Wednesday, October 20, 2021

It's All About the Framework

I am always in awe of the incredible balloon sculptures and those who build them. I have to confess, this style of balloon design is definitely not something that is within my skill level. There is a great deal of detail in the planning and preparation.

Something that I was told very early on in my ballooning career is that a balloon sculpture is only as good as the frame that it is built on, and I could not agree more! 


At the recent Moscow Balloon Festival, the Qualatex sponsored team, Alexander Solomatin, Vadim Shushkanov, Dmitry Novikov, Vadim Nesterenko with other fabulous artists created this incredible Gorilla sculpture! I have always loved the work of Alexander Solomatin, Vadim Shushkanov and Dmitry Novikov. Every sculpture that they have ever created has been outstanding, but for me, this has to be one of their very best! 

When I first saw this sculpture, I was as impressed with the framework as I was with the end result! 


As I stated at the start of this post, it's all about the framework, so today, I would like to talk a little bit about frames and what you will need to make them.

As with any design, you will first need to determine what you are going to make. This could be something specific for a client or it might be your opportunity to build a sculpture for a competition.

You first need to determine how your sculpture is going to be supported. For example will it be suspended or freestanding? Taking all aspects of the job into account will help determine how ridged the framework needs to be.

The three basic framework materials that are used by balloon specialists are PVC pipe, EMT (or conduit); and aluminium rod. Looking at the framework below, the majority of the frame is made from different thicknesses of aluminium rod, with thicker rods for the main structure and thinner rods for the detail on the face and arms. Once the frame structure is made, it is carefully wrapped in a strong netting or sometimes chicken wire, which is how the balloons are attached.




PVC PIPE

PVC pipe is the white plastic pipe commonly used for plumbing and drainage, and is readily available from home-improvement stores. PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. PVC has an extremely durable nature, and is lightweight, making it an appealing material when constructing sculpture frames. It comes in many different sizes, but the most commonly used in the balloon industry is the 1/2" - 3/4" piping as you can easily add balloon clusters and it is also easy to cut and bend. PVC piping can be used to create arches and circles, and when heated you can create right angle bends and curves within the piping.

EMT/CONDUIT

EMT, also called conduit, is tubing used by the electrical trade to encase electrical wires. It is readily available for purchase from hardware and home-improvement stores.
Like PVC, conduit comes in many sizes from 1/2" to 1" and in a variety of different lengths. 
EMT can be bent using a pipe bender tool, these are also available from hardware stores. Conduit can be cut with a hacksaw, but the preferred method is to use a pipe cutter.

ALUMINIUM ROD

Aluminium rod and bar is produced by several different processes namely extrusion, rolling and coiling, or drawn directly from molten aluminium. Aluminium wire is used primarily in electrical transmission applications due to its superior conductivity and non-corrosive nature. Though aluminium rod is generally not available from hardware or home-improvement stores, some balloon wholesalers also sell it and it is also available from metal suppliers.
The most common sizes of aluminium rod used by balloon artists are 3/16" (4.76mm) , 1/4" (6.35mm) and 5/16" (7.93mm), however, there are many sizes available. The thicker the rod, the more difficult it is to bend.
The best way to cut aluminium rod is with bolt cutters. Investing in a good pair will help you to save time and energy! 
The easiest way to bend aluminium rod is to place a 4" - 6" length of EMT over the rod when bending to give you leverage. Make sure to keep the rod flat when bending it so that the frame does not warp. With lots of small bends, patience, and practice, you will create some great looking frames! 
Duct tape is the best method for securing aluminium rod frames. When taping two parallel pieces of rod together, overlap them by at least 4" - 6". If you are taping two perpendicular pieces of rod together, male and "L" shape first, then tape both ends securely. Duct tape can also be used to cover the sharp ends of the rod and EMT too.

BASES

To support your framework construction, you will need heavy bases. These are not so easy to buy off the shelf these days, so you may need to look into having some made for you. Steel base plates are the best, especially for outdoor work. Wooden bases, though not as heavy as steel can be weighted down by adding additional weights. 




When I visit events such as the Moscow Balloon Festival, the World Balloon Convention and other ballooning events, I love to watch the sculptures being made. 

Who cannot be spell-bound by those riveting eye's in the picture above! And for anyone who loves Fantasy Flowers, those leaves are made from 3ft balloons stretched on an aluminium rod... I tried this once without much success.







The Team!
Alexander Solomatin, Vadim Shushkanov, Dmitry Novikov, Vadim Nesterenko, 

I know that the Russian team loves to compete, and I asked Vadim to explain why?

"For me, there are two of the most important benefits of balloon contests. First of all, every competition is a great opportunity to create a sculpture you hardly ever make in different circumstances. Almost all of the balloon competitions in the world relate to art, not business. There are no customers with their wishes and requests, you don't need to think if somebody can buy your work, you're completely free to share your thoughts and ideas through balloons. Isn't it the best option to feel like a true balloon artist?

And secondly, each competition makes you improve your professional skills. If you would like to build an impressive sculpture, you have to solve a lot of problems. You need to search and try many colour combinations, balloon technics, methods and materials for frames or create something completely new. This sort of experience always rises your professional level and gives a huge background for using in everyday work."

I hope that you find this sculpture as incredible as I do! If working on a large sculpture like this is something that appeals to you, I recommend that you attend a balloon event/convention that has a large sculpture competition and sign up as a helper. It will be one of your best experiences ever, and who knows, it may lead you to entering  your own sculpture one day! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue

www.suebowler.com

Follow me @suebowler



Friday, October 8, 2021

Colour Creates Ideas, Expresses Messages, Sparks Interest, and Generates Certain Emotions... be inspired by colour!

We often get to see so many incredible and eye-catching balloon creations on social media, and in most cases, it is the colours rather than the actual design that catches our attention first! 


I remember when
Elari Events posted one of their beautiful balloon designs a few years ago in fabulous shades of dusky pinks, greys and silver. It attracted so much attention that everyone wanted to know what balloon colours they had used to create this magical palette! Elari Events continues to produce truly fabulous balloon decor and stunning colour combinations! 

 Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA of JAZ Trading of QLD, Australia, shows how the beautiful Elari decor customs colours were created.

This colour chart was created by Zoe Adam-Jones , CBA, of JAZ Trading .


Custom Balloon Colours

I suppose that we have been creating 'custom' colours for as long as I can remember, however before it became a trend it was only used as a last resort - the extra cost and time involved usually being a determining factor. I once stuffed Orange 646Q inside Yellow 646Q to create the perfect Goldenrod colour for a Giraffe design that I had created. 

However in today's balloon world, that is definitely no longer case! Balloons and balloon décor have become increasingly trendy over the past few years and with this uptick, consumers have become more discerning and often demanding of their requirements.

I love colour and love creating custom colours. Probably one of my favourite custom combination is the Jewel Tone balloons double-stuffed with Chrome balloon colours. I am also a little infatuated with all the stunning pastel colours that you can create.



In the first year that we showed this combination on the Qualatex stand at a UK trade show, the response was unbelievable! I don't think that I had ever before seen such incredible reactions from so many to a display of 11" Jewel Tone latex double-stuffed with Chrome Balloons. Of course, the colours created by this combo are rich and vibrant, with an almost glass-like appearance! I was asked many times "what balloons are they?" I still get the same reaction when I am teaching a class and I show a Chrome balloon inside a Jewel Tone! 


Creating appealing colour combinations is definitely an art, which is probably why I see so many requests on social media from balloon companies asking what colours have been used to create this or that design! 


If custom colouring is new to you, here is a great video clip that shows you how to double-stuff balloons and some of the fabulous colour creations that you can make! 



So how do we know what colour combinations are ideal to create enticing new colours or a corporate colour?

This is much easier than you think, as Qualatex has done all the hard work for us by producing a range of comprehensive colour guides! 


This is the Neutral & Muted Colour Guide - click HERE for a direct link to all of the guides or follow this link https://us.qualatex.com/en-us/inspiration/paint-your-party-qualatex/



Another great colour tool that Qualatex has recently introduced is the ability to download Double-Stuffed Images! These are perfect to show to your clients when proposing decor and/or a colour schemes! I have to confess, this really excites me, as I really love to give my customers as much visual detail when I am proposing my decor ideas to them, being able to show them, and being able to show them all the different custom colours that I am suggesting is such a huge bonus! 



Look for this Q2 icon for double-stuffed custom colours. You can download any or all of the Qualatex custom colour balloon images for business use. The files are named with the custom colour name, followed by the outside colour, then the inside colour. 





Here is one of the colours that I selected from the Double-Stuffed collection that are available to download as images. This colour is known as Desert Sage and uses a combination of a Spring Green inside a Grey balloon.


Learning about colour, understanding colour psychology (how we react to different colours,) and learning how to make fabulous and harmonious colour palettes work is all available in the latest Balloon IMAGES that is completely dedicated to colour - Paint Your Party with Qualatex. I love this edition, it is packed with so much great information that will truly help you and your business go from strength to strength! And if you are studying for your CBA accreditation, you will definitely find the information within this edition extremely helpful as part of your studies!




I hope that you enjoy using these exciting new resources as much as I will!

Happy Ballooning, and don't forget to Paint your Party with Qualatex! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler


Friday, September 24, 2021

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As I'm sure most of you are aware, October is the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual campaign that takes place in the month of October to increase awareness of the disease. The goal is to get as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds to help support life-saving research and life-changing support.

Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects millions of people and their loved ones each year. In fact, it is the second most common type of cancer in women after skin cancer. Unfortunately, although there are many ways it can be treated, breast cancer is incurable, and scientists have little advice in prevention of its development in the first place. And breast cancer is not just a female disease, it affects many men too! 

Fundraising events, such as bake sales, walks, and fun runs, have become a common way to raise awareness about this issue and financially support the people and families who have been affected by this disease.

So how can you and your balloon business help?

Use the power of social media - in increasing awareness, both women and men become more attentive to the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and spot it while it is more easily treatable.

Here are some of the most popular hashtags that you can use with your social media posts:
#breastcancerawareness #breastcancer #breastcancerawarenessmonth #cancer #breastcancersurvivor #cancersucks #pink #pinkribbon #survivor #october #cancersurvivor #cancerawareness #fuckcancer #brca #breastcancerwarrior #mastectomy #breastcancersupport #womenshealth #thinkpink #love #chemotherapy #breastcancerfighter #health #chemo #cancerfighter #repost #pinkoctober #breastcancercare #cancerwarrior #bhfyp


The perfect accent for a fundraising event or a special delivery to a person impacted by the disease.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Another way to use your business to raise awareness is by supporting a local fundraising event by providing décor - this Pink Awareness Ribbon is perfect. Created by using Qualatex QuickLinks it can be made to any size - remember this design can be used for other awareness events, simply change the colours of the balloons to suit the cause. (Awareness ribbons are symbols meant to show support or raise consciousness for a cause. Different colours and patterns are associated with different issues.)



Designer name: Lisa Swiger, CBA, Blooming Balloons

QBN Members can download the recipe to re-create this design - simply click HERE.

Deliver an up-lifting balloon gift to someone who has been impacted by this di
sease.


Share the power of pink with this inspirational design.
Designer name: Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Host a fund-raising event of your own - here are some great ideas!

Pink & Girls Night in Parties

Throwing a pink party is another fun and exciting way to raise money for breast cancer awareness campaigns and organisations. 

Run a bake-sale
Organise a community barbecue
Offer customers the opportunity to make a small donation using a Donation Box in your shop or store.
Run a competition and make a donation for every entry! 

Wear pink or at least a pink ribbon - many businesses dedicate one day during October (22nd October is the most popular) to wear pink! Each person makes a donation to a chosen cancer charity.


Qualatex has two Breast Cancer awareness balloons available to help you promote this very important issue. 

Breast Cancer Awareness

  • Size and shape: 11" Round
  • Color: Pink
  • Package item #: 20549


Breast Cancer Inspirations

  • Size and shape: 18" Round
  • Package item #: 35119

Whatever you're doing to support the cause, sales of these two balloons can not only raise awareness, but they can also raise funds too - as Pioneer Europe is donating 10% of the sales of these balloons to the Pink Ribbon Foundation (Reg. Charity No. 1080839).

Helping to support such an important issue through our creativity has to be a very good thing! Wishing you every success with your fund raising efforts, I look forward to seeing some of your fabulous designs on Facebook and Instagram throughout October! 

Happy Ballooning and think PINK this October! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler



Monday, September 20, 2021

Event Booking and Consultation Forms - What Do You Use?

Imagine that you are in a meeting with a client to discuss their event. You have probably walked around the event venue with them to look at the space and the decor opportunities and you have started to offer your ideas and suggestions. So how do you now present that information back to your client to ensure that you get that booking and at the same time ensure that you have obtained all the information that you need?

A simple and advantageous way to do this would be to always use an event booking/consultation form. This can also serve as a check-list to help you when you are preparing your quotes and invoices. 

For this post, I have created a comprehensive Event Booking/Consultation Form. To be honest, I am a note-book scribbler, and probably one of the world's worst at obtaining all the relevant information when it comes to booking an event! I am now in the position where I rarely take on big events these days due to all my other work commitments, but I know for sure that if I would had of used a form such as this, it would have made my life a whole lot easier.

Let's start with the more practical, non-creative stuff, like event and client details. Getting all those relevant contact details is so important from the very beginning. And it should include not only not only the person who is booking you, but also the venue contact and the name of the person who is responsible for paying the invoice too! 

If you are at the venue, this is also the perfect time to find out about parking, and other hotel/venue-related information. Many of my previous corporate events were located in central London and that alone brought many additional complications to a job. So standard things like parking are worth finding out about, as many hotels and venues will offer vendors free parking while they are onsite. It's worth noting; having a good relationship with the events manager at a venue can be worth it's weight in gold! 

It's extremely important to know dates and times too! I like to be able to access a venue as early as possible on the day of an event to ensure that we can get a head start, and miss peak time traffic or anything else that may delay us.

You may not need to know about payment details at this point, but you may want to inform the person who is booking with you that you have payment terms, and keep them informed of those when you send in your quotation or proposals. 



Type/ Name of Event


Date of Event


Contact Details


Event Location & Address






Company/Clients Name



Event Start Time  


Contact Name:

Name of person responsible for payment of invoice if different from contact


Event Finish Time


Contact Email


Venue Access Time


Contact Phone 


Venue Parking &

Parking cost if applicable


Postal Address






Set-up location 


Payment Details


Strike/ Tear- Down Date & Time


Deposit Required


Venue Contact & phone


Deposit Due Date 




Final Payment Required




Final Payment Due Date



Now let's look at design details and description of work.

Design Details & Description of work

Theme


Entrance/ Foyer







Bar Areas








Photo Backdrop







Stage Backdrop







Table Decor







Other








































Sometimes clients have a good idea of decor they want at their events, while other times they have no preferences or ideas, giving you an opportunity to get very creative! I have given some key locations and decor that you can suggest while you are building your ideas.

I have worked directly with both clients and also with event organisers who are managing a big event, and to be honest, working with an events organiser has always been my preference as they can always see the bigger picture and know how to 'sell' to their clients. They often have an idea of the clients potential budget, which again can be very useful to know. I expect that the more experience you get, the easier it is to become a sales person as well as a creative director too! 

So, now you have all this information and all your creative ideas and suggestions, you will be able to get back to your customer with a comprehensive quote. Do not leave this too long, as your client will be keen to get you booked! I would also make your quotes time-limited, like 30 days, to ensure that the client cannot come back to you months later and expect the same deal! 

I like to make my quotes as visual as possible; in this instance pictures are much more impactful than words. The design below is a Sculptured Column that I proposed for an upcoming event for a client. I wanted the client to be able to visualise how the column would look without having to make up the design in balloons. I then use creative and descriptive words to accompany the picture! 







Even showing a customer something as simple as how a logo will look on a balloon can really help to sell the idea or concept to a client.

This is an Arch that I designed for a New Years Party at
the Savoy, London




As part of your quote, you will need to incorporate a price breakdown. I rarely discuss pricing during a consultation as your pricing can be subject to so many variables. Many customers will ask you for an approximation or a ball part price, but you need remember that once you give a price, it is very hard to make changes later. 

Don't present prices for your work to your clients in the same way as you cost your work. Remember, your customers are not buying balloons, fishing line, aluminium rod and helium. They are not even buying Arches, Columns, Balloons Walls and balloon displays, they are actually buying the wow factor and the atmosphere to create a great party or event. They are buying your experience, knowledge and expertise. Never be embarrassed to ask for the full value of your work.

I personally price balloon decor by the job, and not by each specific balloon design or creation. There are many elements that may need to be included into a job to ensure that you can fulfil it within the required time and location.

If a client asks for discount and you want to give it (maybe it's for a charity event that you want to support) ensure that you always present an invoice with the full amount and then take the discount off the bottom. If I ever offer discounts, I will only deduct from the net profit of the job, and never from the costs, to ensure that the job does not cost me money. Remember that even charity events pay for their venue, food, band, etc. They will always try to get discounts, but you also need to cover your costs at a minimum. I recommend that you choose any charities that you want to support at the start of the year, and if anyone asks you to support a charity not on the list, tell them that you have your charities for this year and if they want to be considered for next year, to put their request in writing. 

Here is a full copy of the Event Booking/Consultation Form. If you right click on it you will be able to save it to your computer, or you can simply create your own form using some or all of the information that I have included.

Type/ Name of Event


Date of Event


Contact Details


Event Location & Address






Company/Clients Name



Event Start Time  


Contact Name:

Name of person responsible for payment of invoice if different from contact


Event Finish Time


Contact Email


Venue Access Time


Contact Phone 


Venue Parking &

Parking cost if applicable


Postal Address






Set-up location 


Payment Details


Strike/ Tear- Down Date & Time


Deposit Required


Venue Contact & phone


Deposit Due Date 




Final Payment Required




Final Payment Due Date


Design Details & Description of work

Theme


Entrance/ Foyer







Bar Areas








Photo Backdrop







Stage Backdrop







Table Decor







Other









































I hope this has helped you to feel a little less overwhelmed in your event planning! Being organised and having all the information recorded is definitely the key to success and a smooth- running event! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler