Friday, December 6, 2019

You've Been Framed - Luc Bertrand, CBA, Shares his Linear Photo Frame Perfect for New Years Parties!

Once again, Luc Bertrand, CBA, of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium has very kindly shared one of his designs with the readers of the Very Best™️ Balloon Blog! Who would have thought it would be so simple to use the Northstar Balloons™️ L letters to make this quick and original photo frame! 

Step 1.

You will need:
 2 - 34" Northstar Letter L - available in Gold, Silver, Magenta, Blue and Rose Gold.
Glue Dots & Stretch® Balloon Tape 
5" Qualatex® Latex Balloons and other finishing accessories 
Attach two corners with the shown tabs using any kind of glue dot. Luc likes to use Premium Balloon Accessories® Double-Sided Tape Dots #33156 - available through some Qualatex Distributors. Luc   then re-enforces this connection with Stretchy Balloon Tape on the tip of the balloon.

Step 2.

Slide a VERY loose 4-balloon cluster of 5" latex balloons inflated to approximately 4" in-between the two foils in both of the connected corners.
Make a loose triplet of three organically sized 5" balloons and wrap these around the two most external balloons from the first cluster. This keeps the first cluster in place and gives an “organic” touch.  Voila! - that is the basic frame shape!

Style as desired 

  • Add the date or year to the  top - such as New Years 2020!
  • Add someone's initials - this could be for a wedding, anniversary, Valentine's Day or other personal event.
  • The frame can be filled with a message 18” foil as shown below.
  • Be creative... add your own style and detailing! 

When using the small 16” letter, these can be used to make a base for an air-filled design - Luc used this concept for his fairy design below.

Once again, a huge thank you to Luc for sharing one of his brilliant design concepts with the Very Best Balloon Blog! 

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, November 28, 2019

QuickLinks Santa Mural 2019 Update

Several Christmases ago, Luc Bertrand, CBA, of Waw Balloons, Vichte, Belgium, very kindly gifted the readers of the Very Best Balloon Blog with a recipe to make his QuickLinks™️ Santa Mural. Today I decided to play with the design a little, and I made a few tiny tweaks, and sprinkled in a few little organic additions. 

The basic frame for this design is much the same as Luc's original (see design and details below). The only real changes are the addition of the fillers. In the original design, Luc does not fill the gaps between the links, I just wanted to see how it would look if I made these changes, and I really liked the result! For the hat, I used single balloon fillers, but for Santa's hair and beard, I used random-sized cluster (organic) fillers, which gave it a more realistic textured beard! 
This image was created using Chris Adamo's fabulous Balloon Design Tool

This fantastic Santa design is quick and easy to re-create. When made with 6" QuickLinks, it's ideal for a window display, however, if you step up the sizing  and use 12" QuickLinks your design will have an even bigger impact - perfect for a Christmas event!  

To see Luc's original Santa Mural design and recipe, click HERE.

Thank you Luc for the original design, and I hope that you like the few little additions that I made! 

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, November 25, 2019

FAN-tastic Balloon Decor - Perfect for New Year's Celebrations and Elegant Black-Tie Affairs!

I don't know about you, but I am a little bit in love with gorgeous decorative paper fans! They easily add an incredible visual texture and a touch of elegance to your balloon decor.

With New Year's Eve not too far away, you might be looking for a little "FANcifal" inspiration! So, I have selected a few design ideas that you could present to your clients.

Black, Gold, and Silver New Years Eve Balloon Wall by Sue Bowler
Balloon walls are always an exciting addition to any party. They make a fabulous dramatic backdrop that can be used as entrance, stage decor, or as a superb photo opportunity! 

The balloon wall above was created with Onyx Black Qualatex® 12" QuickLink™️ balloons inflated to 9" using the Grid technique. The gaps are filled with a selection of  7" & 11" Chrome balloons, 11" plain & prints and Microfoil® balloons as shown below. The addition of the stars and the Happy New Year foils to the wall adds another level of depth and dimension.

18" "New Year Black & Gold Fans" Microfoil Balloon
20" "Glittergraphic" Silver & Gold Stars
11" "Star Patterns" Onyx Black & White with Gold print
11" Chrome Gold & Chrome Silver

Below is another balloon wall that I recently made for a client's "Great Gatsby" theme party. Using the same Grid technique, this time I used just Chrome Gold and Chrome Silver 7" & 11" balloons to fill the spaces. The end result was perfect, it looked perfectly elegant and classy! Despite the Roaring 20's vibe, this wall would work perfectly well for a New Year's Eve party!

Centrepiece design ideas can always be a little tricky. Here's one that I made recently that would work perfectly for this style of decor! 

This elegant organic style design was made using a Plexipoles base and pole. I added two beautiful paper fans that complemented the "New Year Black & Gold Fan" Microfoil balloon perfectly! 

I recently designed a new style of balloon column that I named the "Artistic Sculptured Column". Only a few days after making this design for a client I was teaching at the Qualatex Event Mexico 2019 and decided to show my design to the delegates with a few small tweaks and changes from the original design. And the extra additions of the fan's paid off, as they worked perfectly with this design! 

To give you some idea of the scale of this column, I added a photograph with me standing next to it. 

All the designs shown above are air-filled, which is beneficial during this uncertain time of helium availability!

Don't forget - you can find more inspiring ideas by visiting the Qualatex website - click on INSPIRATION and then BALLOON DECOR, use the OCCASIONS tab to select New Year.

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Seven Wonders of the 7" Chrome Balloon

Gold Balloon Sculpture by Sue Bowler
Artistic Gold Sculptured Column design by Sue Bowler, CBA.

What isn't there not to love about the mighty 7" balloons! I have absolutely loved working with them! They inflate to a beautifully rounded shape, which is perfect for the popular organic trend! With size options ranging from 3.5" to 7", you get an exquisitely shaped balloon every time.

Now that we have had a few months to play with these remarkable balloons, I thought that it would be a good time to share some of the reasons why we love these balloons so much! 

When Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, of With A Twist Balloon Creations, Alberta, Canada made her beautiful Princess design using Qualatex® Chrome™️ 260Qs and the Chrome 7", she was completely blown away by the transformation of her original design. She knew instantly that these extra-special princesses would be a hit with her clients! 

"The versatility of the 7” chrome is amazing. It’s one of those balloons that I wonder how I got by without it.  It’s the perfect accent to any decor piece. They add the perfect amount of sparkle and shine and I love that you can get so many different sizes from one little balloon."

If you have had the opportunity to play with Chrome balloons, you know that they are much softer than regular latex, which makes them easier to manipulate. Check out the video below in which Jackie demonstrates how to make a beautiful distorted balloon heart using a 7" Purple Chrome balloon.

Rainbow Design by Sue Bowler CBA

I recently used these fabulous balloons to make this beautiful rainbow, or as I have renamed it - the #Chromebow Arch 

Everything rainbow will continue to be a hot trend for 2020 - which makes this elegant, yet joyful decor perfect for a birthday party or other special occasions!

As someone who absolutely adores colour, I love that we have the ability to create unique custom colours when we place a 7" Chrome balloon inside a 5" balloon. Although the fit is not perfect, it still works well!

70th Birthday Surprise Arrangement by Sue Bowler
Chrome balloons inside Jewel Tones is probably one of my favourite custom combinations. However, I have recently been using Chrome inside Pastel Pearls and that effect is striking too!  

The design on the left is an arrangement that I made for my brother-in-laws 70th birthday. I covered a round base with a Jewel Ombre Microfoil™️ balloon. I added a box, filled the box with lots of chocolate treats, then attached an assortment of Jewel-Chrome (another made up name) balloons, that spilled over from the box onto the base! To complete the design, I added Jelli balloons to make the number 70 and a few tiny gold bubbles!

If you would like to learn how to cover a base-board, check out my recent blog post: 

Fabulous NEW Jelli Balloons Design Inspiration - With Step-By-Step Design Instructions

Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA, of Jazz Training, Queensland, Australia, has really enjoyed developing designs and techniques with the new 7" Chrome size.

"I really like the versatility of 7” chrome. 
The introduction of this size is what inspired me to try the lace trim technique around foil balloons. I have always loved to pre-stretch 11” chrome and twist into organic bubbles, however the 7” size allowed me to create perfectly round bubbles to achieve a new level of detail on the trim. 
I also use this size inside Deco Bubbles. Chrome adds elements of class and sophistication to designs and the 7” size works really well in Bubbles."
Here are a few of Zoe's fabulous Bubble designs:

Happy Birthday Bubble Gold and Black by Zoe Adam-Jones

Father's Day Gift Hot Air Balloon Design by Zoe Adam-Jones

Alex Ventura, CBA, & Elle Ventura, CBA of Pacha Balloon Creations, Ontario, Canada are also passionate about the 7" Chrome balloons! 

"We love the wonderful 7" Chrome. It is just the perfect in-between size to make the impact required for the trends our industry currently creates. They are perfect for sculptures, classic decor, and organic style decor, they truly add that wow factor, and finishing touch to all of our designs!"
Here are some of Alex and Ellie's designs using their favourite balloons:  

The 7" Chrome balloon is proving to be the must-have balloon to accessories your designs! The more I work with them, the more excited I get! They truly transform my designs to a whole new level. If you have yet to use them I recommend that you give yourself time to play soon, especially as Christmas and New Year's Eve events are the next big ballooning events! 

A huge thank you to Jackie, Zoe, Alex and Ellie for sharing their ideas and beautiful creativity! 

Happy Ballooning! 


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Two Million Magic Milestone - Thank you!

It's funny how things can creep up on you, and that's exactly what happened last week when I noticed that the Very Best Balloon Blog had crept over the 2 million page views marker! I cannot tell you how thrilled and excited I was to reach this magic milestone! 

I posted my very first blog post in June 2011, and over the past eight years I have published 419 posts! I really enjoy researching new topics and finding valuable and helpful content! I love the challenge of learning something new that I can share  in turn with the balloon industry! But more than anything, I love to hear all the fabulous feedback that I get from those of you that have found the blog helpful and informative!

I am always looking for exciting new topics to write about, so if you have any suggestions please email me

And finally, I would like to say a massive thank all the amazing contributors who generously give their time to share designs ideas, knowledge, skills, fabulous videos and photographs. You all know who you are, you are the very best! 

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Qualatex @ The Moscow Balloon Festival 2019

Beautiful "Mythical Caticorn" Column Design
by Larisa Ketskalo,
CBA and Anhelika Vahurna, CBA.
This year the Moscow Balloon Festival celebrated its 20th Anniversary, and it certainly did not disappoint! I first attended the festival in 2002, and so much has changed since my first visit! This event is sponsored by different balloon, equipment and accessory manufacturers, and many of the competitions are sponsored by different balloon companies. It is always very interesting to see how different manufacturer's products have  an impact on a design - but in my opinion the Qualatex Chrome balloons really stood out this year! 

1st Place Winners of the Master Sculpture Competition
Olga Baranova, Olga Samoilova, Tatyana Dyusmetova,
Ekaterina Poroshkina, Artem Sadovnikov, Tatiana Afanasieva.

Many of the Russian balloon professionals who attend this event are extremely talented. I would even go as far as saying that they are probably some of the best in the world! It was an absolute joy to be able to see their incredible work up close!

Attendee's attending the festival were greeting with fabulous Qualatex decor created by
Olga Baranova, CBA & Olga Samoilova, CBA.

Two of the teams at this year's festival were sponsored by Qualatex, and I am delighted to report that each team did exceptionally well. Between the two of them they won many of the competitions!

SD Shar Team:
Alexander Solomatin
Vadim Shushkanov
Dmitry Novikov
Vadim Nesterenko
Olga Nesterenko
Armen Egshatyaan

Olga Baranova,
Olga Samoilova,
Tatyana Dyusmetova, 

Ekaterina Poroshkina,
Artem Sadovnikov,
Tatiana Afanasieva.

First Place Winner of the Masters Large Sculpture - Team Captain Olga Baranova, CBA

Here are a few words from team captain Olga Baranova who, in a message on Facebook, describes her joy, happiness and gratitude to her team members. The text was in Russian and with the help of translate I have changed it to English, and although it's probably not a perfect translation, you can definitely feel her excitement!
"The 20th Balloon Festival in Moscow!!! The most prestigious and most awaited event of the year!!! The whole thing flew by one breath!! Joyful meetings, nice news, open family faces!!!This year, the team "Group of Comrades" performed at the Moscow Festival for the seventh time, and showed a very high level of skill in all categories of festival works!!! We did it! We did it, we have the first place in the nomination "Big Sculpture" in the Masters League!!!! We made a gorgeous dress, very worthily worn by Katya on the podium!!!My dear, comrades, thank you for this competition, for the atmosphere on the set, for understanding with half words and half-looks! And despite the fact that the preparation was not easy at all, we did decent work and became winners!!! Our bird of happiness revealed its wings!!!! and yes, happiness is!!!!!"

Here are a few more photographs and designs from Olga's Team!

Designs by Olga Baranova,  Olga Samoilova,  Tatyana Dyusmetova,  Ekaterina Poroshkina,  Artem Sadovnikov,  Tatiana Afanasieva.

Grand Prix Winner (the team that scores the most points overall) and Third Place Winner of the Masters Large Sculpture - Team Captain Alexander Solomatin, CBA.

Team Captain Alexander first attended the Moscow Balloon Festival 2008. He attended one of Alberto Falcone's classes, and this experience changed both his balloon perspective and life forever.  

 I asked Alexander if he would tell me a little bit about this years festival and what it meant to him.
"This year the Moscow Festival was very important for me. This was the first time after a long break that we reunited with almost our original team, which in 2014 saw us win our first prizes in the industry. Working with my old friends side by side gave me great happiness.  
It took us a very long time to find an idea for our large sculpture; it was our 20th sculpture and we didn’t want to do something boring or repeat ourselves. As a prototype we chose the dragon 'Drogon' from the 'Games of Thrones' series. We have waited a long time to create this dragon. The biggest problem creating such an impressive figure for the balloon festival is that it is very difficult to make it realistic and well detailed. So we decided to make only a head, and the image that we chose made it rather risky because we decided to build it on the diagonal of the site, and with the direction not from bottom to top, but from top to bottom. Initially, we transferred the image to a large scale grid, and day-after-day we measured each corner by a millimeter, this allowed us to create an accurately scaled wireframe structure. 
In total, the creating of this figure took us around two weeks. It was precisely calibrated and meticulous work on each line and every corner of the figure that gave such a realistic result in the end. We are very happy that we decided to do it and we believe that at the moment it is the pinnacle of our career. I would like to express my gratitude to all members of our team: Dmitry Novikov, Vadim Shushkanov, Vadim Nesterenko, Olga Nesterenko, Armen Yegshatyan."
The picture of the complete Drogon head can be seen above and in greater detail on the video.

It is always an absolute joy and pleasure to attend the Moscow Balloon Festival. Seeing in excess of thirty large sculptures in one room is awe-inspiring! The level of design, creativity, and skill is truly breath-taking! I love how each team embraces the competition categories, and different members of the team take on lead roles in each of these categories. The fashion show is one of my personal highlights; not only are the costumes pure works of art that demonstrate an incredible skillset, the designs and models are also choreographed to music, which makes the show even more exciting!

My role at the festival was to share some of my design ideas and to showcase the magnificent range of Qualatex balloons to the delegates. Here are a few of the designs that I demonstrated:

"Selling the Dream" Tropical Balloon Wall by Sue Bowler, CBA
"Selling the Dream" Tropical Balloon Wall by Sue Bowler, CBA

Valentines Design by Sue Bowler
Valentines Designs by Sue Bowler

International Woman's Day - March 8th by Sue Bowler
International Woman's Day - March 8th by Sue Bowler

Halloween Surprise Box design by Sue Bowler
Halloween Surprise Box design by Sue Bowler

A huge congratulations to the organisers, Europa Uno Trade and all those involved for another tremendous event! 

Happy Ballooning! 


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hoops, Beautiful Hoops! - Inspiring Design Ideas

White with Greenery Wedding Wreath by Sue Bowler
From tiny to giant, hoop and wreath designs have become increasingly more popular within both balloon and floral markets. As they continue to pop up on the wedding and party scene, these impressive works of art can act as stunning ceremony backdrops, as reception decor, or as unique staging for photos.

This very pretty Pink, White and printed
Diamond Clear hoop is perfect for weddings
and baby showers. 

I have actually been creating hoop designs for a while now, long before the organic style became the hottest trend! My first hoop designs were primarily constructed using the precision of Classic Decor style, which I still enjoy using quite a bit. And while I do also like building organic style decor, I still consider the basic elements and principles of design. For example, the balloons should be in  proportion to the size of the frame. How we use colour and space is also important, as getting this wrong can result in a haphazard-looking mess.

If you want to make a smaller hoop design, this can be done using hoola-hoops. Another option for smaller hoop designs is actually a recent discovery of mine, using wire hoops. You can find wire hoops like the white wire hoops that I used for the "White with Greenery Wedding" featured at the start of this blog post from Oasis Floral Products . The Ivy Garland and Peony flowers are also from Oasis Floral Products.

I occasionally will use the Structured Organic style to create hoop and wreath designs. Structured Organic style is done using a combination of the classic technique to create the hoop, then adding an organic element to the design afterwards. I really like this style as it adds a level of formality to the design without it looking too structured. 

To make larger hoops, you can purchase pre-made metal hoops, which are perfect for balloons, flowers and greenery. There are some truly inspirational designs on Instagram, just look under the hashtag #balloonhoops shown below.

One of my favourite hoop designers is #balloonilicious

Another alternative to metal hoops is to use round, heavy duty PVC conduit that is available in hardware stores. You can usually buy it in 12ft (3m) lengths, and easily connect them together using compression joints. I recommend making hoops that use approximately 14.5ft (4.5m) of conduit. However, it should be noted that these are not as strong as the metal hoops, and therefore cannot support too much additional weight such as flowers and greenery, without distorting the roundness of the hoop. The rainbow hoop below was made using PVC conduit.

This fabulous "Rainbow Hoop" design was made by a group of student's
during a Simply Organic's class that I recently
taught in Paduva, Italy.

Here are a few more examples of hoop designs that use florals and greenery to add accents.

Photo credit: Alisha Crossley Photography

To find even more inspiration check out this great article: How to Create and Display Circular Wedding Arches. The designs shown are all floral, but with some creative thinking they could easily be adapted for balloons or balloons with floral accent details.

"Wedding gates. Moon gates. Infinity arches. Circular wedding wreaths. Circular wedding arches...

Whatever you call them, large circular floral arrangements are topping the wedding charts this year..."

I love creating hoop designs, and I truly look forward to seeing some of your amazing creations! Don't forget to hashtag #suebowler so I get to see your fabulous creations! 

Happy Ballooning!