Monday, December 31, 2012

Sue's 2012 review... the best bits! Part 1

It is at this time of year that all the TV and radio channels review their 'best bits' of the year! So I thought  that I would like to do the same, looking back over my 'Ballooning 2012' with some of the people and events that have made is so very special!

January 2012

For me, January started with a wonderful trip to Israel with Elisa Helman, of Balloonland, Jerusalem's annual training event, along with Keith Stirman and Dom Cassidy, aka the Balloon Brothers!

Balloonland 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Candle - a beautiful design with balloons.

I love 
Qualatex® Microfoil Taper balloons and I was inspired to use one to created this candle design.

Sue Bowler

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Classic Balloon Decor - A Balloon Decorators Building Blocks

Do you remember the first time you saw a Spiral Garland Column, Swag or a Balloon Arch and the wonderful way the colours wrapped around themselves and wondered how did they do that?

Sue Bowler
Air-Filled Entrance Arch - by Sue Bowler as featured in Sue's Balloon Decor 1 DVD
The effects of simple balloon garlands are truly magical, both visually and profitably too!

Classic Balloon Decor is the foundation of balloon decorating. Foundations can be found in the early defining work of a discipline, and balloon decorating started with balloon garland arches, swags, columns and 'string of pearl' (SOP) arches.

'Treb Heining is the man responsible for invented the balloon garland and who first popularized professional balloon decor in the late 1970s. His vision launched a national phenomenon, and his basic design became the cornerstone of Classic Balloon Decor.' 

Spring Fair
2012 Qualatex Stand at the Spring Fair NEC Birmingham - The stands decor was brought 'to life' using Classic Balloon Decor, Using columns, garlands and arches the stand looked amazing and was visible from every part of the very large exhibition hall! 
The stand decor was designed & created by Jodie Norris CBA & Dee White CBA.

Classic Balloon Decor is the starting blocks for decor and almost all balloon artists/decorators start here! Learning how to inflate balloons to a specific size, tying a duplet, twisting balloons into clusters and the art of adding balloons to line or framework!

Once a decorator has these mastered they can move onto more challenging projects! 

Classic Balloon Decor can be used in so many ways and for so many different types of events, including weddings, corporate decor, shopping malls almost anywhere when balloons can be used on mass!

Colin Stewart
Elegant Pearl Arches using 3' printed Qualatex balloons by Colin Stewart CBA, Canada

Jose Luthman
Stunning garland swags created by Jose Luthman CBA, France

I regularly see amazing balloon work by both Colin and Jose posted on the Qualatex Facebook group, they both use classic balloon decor to the full and both have very successful balloon decorating businesses!

I asked two balloon professionals Colin Stewart and Colin Myles to describe their thoughts on Classic Balloon Decor...

"Classic Decor is the foundation of Balloon Art--- It is where we all started and where it all begins! Working in Decor we need to understand two very important things:

1. Proper Sizing and 2. Packing the balloons in a Garland. These 2 features are easy to see in Classic Decor as they both impact our work which shows in the Final Decor!
It is much easier to show what I just said when you see the lines in a Classic Balloon garland.

Classic BalloonART is my "Bread and Butter" after 22 years in the Balloon industry---- we use it just about everyday!" - Colin Stewart


Colin Myles - 'I believe classic balloon decor is the very foundation on which a balloon busines is built. There are so many derivatives, which can be applied, when you have mastered the basics. But of course basic classic balloon decor can look stunning on its own. In my opinion the greatest care should be taken when deciding to what size the balloons should be inflated. For example, if you have 50 metres of garland to make in a large auditorium then clusters of balloons sized to 4'' would not be appropriate.

Classic Balloon Decor’s simplicity, flexibility and natural ability to transform large spaces into celebrations make it suitable for a broad range of events and clients. It’s relatively simple designs offers a systematic approach to construction and installation, making it quicker than many decor alternative, and more cost effective for the client as well as more profitable for you!

There are many patterns that can be created within a garland, flowers, zigzags, arrows and of course spirals, that lead the eye in a certain direction!

Sculptures made from the column/garland technique are also very effective, this is simply working with clusters of different sizes and the clever positioning of colours that make these work so well! Simple balloon sculptures like these are great for theme events, quick and easy for you to make and very cost effective for the client too!

This is such a fun Christmas Tree, full of fun and perfect of Christmas parties! Design by David de Busto, Spain

3 air-filled columns make this great ' Freaky Frankie'.

What could be more fun than these simple but very effective balloon Palm Tree's! 

Learning the basic skills in any industry is so very important, balloon decor is no exception. Once we have a good understanding of Classic BalloonART (Colin Stewarts term, which I love), there are really no boundaries to what we can create from the humble round balloon.

Yes of course we can use non-round balloons to add finer detail and accent elements as well as Microfoil shapes to re-inforce a theme, maybe a parrot in a palm tree or frond shapes or a lovely smile face. The round balloon is the equivalent of paint to a painter or clay to a potter, and thanks to Qualatex, we have the 'Very Best Balloons' to work with!

To learn more about Classic Balloon Decor enrol in the QBN program, that will guide you through the many skills to help you to build a successful balloon business.

Happy Ballooning!


Note: Some of the quotes and information was taken from 'A Foundation for Balloon Decor', part of the QBN program.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A 'sparkly' balloon centrepiece for the festive season.

A little 'sparkle'...

With Christmas and New Years celebrations just around the corner, I thought that this would be the perfect time to create a centrepiece that would be perfect for festive parties!

This design is packed with different elements and techniques, you might like to try out some of these  when you create your own designs.

Sue Bowler
Centrepiece design created by Sue Bowler CBA
Material List:
  • 5" Qualatex Pearl Azure #43577
  • 5" Qualatex  Silver #43603
  • 5" Qualatex Pearl White #43597
  • 9" Qualatex Sapphire  Microfoil Stars #24131
  • 4" Qualatex Sapphire Microfoil Stars #22849
  • 4" Qualatex Silver Microfoil Star 14355
  • 11" Qualatex Pearl Azure #43768
  • 13" Qualatex Sapphire Microfoil Taper #32016
  • 9" Lomey Dish 
  • 21" Lomey Acrylic Column
  • Lomey Universal Centrepiece - (Required with Lomey columns to form a base) I also use one at the top.
  • Lomey Adhesive
  • Premium Balloon Accessories 7" Cup-N-Sticks
  • Fine Powder Glitter
  • Floral wires and tapes to create fantasy leaves.
  • Crystal Nuggets- available form floral wholesalers
  • Silver Beads 
  • Clear Cellophane
  • Cool Glue Gun
  • Floral Dry Foam - used for arranging silk flowers.

Techniques Used:

Start by gluing the Lomey Universal Centrepiece to the Lomey Dish as this can take up to 24 hours to fully dry, so you need to think about this in advance of making up your centrepieces! 
You could use a cool glue gun to glue them together, but be aware that cool glue is temperature reactive, that means if it gets cold the glue can become brittle and break, whereas Lomey adhesive once applied is a permanent fixing, Lomey glue is also waterproof, so if you want to fill the tubes with water, then you must use Lomey glue!

Lomey Column with Universal Centrepiece -  that is the small disc at the base.

Lomey is a range of products that are used within the floral industry and is supplied by a company called Smithers- Oasis, many balloon wholesalers and distributors stock this product and other relevant floral supplies.
Design by Kevin Ylvisaker, AIFD, PFCI, Smithers-Oasis Design Director
This is a design that I found on a website that shows off the Lomey Columns really well, these have been filled with coloured water which works perfectly with this modern floral arrangement!

For my centrepiece design, I filled the tube with iridescent nuggets that I found at my floral wholesaler, they were inexpensive and look really stunning inside the tube!

Glitter Balloons

I would recommend that you prepare these first as they can take a few hours to dry, you really would not want to handle them wet!

Sue Bowler
Balloons and glitter

Hi-Float have some great instructions on their website in their design tips section. I have copied the technique for putting glitter on the outside of 11" balloons, which is very similar to what I do with 5". They also have some great video clips on their youtube channel!

Step 1: Pour ULTRA HI-FLOAT into a cup.
Step 2: Place the 5" balloon over a straw
Step 3: Dip the balloon into the HI-FLOAT, I also rub it in to ensure that the entire surface is cover, remove any excess.
Step 4: Using a hand pump, inflate the 5" balloon and tie, I like to make my glitter balloons different  sizes and not too big. 
Step 5: Shake the fine glitter over the balloons until it is completely covered and shake off the excess.
Step 6: Repeat the same process until all the balloons are covered, and leave to dry without touching each other, so that they do not stick together.

Capture all the excess glitter on a sheet of paper so that you can re-use it, a small amount of glitter goes a long way!
If you are using different coloured balloons, try and match a glitter colour for the balloons that you are using. I used 3 different coloured glitter for this design!

Holographic Silver Glitter

Iridescent White Glitter

Light Blue Glitter

Great instructions on the Hi-Float website!

Balloon 'Leaves'.

I have used 2 different types of 'leaves' in this design.

4" & 9" Microfoil Stars make fantastic leaves! Simply heat seal the balloon down the centre and then inflate and seal as normal. 

The second type of leaf that I have created for this design is a 'fantasy' leaf or petal. This is a technique that we use to create fantasy flowers.

To make a fantasy flower petal you will need:

18 Gauge floral wires, binding wire and 11" balloons.

18 Gauge wire minimum 14" in length

Reel wire

Simply bend the floral wire in half and insert the rounded centre into the un-inflated 11" balloon. Stretch the balloon to the base of the folded wire and secure using 'reel wire', usually 28 gauge. Once you have created your petal or leaf you can bend it to create any shape that you like.

To construct the design:

Starting from the base, I cut a small disc if dry floral foam and position that at the base of my lomey and lomey dish.

Now add all the elements that you want to use. I used 2 x 14" Sapphire Stars that I had made into leaves and a further 3 x 4" Stars.

Sue Bowler

Secure each of the 'glitter' balloons to a Premium 7" Cup N Stick, you can push these easily into the floral foam, if you are concerned that they will fall out add a small dab of cool glue before pushing them in position, this will help them to stay in place. 
I like to randomly position the glitter balloons so that they look like snowballs or a pile of Christmas baubles', make sure that your design looks visually pleasing from all sides.

There will be gaps, be careful not to overfill the centrepiece design, just simply make squares of cellophane and push these into the gaps to fill in the space! If you can find iridescent cellophane, that looks amazing!

To complete the base, I added in some silver string beads just gently swagged into the design, with no set pattern.

I then filled the tube with iridescent nuggets and added a second Universal Centrepiece connector, this acts like a cap and works well at both the base to secure to the dish and at the top, where I have just simply added a small disc of dry foam.

I have kept the top very simple. Firstly add a 13" Qualatex Starpoint into the centre of the dry foam again using a Premium Cup N Stick, I the positioned 3 'fantasy' petal around the base of the taper and small cluster of 'glitter' balloons. Finally, filling all the gaps with cellophane squares to hide all the mechanics!

Sue Bowler

Here is another 'glittery' design using some of the same techniques is in this design!

Sue Bowler

I hope that this blog has given you a little inspiration to create your own 'glittery' design!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas balloon 'Puffballs' by Luc Bertrand CBA

Luc Bertrand of WAW Balloons  has very kindly created 2 lovely design ideas for Christmas for 'The Very Best Balloon Blog' plus he shows us how to make the perfect base too!

Design 1.

Material List 

18 x 11"    Christmas Snowflakes - 96588
14 x 11"    White  - 43802
  2 x 5"     Green  - 43561
  1 x 646Q Red    - 13786

Christmas 'Puffball' version 1 by Luc Bertrand CBA
Method of Construction:

Starting from the base working upwards.

  • Inflate base cluster to 9" (Green)
  • Second cluster to 7" (Red)
  • Third cluster to 5" (White)
For the 'Puffball'.
  • Inflate the Red and Green Christmas Snowflakes to 10.5" and create 2 x 5-balloon clusters
  • Inflate the White 11" to 6" and create 2 x 5-balloon clusters.
  • Inflate 2 x 5" Green to 3.5"
To make the 'Puffball', start by laying one of the white 5-balloon cluster flat, you can add a 160Q to secure the additional clusters or you can tie the balloons neck to neck.

Now add the first of the coloured 5- 11" balloon clusters and then the second and then finally the other White 5-balloon cluster, securing each cluster as you go using your preferred method.
Finally add the 2 x 5" Green at the centre of the 'Puffball' on each side,

Luc has covered his pole using a red 646Q... a great technique- simply stretch the balloon over the pole and secure at both ends!

To make the base and pole watch this great clip by Luc Bertrand CBA

For added value try adding 5 x Green 350Q balloons!

Christmas 'Puffball' version 2 by Luc Bertrand CBA

Thank you Luc for these great designs, we very much appreciate your time creating these and the great DVD clip and sharing them with us!

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

World Balloon Convention 2014 - Amazing Decor Opportunities!

Circus Theme Party Decor by Tope Abulude CBA
I just wanted to take this opportunity to highlight not 1 or 2 but 3 amazing chances of a lifetime to be  one of this events leading designers!

The World Balloon Convention producers are looking for designers for the following:

Lobby Decor
WBC 2014 Thursday Night Costume Party
WBC 2014 Grand Gala

At the WBC 2012 delegates, instructors and the entire event production team where blown away by the incredible decor throughout the event! In fact, I know that for many people the highlight of their WBC experience was the parties! Here are a few of many great comments!
Malachi Robinson CBA -  "The costume party decor by Tope was fun and rich and it was great to see everyone partying and just having a good time. The Black Tie Gala, what a beautiful night this was! Being nominated and winning an award for all your hard work really pays off. The look of astonishment on some of the nominee's faces were priceless, What a great way to end a fun filled week!"
John Brew CBA - "Blown away by the Circus theme, absolutely fantastic!"
Annabelle Claire Tan CBA - "Circus theme party and Gala Dinner where everyone dressed up for the occasion!"
With so many exciting aspects to this convention, the parties always stand out as being one of the top highlights!

Calling balloon art professionals

 from Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe, Russia, South America, USA! 

 I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to take this very rare opportunity to enter the WBC 2014 Decor Design Competition! I know that you are out there, I see so many amazing designs and decor posted on the Qualatex Facebook Group almost daily!

Here is an outline of the criteria to enter: 

  • The competition is open to balloon professionals whose businesses significantly rely on the use of professional quality balloons, only Qualatex balloons may be used at the WBC.
  • You must be able to show your knowledge of working with balloons and large scale decor projects, plus have worked in the industry long enough to have a professional portfolio of your large scale decor work.
  • You are not required to be a CBA or a QBN member, however any professional credentials will be considered if relevant in the selection process.
  • You will be required to submit a minimum of 5 photographs of large scale decor jobs you have completed, along with any organisational paperwork- proposal drawings, layouts etc.
(Please note that this is a shortened version of the eligibility guideline,
click here  to read the full version and to download the application form).

At this stage you are not required to submit any designs for any of the decor opportunities that you are applying for, you are merely submitting an application with support photographs and a little support documentation that proves that you have the skills to be able to work on one of these great projects!

Earlier this year I asked Tope Abulude CBA to talk about his own personal experience being one the the 2012 event designers... I think that this makes very interesting reading and may help some of you to consider having a go!

So what are you waiting for... you only have 13 days to submit your application, the closing date at this initial stage is 3rd December 2012!

Please do not miss out on this AMAZING opportunity, all you have to do today is complete the application form and tell those lovely folk at Qualatex why you would be the perfect choice as one of the designers, add the required number of large scale decor pictures and any other relevant information!

Oh and I forget to mention that all the winners will receive the following!

  • Transportation to and from WBC 2014
  • Full-package Registration for WBC 2014
  • Lodging for the duration of the event
If you have any questions relating to your application, please do not hesitate to contact or call 1-800-743-9879 or (316) 685-2266

Good luck everyone!

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, November 16, 2012

How to make a Christmas Wreath

How to make a Christmas Wreath... and a few other ideas!

Sue Bowler

Let's start with the frame.

There are a number of things you can use to create a frame. I have used Aluminium rod, ¼" or 6mm is good for this or you can used a pre-formed circle such as a child's hula-hoop, but you will be limited by the sizes available. To find your nearest Aluminium distributor talk to your balloon wholesaler first, as often they will sell it, or they may know of a local supplier? 

Childs Hula Hoop
Circle made from Aluminium Rod

How many balloons will you need to create your wreath? There is a simple calculation that you can use to work this out!

If you have studied the QBN programme you will already know how to do this, but if not, let me help you!

You will need to know the diameter of the circle before you can calculate the circumference.

Measure the diameter of your circle to calculate the circumference.

Circumference of a circle.

The circumference is the length of the edge around the circle. For any circle, the circumference is:
3.141592 x the diameter. So what is 3.141592 then? This is a special, unique number it is known as 'pi' and is pronounced 'pie'. I bet when you studied 'pi' at school, most of use thought that we would never need to use this again!

So looking at my circle, it's diameter measures 65cm, therefore 65 x 3.141592 = 204.4cm or 2.04m or in inches 25.5" x 3.141592 = 80.11" or 6.6' - How easy is that!

Once we know the circumference of our circle we can use this information to calculate how many balloons the circle will need by using the Qualatex Balloon Estimator available at to QBN Members, or you can refer to a Spiral Garland Chart.

Let's assume that we are going to use 5" balloons inflated to 4" and use 4-balloon clusters. We will need 15.1 balloons per foot of garland, and as our circumference is 6.6' we would need approx. 100 balloons 15.1 x 6.6  = 99.66 

This is such a great help when you need to work out how many balloons you need to order rather than guessing!

The above calculation is assuming that you are going to use all the same size of balloons. For the Christmas Wreath I have used 2 sizes (3 actually), but I do not want to confuse you, so lets say 2 sizes, the reason for using 2 different sizes is to create the perfect inner curve rather than seeing the balloons on the inside of the wreath looking all squashed up! 

Prepare your framework.

Whether you are using aluminium or a hula hoop, you should cover the frame in the same colour as the colour of the balloons that you will be using, this will stop the frame from showing through.

This can be achieved by wrapping a partially inflated 260Q or 350Q around the frame, see below.

Qualatex Balloons used:

I used a variety of shades of Green and finished it off with a few Red 5" balloons.

5" Pearl Teal - 43596
5" Pearl Emerald Green - 43581
5" Pearl Forest Green - 43582
5" Pearl Ruby Red - 43594

I used Pearl Teal on the inner edge and Pearl Forest and Pearl Emerald Green to the outer edge, I was a little unsure initially whether to use the Pearl Teal, but once I added it to the frame I really liked the look and the contrast in the different shades of Green.

You will need to play around with your sizes as your frame may be a different size to mine, the rule of thumb is to allow approx. 1" difference when working with 5" balloons and 2" when working with bigger balloons.

Continue to add your balloons until the wreath is complete.

Sue Bowler

I have added a little accent colour using 5" Pearl Ruby red balloons inflated to only 1" to make small bubbles, I simply added these in by carefully securing the neck of the bubble into the wreath.

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler
Add a beautiful bow!

There are so many different accents elements that you could add to your wreath... a large bow, some "Holly Leaves" - made from heat sealed stars as shown in my Distortion Technique Blog 1 last month (October 2012).

You can use this same technique to make 'wreaths' for other occasions, not just for Christmas!

Sue Bowler
Summer 'Dream Catcher' created by Sue Bowler CBA

Sue Bowler
Wedding or Baby Wreath - there are many different ways you can use these lovely wreaths!

If you are interested in learning more skills regarding adding balloons to framework, I have covered this in greater detail in my DVD - Balloon Decor 1, where I demonstrate step by step how to make 3 different 'Perfect Hearts' - fantastic for Valentines Day and Weddings and how to create amazing air-filled arches plus lots more! To find your nearest distributor visit or order online from my online shop!

Sue Bowler

Have fun and Happy Ballooning!