Wednesday, August 29, 2012

IPad app perfect for working with Clip Art

Since publishing my last blog...
Working with Balloon Clip Art... and how to use an Image Manipulation Program to help you to present your ideas and suggestions to your clients and customers.
There has been a few great suggestions sent to me! The lovely Rita Tavares CBA, emailed me details of another great way to work with Clip Art if you have an IPad!

This free app is called Paint Gallery. 

Just visit and download the Clip Art that you want to use open and save image, this will add the picture to your photo's on your IPad.

Open up Paint Galley once you have downloaded it, it's pretty easy to understand, Rita has kindly prepared these visual step by steps below!

Rita suggests that this could be a great tool to use when working with a client, enabling them see ideas and suggestion, right in front of their eyes!

Here's another example of Paint Gallery in action! This was sent to me by Luciana Oliva CBA, who used it to re-create my Clown Balloon Wall that I designed and made with a group of students in Israel earlier this year! I love the changes and the added flowers :)

And finally, Peter Berggreen CBA, sent me some great Clip Art that he has created, making a template of a design that I created a few years ago!

I would like to say a huge thank you to Rita, Luciana and Peter for sharing their ideas and suggestions with me, so that I may share them with you!

If you have any ideas and or suggestions that you would like me to share in 'the Very Best Balloon Blog', please email me, I look forward to hearing form you!

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Working with Balloon Clip Art... and how to use a Image Manipulation Program to help you to present your ideas and suggestions to your clients and customers.

As a QBN (Qualatex Balloon Network) member you can get access to some great Clip Art templates that you can use to present your decor idea's to your customers and clients.

This blog is to help you to take a Clip Art design like this:

And with a little knowhow you can transform it to this, so you can show colours and pattern idea's!

Start by visiting, if you look at the Purple headers on the left side of the homepage you will see under Qualatex Balloon Network, QBN Resource Centre, click on that and it open's the page that you can see below.

Now click on Marketing Resources

Before you can log in as a QBN Business Member and access your marketing resources, you’ll first need to read and agree to the terms of this limited license agreement. To be able to gain access to this area you'll need to have passed Test 1 Balloon Basics and have your QBN number and password. If you do not remember yours just email and they will be able to assist you.

Once you have entered your QBN number and password you should reach this page:

This page offers you a few options. If you look at the top right you can download JOB COST FORMS in PDF or Excel!

But for now we are looking at Clip Art, so simply select CLIP ART from the Resources menu and leave the Theme and Item reading All, then click on search.

You will now see a selection of Clip Art templates that are available for you to use.

You simply click on the Clip Art that you want to download and save it to your computer, make a folder on your desktop and name it Clip Art so you can easily store and find it when you need it.

So, now you have a Clip Art template of the arch or bouquet that you want to show your customer, how can you add colour to it to use it in your quotes and or presentations?

After many attempts over the years trying to learn how to manipulate photographs and pictures, downloading various 'time limited trial design programs' and really not ever getting to grips with how they work (sound familiar) plus without spending huge amounts of money on a program that I would probably use less than 5% of it's capability, I finally discovered a free program called GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program. 

I am not going to say that GIMP is a really easy program to use unless you are already a Photoshop and Coral Draw users , and if you are then you probably already know how to colour fill and much more!

So, if you are like me and with anything new, especially when it comes to computers, it takes me a while to fully understand how things works, and find that it is a constant learning curve!

Here is a description of GIMP from the manufacturers.

I have read a number of different reviews and in the main they are all very good, but hopefully, I can get you started on some really simple tasks.

So, to get started, you need to download GIMP there are versions for MAC and PC, visit ... it's been a while since I downloaded my version, so I hi-jacked John's computer to see how easy it is.

The first thing that I will warn you about is that your computers security software will probably advise you not to download it, but that's not unusual, but it's a decision that you have to make, but from a personal experience I have never had any issues.

Secondly, because it's a free program, it appears that they have lumped a whole load of other programs ahead of the download, so just keep declining these (unless you want them) and then it will eventually automatically start the download, just read everything that it shows, so you can see what they are offering you, but I just declined everything and on the last one I un-checked the box that said that it would send me up-dates...

It's quite a large folder approx. 77mb (megabytes), but it does not take too long to download.

Now it's downloaded, just complete the set-up as instructed and then your ready to start!

When I download programs such as GIMP, I always save them into my APPLICATIONS folder, when I open the Applications folder I am looking for this symbol.

To start working on a Clip Art image, you might find it easier to right click the Clip Art image that you have downloaded and saved and  that you want to colour and ask it to open with then select GIMP, there will be several options see below (your options will be different from mine).

Once you click on this GIMP will open and look like this:

It asks you if you would like to Assign the picture to the workspace allocated, just click on the Assign button - you actually have the option to change the size of the workspace at this point, but I would not bother. If you have already opened GIMP it will automatically assign the Clip Art to the workspace.

Now your screen should look like this...

I hope that you are still with me, once you have done this a few times it will become easier and you will start to enjoy all the things that you can do with GIMP... but baby steps for now:)

Should the toolbox not appear, you can open it by clicking on Tools, which is on the command bar just above the large balloon on the column. I keep the toolbox outside of the workspace so that I can always see it. If any other boxes open in addition to the workspace and toolbox, just close these as you will not need these today.

Now you need to learn how to fill the balloons with colours.

You are going to work with a tool called BUCKET FILL

Once you have the Bucket Fill tool open you can now start to fill in the balloons.

I have made a short DVD clip to show you how to do this... I hope that it helps?

Wow...this has to be the most challenging blog that I have written to date! I hope that you are able to understand how to preform this simple task and use it within your work... let me know how you get on!

If you have any comments please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments area at the end of this blog, or email me

I am no expert when it comes to using programs such as this, I hope that my very little knowledge just through trail and error will help some of you to experiment where you may not have felt confidant enough to do so.

Happy Ballooning!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

3 steps to creative air-filled designs with Microfoil balloons.

Here are a few very simple idea's of how you can present an 18" Microfoil balloon without using helium.

I completed a job cost form for each of these designs. The first version Below) with just the 5 x 5" balloon double cluster base (allowing 5 mins to prepare), is only a matter of a few pennies more than an 18" foil inflated with helium and secured to a ribbon and weight (that's working on the average cost of helium today)!
Version 1
But look at the second version... how much does it cost you to add 2 more 5" balloons and 2 x 260Q's... again, just a matter of pennies, but the perceived value is so much greater.
Version 2
The final version uses a 646Q for the body, but unlike most 646Q characters, I have only inflated the 646Q to approx. 9", this makes the overall design stand no higher than about 24"... easy to sell, easy to transport for the customer!
Version 3
How do we promote these designs to our customers?
  • Longer lasting - an air-filled foil balloon will last for many many weeks.
  • Easy to transport
  • Great value  
  • Big Impact and appeal
  • Pick up and go! (always have a selection of designs ready to go)
  • Announce these great designs, display them in your windows and around your shop or store... add a price tags so your customers can see how much they are! ("Take me home for only $$$xx")- let them sell themselves!
Design Sheet - Air-Filled Smile Face Santa created by Sue Bowler 

So what about message foils?

We can do the exact same thing with a message foil too! It really all about your creativity, you can add many different elements that add's value - ribbon or 160Q bows for example.

Design Sheet Air-Filled Baby's First Birthday - created by Sue Bowler

Qualatex are working hard and as we speak to produce a NEW flier packed with air-filled ideas and designs. There will be classes dedicated to air-filled designs and decor across the US, UK and other locations Worldwide. We have many very talented balloon artists who share their own air-filled work freely in both the Qualatex and QBN Facebook Groups - a huge thank you to them! 
Think of the current helium situation as an exciting challenge, try out some new ideas today!

Happy Ballooning!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Learn How To Make This Beautiful Wedding Arbour

Elegant Wedding Arbour

Sue Bowler
Wedding Arbour - by Sue Bowler CBA

So what is an arbour? By definition, it is a shady garden alcove with sides and a roof formed by trees or climbing plants over a wooden frame. My wedding arbour above gives you the same sense of a garden frame but with the elegance of light and airy balloons, silk flowers and soft organza.

So what is its purpose? An arbour such as this could be used as the focal point at the wedding ceremony, if you search "wedding arbours", you will see that there are so many different styles - is this an area of decor that you are missing out on?

Product List

39286 - Just Married ARP* Diamond Clear 5” 
39208 - Just Married ARP Diamond Clear 11”
43552 - Diamond Clear 5”
43597 - Pearl White 5”
43788 - Pearl White 11”
43603 - Metallic Silver 5”

99326 - Magenta 5"
43960 - Silver 260Q
22932 - Pearl White 160Q
Organza Ribbon
Silk Flowers

* ARP - All Round Print

Method of Construction

The easiest way to make this design is to start by making all 4 columns first; please note that the 5” balloons listed above are a random selection and not a formal pattern: please also note that the Magenta balloons are double stuffed with Silver over the top to create this very soft colour. Starting from the base of each column, work upwards: 

TIP: I always recommend that you 'wrap' you poles and any frames that you are working with using the same colour of balloons that you are putting on to the frame. I use either 260Q/ 350Q when I wrap, or 646Q to stretch over.

Cluster 1. 5 x 5" Inflated to 3"
Cluster 2. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4"
Cluster 3. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4.5"
Cluster 4. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4"
Cluster 5. 5 x 5" Inflated to 3"

This creates a really nice shape, a little different from the usual graduated style.

You now need to add:

4 x 260Q Silver
4 x 160Q Pearl White

You will need to decide how much of the pole you want to cover with this double spiral, personally, I would tie a scrap of 160Q on each of your poles to determine this point to ensure that they all the same!

Start the spiral by using the 4 x 260Q Silver and wrap these around the pole. 

To create a double spiral you need to add the inflated 160Q at the same time as the 260Q but wrap them individually once you have created the first spiral with all the 260Q.

You are now going to add a further three clusters:

Cluster 6. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4"
Cluster 7. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4.5"
Cluster 8. 5 x 5" Inflated to 4"

Now create a second double spiral, and take this spiral up to 6" - 15cm from the top of each of the poles.

You are going to repeat the same cluster format as clusters 1 - 5, however you cannot add these clusters until the top arch frame is completed and added onto the columns, as part of this cluster series is on the pole and the other half on the arch frame

The easiest way to make the arch frame (top part of this design) is to make it up on the floor prior to adding to the four columns!

You can use aluminium rod or a plastic conduit, just make sure that it fits into your poles.

Determine how big your arbour needs to be and this will determine how long your rod or conduit needs to be allowing enough extra to secure to the poles, aluminium rod can be purchased in different lengths, 4m usually being the longest.

Sue Bowler
Lay your aluminium rods or plastic conduit on the floor and cross them over at the centre, see diagram below.

Mark the place at the ends of each of the rods to indicate the point at which the frames will be added/slotted in to your columns (most column poles are hollow, so it is easy to slot in your rods, if they are not hollow then you will need to secure the rods to the outside of the poles using duct tape), I would allow a minimum of 12" - 30 cms to make sure that it fits securely. Do not worry about bending your rods to create the arch as this will naturally happen when each of the ends is slotted into the columns. You will need to add a second mark (I have indicated this in red), this is the point where your repeat cluster (1-5) will finish, you will probably find that it will be the last two clusters that will extend onto the arch top, once you have made your marks, you can add the final spirals.

The spirals on the top part of the arbour are only single spirals using 2 x 260Q Silver and 2 x 160Q Pearl White,  I felt that the double spiral would be visually too heavy. Depending how big your arbour is going to be, you may need to only 1 set or if bigger 2 sets, if you use two sets then fill the connection join with a cluster of 5" balloons inflated to 3".

In the centre of the arbour, I have added a double bubble topiary ball using 12 x 11" Diamond Clear with 12 x 11" Pearl White.
Sue Bowler
Double Bubble Topiary Ball 

Add the topiary ball at the centre where the two rods cross over... you just push the ball into position.

Add Organza, ribbons and silk flowers to the arch top, but I recommend that you add all this detail before you position the arches into the columns. I have also used 5" Magenta inside 5" Silver to add a little more detail. I created under-inflated 'Bubbles', made up into clusters of three as accent colour and detail.

You will need a minimum of two people but ideally four people to lift the top into position. Carefully slide each rod into the column and secure with duct tape. 

Add the remaining clusters to each of the columns (repeating clusters 1-5 to complete the design. 

Now finish the design by adding organza, silk flowers and the three balloon clusters to each of the columns to complement the arch top.
Sue Bowler
Accent detail - organza, silk flowers and a balloon bubbles.

Well, this has to be one of the hardest designs to 'recipe'... even though it is actually quite simple to make!

Happy Ballooning!