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





Monday, December 30, 2019

Wishing Everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2020!

With Christmas and the holiday festivities already over, it's now time to focus on the exciting New Year that lays ahead! 
I don't know about you, but this year has literally flown by! Spring Fair 2019 seems like an eternity ago! Now, I'm surprised to find myself working on the 2020 window display designs, as well as planning some exciting new design classes that I will be teaching in 2020! 

Did you make any New Years resolutions? Maybe 2020 is the year that we need to be kinder to ourselves. Let's start the new decade with a positive frame of mind, and try and live our lives to the full! 

 

I would like to end this year by taking the opportunity to thank all those who help me with the Very Best ™️ Balloon Blog! To the lovely Lexi who ensures that my posts are coherent and grammatically correct, and to everyone who has contributed some amazing content to blogposts over this year! I have been writing the blog since 2011, and am excited to see that it still remains one of the top ballooning resources, with views reaching over 2 million this year! 



I know that 2020 will be another fabulous year for ballooning education! Some truly sensational events and classes are being offered around the globe, and I hope that I get the opportunity to meet up with some of you then! 

Happy New Year!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler


Friday, December 20, 2019

BACI, Balloon Arts Convention Italy brings its Magic to Milan!

Qualatex® sponsored event BACI - Balloon Arts Convention Italy is back! We in the balloon community are all very excited and looking forward to 20-24 March, 2020 in Milan, Italy! 

For those of you who may have heard about BACI, but are not sure what it's all about, I thought that I would share a little of this events magic with you.

Though it's held in Italy, BACI is actually an International ballooning event, with many delegates attending from around the world! This event features classes  taught in both Italian and English.








BACI is probably most famous for its exceptional large sculpture competition in which many of the teams are led by world-renowned industry instructors! The first 13 teams have been announced; however, there are still a few spots available! If this is something you are interested in doing, don't delay registering, as I am sure that the remaining spots will be snapped up very quickly.








With the theme of Fashion & Design, teams are allotted 21 hours total split over two days, to complete their masterpieces.
Team Captains:
CHRIS ADAMO, Australia
ALBERTO NAVA, Italy
ALBERTO FALCONE, Spain
ALESSANDRO PATANè, Italy
SARA ZAMPINI, Italy
YANA SAVITSKAIA, Ukraine
OLGA BARANOVA, Russia
GILLES RINCKEL, France
CARLO VAVENOTTI, Italy
CHIARA FERRARA, Italy
FLORENCE BURET, France
SERGIO VALENTE, Italy 
FRANK JESCHKE, Germany


If you are not quite ready to build your first large sculpture, but would still like the opportunity to work and learn from one of these incredible captains, either contact them directly, or indicate your interest when you register as a delegate for this event. Each team is limited to a maximum of 10 people (including the captain) and places are allocated on a first come first serve basis.


Vadim Shushkanov working on his design in the Balloon Figure competition.

Here are some other excellent competition opportunities that you can register for:



I have added a link to each of these categories so that you can check out the rules and other important information.

Based on personal experience, I always recommend having a go at the competitions at an event especially when you have the opportunity! Competitions provide a new learning curve, and will bring a whole new excitement to the event! Even if you don't win, you will learn a great deal from the experience. My own teaching career was kicked off when I began to actively enter competitions!I


To see past competition entries from this event click HERE, or check out the short video below from BACI 2013! 




BACI's education program offers an exciting and comprehensive choice of classes, appealing to both twisters and decorators. These classes will be taught by some of the industry's best instructors, including Chris Adamo, CBA, from Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia, in his BACI debut and a rare teaching trip to Europe. 








And of course, there will be a welcome reception and a magical Gala Party and Awards Ceremony too! 


It was a fabulous Alice in Wonderland theme at the BACI 2017

Can you take your CBA exam at BACI? Of course and what a great place to take it! The CBA exam will be held on Sunday 22nd March at the NHOW hotel, from 8:30am- 12:30pm! If this is something that you would like to do, please contact Carol Dack at Pioneer Europe, who can give you full details: carold@qualatex.com. All those who pass will receive their certificates at the Gala Party and Awards Ceremony.




How much does it cost?

The event price is €395 + vat 22% (€481.90) if you register by 31 December 2019.
From 1 January 2020 the price is €445 + vat 22% (€542.90)

To confirm your registration,  a full payment is necessary. Accepted payment methods are credit/debit card, PayPal or bank transfer. 

Special promotion: If there is more than one delegate per company, a special price of €350 + vat 22% (€427) will be offered.

The cost includes the class registrations & materials, two lunches, the opening ceremony cocktail, and the themed Gala night dinner.

What are the competitions costs?
Big sculpture €13 (vat included) per person (€10.66 + vat 22%)
Column €13 (vat included) per person (€10.66 + vat 22%)
Centrepiece €13 (vat included) per person (€10.66 + vat 22%)
Delivery bouquet €13 (vat included) per person (€10.66 + vat 22%)

Balloon figure €13 (vat included) per person (€10.66 + vat 22%)

If you would like any further information regarding this event, please check out the FAQ's or visit the website www.bacitaly.com or contact berenice@balloonexpress.it

BACI is a platform intended for those with a passion for balloon art, and for sharing and exchanging energy with balloon artists from around the world. It is an unforgettable experience that will be an excellent resource in improving your style, techniques, and increase your sales! We hope to see you there! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler









Thursday, December 19, 2019

How to Make Crepe Paper Fringing Step-By-Step Video by Chris Adamo, CBA.


Crepe paper fringing has been one of the hottest trends in Australia this year says Chris Adamo, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia! They are colourful, vibrant, and are the perfect compliment to balloon decor! 

If you are like me - when you see a photograph of something beautiful, you instinctively want to have a go at it, but you're not sure the best way to go about it. 



Chris Adamo CBA from Balloons Online Australia recently made a step-by-step video (see below) that takes away all the mystery, and shows how he creates these beautiful fringes.



Thank you Chris for sharing this great technique with the Very Best® Balloon Blog readers, I am sure that many of us will be putting this into practise very quickly! 

Happy fringe making! 


Sue





Thursday, December 12, 2019

Is it too Early to Talk About Valentine's Day?




Valentine's Day is probably one of the biggest events for the balloon and party industry. This period offers many opportunities to sell fabulous balloon arrangements and romantic balloon decor! However, February 14 is notorious for sneaking up on us and catching us unprepared after the torrent of events for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve events and parties! 


33" - "Red Rose Bud"







Valentine’s Day is a key commercial event for many retailers in the otherwise stagnant months of January and February, yet according to The Balance, consumers are spending more than ever before on this romantic holiday! 


If you have a balloon shop or store, now is the time to start planning your merchandising opportunities and window displays. Visual merchandising plays a critical role in converting shoppers into buyers. If you are looking for inspiration Pinterest is an excellent tool for creative retail display ideas; use these keywords:

  • Valentine's window displays retail
  • window displays retail store fronts Valentine's Day 
  • Valentines window displays

If you don't have a store, there are still many opportunities for you to demonstrate your expertise, especially in the decoration of other retailers windows, hotels, restaurants and car showrooms! Begin preparing your social media campaigns now to maximise your sales opportunities - remember Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are your "store fronts" and can open the door to many new opportunities! 






If you're looking for on-trend design inspiration, check out the fabulous article in Issue 4 of Balloon Images - 10 Ways to Say I Love You with Balloons.

This article is packed with all sorts of exciting and informative content: Instruction sheets, candy cup ideas, how-to ideas to make on-trend Jumbo Fusion arrangements, a how-to for simple grab-n-go displays of small air-filled treats and much more! 



To see the exciting range of 2020 Qualatex Valentines balloons check out the Valentine's Day & Early Spring Catalogue available on the Qualatex website - click HERE for a direct link.


Please note that not all balloons are available in all territories. Ensure that you view the catalogue that is applicable to your region.


39" - "Adorable Sloth" 

A few tips on how to keep your displays fresh and long lasting! 

When making air-filled displays use nitrogen rather than air for longer lasting balloons. Nitrogen is an inert gas; it is also know as dry air, and it keeps the balloons plump and full with little or no reaction to temperature change, perfect for window and other long lasting displays! If nitrogen is not easy to find, I will often double-stuff balloons (by inserting one balloon inside another and inflating as one) that I am using in displays, this helps to enrich the balloon colours, and also helps to keep the balloons looking fresher for longer. Another great tip is to use Hi-Float® in air-filled balloons that you want to last, such as 160Q & 260Q's that would can lose their plumpness within a few days.


To keep your latex balloons shiny and clear, use Balloon Shine™️, which helps prevent oxidation and add a long-lasting sparkle to your decor.


Use Qualatex® Bubble Balloons™️ and Deco Bubbles. These can float for up to 5 weeks! 



22" "Everything Valentine's"
Finally, how about challenging yourself to learn to twist this beautiful Classic 160Q Rose!






Don't let Valentine's Day creep up on you! If you haven't already started, get planning now! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler