Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Air-Filled Decor is the ONLY way to go!

Helium supply and the lack of it appears to be a decorators worst nightmare, or is it? Do we actually need helium to create great decor?

Colin Stewart
Crescent Moon Flowers by Stewarts Baskets and Balloons

When I first started to work on this blog, I wondered who I could ask to add their thoughts and opinions on this subject and immediately thought of Colin Stewart! 

I first 'met' Colin through the Qualatex Group Facebook page, and for those of you who are members of this page you will immediately recognise Colin (aka Balloons Sbb-reliadrop) for his awesome balloon work that he very generously & regularly posts on the groups page! Colin launched his 'Balloon Tour' last year and has just started 'Balloon Tour 2012'! I have added more information regarding Colin and his tour and the end of this very informative blog!

Colin Stewart
Colin Stewart of Stewarts Baskets & Balloons
"First, the last Helium tank I rented was for New Year's Eve 2011 .... I think that is the Biggest STATEment I can make"!!!!

AIR-FILLed DECOR is the ONLY way to go.

The first step is that we must design our work thinking that we don't want to use HELIUM... and therefore, the WORLD of AIR DECOR begins!! Once you accept that......... then HOW can you work without Helium... everyday... is the question!

Framing and Rigging become the answer to NO Helium.
Framing: Inexpensive and light weight are things I like to use: Aluminum Rod with a grade of 60/6* is the best for framing and I make my own WOOD bases and Poles at a cost of less than $5.00 US for a 16" x 16" Base and a Pole of 6' tall. - check out the MagMover website for your nearest supplier in the US and Canada for UK and Europe contact your nearest Qualatex Distributor.

Rigging: MagMover Pole and Magnets work well.... in addition to these I make my own VERY cost effective magnets that do not require us to get them back everytime... less than $0.35 US each!!! Now the weight must be light as well in order to use smaller magnets. Also, on T-bar ceilings use T-Bar clips, at a cost of less than $0.30 US

In addition to these simple TIPs, I have not been on a Power Lift in years. Maximum ladder is only a 10 foot and that is only if I must!!! Rigging is being creative. Customers will rent a Power lift for $1,000.00 at a time. I say PERFECT, add the $1,000.00 to the Decor, I don't need the Power Lift!!!! More money in my pocket!!!

Monofilament Line

We use Mono Line at 40lb Test 99.9 % of the time and Aircraft Cable when we are doing Large Scale Decor, medium decor we sometimes use #18 nylon line usually for safety reasons.

Also, we have a 5 Million Dollar Insurance Policy which is needed to work in most locations. Note: New Customers usually ask for a copy of the policy the day of the JOB!!! Be prepared!

(In the UK, BAPIA - the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance offer members full Public and Employee Liability Insurance as part of their annual membership fee along with many other benefits).

Now, Helium is still a tool we need but it is JUST one of the tools in your toolbox, not the only one and you CAN most times get away with NO HELIUM!!
Over 80% of my accounst require the Decor to last 2 plus months, so helium is not an answer and I have been designing that way for years.

I have done over 175 Grand Openings for WALMART. I started in the account years ago. All they wanted was an Archway at the entrance. So, that's what we did, but with the amount of traffic Walmart gets everyday, the entrance is the exit and the "Foot Print" of the Archway is in a HIGH Traffic Area being at the Entrance. So, I sold them on that and switched them to Swags, NO Helium... No BASES... NO POLES... Just 2 Magmover Click-Click Magnets and LOTS and LOTS more profit!!!! They are happy and so am I... A WIN-WIN..... the only way to SELL!!!

Centrepieces are the same. We just have to be creative. Design with NO HELIUM and watch your Customers love how your DECOR lasts soooooo much longer, while your Profits go up!!!

Colin Stewart
"The Suns"
The "Suns: 22" Smile Bubble", these are AIR-filled and the rigging was special, I used a CLick-Click magnet as the wood beams have a steel plate connecting them together. The rigging made this job possible! Now... Extra special was this event was upstairs and then moving downstairs for the evening, so I used the magnet as a HOLDER to install the suns on 40 lb. fishing line, then pulling the "SUN" up with the fishing line going through the magnet but then coming back down. I tied the fishing line to the rod for the drapes!!! The customer just had to un-tie the fishing line letting the suns down and then they re-installed them downstairs for the evening event. Once the evening came to an end they were able to be taken home with a VERY happy customer!!!

Colin Stewart
Balloon Garland Swag 

The "Swag". This is one of two swags for this Walmart - Using two large Click-Click magnets, one on each end of the Swag. The install was VERY Easy!!

Colin Stewart

LARGE SCULPTURE over 20' Tall. This sculpture was installed by Jeannie and I. We started with 12' straight aluminum rod at 9pm with NO Balloons inflated and he was installed before 8am with us never leaving the ground!!! You can see one Aircraft Cable coming from each side of his head!! We used a Pulley system and raised him enough to attach the next piece of him and then raised him again until we were finished!!! "Oliver" was the latest member of the Great Wolf Lodge.. a North American High End Resort for the family... A HUGE Indoor - Outdoor Water Park!!!
Colin Stewart

A little bit about our blog contributor...
Colin Stewart
Colin & Jeannie at the World Balloon Convention 2012
Colin Stewart, along with his wife Jeannie, started their business 21 years ago, in Tottenham, Ontario, Canada. Although it started out as STEWART’s Country Craft Shop, selling homemade crafts at craft shows and a local flea market, it rapidly evolved into a full service Professional Balloon Decorating company. It quickly changed direction and its name to STEWART’s Baskets & Balloons, (SBB). 

While starting the business, Colin continued his profession as a Computer Sales Rep for the second largest computer company in the world, Digital Equipment, earning the accolade of top sales rep in Canada!Eventually STEWART’s Baskets & Balloons demanded more time, making it necessary to leave Digital and operate SBB on a full time business. The high level sales training that Colin received at Digital and his natural ability to ‘sell ice to Eskimos’ would become the foundation of SBB’s success today. 

Due to the quick growth in the corporate decor side of the business, it was necessary to close the party store and concentrate on this area. Within 5 short years, SBB was providing large scale decor for major malls in Southern Ontario. This work, along with the impressive Portfolio it created, led to pictures being published in IMAGES and pictures along with articles published in Balloons & Parties Today magazine, as well as involvement in the Jubilee Balloon Arts Convention.

STEWART’s Baskets & Balloons was voted number 1 by attendees, many of whom participated in Colin’s classes there, two years in a row, winning their International Balloon Artist of the Year Award. This also provided Colin the opportunity to run Large Sculpture courses in both Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for a western Canada Balloon Convention, and Los Vegas, Atlanta, and Sacramento, for Balloons & Parties Today, Jubilee. SBB’s most recent accomplishment and one that we are extremely proud of was having our work published in the Qualatex catalogue worldwide

In order to expand and grow the decor business, SBB started to move into the Grocery Market space, providing seasonal decor everyday for the past 16 years across Ontario. 

Another important side of SBB is the manufacturing side, which produces, RELI-A-DROP, a balloon drop net system for the Canadian market. RELI-A-DROP is available through Pioneer Balloon Canada and comes in 4 popular drop sizes for 100, 200, 500, and 1000 balloons. It is Colin’s next goal to grow RELI-A-DROP into the global marketplace. 

In 2011, Colin launched ‘Balloon Tour 2011, a three day hands-on Balloon Art educational seminar. It made 4 very successful stops in Canada and 1 in Brooklyn, New York. He also volunteered his time at Balloonstitute in Detroit. As a result of the overwhelming success as well as numerous requests, Balloon Tour 2012 is now well underway. The first stop was in Brooklyn, NY, sponsored once again by J&R Wholesale Balloons Distributors and Pioneer Balloon Company, followed by 2 stops in Canada, in Toronto and Montreal, sponsored for the second year by SKS Novelty Co. Ltd., and Pioneer Balloon Canada.

The next location is June 12-14 in Boston, sponsored by Rainbow Balloons and Pioneer Balloon Company. Requests continue to pour in from people from all over the world. We are in the process of setting the next phase now. 

Balloon Tour 2012

STEWART’s Baskets & Balloons’ latest endeavour is the release of a 3 DVD set of step-by-step, picture-by-picture, called “The Balloon Cookbook, No Helium Required”. They will be available July 15, 2012, at a cost of $250.00 US plus shipping and handling for all 3 or $89.00 each plus shipping and handling. 

I would like thank Colin & Jeannie Stewart very much for sharing so much detailed information! It is very comforting to know that business's can thrive and grow without the use of helium on a regular basis. I know that this is just the start of many great blogs with ideas, suggestion, tips and hints on how to create great decor using only air-filled balloons!

If you have any ideas and suggestions on how you are working on a regular basis without helium and are happy to share these, please contact me

Happy ballooning!


*6061 is a precipitation hardening aluminium alloy, containing magnesium and silicon as its major alloying elements. Originally called "Alloy 61S" it was developed in 1935.[1] It has good mechanical properties and exhibits good weldability. It is one of the most common alloys of aluminium for general purpose use.


google1 said...

informative post - I can't help thinking that using air must also be much better for the environment too, with all the energy expended getting helium into tanks and transporting it around the country, we can accomplish the same with a little(depending on the size of your display) lung or pump power! In my opinion we already do enough damage to the environment with our latex balloons... apart from Qualatex balloons of course, which are biodegradable!

David Ocornal said...

The airwalker balloons have the ability to add a cheerful atmosphere to the event
because they either roam or float in the room and gives the feeling as if they are walking on air.
The effects they provide are very impressive for the kids as well as for the adults.

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