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!