New Year's Eve decor every success!

Organic Decor by Georgia Petrou of Boutique Balloons, Melbourne.
Balloons by Georgia Petrou
of Boutique Balloons Melbourne, Australia

Well, this is it — the end of another exciting and very busy ballooning year! Organic style decor appears to be one of the greatest hits of 2017, with many fabulous examples of stunning decor created in this random and unique way!
Qualatex® SuperAgate® — marble effect balloons — are also on-trend and will continue to be very popular in 2018, too! The use of greenery with balloons also proved popular, and again, this is a trend that will continue.

Confetti Christmas Tree by Chris Adamo - Balloons Online, Australia
Design by Chris Adamo, CBA,
of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia

What could be more spectacular than Chris Adamo's fabulous gold confetti Christmas tree! Confetti-filled balloons are certainly a big hit with customers, and this tree was simply F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! I think we might see more of this type of work in 2018! I know that decor with "gold" accent details will certainly be popular in 2018! 

I know a little bit about confetti balloons, too! We recently made more than one hundred 3' confetti balloons for a Christmas party. They looked absolutely stunning! 

Silver Confetti Balloons by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Silver confetti balloons by Sue Bowler, CBA and her awesome team!
Photo by Nicci Rene.

Another big trend for 2017 was the highly fashionable unicorn. This lovey balloon sculpture was made by Michele Russo of Connecticut Balloon Creations.

Tania Torre, CBA, of Balloon Express Shop in Terme Vigliatore, Italy, creates a beautiful design, working with the "Magical Unicorn" Microfoil®, Crescent Moons, Stars, and a rainbow.

How effective is this
simple unicorn design! Working with an 11" Fashion SuperAgate balloon and accent details.

Rumour has it that mermaids will be the new unicorn for 2018! It appears that we have all become a little obsessed with mythical creatures and I love it! 

Balloon walls have taken a little twist in 2017— out goes the precision and in comes the random sizing! However, to do this well, you still have to consider the elements and principles of design. I love this design by Avital Shechter, CBA, of Balonir, Israel. 

Balloon Wall by Avital Shechter.

I loved designing this round balloon wall for the Qualatex 100th Anniversary celebrations. It was inspired by a design that Luc Bertrand, CBA, made earlier in the year for the Qualatex Booth at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. A huge thank you to Luc for sharing his creativity and another one of his fabulous designs.

We had some amazing contributors to the Very Best Balloon Blog in 2017. Chris Adamo shared his superb Design and Calculator Tool with the ballooning community. If you have not tried it out yet make sure that you do. It's awesome! He also showed us how to make a Bubble Balloon Stuffing Tool, tool! Kerry Ferguson, CBA, of Pioneer Europe Ltd. demonstrated how to make fabulous balloon tassels using poly ribbon and transformed an everyday product into something exciting and new! 
There were so many fabulous balloon artists from around the world who took the time to help me with many of this year's blogs, so a huge thank you to all of you!

So what will 2018 bring us? Well, if I knew, I would be a very clever and potentially wealthy person. However, I do know that Qualatex will announce an amazing new product very soon and I can tell you that I am very excited, and I know that you will love it! 

Later next year in the U.K., we are expecting the arrival of a new Royal baby. I wonder if Avital has got it right with her stunning "Royal Baby Boy" design?

"Royal Baby Boy"
by Avital Shechter.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018! Maybe this is the perfect time to make some positive resolutions that will help your business to flourish and grow. It could be something as simple as reviewing your social media activities — and don't forget to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, too! 

I hope that some of you will be joining us at the World Balloon Convention, in San Diego in March. We would truly love to see you there! 

And finally, if you have any ideas or suggestions for future blogs, please do not hesitate to contact me and let me know -

Happy New Year & Happy Ballooning!

Sue x


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Best Ballooning Moments.

Wow, what an amazing "ballooning" year 2017 was! 

Probably one of the most significant milestones was Pioneer® Balloon Company celebrating 100 years in business, which culminated in September with a whole weekend of celebrations and parties held at the Worldwide Headquarters and the Wichita Country Club.

Qualatex celebrates 100 years
Fabulous party decor designed and created by Edward Muñoz, CBA,
Silvia Santos, CBA and Eve Antonello, 

Qualatex World TourTo celebrate Pioneer's 100 years, Qualatex® hit the road with a rock star lineup of awesome instructors, offered brand new classes and gave delegates exciting networking opportunities with the Qualatex World Tour!  The Tour had sixty-nine stops around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Latin America, South Africa and South Asia!
Qualatex World Tour

Qualatex Mystery Box Competition
Mike Hurst, CBA and, Aimee Smith won the
UK Mystery Box

A Mystery Box competition was held at each location where contestants were given a box of balloons to create an innovative, eye-catching design in the span of only 30 minutes. They could compete as an individual contestant or as teams of two. The top entry of each stop on the tour received a prize and advanced to compete with the winners of all the other tour stops. A grand prize will be awarded to the world champion. 

I asked members of the QBN Facebook Group if they would like to share any of their best 2017 "Ballooning Moments!"

Tony Davey, CBA — "My best ballooning moment was being a late entry (following a cancellation) into the mystery box competition at the UK stop of the Qualatex World Tour, and being runner-up with Heydi Alvarado. That gave me the confidence to believe I could do more, to start the QBN process and (ultimately) become a CBA in the same year. The event was also a great networking opportunity and I’ve stayed in touch with many people I met."

Randy Harbin CBA "For me, the best of 2017 was meeting my team of helpers 10 minutes prior to the start of the sculpture competition at Ballooniversity, and still taking home the title, 'Designer of the Year!'"

Black Sabbath Tour - Balloons by Matt Lewis

For Matt JB Lewis, CBA. "It was creating the Balloon drops for the UK leg of the 'Black Sabbath —The End' tour. Matt called upon the help of a number of balloon artists to assist him: a number who have also said that this was one of their best 2017 ballooning moments!
Stuart Davies, CBA  "It was such an awesome experience helping Matt on the last one!"
Sandra Mckeon, CBA —  "One of my best bits of 2017 was working with Matt JB Lewis on the Black Sabbath Tour in Dublin, seeing a huge drop come together, and the reaction of the crowd!!"
Matt Lewis with Mike Harris and Black Sabbath.
Zahraa Jawad, CBA — "My best ballooning moments of 2017 were many. First I met Fiona Fisher where I attended her wedding classes. It was so fruitful and inspiring for my business. Then, I attended the Qualatex World Tour-Dubai, and became a CBA on that same event and won the mystery box competition, too." 🎈

Balloon Clouds by Bubblegum Balloons
Balloon Cloud by Bubblegum Balloons

Claire Jackson of Bubblegum Balloons "We have had the most exciting year, including moving into a new 7000 sq. ft. premises and trips to Dublin, Berlin, and Canada." They also created 289 sq.m balloon cloud!

Saskia Hurtares, CBA "My 'Best Balloon Moment' in 2017 started when I won the 2017 Qualatex World Tour Mystery Box Competition in New York City.  After I won, people started following me on social media networks and asking for online balloon decoration courses, so this inspired me to become the instructor of my own online course.  I created the private group 'GloboVip Members' on Facebook, and it has been one of my best accomplishments of 2017. I am now competing with all the winners of the 2017 Qualatex World Tour in hopes that I win the Grand Prize: Full-Access to the 2018 World Balloon Convention.
I am proud to be Ecuadorian from a city called Portoviejo. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to participate in competitions like these and win. For me, this has opened doors to many opportunities. I thank Pioneer Balloon Company for their QBN program, which taught me the principles and elements of balloon design.  Thanks to that knowledge, my design qualified as the winner."

Isaiah O'Connor, CBA, — "For me, I had two moments. The biggest one was being able to afford to move into an office. Seeing my business name Ballong Event Byrå, up on the wall was amazing. The other cool thing was having my glitter heart instruction video go viral."

Pam Pearce, CBA "Our best ballooning moments of 2017 has to be going to the various balloon events that have taken place in the UK this year. Even after 27 years in the balloon industry, we can still always gain something, even if it's just how much we all care about and support each other."
Design by Mike Hurst - Reds
Mike Hurst, CBA —  "So many to mention. The Sabbath gig with Matt was just incredible.  Teaching my personalisation course in Israel was an experience I'll never forget. Launching my Quick Link numbers class was a proud moment, and then having the pleasure of your (Sue Bowler's) company in the shop for a day was an absolute treat. Decorating the GOSH Christmas party was so much fun, and our shop going from strength to strength is very pleasing. And being involved in content creation for is awesome. But, there's one moment that I'm particularly chuffed about, which was when Pioneer Europe Ltd (Qualatex Direct) asked me to create a 'Recipe of the Month' for QBN members. I received some great feedback from this and got a massive buzz from the whole experience."

Stuart Davies, CBA — "Walt Disney International - LONDON PRIDE 2017. This will be up there close to the top of my best moments for several reasons. Firstly, it came from a business colleague that I have been working with for some time, and I love seeing how partnerships like this develop. Secondly, working with several amazing teams, including staff from Pioneer Europe as well as Walt Disney. Thirdly, because Disney allowed me to march with them, it was one of the most emotional days I have ever known.
Disney London Pride - balloons by Stuart Davies, CBA

Qualatex US — Balloon Images — I was invited to be a Guest Designer for the Christmas Design Inspiration article in the Summer. This was such an amazing honour, as it's a phenomenal magazine, and one of the first things I ever read when I first came into the balloon world! :)
In a year full of WOWS — the conversation that told me that I had been chosen as one of the designers for the World Balloon Convention in San Diego in 2018 really blew my socks off!

And finally, being selected as a Qualatex Instructor. Late this Summer, I was invited to attend the Qualatex 'Train the Trainer' course at Pioneer Europe HQ. As part of my training, I shadowed Qualatex Instructors on some of their courses. I then attended the European Qualatex Instructors Meeting, where I was in a room with so many people I had looked up to and learned from in the last few years. It is not often that I feel overawed, I think I had a big inane grin on my face all day!"

Black & White Balloon decor by Sue Bowler CBA

2017 has certainly been a great year for many, including myself. I have had so many fabulous ballooning moments this year. I visited India, Dubai, Belgium, Trinidad & Tobago, Germany, Italy, Australia, USA, and Sweden to teach at balloon events, met friends - new and old - and worked with some truly fabulous balloon artists. I also had the honour to design and decorate one of the Pioneer 100 Year celebration parties earlier this year, and for me it was such an amazing opportunity and privilege.

A huge thank you to all those who contributed to this post and shared your stories. I am sure that many of you have some wonderful 2017 ballooning memories, too! 

Happy Ballooning & Season's Greetings to you all!