Thursday, December 1, 2022

Meet Donna Higgins, the ONLY actual Delegate at the recent Q Corner Convention!

Are you a Q Corner Rockstar? It has now been almost 5 weeks since the 3rd Q Corner Convention aired, with 78 continuous hours of virtual balloon education from more than 40 of the world's top balloon artists and training instructors. 

I expect that some of you have watched the previous Q Corner conventions. The first occurred during the early part of the pandemic, and I know it was greatly received from the Worldwide ballooning community... did you know that all the instructors gave their time for free to help others through the difficult times! 

Donna with Keith and Dom from Q Corner

The latest convention was a little different. In order to watch it, you needed to become a Q Corner Rockstar which requires a monthly subscription of only £4.99 per month... not much for some of the very best online ballooning education! 

Although this was a purely online convention, there was a team of instructors based at Q Corner HQ for the duration of the convention. This provided a variety of live, fun and exciting elements to the convention. In addition to this, one person was offered an exclusive opportunity to attend the convention as the only actual delegate, which was offered as a prize through UK's Balloon and Party Industry Alliance (BAPIA).

Today's post is an interview with Donna Higgins, the Sole owner of ‘Bird and Blossom Balloons’ and the only actual delegate at the Q Corner Convention! 

Q. It is not everyday that someone gets the opportunity to be the only actual delegate at a balloon convention. It would be great to hear about your experience. Maybe you could share a little bit about the convention and your involvement?

Ok, where do I start? The convention was an incredible non-stop experience from start to finish! The days consisted of being involved in the balloon build during the day, whilst also filming sessions throughout the day and evening.

I was pretty much hands on with all the artists throughout the whole four days. And, for me, that was the best way to use this unique experience, getting stuck in and not missing out on any chance to learn from the best!

I also found this really great for my self-esteem, as most of the techniques I was able to help with (albeit a little slower), and that was encouraging for me at this point in my career
.

 

Donna with some of the Q Corner Team! Keith, Cam, Jim, Doctor Bob, Ishani, Donna, Kerry, Bex, Alessandro, and Lucy.


Q. What were your best bits and highlights?

 

Honestly I really loved it all, but one of my favourite parts (which surprised me) was getting involved in the filming! My first session was alongside Julie Dunham. I was so nervous, but she really made me feel at ease.  From that session on Keith & Dom had me roped in!

 

I got to learn alongside the amazing Doctor Bob and Keith while having such a good laugh at the same time. (I mean their jokes were terrible, but it turns out I’m also a good actress, and I perfected the fake laugh!).

 

Working alongside Lucy Hennessy while filming was also an incredible experience! Her creative brain is just full of awesome little tricks, that I’m sure she didn’t even realise I was watching and picking up constantly!

 

Donna with Cam Woody

 


Donna with Alessandro Patané

Doctor Bob, Donna and Keith Stirman

 

Q. What do you feel that you gained by being part of this event?

 

The opportunity to be so hands-on alongside professionals who have worked in the industry for so many years is incomparable to anything else I will get to experience at such an early stage in my career.

 

From learning alongside the wonderful (and sweetest man around) Alessandro Patanté, whose talent is unreal and his experience in the Italian market is something I would not get the opportunity to learn about in Northern Ireland. His creative brain is astounding!

 

Even being in the room with Cam Woody was amazing, watching her technique for balloon hugs and sellable designs that I can use daily was so great for me! Her neat adaptable designs and her lovely modest manner was just so lovely to be around! We had such fun.

 

Doctor Bob had me hooked from the beginning. Word got out I was a twister (I mean I’m a very new twister, but I guess I can do it) and we struck a wee balloon twisting bond! I watched him like a hawk and the session we all had together was really helpful for me!

 

Kerry Ferguson was not only so fun to be around, but she trusted me to build those walls alongside her! And I’m so glad she did, as I have never yet had the experience or opportunity to work on such a large build. These classic décor walls were one of the things I really wanted to be a part of. The impact was so incredible to me.

 

And then my experience with Bex from Blow it with Bex was so incredibly helpful. Her knowledge of social media, the organic world and general business was really great for me to be around. As a young business owner, to see how she has grown so fast in such a short period of time is really encouraging.

  

Donna with Bex Phelps 

 

Q. For someone who knows nothing about the convention, how would you describe it to them, and why should they sign up? (Yes, you can still watch the whole convention at your leisure, and you will also get access to thousands of hours of ballooning education as part of your Rockstar membership, to sign up visit https://www.youtube.com/c/QCornerShow/join)

 

These conventions are days of pure ballooning fun.  All the instructors have a wealth of knowledge, and you can go back to watch all of the sessions over and over again, which I do often! The sessions are from incredible instructors from all over the world in every technique within the industry.

 

I would encourage anyone to sign up to be a Q Corner Rockstar.  I personally find it such a great resource for development and learning, tan here are so many detailed step-by-step tutorials and business advice all in one place!

 

Keith & Dom are fantastic hosts, fun to watch and their ability to come up with things on the spot is a skill not everyone has.  I found that admirable, as I know I can talk, but those guys were on another level!

 

 



Q. Tell me a bit about you, your balloon business, how long you’ve been working with balloons!

 

Well, hello! My name is Donna, and I am the sole owner of ‘Bird and Blossom Balloons’.  My business is based in a small town called Ballyclare in Northern Ireland. I currently work from home, which fits around my little family of four. My stock however is beginning to outgrow my current workspace due to business growth, and I am excited to see what the future holds! 

I cannot really pinpoint the moment I discovered my love for balloons or the reason why.  It happened around the summer of 2021 pushing me to start my business and ‘see how it goes’. Since then I have slowly built up my business dealing with balloon décor of all kinds including: air-filled, helium, twisting and lots of other fun new skills I have trained in. I recently celebrated my first year in business in September 2022, and have been really blown away by the response by my local customers.

 

The most incredible thing I have learnt about the industry so far is how friendly and encouraging people are.  I have travelled to England to attend courses and have made some truly great strong friendships!  I could honestly say the balloon world is definitely where I belong! 

A huge thank you to Donna for taking part in this interview and for sharing her amazing and unique experience with us all! 

If you have never attended a balloon event whether online or in person, it is truly the best way to grow your knowledge and experience and to learn some fanatic designs, skills and techniques! 

Happy ballooning, and don't forget to become a Q Corner Rockstar! 

 

Sue

www.suebowler.com
Follow me @suebowler

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 28, 2022

How to Make a Poinsettia Flower using Qualatex Taper Balloons and other Finishing Touches

In my last post, I demonstrated how to make a Christmas Wreath. In this post I will show you how to decorate the wreath using a few different ideas and techniques.




Check out the video below to find out how to create the precision bubbles and the bow.


 Poinsettia Flower

In this next video, I will show you how to make this Qualatex Taper Poinsettia Flower. 





Here are some more fantastic examples of the Poinsettia Flower. This fantastic display was made by Natalie Saunders of The Balloon Room, in Stevenage, UK. Natalie created this display for the recent BAPIA Funday! 


Natalie sprayed Silver Tapers to create Pink Tapers to make these gorgeous 
 flowers! 



If you missed the first video on how to make the wreath, click HERE

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler

How to Make a Christmas Wreath - Step-by-Step Video

 

Christmas Wreath by Sue Bowler

Karla Bell-Marsh of Blooms and Balloons in Portsmouth and I recently created these five hoops to represent the 'Five Gold Rings' as quoted  in the Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas at a recent industry event hosted by BAPIA (Balloon and Party Industry Alliance) and co-sponsored by Pioneer Europe, Qualatex.

The wreaths proved to be a popular sight at the event, so I thought that I would share the design with The Very Best Balloon Blog! 

I've created a step-by-step video showing you how to make the wreath. This same technique can be used with different coloured balloons to create hoop designs for multiple occasions.



Chrome Gold and Chrome Gold Christmas Wreath by 
Sue Bowler, CBA and Karla Bell-Marsh.
The wreath above was made on a larger, 1m hoop. I inflated the outer balloons to 6" and the inner balloons to 5", using the same technique on the video.

Here is a wedding hoop design that I made using the same sizing technique as above. On this occasion, I have added a 6" heart on the second cluster.

Wedding Hoop by Sue Bowler

I will demonstrate how to recreate the Taper Poinsettia in my next post! 

Happy Ballooning! 



Sue
www.suebowler.com

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Christmas Trends for 2022

I think the world is looking forward to life and business as usual this Christmas! After several years of Christmas lockdowns and disruption to life, it is time to pull out all the stops for a fabulous festive season! 

When it comes to making balloon Christmas Tree's, Balloonista from Kent, England certainly has the style! The three trees featured below is the stunning work of Balloonista and I love them all! 

Blue Silver and White Balloon Christmas Tree


Red and Green Balloon Christmas Tree

Pink Green and Gold Balloon Christmas Tree


Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia. It's looking like traditional red and gold is looking to be two of the top trending colours of Christmas 2022!


Qualatex Chrome + Festive Florals and Foliage by
Zoe Adam-Jones of Jaz Trading

Gonk's, or Gnomes are a definite trend for this year. Gnomes were the most in demand Christmas accessory of last year and are set to be even bigger for 2022! Some say that it is an alternative to Elf on the Shelf, and has all the appeal for a fun Christmas! 


Designer name: Kerry Ferguson, CBA, Pioneer® Europe Ltd., UK




Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloons, Wichita, Kansas, USA


Festive scene by Julie Dunham, CBA, and Lucy Hennessy CBA of Pioneer Europe.

Boho style decor has been a trend for some time now, so why not mix it in for Christmas too? What is Boho? Boho style is a free-spirited aesthetic that mixes different cultures and artistic expressions into an eclectic style with an emphasis on organic elements and nature. As an alternative style for Christmas it will certainly hold major appeal!

Photo Courtesy of Daydreaming Hues

And finally, Colourful Brights! 
Not only a fun and playful way to refresh interiors during the festive season, but these bright colours are the perfect mood boost too!

Photo courtesy of Kailo Chic - using Northstar letters balloons and a little spray paint - it's truly so merry and bright and will forever make us smile!

So when planning your décor and designs to wow your customers, ensure that you create some fun alternatives and something exciting and new for Christmas! 

Happy ballooning! 

Sue
www.suebowler.com

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Creative Balloon Columns

The dictionary definition of a column is: an upright pillar, typically cylindrical, supporting an arch, entablature, or other structure; or standing alone as a monument.

Sculptured Column
Design Created by Sue Bowler

In the world of balloons, columns are defined as Classic Balloon decor and come in many shapes and sizes, and they are usually used as a structure that is supported by a base and an upright pole. They could also be self-supporting when using 646Q or QuickLink Balloons. 

I designed this 'Sculptured Column' in the picture above for a corporate event in London. It still uses the traditional pole and base, but for this occasion the pole was 'sculptured' or bent to create this elegant shape. This design was inspired by the Gatsby theme.

A traditional column is usually one that has been constructed using either 4- or 5-balloon clusters. Using a 5-balloon clusters creates a rounder, more cylindrical shape, whereas the 4-balloon clusters will gives a squared shape. 


Impressive Party Entrance Decor with these Star-Topped Columns

Candy-Coated Chrome™ Blossoms



This palm tree "trunk" was created using 5-balloon clusters to give it a rounder shape. The clusters have also been graduated in size, which helps to define the tree trunk shape. Balloon Christmas trees often use either 5- or even 6-balloon clusters to give an even more defined rounded shape.

The basic column is a good starting point for many 'simple' style balloon sculptures!  


1. Cocktail Glass by Federico Onida, CBA
2. Cactus design by Cam Woody, CBA
3. Santa by Cam Woody, CBA
4. Christmas Trees by Dante Longhi, CBA


To learn how to make a 5-balloon spiral column, check out this video with Keith Stirman, CBA of QCorner.


Columns with a Twist! 

Spiral Columns made with modelling balloons such as 260Q and 160Q have always been a favourite of mine. They are quick to make, always look elegant, and are a great way to decorate a pole when creating a design that require a pole and base structure. As with all techniques, they need to be practiced to ensure that you get perfect results every time! 


This elegant column was created using Diamond Clear 260Q with Pearl White 160Q wrapped around... so pretty! 

Elegant Wedding Column created by Sue Bowler, CBA

Polka Dot and Stripes by Sue Bowler

I love this custom coloured column by Eve Antonella, CBA of Pioneer  Balloon Company, Wichita

Circus Theme Column by Sue Bowler

If you would like to learn how to recreate this fantastic technique, visit my post -https://theverybestballoonblog.blogspot.com/2020/09/how-to-create-spiral-balloon-columns.html There is a step-by-step video that will show you how!

Flat Pack Column

With its elegant lines, the Flat-Pack technique is very different from the usual cluster method that is often used to make Columns and Arches. I enjoy using this style for Columns and Arches and have used it a number of times for different events. 




To learn this technique, check out the short step-by-step video below.



And finally, when it comes to designing columns, don't forget that there is a fabulous digital design and calculation tool available for balloon professionals. This tool is used by thousands of balloon industry professionals all over the world, and will assist you when designing Arches, Columns, Organic designs and Balloon Walls. To find out more, visit https://balloonpro.co/balloon-design-tools/. This tool is invaluable to my business as a means to design decor for corporate clients and for many of the classes that I teach! 

https://balloonpro.co/balloon-design-tools/

What is your favourite style of column to make?


Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Elf on the Shelf and Other Copyright Protection Pitfalls




Elf on the Shelf season is almost upon us, and for a number of balloon companies, it could inevitably spell the misery of disabled social media accounts, or worse a potential lawsuit! Honestly, any one of a number of heavily trademarked companies will pounce on the small independent companies who actually have no idea that they have done anything wrong! Unfortunately, breaking the "rules" on social media is easier than you may realise! So, are you committing copyright infringement and don't realise that you are doing it?


Kyrstin De Leeuw, CBA of The Balloon Store in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, creates her very own super cute Christmas Elf 

Every year, I see posts on Facebook balloon related groups where someone share their woes of their 'lost' Instagam or Facebook accounts!  A ballooning friend of mine told me that her business Instagram account had been disabled before Christmas for violating Instagram Community Guidelines  - her account was never restored and a cheeky little "Elf on the Shelf" had something to do with it! 

I personally have nothing against these elves, but they can have the habit of getting businesses into trouble, especially at this time of year! 



What is the 'Elf on The Shelf'?

The Elf of the Shelf character actually comes from a beloved children's book which tells the tale of Santa's little elf who enters the house at Christmas time to report back each night on who's been naughty and who's been nice. This iconic character is known for hiding itself in a new location each morning and has evolved into a cultural phenomenon by which a stuffed toy elf appears in many households in the lead up to Christmas. A festive month-long game of hide and seek ensues with many children and their parents, with the little one's looking forward to waking up each morning in December to find out where the elf has got to that day.

With the arrival of the stuffed elf toy being so eagerly anticipated each holiday season, many balloon companies have realised that they too can spread a little extra cheer each year by sending toy elves out to their customers. Often, the elves are sat astride stocking filler baskets topped with beautiful balloons! This can be a really fun way to kick off the festive season for lots of families.

Ok, What's the Harm in Doing That?
While it may seem like great fun to join in the "trend", businesses must always remain wary of the copyright infringement risks that surround this iconic character. You may think 'You can't copyright an idea!', but actually you can... it's what is know as 'intellectual property' a concept which protects an original idea from being copied without the appropriate credit and requital to its creators; in this case, the authors of the children's book. The character and phrase, 'Elf on the Shelf' and derivatives of it have been copyright protected, meaning use of the phrases without express permission from the copyright owners could lead to legal action. Having recently checked, it looks like Elf on the Shelf now have copyrights on over 50 words and sayings that have some relevance to their elf character... in other words, there are very few elf related words that are safe to use in a hashtag! 

The same is true for many trademarked characters, which is why when creating balloon designs, it is important to be wary of using protected names and imagery unlawfully. An example of this would be selling counterfeit foil balloons that depict popular children's TV characters. If in doubt, it is best to only purchase such supplies from approved licensees and to look out for the copyright © / trademark logo ®  as an indication that the supplier has express permission to license and distribute that brand.

Creating any likeness of a copyright protected character is also likely to be prohibited by law regardless of if you have created it yourself as you're still profiting off an 'idea' that isn't yours. For instance, twisting yourself a 'Mike the Mouse' character with whimsically large black ears, red shorts and white gloves could still get you in trouble with the people at Disney because you are still attempting to make money off the idea of the character which they created aka their 'intellectual property'. Your version must be different enough that it cannot be considered a direct copy.

The likelihood of a copyright owner finding an infringing image online is low if the image is not tagged with anything that links it to the trademark. So, avoid using hashtags, names, phrases and in generally any wording that is specific to trademarked characters and you're much less likely to get flagged in a copyright dispute.

How Can I Avoid Any Issues Going Forward? So, back to our whimsical elf; while the phrase and concept of 'elf on the shelf' is protected, the word 'elf' by itself isn't trademarked (it's very hard to trademark single, commonly used words...) and there's no harm in simply selling stuffed elf toys for families to use as they please...

It is definitely worth thinking about ways to still let customers know that you can offer what they're after without stepping on the toes of the established brand. It may mean getting creative with your wording for instance, 'Hide and Seek Elf' or 'Find Me Elf' and altering aspects of the idea enough that it's not considered an infringement. It is worth doing research beforehand to avoid getting you business into trouble.

So my advice to you is to stay clear of using any hashtags to promote goods and services that you offer that could land you in trouble, it is definitely not worth it! 



I would like to thank Jade Fraser, Marketing Manager from BAPIA Ltd. for co-writing this post.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue 
Follow @suebowler





Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Stylish and Creative Ways to Add Balloon Flowers to Designs and Décor

Balloon flowers come in many different guises. They can be twisted, distorted, made with round and heart shape balloons, and of course they can be a flower shaped foil balloon! In this post, we are going to look at the many different styles and decor ideas that can be created with Balloon Flowers, plus a few how-to video's to help you learn some of the techniques! 

How gorgeous is this Birthday Bouquet by Sally Povey of Above & Beyond Balloons in Sheerness, England? Sally created this stunning bouquet with a collection of different styles of twisted flowers, plus she added small yet impactful accent details that help set this apart from other flower designs. 

Fabulous balloon flowers by Sally Povey


Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company, uses a variety of different balloon flowers to create this Easter themed Balloon Wall! Cam used 6" latex hearts to make the daisies, then added two fabulous 33" Pink Peony Microfoil™ balloons to give a floral focal point to her design.





A whole new meaning to flower power! This breathtaking design is by Joan and Barbara of Globosmanas Manas from Caracas, Venezuela.



This creative Flower Wall was designed and created by Alberto Falcone, CBA. Alberto has used a variety of different balloon flowers to make this abstract and colourful balloon wall for a trade show window display.




This fabulous photo is from the Qualatex Pioneer Balloon Collective - Lifestyle Photos that are freely available to download HERE and use on your socials.


Jackie Ochitwa, CBA of With a Twist Balloons from Alberta, Canada, uses Twisted Flowers to create this undeniably adorable design. To find out how to make it click HERE or follow this link https://www.instagram.com/tv/Cb74LI8A3JG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


This beautiful Arch has been made using Chrome™ Balloons which have been distorted to create these unique flowers. Designer name, Leonardo Carmona, CBA, White Diamond Decor, from Anaheim, CA, USA.


If you would like to learn how to create a range of different styles of flowers, check out this video from Qualatex, where you will learn to make Daisies using four different methods!


Here is another fabulous flower! Federico Onida, CBA of Balloon Express in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy shares his 6" Heart Tropical Flower design.



Another flower that I see regularly used in 'Marquee' and 'Stack' designs is the Basket Weave Flower.



And of course, we cannot forget Fantasy Flowers! These flowers are made from uninflated latex balloons that have been wired. If you would like to learn more about Fantasy Flowers and how to make them click HERE for a direct link to my blog post - The 'Art' of Fantasy Flowers or visit - https://theverybestballoonblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-art-of-fantasy-flowers.html




What could be more appealing than this giant bouquet of flowers! 

Flowers are always a popular addition to any design, but the white daisy with a yellow centre is particularly trendy right now!

I hope that this post has been helpful and has given you a few new ideas that can be incorporated into your everyday balloon decor and arrangements! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler