Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Silver Balloon Wall Installation

I really love to work with Qualatex® Starpoint and Taper balloons. There is something really elegant and a little different about these balloons - they are perfect for making balloon walls!

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a brand development agency who wanted me to build two balloon installations using silver square balloons to create an "immersive walkway." The client had been inspired by Andy Warhol's "Silver Balloons" exhibit that he first made in the 60's! The silver square balloons were hand-made - in fact, they were known as "floating Metallic Pillows." 

After further discussions with the client and a computer-generated visual image, we agreed that I would create two Starpoint and Taper balloon walls. These balloon walls offered the fabulous shiny effect that they were looking for. Plus, we added a little visual movement within the walls by positioning the sections so that it created a slight wave rather than being totally straight. 

Today, I am going to share with you some simple steps on how to make these fabulous balloon walls!

Firstly, I created a design on my computer for my client to see and approve. This also functioned as my working design sheet on the day. This is really easy to do. You simply go to www.Qualatex.com and download the balloon images that you want to use. I love the fact that they save as a .png file, which means that it does not have any background to the image! I then simply added and arranged the balloon images in a WORD document to create the design of the proposed wall. 

Each wall consisted of forty 40" Silver Starpoint balloons and seventy-seven 27" Silver Taper Balloons.

We found it easier to make the wall in smaller sections rather than trying to build the wall in one go. We connected eight Starpoint balloons together using a cable tie gun before inflation, making sure to not to connect the valve points. We tied these after inflation.

Connecting the valve points after inflation.

Once we had prepared all the sections, we connected them all together. You can use a cable tie gun or a scrap of 260Q. Both work very well! 

You can see from this photo how the balloons looked when connected together, several people commented on how they did not look like balloons once they were connected!

The first section of wall made - sharing our work-space with some amazing vintage dummies.
To inflate the foil balloons we used the Premium FoilPro™. This machine is designed for easy, hands-free (using a foot pedal) inflation of foil balloons as well as latex and balloons that require higher-pressure. The great thing about this inflator is that it has a special nozzle that provides the correct inflation pressure for foils, with no risk of damaging self-sealing valves.

Each wall was made up of five sections as shown above. Once all the sections were prepared, we connected them together.

Here is a view of the wall from outside - we had to make sure that it looked good from both sides!

This was a really great project to work on. We learned a lot on the way. Needless to say, that the second wall was made in half the time of the first wall! The client was really happy and gave us great feedback! 
"We loved working with you on this project and want to thank you for doing such a fab job,. Everyone loved the installation!"

A huge thank you to my team, Nicci Rene and John Bowler. And thank you Nicci, for the great photographs!

Happy Ballooning



Monday, June 4, 2018

Why We Should Ban Balloon Releases

This is a highly emotive topic for the balloon industry. There are those balloon professionals who no longer support, or condone, nor facilitate the deliberate release of balloons into the atmosphere, and those who believe that when conducted properly, and with the right materials, latex balloon releases are harmless to wildlife and the environment.

But I would like to start this post with a few thought-provoking words from Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia.

"Our industry is on the brink of a new era. We really do face the risk of loosing our jobs and our wonderful community through misinformed policy makers. We need to accept the situation and take proactive action to future proof the balloon industry. Banning balloon releases and educating the public on best practice latex disposal is something we all can decide to do, something we can all agree on and start today so we can once again concentrate on the positive story that balloons so naturally exude." 

So what is all the fuss about?

Many environmentally conscious organisations and private individuals expressed a real concern on what harmful effects latex balloon releases might have both as litter and to wildlife through ingestion.

This concern has extended well beyond the environmentalists and is now one of the hot topics for governments and councils around the world, many who have already banned balloons or are calling upon balloons to be banned. Some talk about balloon releases, whilst others talk about a complete ban of balloons - this is scary! 

It cannot be disputed that balloon releases cause litter - "What goes up, must come down!" 

But are there any substantiated facts as to what actually happens to a latex balloon once it has been released?

A recent report indicates that of those latex balloons that could be traced after a monitored balloon release, approximately 12% burst into small pieces, and 81% were recovered with half of the balloon mass intact. Another study suggests - "Wwhen a latex helium balloon reaches the low temperatures within that 5-6 mile altitude range, it will actually freeze. The elasticity of latex decreases significantly in low temperatures, so the helium balloon that was expanding suddenly becomes incredibly brittle.
What happens next is not the traditional pop that you and I are used to seeing, but instead something simply called “shattering.” The helium balloon breaks in a manner that is similar to smashing a mirror, and all that is left are very small pieces of cold latex that sprinkle back down to the planet (It’s said that these shattered pieces are too small to pose any threats to animals because they are easily passed through the system if ingested.)
Of course, there are exceptions. Variables that can throw a hitch in these rules include poorly manufactured or flawed latex, latex that is unable to expand significantly or expands too quickly, helium balloons that are not fully inflated, or the altitude and climate of the place from which the balloon was released."

Every day we are seeing more and more negative reports about balloons and the environment, and yes, many of them are untrue or unsubstantiated. 
"All released balloons, including those falsely marketed as “biodegradable latex,” return to Earth as ugly litter. They kill countless animals and cause dangerous power outages." - Balloon Blow - Don't Let Them Go

The problem that we have is that most people - the public - cannot distinguish between types of balloons. For them, a balloon is a balloon whether its latex, foils, or otherwise, and therefore any released "balloons" are polluting our planet.

So as an industry, what can we do to change public perception?

I believe like so many other balloon professionals that we need to unify as an industry and show that we are responsible and that we definitely care about the environment, and for that reason, we need to do something positive that proves it. 

There are several groups and organisations that are working very hard to make this happen.

The Pro Environment Balloon Alliance - PEBA, have three main messages;


Members of PEBA do not support, or condone, nor will they facilitate the deliberate release of balloons. PEBA is happy to work with any authority (local, state, or federal) in supporting any legislation calling for a ban on the deliberate release of balloons.


Members of PEBA will continue to educate their clients, venue managers and the general public, by all possible means, in the correct disposal of balloons and strongly support BASA's "Pin it and Bin It" campaign.

PEBA will actively promote the positive environmental aspects of balloons, while presenting a balanced view to members, the public and any authorities, on all matters pertaining to balloons and the environment.


The European  Balloon and Party Council - EBPC mission statement 

Don't let go - we love the environment too!

"We have requested that our members do not release balloons and we urge the public to 'Don't let go'. Please read our tips on our 'How to handle balloons' page and dispose of balloons responsibly."

Don't let go
EBPC's position on balloon releases;

Balloons are a unique much-loved product and are considered irreplaceable in what they offer. Over the last few years, the industry has seen changes in consumer viewpoints and perceptions related to such products. Although these changes and increased participation have surfaced in the last few years, the rise of social media platforms and technology has enabled better reporting of such viewpoints and perceptions.

To comply with the EBPC mission statement, “To educate and promote the fun use of balloons and party products safely, ethically and in respect of the environment”, and as a responsible organisation shaping our industry, we recognise the impact of our products within its marketplace. This monitoring, along with our corporate social responsibility, has led the council to pioneer new thinking within our industry on how balloons should be handled in respect of the environment, which has led to an agreement that ‘the EBPC does not support balloon releases’ as we wish to protect the environment from unnecessary litter. While latex balloon releases are visually appealing, the resulting deflated or partially inflated balloons that return to the ground is visually offensive to many, and we must respect this. This is becoming even more important as local authorities across the world are introducing penalties for balloon releases on their land or property.

The EBPC provides a united front to protect and grow the industry by promoting and facilitating best practices through the coalition of its members across the EU. We look to all members to support our stance in this good cause and encourage promotion of this positive message with respect to the environment.

What's happening in the animal world?

We cannot say for sure how many animals are affected by balloon releases. There are many reports of the same instances. However, during research at EBPC in 2016, we have identified less than 6 cases since 1885 where evidence has suggested balloons to be the cause of an animal death. This was in line with the findings of research by DEFRA in 2013.

Unfortunately, we have also found evidence of misleading claims and repeated instances of the same photographs, or pictures that have been doctored and used for bad publicity of balloons. To reiterate, we love the environment and wish no harm to any form of life.

Don't let go – our message to consumers is clear

We are an evidence-based organisation and only work with facts. If you would like more information about anything on our website, please get in touch.


Balloon and Party Industry Alliance - BAPIA
"BAPIA has taken the decision to no longer support the release of balloons into the environment. This decision has been taken based on the feedback from our members who have told us overwhelmingly that they feel balloon releases are not good for the environment and that they would totally support this decision. We would ask all members of the public to follow this lead and don't let go of helium filled balloons as it can have a negative effect on the environment. We know that our members will be happy to discuss alternative creative options with their customers. Enjoy balloons responsibly!"

At this time, we still have a choice, and whether you join PEBA, EBPC, or BAPIA, and follow their lead and choose not to release any balloons is your decision. But as Chris  Adamo and many others are saying, our industry is on the brink of a new era, and to be honest we need to change with the times. And as Chris said to me - "things that once were considered okay to do are no longer considered acceptable - remember sitting on a plane where people smoked or traveled in a car without a seatbelt?"

Happy 'Responsible' Ballooning!


"Helium balloon: What happens when you let go," by Kathi Ledidenon 13 August 2015,
Mass Latex Balloon Releases and the Potential Effect on Wildlife - Stephan Irwin 8-2012

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Build Your Brand by Guest Blogger Jill Shortreed - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2, "How To Build Your Brand" by Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Mount Pleasant, SC, USA. To read Part 1, click HERE.

How can I make my brand more appealing?

Consistency is key when you build your brand
Of course, my company is the friendliest, and we give the best customer service!

We sell to everyone! 

Okay, what's the "Magic Formula?"

A great brand isn't just known and trusted - it is loved!

Jill has a wealth of business experience. She enjoys studying business books and engaging in online education seminars and classes to keep up-to-date. Sign up to Jill's Facebook group, The Business of Balloons. This group is aimed at those who own and operate a business that sells balloon decor, retail balloons, balloon deliveries, or entertaining with balloons.

This article was first published in Qualatex® Balloon Images magazine July/August/September 2017.

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, May 25, 2018

Build Your Brand by Guest Blogger Jill Shortreed - Part 1

Guest blogger Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Mount Pleasant, SC, USA, shares some of her business experience and how to build your brand.

Is your brand your logo?

Are you your brand?

What is your mission statement?

Are you quirky and colourful, or refined and polished?

Coming soon - Part 2 of Build Your Brand where Jill talks about USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or Positioning, the "Ideal Client," and is there a "Magic Formula"?

Jill has a wealth of business experience. She enjoys studying business books and engaging in online education seminars and classes to keep up-to-date. Sign up to Jill's Facebook group The Business of Balloons. This group is aimed at those who own and operate a business that sells balloon decor, retail balloons, balloon deliveries, or entertaining with balloons.

This article was first published in Qualatex® Balloon Images Magazine July/August/September 2017.

Happy Ballooning! 



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dive into the latest trend on Instagram - #mermaids (1,331,460 posts and growing!)

Being trend-savvy is the key to success, especially in the world of balloon artistry. Knowing what's hot will give us the edge over our competitors and excite our clients.

A sea-world theme is a favourite for me. I love colour, and this theme allows me to use so many wonderful hues to create magical decor. Earlier this year I created a number of visual displays for Pioneer®  Europe at Spring Fair. Spring Fair is the UK's No.1 trade show for gift and home products, held at Birmingham's N.E.C. One of the displays I made was designed to feature the new Qualatex® Enchanting Mermaid Microfoil®  balloon. 
It was also the perfect opportunity for me to showcase the NEW Qualatex Chrome Balloons™ and their unique vibrancy and versatility, especially when double-stuffed inside Jewel- coloured balloons.

I have been asked on several occasions how I made this display, so I thought that I would share it with you on the Very Best Balloon Blog.

It's all about the base!

The base is an integral part of the design. Without it, the design would not be as eye-catching as it is. It allows me to use many of the colours that are featured in the "Enchanting Mermaid" Microfoil. 

38" "Enchanting Mermaid" #57815

To start, I made a very simple Quick Link x-pattern wall using Chris Adamo's fabulous Balloons Online Design Tool. The wall consists of six chains using 6" Caribbean Blue Quick Links inflated to approximately 5", or five pumps on a Qualatex Green hand pump.

Two - chains of 10
Four - chains of 6
Total number of 6" Quick Links - 44

The chains are locked together using 5" Caribbean Blue and or 5" Tropical Teal duplets. 
Inflate to 3" or one pump using the Qualatex Green hand pump.
Total number of 5" balloons - 62.

With this type of "wall", we have spaces between each of the "X's" - the wall above has fourteen spaces to fill. This was where I was able to introduce a range of fabulous colours.
Each of the coloured balloons used one of the balloons listed below inflated to 5", 5.5", and 6" - the variation in size creates visual movement within the design, but be careful not to make the size differences too extreme. Each balloon is made into a Duplet with a 4" Caribbean Blue as the base balloon. This holds the balloons in place and keeps the wall flat at the base.

Chrome Silver 11" #58270
Chrome Silver looks fabulous when inflated. It creates a solid shine and has a reflective surface, unlike any other latex balloon. Chrome Silver also works extremely well when inflated inside a Jewel colour balloon (double-stuffed) - I renamed these "Jewel-Chromes," and they look stunning! 

Chome Gold 11" #58271
Chrome Green 11" #58273
Chrome Purple 11" #58274

To create the Jewel-Chrome balloons, use; 

Jewel Teal 11" #43753 
Jewel Quartz Purple 11" #43789
Jewel Sapphire Blue 11" #43793

18" "Happy Birthday Mermaid" - #57799 

To complete the display, you can add a selection of balloons that complement the "Enchanting Mermaid" special shape. Deco Bubbles are perfect for this display. They create a "bubble" look and allows to feature 11" latex balloons, making the display longer lasting. 

Qualatex has just released a fabulous new Chrome Balloon Custom Colour Chart, to download it click HERE or visit www.Qualatex.com

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Can You Imagine Winning An All-Expense-Paid Trip To The World Balloon Convention?

Ruti Grodkinsky, CBA.

That's exactly what happened to Ruti Grodkinsky, CBA, of Designed by Ruti - Balloon Decor Israel who attended the World Balloon Convention in San Diego earlier this year.

"Since I started doing balloon decor five years ago, l always dreamed of going to the World Balloon Convention. I would follow all the pictures of classes, competitions, and the parties on Facebook. For me, it seemed like a far-away dream.... Thank goodness for the Qualatex®  WBC Treb Heining Scholarship. I won and my dream came true! 
WBC was way better in real life. My highlights were volunteering for all the decor opportunities. It's amazing to see how everyone helps each other! I helped Lily Tan with her entrance decor, Federico Onida with his beach party and Olga Baranova with the final night Grand Gala! 

Ruti at the Final Night Grand Gala

Ruti helping Lily Tan with the entrance decor.
What truly amazed me was that all the instructors helped each other (where do you see that in any other industry?). I worked with Dante Longhi on Lily's entrance decor, then worked with Federico and Lily while they helped Olga for the gala — really amazing! The WBC parties are breathtaking, with the most amazing decor you have ever seen.

My only regret was not being able to attend all the classes. There were so many awesome classes to choose from.  I would have loved to be able to attend them all! I loved viewing the competitions, it was amazing to see all the small details that go into each piece. I helped the Canadian team with their large sculpture, I think everyone who comes to WBC should join a team. It's an amazing experience and something you definitely wouldn't do every day! 

This time around, I didn't enter any of the competitions as it was my first time and I just wanted to enjoy the experience without any stress. Saying that, I definitely think I will compete next time I attend. 

For someone who has never been to WBC, it's a MUST! Try to start saving for 2020 (I definitely am!). For any first-timer, do as much homework beforehand on which classes you would like to attend so you don't miss anything!"

So what is the Pioneer Visionary Scholarship?

Since its start, Pioneer®  Balloon Company has been the industry’s educational leader, helping balloon professionals obtain and cultivate creative skills and business expertise. In 2006, PBC continued this mission and established two scholarships to recognize talented artists interested in furthering their careers. These educational awards honor the stellar contributions of two industry legends, Treb Heining and Marvin Hardy, by passing the torch to emerging leaders. To be considered, recipients must be able to answer questions about: the deliberate growth of their business, specific ways they plan to apply education gained from their chosen professional event to help implement that growth, other investment plans to make their business grow, and specific skills they want to learn.

Scholarships are awarded throughout the year and fund attendance for one entrepreneur to a well-known industry event of their choosing in the United States or Europe. Each scholarship includes transportation to and from the educational event, complete registration, and lodging expenses for the duration of the event. Travel and registration arrangements will be made by Pioneer Balloon Company. 

To find out more and how to apply, click HERE.

Marvin Hardy Scholarship 
Anthony Lena 
Dylan Rowe 

Treb Heining Scholarship 
Delora Harbin 
Roland Répászki 
Ruti Grodzinsky 
Silvia Gonzalez 
Sinem Mehterian 

Congratulations to Ruti and all the other 2018 Pioneer Visionary Scholarship recipients!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Do You Create Visual Images On Your Computer? Here is a Fabulous Gift From Luc Bertrand, CBA.

Luc Bertrand, CBA, of Waw Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, recently taught a class at the World Balloon Convention —"Creating Magic on Paper." In this class, Luc showed delegates how to create realistic-looking visualisations of designs and decor to make stunning presentations and selling so much easier! Below is a great example of an arch Luc designed that could be easily presented to a client showing them exactly what they are getting. As Luc says, "Words can describe, but images sell. Research shows that the human brain is able to process a visual image up to 60,000 times faster than the same information in text form."

There are many ways to create your visual images. Luc uses MacDraft PE (personal edition), others use Publisher, and there are many other apps and programs that can be used. I simply use shapes in Word or Pages to create my designs. Below is an extract from a post that I wrote in 2012 - "As a Balloon Artist, how can we find our Inspiration".


We still don’t need to touch a balloon at this stage. I suppose it really depends on what you plan on making. Some designers sketch out their designs first. Others reach for their keyboards! Hopefully, if you are reading this you have access to either a PC or Mac, and therefore you should have either WORD or PAGES. Either one of these programs will give you the ability to start designing. Just use the shapes to create your balloon shapes. To find the shapes in WORD, click on VIEW and then TOOLBOX. When that opens click on DRAWING. This will give you a new toolbar that has everything that you need. Use FILL to colour your shapes. CUT and PASTE to re-create more of the same. "Hey presto," you have a very basic design package. I can assure you I still use it today when I am designing anything from room decor to a centrepiece! "Father Christmas" started life as a computer-generated design. This method saves time and materials and 99% of the time and works out just perfectly when recreated with actual balloons! I am sure there are many clever people out there who know how to work with Coral Draw and other sophisticated design programs. That is my dream one day, but I know that as with anything new it will take a while to work out how to do it, so for now I am keeping to the simple way!

Sue Bowler
I created this just by simply using round shapes and filling in the colours!

Today's post is not about how to create these super images on our computers, but for those of you who do, here is a fabulous gift from Luc!

Luc has created a fabulous latex colour chart that shows Qualatex® balloons in a round rather than a balloon shape. This will allow us to create our visual images using the actual balloon colours that we are proposing rather than the nearest colour we can generate on our computers, making our designs even more professional.

Did you notice that Luc's arch design used the Qualatex Chrome balloons?

To make it easy for you to download this chart, I will add it to the files section in both the Qualatex and QBN Facebook Groups. These files will open in either Keynote or PowerPoint. I will also add the file as a PDF.

Only yesterday, I created a visual image of decor that I was proposing for a corporate client. It took me less than 15 minutes to create the image, and I sent it to my customer with a quote. It worked; I got the job! 

I truly hope that Luc teaches his class again. I know for sure that I would definitely love to attend!

For those of you who would like to create visual images for their customers but are not able to create the designs themselves, there are a number of payable options:

Balloon Art Clip Art by Balloon Splendor - these are available on Etsy 
virtualoon.com - this is a membership-based software 

There may be others that I am not aware of. Please let me know if there are so I may add them to the list.

Happy Ballooning!