Friday, February 14, 2020

If Asked, Would You Be Able to Name Your Favourite Balloon Design?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to name what I consider as my favourite ever balloon design, something of my own creation. After nearly thirty years of being in the balloon industry, that question stumped me. So before I tell you what mine and a few of my ballooning friend's favourites designs are, I would like you to think about what yours would be, and why?

Naming your favourite design is a little bit like publicly saying who your favourite child is, and that is exactly the problem my fellow "balloonies" had when I asked them! 


Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo
Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo
Here's what Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia said;
"OMG it is so hard to decide on a favourite design but this is the first one that I thought of.
It was made to the exact proportions of an adult male African Bull Elephant. I actually saved the working drawings I used for proportions.

Why is this my favourite? I spent a long time researching how other elephants designs had been made with balloons, but I couldn't find anything that was made using a texture that seemed appropriate. Depending on the texture you are looking for, quick links and twisted balloons sometimes looks a little messy and draws focus away from the overall project. What I endeavoured to achieve in this project was a finish that was smooth and consistent, and the duplet square pack method created a finish that allowed the audience to see beyond the balloons and for a moment in time be transformed to a vintage circus"
Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo, CBA

Chris will be building a large balloon sculpture as part of the sculpture competition at BACI 2020 in Milan in March. I am very excited to see what he builds - of course I will report back! 

Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, USA, is a little like me, in that she struggled to find her absolute favourite. So she chose 4 designs! 




Flashy Flamingo Design by Cam Woody
Flashy Flamingo
"I love this one because it has so much personality. My friends, who aren’t fond of balloons, couldn’t resist these flamingos. It’s not a complicated design. My favorite designs are usually the ones that are the most simple to make. These flamingos only require a minimal amount of twisting to create a character that draws people to it and makes them smile." 



 Baby Shower Decor

Baby Shower Decor by Cam Woody
"I chose this shot because of the way it makes me feel. There are a lot of different details in the scene that make it special. I like how light and airy it feels with the clouds and the hot air balloons. I like the rhythm that the different textured balloons add. The difference in the way the Chrome, Pearls and Standard colors reflect the light in the room makes the photo feel light it’s breathing. And one of my favorite details in the shot is the hot air balloon cupcakes. Again because they were so easy. I hadn’t seen anything like this before and it seems like it should have been so obvious. I used washi tape for the stripes on the 5” balloon and attached the balloon to cake pop sticks and added little bows."

Elegant Hearts Column 
Elegant Heart Column by Cam Woody

"I like this column for several different reasons. First, the balloons look so elegant! The Chromes mixed with the Rose Gold and White come together to make this design radiate luxury. I created a tack weave in the center part of the column with the 260Qs, a technique that I don’t use often, but I’m so pleased that I did for this piece. The elegance of the design justified the extra time that it took to add this detail."




Sparkling Unicorn Smiles




"This design featured some of our newer balloons, which I love. I made white the primary color to keep the piece light and airy. The sheer white ribbon also adds to the ethereal atmosphere. The whimsical Unicorn and Unicorn Horns along with the fun saying on the 18” foil delivery the message and color for the design. And I added a few paper flowers for the final details. The piece feels like something out of a fairy tale, which is exactly what I was trying to achieve."








My final guest for this blog post is Luc Bertrand, CBA of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium. Luc's designs vary from large sculptures to small retail designs, so I was intrigued to see which of his designs he would consider to be his favourite and why.
"In spring 2011, Qualatex introduced the numbers shapes and the 18” foil smile faces in different colours. 
As I was teaching at the JBAN convention in Japan I was asked to showcase both new products. I was allocated two “demo” time slots of 15 minutes each to show one design including these. Subsequently, I traveled to Japan with a design for the numbers and a design for the smiles in mind. 
On the day of the demonstration, I was informed that the timetable has changed and that I now had only one 15 minutes time slot! 

Realising I could not show and properly explain my two designs in such a short time, I knew I had to come up with a new design. I decided to combine both, positioned the number on a base and topped the number with a smile face, gave the character two arms to create emotion and the “Happy Numbers” were born! 


Happy Number by Luc Bertrand
I started teaching the design worldwide and soon pictures started to pop up everywhere with my creation. A bit later, I start adding other faces on the numbers and now 'Happy Pigs', 'Angry Cows', 'Wondering Giraffes', Winning Lions', 'Waving Frogs', and many more soon appear.
Then I started to hear dazzling numbers when delegates told me how many "Happy Number" they sell a month, a week, a day! Gratitude is great but knowing how my design resulted in such huge sales for my colleagues worldwide will always be my biggest reward. 


Happy Numbers by Luc Bertrand
9 years later, they are still a top design. I was teaching abroad only yesterday. During the break a lady came over and showed me the picture of a happy number (not my picture) on her cell phone. Little did she know it was my original design. She then asked me kindly if I was able to explain “such design”.
Therefore, when you ask me what my favourite design is, I must go for the Happy Numbers.

  • a simple concept
  • easy to reproduce when knowing the right techniques.
  • 2 arms giving the character all kind of expressions and emotions,
  • a gift that must have made numerous of thousands happy.
  • long lasting air filled design
  • a definite money maker,
  • a timeless design that will be alive and kicking for many years to come!


And now it's my turn! Like everyone else I really struggled with choosing my favourite design. I wavered between two solid options. Should it be my first place winner from many years ago at IBAC 13 that helped me to boost my International profile, not to mention my ballooning and teaching career?  On the other hand, should it be a design that has excited me the most more recently? I have chosen the latter, as I have always enjoyed and thrived to create something a little bit different, which is exactly what I did last year for a client for their Great Gatsby event in London. I knew that I wanted to create a column, but also add something unusual. After spending a little time researching the Gatsby Theme, watching the film and referencing Art Deco style, I made a simple sketch in my note pad. I then turned my sketch into a digital image that I was able to show my client. 




Gold Column Sculpture by Sue Bowler

On the right is my digital image with the final result (shown side-by-side), made from Gold Chrome balloons and complimented with 3' and Deco Bubble confetti-filled balloons! 

Whilst I was making these Gold Column Sculptures on-site at the venue, I could not believe the number of compliments that I received from the hotel staff, the event organisers and general passersby! It was so exciting to hear all the positive comments and exclamations of "we've never seen such beautiful balloons!" 

A week after the Gatsby event, I attended the Qualatex Event in Mexico and decided to share the design with the delegates. I made a few changes and added a few new elements - once again I was greeted with an overwhelming positive response. 

Since this event, I have used the same style of frame to make an elegant organic style wedding design. 

We are so used to strong vertical lines with balloons that by using soft curves often feels more natural, organic and playful. I have also found that creating a curving line rather than a straight adds volume, giving the appearance of a bigger or more voluminous design.






I have loved seeing the designs selected by Chris, Cam, and Luc. I truly admire their work and styles, and have really enjoyed compiling their testimonies and getting their perspectives.

Have you decided what your favourite design is? Considering this aspect is an important reason to acknowledge our personal success is it can help us continue to achieve. If we reflect back on what worked well and why, we can often repeat the process and hence continue to benefit repeatedly. 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue





Friday, February 7, 2020

Creating Your Brand & Image - Digital Marketing with Zoe Adam- Jones CBA

Was one your New Year's resolutions to up your game and give your balloon business a bit of a makeover? Though we are now in to February, it's definitely not too late to get started on this!

So, how important is your branding?

Branding is important not only because it is your first memorable impression with consumers but also because it allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. Several areas should be used to develop a brand including advertising, customer service, promotional merchandise, reputation, and logo.

Consistency is key to effective branding. In this quick Video Tutorial, Zoe Adams-Jones CBA from JAZ Trading shows you how to use the Branding Kit feature in Canva to help you achieve consistent branding.




I met Zoe three years ago when I attended the Australasian Balloon Convention (ABC) in Australia. At that time, Zoe was just starting her wholesale distribution business Jaz Trading. Over the past three years, Zoe has made her mark, whether it is through her continuous contributions to the balloon industry with her fabulous design skills, her generosity in sharing her extensive digital marketing knowledge, or working tirelessly to protect the balloon industry taking on the role of Director of PEBA - Pro Environment Balloon Alliance.


To learn more about Zoe and her impact on the world of balloons, check out my post from last year - Everything You Need to Know About Zoe Adam-Jones - Designer Extraordinaire and CANVA Queen!

If you are new to CANVA and would like to know more about how to use it, check out Zoe's extremely helpful article and video tutorial - "Good Design Matters for your Business" - Zoe Adams-Jones Shows You How to Create Fabulous Social Media Posts Using CANVA.

A huge thank you to Zoe for making this fabulous tutorial for the Very Best Balloon Blog readers and for sharing her immense knowledge on this subject! 



Happy Ballooning!

Sue 
www.suebowler.com
@suebowler







Monday, January 27, 2020

Balloon Character Designs Perfect for Valentine's Day - with Step-by-Step Video Instructions!


I have always really enjoyed making "little people" mini-balloon sculptures. I have found that they make truly great gifts in their own right, or add extra value to a bigger arrangement! They are an air-filled design too, which is a major bonus! 


Valentine's Day is not only for the true romantics, but also for friends, children, and even pets! So having a good repertoire of design ideas that caters to all tastes helps ensure that you have something for everyone! 





I love this "Naughty Smile & A Kiss" design. It's a very simple design, and has instant "smile" appeal. If you download the recipe sheet below and complete the job cost form, you will also find that it's also cost effective, giving you the opportunity to make a good profit! 


This little guy is based on the  design above, instead of using a Microfoil balloon for the head, I simply used a 5" Face - there are a variety of different faces that you could use for this design (I include some of these at the end of this post.













Here are a few more Mr Valentine's design's as featured on the Qualatex website - QBN members can download free step-by-step instruction sheets.

The design on the left is using a 646Q balloon for the body, which will make this design stand approximately 3' (1m) tall! 










Here is a great video tutorial by Vadim Shushkanov, CBA. In the video, Vadim shows how to make this super cute 260Q "Gentleman with Flower". If it's your preference, this design could be easily adapted to have him holding a 4" Microfoil® Heart balloon instead! 





Here are some great Qualatex Face Balloons that would work perfectly for these cute Valentine's Designs!


9" "Smiley Wink Heart" #97140
18" "Smiley Wink Heart" #78549/ #97140



28" "Smiley Face with Heart Eye's"
#97541


9" "Smiley Love" - Air-Filled
#49432


"A Smile & A Kiss"
11" Round
#78696


Smiley Faces Assortment
 05" Round
Color: Yellow
Package item #: 57961

I hope that I have given you a little inspiration to add to your Valentine's Day designs!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
@suebowler











Thursday, January 23, 2020

You are Never Too Old for a Balloon!

I wanted to share this short, but uplifting story with you! 

In 2019, a friend asked me if I could make a balloon arrangement for someone who was reaching the incredible age of 100 years old! 

After some careful consideration on what would be a balloon fit for a 100 year old, as well as deliberation towards the availability of space to accommodate it, I decide to make something small and compact. The arrangement also needed to be elegant, but fun - it is a balloon after all!

Personalisation was high on my list of importance, as reaching 100 years of age is no mean feat! For me, putting someone's name on a balloon lets the recipient know that they are an exceptional person with a very special occasion to celebrate!




One of my favourite styles of arrangements from last year was my air-filled board designs. Where the rest of the ballooning world is super-sizing their designs with fabulous giant fusion arrangements (which I love), my preference, especially on this occasion was for a design that was compact and neat. I used a large cake board for the base, which I covered with a stretched Microfoil balloon - you can learn this technique by clicking HERE or by referring to Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Part 2. I've noticed that using the same or a complimentary colour balloon for the base cover gives a sense of unity to the design as well as a mirror like reflective effect. I added a personalised air-filled 18" Microfoil® balloon to the base using Oasis Uglu™️ Dashes, and then added a selection of balloons inflated to a range of sizes, and finished the design by adding in a couple of silk roses heads and greenery - all carefully secured using Dashes.

The great thing about a design like this is that it's long-lasting, robust, and easy to transport.

The reason I am telling you this story is because Cath, the birthday girl, had never once received a balloon in her 100 years, and she absolutely loved it! She loved it so much that she took it away with her for her Birthday celebrations, and brought it back with her when she returned home a week later. She still has her balloon... quite a few weeks later now, and proudly displays it for everyone to see. 

This truly does prove that you are never too old to enjoy a balloon, and how much pleasure it can bring to someone! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler
www.suebowler.com
@suebowler




Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Will Investing in a Digital Balloon Inflator Help You to Grow Your Balloon Business?

Last week, I bought a sewing machine! It has been almost 40 years since I bought my last machine, and as you can imagine things have changed quite a bit since then! Did you know that the needle self-threads these days! Why am I telling you this? To show you why it's important to pick the right equipment for you and your business. 

While am not a tailor nor a dressmaker, I do enjoy making simple home furnishings, so I need more than just a needle and thread! 

This same rule applies to balloon inflators. In my last blog post - Which Electric Balloon Inflators is Best For You and Your Business - Part 1,  I talk about Level 1 and Level 2 inflators, both ideal for someone just starting out and also for professional decorators too! Many very successful balloon businesses work with the Conwin Air Force 4™ and the Premium Cool Aire® 4 inflators, especially those businesses that do large scale installations, balloon drops and organic style decor! 

So why should you go one-step further and invest in a top of the range digital balloon inflator? For me, it's all about which is the most time- saving, as well as provides precision and power. 

I have been working with digital balloon inflators such as the Conwin Precision Air™ and the Premium Twin-Air™️ Sizer ll for a number of years, and I really could not imagine going back to working without one.


Timesaving 

When working on air-filled decor we are, in most instances, inflating two balloons to create duplets. What could be simpler than pre-setting the size on your machine using the digital timer, placing the balloons over the outlets, pressing the foot pedal, and 'hey presto'! you have two balloons inflated to the same size in a matter of a few seconds! 






Precision


Although organic style decor is very popular, most professional balloon companies offer both organic and classic decor, such as the beautiful Rainbow Arch. Having an inflator that ensures that every balloon is accurately sized every time is invaluable! However, a digital inflator can still be used when making organic decor. I simply over-inflate my balloons and then allow a little air out until I obtain the desired size and shape that I am looking for.


Power

When it comes to power, there can be a huge different between inflators. The power of an inflator can also depend on the country that it is being used in. For example in the UK and Europe, machines work on 220/240v, whereas in the US and Canada the machines work on 110v which can have a considerable impact on how powerful they are. Having an inflator that is powerful enough to inflate all sizes of modelling balloons, including 160Q's and double-stuffed balloons is a huge bonus! 

As I have not worked with the new updated Conwin Precision AirV6 machine, I felt that it would be fairer to list the manufacturers product details to give an unbiased review.





Premium Twin-Air® Sizer

The only digital inflator designed to run continuously without overheating and accurately size latex including double-stuffed 5", and all modelling balloons for decoration.

Premium Twin-Air Sizer® II features & benefits

  • Push button screen adjusts inflation time in seconds and tenths of second.
  • Includes built in cycle counter that also gives the option to decrease count by one when required.
  • New state-of-the-art digital printed circuit board (PCB) for better control and longer life.
  • Immediate full pressure inflation with the foot pedal or on/off switch.
  • Never needs recalibrating.
  • Continuous inflation mode when foot pedal is plugged into the left outlet, or timed inflation mode when plugged into the right outlet.
  • Includes padded protective carrying case.
  • 120 volt for USA, 230V/240V for Europe, UK, and Australia.
  • CE approved for Europe and UK.
  • EPCS approved for Australia and New Zealand.
  • 1-year conditional warranty.




Precision Air™ V6 Inflator


The Next Generation in Air Inflation!
  • The Precision Air automatically sizes air-filled latex balloons without the use of heavy cylinders, noisy air compressors, or time- consuming templates. 
  • Great for columns, sculptures and other air-filled decor. 
  • Adjust the inflation time by tenths of a second for precision sizing. 
  • Proper balloon sizing eliminates popped balloons, and ensures consistent costing and customer satisfaction. 
  • Electrical unit includes a built-in, adjustable cycle counter that tracks the number of balloons inflated. 
  • New model allows you to inflate a single balloon automatically or two different sized balloons. 
  • Increase efficiency with the new Auto-Inflate Cycle function and inflate any size round and entertainer balloons 2” in diameter and larger.


If you are considering investing in one of these machines, I would say that you won't regret it! As a balloon decorator, you are only restricted by your limitations and one of our biggest limitations is time, especially when you work alone. Having a digital inflator will increase the number of balloons you can inflate within a given time, significantly giving you more opportunity and confidence to take on more work or bigger jobs! Your machine will pay for itself in no time! 

As I said in my last post, I will always recommend that if you are able to attend a balloon training course, event or convention, you should certainly do so. These events will give you the opportunity to work with all kinds of different equipment in order to have a full understanding of how each piece of equipment works and what works best for you! If you need any further advise, then ask other balloon professionals, they will be very quick to let you know what their favourite equipment is and why! 

Happy Ballooning!


Sue
www.suebowler.com

#suebowler






Friday, January 10, 2020

Which Electric Balloon Inflators is Best For You and Your Business - Part 1

Maybe you're just starting out, or maybe you're ready to take your balloon business to the next level! No matter what phase you're in, knowing which air-inflator to buy can be a little bit of a minefield.
Owning a hand-pump should be a given for your balloon business, as it is an essential tool in any balloon artists toolbox. However, having an electrical balloon inflator in addition to a hand-pump will enable you to significantly increase the amount of decor work that you can do.



Premium Balloon Accessories and Conwin  have both developed ranges of equipment for the balloon Industry. I use their products frequently and I want to feature their products in this blog as I feel confident in both their quality and usefulness to balloon artists like me!

I will always recommend that if you are able to attend a balloon training course, event or convention, you should certainly do so. These events will give you the opportunity to work with all kinds of different equipment in order to have a full understanding of how each piece of equipment works and what works best for you! 

Level 1: Basic Electric Balloon Inflators


Premium MicroAir®

This is a small, powerful and economical entry-level electric balloon inflator. 
It's perfect for inflating latex balloons that are 9" and larger in size.

The Premium Micro-Air has a push-down activation and an on-off switch for continuous inflation.





Available in 120 volt for USA, 230V/240V for Europe, UK, and Australia. CE approved for Europe and UK. This inflator is covered by Premium's 1-year conditional warranty.

Premium Mini Cool Aire®, “Dual Pro™” Inflator

This is another excellent beginner-friendly electric balloon inflator, and offers more even more features than the Premium MicroAir.





This inflator is not only perfect for inflating latex balloons, but is also good for air-inflating foil balloons with self-sealing valves. It inflates the foil balloon without causing any damage to the valves - which can easily happen when using inflation equipment that has not been specifically designed to inflate valved balloons.





This inflator has one speed for lower pressure and cooler inflation of foils and another for higher pressure, high-speed inflation of latex.
It has push-down activation and an on/off switch for continuous inflation.
It is available in 120-Volt and 230/240-Volt versions. CE approved. 1-year conditional warranty.

Level 2: Multi-Nozzle Electric Balloon Inflators


The inflators that I have featured above are both single outlet inflators - which means that you can inflate only one balloon at a time. Imagine how many more balloons you could inflate if you used a multi nozzle inflator!



Premium Cool Aire® 4 Balloon Inflator 

The Cool Aire 4 is a powerful inflator that can easily inflate 5˝ latex balloons and larger. It has three “Speed-Switch” settings: high-pressure for small latex, to low-pressure for large latex.
When you are not using all the nozzles, you can cap them to close them off, which will make the machine work faster. This inflator comes with high quality, padded protective carrying case. It also comes with two hands-free foot pedals when operated by multiple users. Ideal for inflating balloons for organic decor, balloon drops and arches.
120 volt for USA, 230V/240V for Europe, UK, and Australia.
CE approved for Europe and UK, with pending EPCS approvals for Australia.
1-year conditional warranty.



Conwin Air Force 4™ Inflator




Suitable for use with all sizes of latex balloons, this powerful inflator is well suited for many types of balloon decor jobs. It can be used with a foot pedal or continual-air blower, and is designed to maintain a fixed temperature and will not overheat on large jobs. It also has a Large Balloon Inflation Hose that can be attached to any of the outlets, and will quickly allow you to inflate 16″ latex balloons and larger in 1/3 of the time. 

Now you see why balloon professionals use these products! The Premium Cool Aire 4 and the Conwin Air Force 4 inflators are easily the most efficient way to inflate multiple balloons!

None of these featured air-inflators will accurately size balloons, so for precision inflation I would recommend using a balloon-sizing box such as the Qualatex® Balloon Sizer in conjunction with all of these inflators.


To find out more about each of these machines, visit www.premiumballoon.com or www.conwinonline.com or talk to your preferred balloon distributor/wholesaler. 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue

www.suebowler.com
#suebowler