Monday, June 19, 2017

Balloons at Weddings — Elegant or Tacky?

Balloon Canopy by Sue Bowler, CBA.

There are divided public opinions regarding balloon decor at weddings. I have actually heard people calling balloons "tacky," and on occasions I can understand why people might think this.

When we walk into a traditional style wedding there is one colour that usually dominates the room — white! White table covers with white place settings or even a white marquee and often held in very neutral venues. So when colours are added into this very pure environment, it needs to be subtle and blended in carefully. 

So how can we make our wedding decor elegant? When I design wedding decor,  it is important for me to keep the decor very neutral. I like to create the majority of my designs using White or Ivory and Diamond Clear balloons. Today, silver is often used at weddings. This can also be considered a neutral colour.

Adding Accent Colour

So when a bride tells us the colours that she is planning to feature at her wedding, think of these as being the accent rather than the dominant colours. Consider using only 5" balloons when adding colour, and simply add just a hint rather than a big block of colour. Another tip is to offer the accent colour in tints, tones, and shades rather than just one single colour. For me, colour blending is more elegant than using one single hue.

To learn more about colour, check out my post: Beginners Guide to the Elements and Principles of Design - Colour.

We are very fortunate with balloons that we can create a multitude of colours simply by putting one balloon inside another to create new and unique colours. This is known as custom colouring, a technique that I love and use very often in my designs. 

These are columns that a group of students made as part of the Complete Wedding — Series 2 Course that I teach in the U.K. and around Europe.

The accent colour in this design is blue, but if you look carefully, you will see that the 5" balloons all vary slightly in colour. This was achieved by using the custom colouring technique mentioned above and therefore creating additional excitement and interest within the design, without the colour being domineering or overbearing.

Here is a chart that shows you how to create some very exciting colours. If you right click on this image, you should be able to save it to your computer.

Wedding Arbour by Sue Bowler, CBA.

Here are two more examples of wedding decor designs where the wedding colour has been added in as an accent colour and also using the custom colouring technique to create the tints, tones, and shades of a single colour. In both of these designs, I used fabric and greenery to add colour and texture to the designs.

Light-Up Wedding Column by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Today, there is a whole revolution of exciting new design ideas and concepts using balloon at weddings! Rose Gold is a colour that is becoming very popular, and in response to this, Qualatex® has introduced a fabulous range of Rose Gold Hearts, Round, and Star shape Microfoil® balloons.

To find out the full range available in this colour, click HERE.

We all love Qualatex Bubble Balloons! These are just perfect for weddings! Ruti Grodzinsky, CBA, of Designed by Ruti — Balloon Decor, Israel, recently created this fabulous decor, combining Bubble Balloons and asparagus fern for a beautiful, elegant wedding. I love the simplicity and elegance of Ruti's design, and I am really loving this Bubble and greenery look!

I recently published a post - Look at Colour Trends for Spring 2017. This shows some other great examples of this new greenery trend with balloons.

Keeping the colours subtle and reacting to trends is a great way to succeed in the wedding market.

I personally believe that balloons at weddings can be extremely beautiful and elegant. Just keep the decor neutral, light, and airy, and keep colours as an accent detail, rather than the main player. 

To promote your wedding services, ensure that you have a good social media presence, especially on Pinterest and Instagram, as they are both very visual and highly used by brides to be!

Happy Ballooning!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Happy Caterpillar - Step by Step Design

Some of you will know this fun design. I have made it a number of times over the years in different guises! It's one of those cute designs that can be used for a number of different occasions! I really liked making the Stand-Up Love Bug version as shown below.

Here is a step-by-step video that will show you how to make this cute little critter. I hope that you have fun making this design. By the end of it, you should have mastered the Apple Twist technique! I apologise for the counter at the bottom of the video clip, this was an extra design that I filmed when I produced my DVD - Balloon Decor 2, so instead of wasting it, I thought that it would be great to share it with the Very Best Balloon Blog.

The Happy Caterpillar by Sue Bowler, CBA.

Happy Ballooning!


Please note that the "Rose" Microfoil® Balloon shown in the Love Bug design is a discontinued item. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chelsea Jungle

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been held on the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital in London, U.K., every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars. It is considered to be the most prestigious flower show in the world. This year, Chelsea saw its first ever design that showcased Qualatex® latex balloons and greenery in the now very familiar organic style. The design was named the "Chelsea Jungle." This fabulous installation was the collaboration between two artists, garden designer Catherine Chenery of Catherine Chenery Garden Designs, and balloon stylist Fiona MacOwen, of Riot Balloons.

Chelsea Jungle 
Photograph by Nicci Rene


This year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as you walk through the tunnel which connects Main Avenue and Ranelagh Gardens, you will find yourself entering a jungle dream with a canopy of exotic leaves and colourful balloons. 

By immersing you into an imaginary jungle scene, the designers aim to embrace the lighter side of life and the importance of escaping reality every now and then, if only for a moment.

The tunnel gives you an opportunity to let your mind wander into a dreamscape, as though you have let yourself drift into a daydream of luscious plants and clouds of colour, 
before re-entering reality at the other end.

The installation encourages us to take our time, not rushing to our destination but enjoying the journey. 

Chelsea Jungle
Photograph by Nicci Rene

As with many projects like this, it takes a team, and through BAPIA - the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance, Nicci Rene, of Balloon Boutiques, London, jumped at this unique opportunity.

Nicci Rene (back second left) with designers Catherine Chenery, Fiona MacOwen and John Bowler of BAPIA and team!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Setting The Scene with Fabulous Balloon Arches.

Design by David Saker, CBA.
As a balloon decorator, Balloon Arches are a big part of our everyday business. David Saker, CBA, of, regularly sells multiple Garland Arches for sporting events such as this recent cycle race that was held at Windsor Racecourse in the U.K. David was commissioned to build fifteen Arches to mark the start and finishing line of the race. Each Arch was built using the AeröPole System, a fantastic system for creating air-filled Arches that still gives the free moving appearance of a helium-filled Arch, and is perfect for outdoor events!

Arches are such a fabulous way to set the scene, bringing attention and colour to an event. When used outdoors, they work fabulously well for sporting events, the opening of new stores, and to indicate where an event is happening! Indoors, they are often used for entrance decor, welcoming and greeting guests as they arrive at their function. For theme events and parties, they can create a big statement and are often used as backdrops and photo opportunities.

The great thing about Arches is that we can make them in so many different ways. Here are some great examples of balloon Arches that have been "embellished" — which is to be made more interesting by adding extra decorative detail, which is something that I love to do with my Arch designs.

"Flower Embellished Arch."
Design by Sue Bowler, CBA.

This Arch is very elegant, and perfect for formal black tie events. The pattern created by the placement of the red latex balloons creates a wavy, asymmetrical line that shows perfect rhythm and motion within the design. The use of the Qualatex® Taper balloon flowers adds a whole new dimension to this Arch using Microfoil®  balloons and shape, as there is a huge contrast between the roundness of the latex balloons versus the pointedness of the Tapers.

"Colourful Candy Suprise."
Designed by Cam Woody, CBA.

When I first saw this Arch it was love at first sight, and I could not wait to have the opportunity to make one myself! Making an Arch solely out of Microfoil balloons is challenging. Firstly, you need to step out of your comfort zone of the formal placing and sizing of latex balloons, much like the organic style decor we see much of today, but there is also the technical issue of securing the balloons to the frame. 

"Game-Winning Goal."

This is another version of an all Microfoil balloon Arch! Once again, this design has a huge visual impact by using a range of Stars 36", 20", and 9" Stars and the 36", 18" and 9" Soccer Ball round.

Mickey Mouse Polka Dot Arch
Designed by Cam Woody, CBA.
Who could not adore this fabulous Mickey Mouse-inspired Arch! Cam has used one of my favourite latex balloons, 11" Polka Dots to add fun and excitement to this awesome Arch! I expect you're wondering how the 3' balloon is so neatly placed in the centre of the Arch? A little bit of balloon magic, of course! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

A "BACI" Alice in Wonderland Extravaganza!

Designing and planning a theme party is challenging, but also a great deal of fun! We are very lucky to be part of this industry, and I am very fortunate to get the opportunity to attend so many wonderful theme parties when I travel to teach at conventions around the world. I think half of my wardrobe is filled with fancy dress costumes!

Cheshire Cat by Alberto Nava, CBA.
Photograph by Luc Bertrand.

At BACI - Balloon Arts Convention Italy this year, our party theme was based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, a slightly different take on the original theme. Luc Bertrand, CBA of wAw Balloons, in Vichte, Belgium, was appointed the gala party coordinator and tasked each of the BACI instructors with a project that would be completed by them with the help of delegates on the day of the party. One of the biggest challenges was to transport all the decor from one side of Florence to the other, a factor that certainly had to be taken into consideration when making the designs. The venue was very quirky, with greenery, wood, and foliage hanging from the ceiling. This worked extremely well for our theme. For me, it looked like the rabbit hole, which was absolutely perfect!

Here is a photograph of the venue before we transformed it.

And after!

Centrepiece Designs by Enza Mondello, CBA, and Jośe Luthman, CBA.

Photo by Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa©TheDarkRoom.

Enza Mondello of Balloon Express Shop in Patty, Italy, and Jośe Luthman of Fiesta Mulhouse in Mulhouse, France, were both asked to design centrepieces. Enza chose two different designs for her delegates to make; one with fabulous polka dot teapots and the other with the Queen of Hearts/ Ace of Spades playing card Microfoil balloons. Jośe worked on an intriguing mushroom design created from double stuffed 6" Quick Link Balloons®.

Nicolas Fiault makes the perfect Mad Hatter! 

Photo by Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa©TheDarkRoom.

Mad Hatter hats! These awesome hats were made by delegates as part of a twisting class led by the very talented Alessandro Patanè, CBA, of Balloon Express Shop in Giarre, Italy.

Olga and Olga with their beautiful entrance decor.
Photograph by Luc Bertrand

Olga Baranova, CBA, and Olga Samoilova, CBA, of Sonlnechny Veter in Samara, Russia, took charge of the stunning entrance decor. Not only did it make an exciting entrance piece, but a beautiful photo opportunity, too!

Ted and Betty Vlamis of Pioneer Balloon Company came suitably dressed to the party!
Photograph by Silva Ingrid Cotellessa ©TheDarkRoom
Design by Federico Onida
Photograph by Luc Bertrand

Friday, May 5, 2017

Instagram — Are You Using It To Grow Your Balloon Business?

Instagram is one of the social media groups that I have not really got to grips with. Since I set up my Instagram account, I have used it mainly to post personal photographs, rather than balloons or business related items. It was only when Shannon Kilford of Born to Party in Sydney, Australia, made a really interesting comment regarding Instagram on a recent blog post, I decided that I should really find out more about this social media platform. 
"I am also a passionate Instagram user! This social media platform has literally changed my life and my business! 90% of our customers use it and come to us with pictures off our Instagram account requesting a particular design. I also find it useful for instant messaging and sending images back and forth to my clients. Not many days go by when I'm not using direct messages to communicate with my clients this way! As our account grows, so does our business. It's definitely not a coincidence. You are welcome to check out our Instagram here;
We also use Facebook, and in the beginning it was a great tool for growing our business. But since Facebook made changes to its reach for business pages, it is not nearly as good as it used to be so we don't focus on it as much as we used to."

To read Shannon's full article on "Modern Balloon Styling," click on the link below;
Giant Balloons, Confetti Balloons, Tassels, and Organic Decor — Modern Balloon Styling by Shannon Kilford, Born to Party, Sydney, Australia.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Medium Sculpture Competition BACI 2017

I have just returned from BACI — Balloon Arts Convention Italy, held in Florence, Italy, from the 24th to the 26th April 2017. Once again, we were wowed by some truly inspiring and talented balloon artists who took part in this year's Medium Sculpture Competition. This year's theme was "Once Upon A Time," and all the entries interpreted the theme in very exciting and different ways.

The balloon sculptures had to be built within twelve hours, with a maximum of seven people in each team. The space allocated for each sculpture was 2 x 2 x 3m high.

This year's winners were the Russian team headed up by team captain Vadim Shushkanov, CBA

  • Title: "The Eye of Sauron"
  • Description: Captain: Vadim Shushkanov
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa ©TheDarkroom
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

To experience a little of the fun and excitement from this competition, check out the video below!

Here are all the other amazing entries.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Giant Balloons, Confetti Balloons, Tassels, and Organic Decor — Modern Balloon Styling by Shannon Kilford, Born to Party, Sydney, Australia.

We are all becoming a little organic crazy And it would appear that in Australia, they are pretty good at it!  

Shannon Kilford's ballooning career started when she applied for a job to manage a little party shop called Born To Party, in Sydney, Australia. Little did she realise that on her first day that she was going to be learning how to make balloon Topiary Balls and that one day the shop would be hers!  

I recently met Shannon through working on one of my blogs, A Look At Colour Trends for Spring 2017. Whilst doing my research, I discovered some of Shannon's fabulous designs on Instagram, and I was very inspired by her style.
"My very first organic design was to decorate a stand at one of Sydney's largest makers markets that happens twice a year. I inflated way too many balloons, so I took them back to the shop and made them into Garlands for our table and to float off a giant balloon. This was two years ago. It took off from there!" 

"For this Garland, we were approached to create a super glamorous embellished Garland in navy, white and silver for a client's 40th birthday. We used a combination of Pearl White, White, Silver, Pearl Midnight Blue, and we double stuffed Onyx Black into Jewel Sapphire to create the shiny navy balloons. We then embellished the Garlands with honeycomb balls, silver tassels, silver fringing, and 16" silver confetti balloons! Originally our party girl only wanted one Garland but because of the layout of the room, we had to go for two gorgeous Garlands for symmetry. We finished the room off with giant silver confetti balloons decorated with mini organic style collars and our handmade tassel garlands. I love walking back into the room when we are finished packing up. If I am in love, I know our client will be too!" 
Shannon Kilford
"Eighteen fabulous years ago I first started working with balloons. I did the beginners workshop through Qualatex® Balloon Company in Australia and got to attend my first Australian Balloon Convention in the first year of being employed at Born To Party. Once I knew the basics and a few advanced techniques, I was able to figure out a lot of the designs for myself and I grew from there by experimenting and taking time to 'play' with balloons. I always try out new designs and ideas and use them in our shop window displays. There is so much education happening this year in Australia. It's super exciting! After so long in the industry, it's exciting to be still learning and enjoying all the new trends in balloon world!"
I asked Shannon to tell me a little about her business.
"Born to Party is a brick and mortar store that has been open for twenty eight years this year! The shop specialises in boutique partyware and modern balloon styling. We still do classic decor, but we have chosen to focus on the modern goodies for now. I am the shop's fifth owner and have now owned it for nearly twelve of those twenty eight years. I have five employees. One is my newbie and is full-time. The other four are permanent part-time, and all have been with Born To Party for the long haul. We are a family-run store and our staff are like family, too. My dear Mum works with me, as well as helping in the shop, helping look after my little ones. She also does the admin side of things for me as it is not one of my hidden talents. She is my godsend! I couldn't do this without her or my other staff members for that matter, either." 

What do you believe has worked well for you to grow your business?
"We worked hard at getting the word out that we specialise in the more modern type of balloon decor that is sending Pinterest and Instagram crazy! We do expos, work on collaborations with some of Sydney's most loved stylists on styled shoots, and got involved with an influencer/blogger. We are currently working on a complete makeover. We've just launched our new logo. We are also having all of our stationary re-designed and our new sparkly website is currently under construction. I want our new website to take us to the next level, so watch this space! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Alberto Falcone, CBA. Is On The Road For The Qualatex World Tour!

I love this display. Alberto created this for an exhibition trade stand for a baby clothing company. The use of his fabulous flowers is pure art and
injects so much colour and vibrancy to the display. 

Who cannot love the fabulous work of the very talented artist, Alberto Falcone, CBA? Alberto's balloon career started 20 years ago after attending an event organised by Balloon Express in Florence, Italy. For the first few years, like so many of us, Alberto's balloon career started out as a hobby. But after many requests for event decor, Alberto felt it was time to take his hobby more seriously!

Alberto loves to work with all Qualatex® balloons, but at this time he favours Quick Link Balloons™. When I asked him why, he told me that he has so much to discover, each time he uses them it is a surprise for him.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Qualatex® World Tour Has Started - Enter the Mystery Box Competition to win a free registration to WBC 2018!

The Qualatex® World Tour—#QualatexWorldTour17—has officially started! With sixty-six stops scheduled across the globe, this is going to be one amazing worldwide Qualatex event! 

Tina Giunta, CBA and Chris Adamo, CBA kick off the Q-Tour in Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Australia and New Zealand opened up this amazing tour with classes being held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide, Australia plus Auckland, New Zealand.  In Europe, the tour kicked off in Belgium, closely followed by Greece! The U.S. tour starts in Miami on the 30th of March! To find out all the stops and class details click HERE for the U.S. and HERE for the rest of the world.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Free Online Balloon Industry Design and Calculator Tool from Chris Adamo, CBA.

I am so excited to be able to share with you a fabulous new FREE Online Balloon Industry Design and Calculator from the fabulous Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, in Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Chris Adamo, CBA
Chris is one of those guys who loves to find an easier solution. Last year he designed a fabulous tool - the confetti applicator. As we all know getting confetti to distribute evenly and not clump up inside a balloon is not an easy task. However, Chris solved this problem by designing a tool that is easy to make and gives perfect results every time! If you missed this post, click HERE. Chris is always keen to share a great tip or technique, and once again he is sharing another fabulous tool!

The Balloon Design and Calculator Tool is a project that Chris has been working on for some time. And after many months of work, he is ready to share this tool with the balloon industry!

There are four tools to work with: the Quick Link Designer, a Balloon Column Calculator, a Balloon Arch Calculator and a Ceiling Fill Calculator.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Look at Colour Trends for Spring 2017

Design by Shannon Kilford of Born to Party, Mosman, NSW, Australia.

The Pantone® Colour of the Year 2017 is "Greenery." It is described by Pantone as "A refreshing and revitalising shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature's greens revive, restore and renew."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring is in the Air!

It's almost springtime for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and I for one cannot wait! I think spring is one of my favourite seasons. I love the vibrancy of colours that show through even on grey days.

Along with spring, we have a number of great seasonal events, such as Mother's Day. The dates vary greatly around the world, but for many of us, we celebrate our Mother's Day in March. We also have Easter, which falls on April 16th this year.

This is the perfect time of year to create something exciting, bright, and fun to display in your store windows.

Here are a few ideas that will work really well for spring decor. I love the topiary-style to create decor. You can keep it simple by creating the 12-balloon cluster ball, or you can add like I have, some extra elements such as smaller balloon clusters, tissue tuffs, and even glitter balloons.

If you saw my post last month about how to make glitter balloons, you will love the vibrant lime green version that I have shown below. I have used these within the design to add a little sparkle!

If you would like to learn how to make these fabulous glitter balloons, click HERE

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fabulous New Balloons!

I hope by now most of you have received a copy of or have seen the new Qualatex® Catalogue. If you haven't, you can easily view the online version by simply clicking on this LINK.

I know that you are all very busy, so I wanted to show you some of the new balloon collections that are featured in the new 2017 range, which I am sure that you will love as much as I do!

New Baby Balloons

I think that this fabulous new 24" "Baby Footprint" Deco Bubble is going to be a winner with customers! This wonderful footprint range is perfect for new babies and baby showers, too! 

NEW 24" Deco Bubble - "Baby Footprints" #49459

11" "Baby Footprints & Hearts" available in Rose and Robin's Egg Blue - check local catalogues for codes.

NEW 11" Baby Girl and Baby Boy Footprints & Hearts - only available in certain countries.

35" "Baby Feet Blue" #25851

35" "Baby Feet Pink" #25853

18" "Baby Boy LO(Feet)E" #25726

18" Baby Girl LO(Feet)E" #25746

Here is a display I made last month using the new Baby Footprint Deco Bubble and other coordinating balloons from the Footprint range.

U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675


Wow, we have some truly fabulous new birthday Microfoil® designs. Let's start with all things Smiley!

NEW 38" "Smiley Party Guy" #49360

NEW 18" "Birthday Smiley" #49057
Check out his fabulous reflective glasses.

NEW 9" Air-fill "Smile Face" #49411

NEW 9" Air-fill "Smiley Wink" #49428

NEW 9" Air-fill "Smiley Love" #49432

NEW 11" Smiley Star Bright Rainbow Assort. Please check local catalogues for code.

These lovely new 9" Air-fill Smiley Guys certainly know how to party!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Glitter Balloons!

Last month when I created a design for one of the Spring Fair window displays, I decided to make glitter balloons to complement the new, beautiful — in fact, probably one of my favourite ever Qualatex® birthday Microfoil® balloons — 18" "Birthday Pink & Gold Dots," Who cannot love this balloon!

#49164 18" "Birthday Pink & Gold Dots."
Design by Sue Bowler CBA
Here is the design that I created to show off this fabulous new balloon. I decided to have a go at creating a design using the organic style, which is so very popular at the moment. It was so much fun adding in the balloons, but it's important not to go too wild and still consider elements and principles of design, especially proportion, line, colour, and visual balance.