Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Bee Mine," an adorable design idea for Valentine's Day!

A few weeks ago I started working on some new designs for Valentine's 2016! There are so many wonderful new Qualatex® Valentine's balloons. If you have yet to see the full collection you can easily download the Valentine's Day 2016 Collection directly from To find out which balloons are available within your country, contact your local Qualatex distributor.

I love to create little characters, so it was no surprise that I instantly fell in love with the new "Bee Mine!" 18" Microfoil®.   This balloon is adorable, cute, and simply perfect for a design that I had in mind.

Bee Mine! #21836 - #21837
I would be lying if I told you that all my design ideas come to me in an instant. In fact, when I first created this design I used 11" latex for the body. I knew that there was something not quite right, so I recreated the design, switched out the 11" for 5" and voilà, I was instantly happier!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Seasons Greetings from The Very Best Balloon Blog.

Wow, I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Another year is almost over! It seems to me like each year is getting quicker?

2015 has been a truly great year, with one of my personal highlights being my leg of the Qualatex
® US Tour. It was so nice to meet up with everyone who came. For me, one of the best things about attending classes and conventions – apart from the amazing learning experiences – is getting the opportunity to network, making some great new friends and contacts within the balloon industry!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"GOSH," - it's Christmas Party time! - 17th December 2015

Since 2013, the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance - BAPIA, has called upon its members to help create the decor for the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), Children's Christmas parties.

Built in 1852, Great Ormond Street Hospital had only ten beds when it first opened and was the first hospital in the UK that offered dedicated inpatient care to sick children. In 1858, GOSH survived its first major financial crisis when Charles Dickens spoke at a festive dinner and gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol in aid of the hospital. This raised enough money to purchase the neighbouring house on Great Ormond Street and increase the bed capacity to 75! Today, more than 255,000 patients visit GOSH annually. Not only is GOSH at the forefront of pediatric training in the UK, but it is also a pioneer of medical research to find new and better treatments for childhood illnesses.

Decorating the annual GOSH Children's Christmas party is such a great honour knowing that our industry, with some very dedicated helpers, has done a little to make this very special occasion a little bit more exciting and fun! 

The party is a Christmas treat for patients who are currently in the hospital or who have been treated over the last year. More than 2000 children, siblings, parents, and carers attended the four parties that are held over two days! 

These magical parties feature fun activities including face painting, arts and crafts, cupcake decorating, and an appearance from one very special guest - Father Christmas - who flies all the way from the North Pole for the occasion.

Decorating this party has its challenges as we are not permitted to use any latex balloons. So each year we get our thinking caps on and create exciting balloon decor without the help of our beloved latex balloons!

Balloon Images OCT/NOV/DEC 2015

After reading the fantastic article, Create Fabulous Foil Arches in Balloon Images Oct/Nov/Dec 2015, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me and my team to recreate one of these amazing arches!

I loved the “Colourful Candy Surprise” arch by Cam Woody, CBA, that was featured in the same article.
Cam created an arch that incorporated all the Qualatex® 18" and 9" Candy Swirl Microfoils attached in a random pattern that spread the colour throughout the design. I felt that these balloons would be perfect for the children; we would add a Christmas twist to the design, too! 

Using David Mahoney's recommended H taping technique, we started our preparation. Firstly, we air inflated our selected range of "Candy Swirls" and Christmas balloons. We wanted to emulate the wonderful randomness that Cam had created in her beautiful arch and felt it would be easier if we could select the balloons as we went along! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Little Last Minute Inspiration for Christmas and Holiday Decor!

With Christmas and the holiday season only a matter of a few weeks away, I thought that I would take this opportunity to rekindle some of the seasonal designs that I and other fellow balloon artists have made over the years. Many of these designs have been documented in earlier blogs, so to make it a little easier for you to find, I will add a direct link with each of the designs that are featured. In most instances, there is a step-by-step recipe included within the blog!

I love this festive balloon wall! We created this using 40" Emerald Green Starpoints and 27" Lime Green Taper Microfoil® Balloons. We were unable to use any latex at this event, so we used 9" Ruby Red solid-colour round Microfoil Balloons at each of the centre points to make it look like holly leaves.  Filled with air,  this design can easily be suspended.

These Christmas presents were great fun to make too!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thinking about attending the World Balloon Convention in New Orleans 2016? Here are some great reasons why you should!

The excitement and anticipation for the 2016 World Balloon Convention (WBC) is growing by the day! I suppose if you have never been to WBC, it is hard to understand exactly what all the fuss is about?

I have often mentioned in my blogs how attending my first convention, which was the European Balloon Symposium in Paris in 1996, a Qualatex® event, helped me to turn my business around and set me on the road to success!

So why are so many people so passionate about spending a week with fellow balloon professionals from all over the world?

Joette Giardina, CBA and Garlis Bolivar, CBA "jamming."
Photograph courtesy of Jani Blocker.

Networking: One of the overriding reasons that many people attend WBC is for the camaraderie. I can honestly say that so many of us have made life-long friends and buddies from around the world. People who share the same passion for balloons and balloon art. New friends that we can communicate with long after the convention is over. Building a network of friends gives us the help and support when we need it. 

I love when I return to WBC, it is like one fantastic family reunion! I love seeing all the friends that I have met over the years. I also love to meet and make lots of new friends too! You will never feel lonely or left out at this event!

Edward Muñoz, CBA.
Photograph courtesy of Jani Blocker

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fun, friends and excellent workshops at this year's Balloon Jam Hamburg!

Last month I was invited to teach at the Balloon Jam Hamburg, Germany. I previously attended this event some years ago, but then it was known as The Euro Jam.
The Euro Jam was founded in 1998, after Rüdiger & Cordula Paulsen, along with mutual friend Happu Krenz, attended a Qualatex® Event in Prague.

Enjoying the camaraderie and excitement of sharing ideas and skills with other twisters from around Europe, they decided to establish a twisting event of their own in Germany. Over the next seventeen years they ran 15 very successful Euro Jams. In 2013, Andreas Zier and his wife Meike, with the help of Sandra Brandt, took over the event and re-named it Balloon Jam Hamburg.

This year's event saw 155 participants, coming from 14 different countries, including Germany, USA, Israel, Hong Kong, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, and UK.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Have you started your New Year's Eve preparations yet?

It's that time of the year when there is so much going on! We have just celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas is looming, and New Year's Eve will be here before we know it... and of course Valentine's Day has a habit of sneaking up on us very quickly! 

With so many key seasonal decorating opportunities over the next few weeks and months, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to look at some of these holidays and celebrations, and offer some advice and inspiration!

New Year's Eve is one seasonal event that you can be sure there will be many decorating opportunities. hotels, restaurants, public halls, and night clubs to name just a few, will be packed with party goers looking for an amazing evening of fun and celebrations! 

In recent years, I had the opportunity to decorate a beautiful London hotel. My brief was to decorate two key areas in the hotel: the very elegant ballroom and the main entrance foyer.

Ballroom Decor
Qualatex® Starpoint balloons proved to be the perfect choice for my decor in this extremely elegant room (see photograph below). We had eight small alcoves to position our decor, four on each side of the room. With the room being filled to capacity with tables and diners, it was important that we kept our decor within the allocated space and not encroaching into the main floor space.

Hotel Ballroom without balloons.

Tip: Ensure that you fully understand what areas of the room are to be decorated. What are your constraints, for example - access points or service tables? 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Adding those little finishing touches to wedding decor!

I recently had the honour of decorating a wedding where the charisma and personalities of the bride & groom oozed from every corner of the room. Their love of traveling was reflected on each table showing a different photograph of their travels to faraway places, as was their enjoyment of fun and games  through the "guest book" written on wooden Jenga pieces! Every part of the wedding had their personalities stamped all over it, and for me it showed that a great deal of thought and love had gone into planning their very special day!

Finishing touches can really make a difference, they add the personal touches to a wedding and we can do the same when we create our decor!

Here are a few ideas that you can use to add that little extra touch when decorating weddings and other elegant events!

One of my first tips would be to find out what flowers will be featured at the wedding. Even though the wedding reception may be predominantly balloon decor, there will still be some flowers such as the bridal bouquet. I love to use silk flower heads to add that little finishing touch to wedding decor.

For me, balloons at a traditional wedding should be elegant and soft and not bold and over-bearing. If a colour is to be used, then it should be added carefully into the decor to ensure that decor remains elegant and graceful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Balloon Jams! Guest Blogger Cam Woody shares her first experience at OzJam 2015!

So what is a Balloon Jam? A Balloon Jam is where balloon entertainers, beginner, intermediate, and advanced balloon entertainers - and "twisters"- get together to share ideas, techniques and designs. In more recent years, events such as the Millennium Jam, Balloon Jam Hamburg, and OZJam have opened their doors to balloon decor, giving both twisters and decorators the opportunity to combine skills and knowledge!

Over the next few weeks I will be reporting back on the above mentioned Jams with a little help from guest bloggers Cam Woody, CBA, who attended OZJam earlier this year and Steven De Maesschalck, CBA, who is currently attending the Millennium Jam! 

Cam Woody CBA

"This year I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of OzJam 2015 in Sydney, Australia. OzJam started out as an event where twisters could get together and jam and learn. Each year the event has grown and now combines twisting AND decor. There’s something at OzJam for everyone!
Entrance to Oz by David Taylor & Brendan Ord.
Sunday, OzJam began with a group theme build coordinated by Ray Stewart. Various instructors were asked to build a section of the decor to create the Land of Oz in the hotel. The scene was complete with all the characters from the Wizard of Oz, the Yellow Brick Road, a rainbow, corn fields, & the Emerald City gate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Step-By-Step GEO Blossom® Flower People.

Since writing my blog, The GEO™ Balloon celebrates 25 years! I promised that I would create a step-by-step recipe on how to make these adorable Flower People.

GEO Flower People by Sue Bowler CBA
They are extremely simple to make, and would make a great addition to a balloon arrangement that would certainly put a smile on anyone's face!

This short video clip will give you all the information that you need to make one of these little characters. All you need to do is add your own little bit of personality to each of your characters. For my designs, I used a selection of facial stickers that are part of a set that Lily Tan CBA has produced; these worked perfectly for me. You could make your own stickers if you have a vinyl cutting machine or you could simply draw on a face using markers pens such as Sharpies or edding marker pens. I have written two blogs,'Drawing a face on a balloon' and 'Drawing on Balloons and bring your designs to life'. Both these blogs are a great help for those of you who are new to drawing on to balloons!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The GEO® Balloon celebrates 25 years!

25 years ago, Pioneer Balloon Company was excited to launch a revolutionary new balloon called the GEO Donut®! It was invented by Ronald E. Prater, an inventor who lived by the "never say never" philosophy! 

A balloon with a hole through the centre, it turned many heads in amazement at the Chicago Party Show that it was first exhibited at. It gave the balloon world something completely new to work with and many exciting decor opportunities.

These awesome balloons have been used to create so many wonderful designs, here are a few of my favourites!

Fiona Fisher, CBA uses both the 6" & 16" Geo Blossoms® to create this fantastic Birthday "GEO Man". 

By using a lovely selection of vibrant coloured GEO Blossom balloons, Fiona has created a design that is fun and very sellable!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Russian Balloon Artists Olga Baranova, CBA and Olga Samoilova, CBA share their creative flair!

I recently attended the 15th Moscow Balloon Festival and I can honestly say that I was completely blown away by the incredible balloon art that was  exhibited at this event! 

One of this year's design teams was headed up by formidable artists Olga Baranova, CBA and Olga Samoilova, CBA. You might be familiar with these artists as they won first place Large Sculpture at the World Balloon Convention 2014, and then went on to win first place Master Sculpture at BACI 2014.

Olga Baranova CBA & Olga Samoilova, CBA run a very successful balloon business, Sonlnechny Veter (or Sun Veter which translates to "Sunny Wind") from their home city of Samara, Russia.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Biggest Labyrinth in the World at the Millennium Jam 2015!

After a five-year break, the Millennium Jam is finally back! This year, the  Millennium Jam is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of IBS, International Balloon Services, Belgium.

It all began in June 2000, when IBS owners Johan Wijns and Leo Verlinden,  decided to organise their own event and the Millennium Jam was conceived! 

This event is sponsored exclusively by Qualatex®, and returns to the Sunparks Resort, Mol, Belgium.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A little last-minute inspiration for Halloween!

For many party retailers, Halloween is their biggest and often their most profitable seasonal celebration.  So let's make sure we all take this opportunity to maximise our own sales potential!

Hopefully by now you will have decided on a range of "To Go" designs to sell over the Halloween period. Halloween falls on a Saturday, so be prepared for an exceptionally busy day!

If you have a shop or store, do you have an inspiring window display? Window displays are such an important part of any retail business! Every display needs to tell a story and make passers-by stop, look and take notice. Most importantly, it needs to create a desire to buy!

This Ralph Lauren window shows the fun and excitement of Halloween but still shows off an eye-catching range of children's clothing suitable for the time of year!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tassel It!

It's amazing how trends arrive on the scene! For the past few years we have been seeing the growing trend of big balloons with festoons of tassels flowing from them. You only have to search Balloons with Tassels on Pinterest to see some truly amazing photographs! 

For me there is something quite retro or vintage about this look, and although many of the photographs are staged to capture that perfect shot, I certainly think that they are stunning!

Tassels can be made from a number of different materials; tissue paper, crepe paper, plastic table covers, foil, cellophane or a combination of any of these!

I love a challenge and decided that it would be great to learn how to make these very popular balloon appendages!

We usually see tassels on big balloons, so I decided that I would test out tassels on a range of other balloons!

With my daughter's birthday celebrations looming, there was the rare possibility of being able to celebrate outside in our garden (our English weather is not always very predictable). I decided to decorate our tree with tassel laden air-filled Bubble Balloons! The reason that I used Bubbles was because wanted to prevent the beautiful Big Polka Dot balloons inside from oxidising, plus I love Qualatex® Bubble Balloons!

I was absolutely delighted with the results! By simply attaching a few balloons to our tree (hanging on an invisible nylon thread), it really injected a blast of colour and a sense of fun and celebration to our garden! The tassels really made a huge impact and moved around with the breeze! The tassels on these balloons are made from crepe paper which I found really easy to work with.

Qualatex Bubbles with Tassels in Sue's Garden
U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Importance of Continuing Education

I cannot believe that we are already ⅔ of the way through 2015! What an exciting year it has been for education in the balloon world and there is still more to come!
1st Place Large Sculpture
 2014 Moscow Balloon Festival
Alexander Solomatin CBA
For me, I am getting ready to head off to Russia for the 15th International Moscow Balloon Festival. The first Moscow Balloon Festival was held in 2000, and my first trip to this event was in 2002. I feel very fortunate to have seen how balloon artists in Russia have developed and grown within this relatively short time, and I am very excited to see what incredible designs and sculptures await me later this week! 

Being a talented balloon artist and running a successful balloon business does not just happen. It takes a great deal of commitment and investment to ongoing education - and not just learning new ballooning skills, but business skills as well. That was almost my downfall.  Fortunately with help from the Qualatex Balloon Network and attending my first balloon convention, I was able to profitably operate my balloon company.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Personalising Balloons Using a Die-Cutting Machine: Part 3

I often here people saying how difficult it is to compete against the "big boys." My answer to that is - don't be like the "big boys!" Be yourself and offer something exciting and unique! 

Yes, I cannot deny that there are people out there who will always go for the cheapest option, but that is not true of everyone. There are people who want something a little different, special and unique and are prepared to pay a premium for that service!

For this 3rd and final part of this series, I would like to look at a few other ways that we can use our die-cutting machines for our designs and also within our businesses.

When we talk about personalising balloons, it does not always have to be sticking letters or shapes on to a balloon. There are other things that we can do with our machines. 

Cutting Card Stock
If you like to be a little bit creative and are not adverse to making things yourself, then you will probably enjoy creating your own personalised ribbons too! This was one of the reason why I invested in my machine a few years ago!

I had a job where I needed to recreate a balloon (10 actually) that could be used as part of a promotion to celebrate Candy Crush Saga's 1st Anniversary. This is probably one of those occasions when you could easily say "I'm afraid that we don't sell Candy Crush Saga balloons," and lose a sale! 

I decided that I would offer the client the best alternative that I could, and that was to create my own Candy Crush Saga balloons along with hand-made Candy Crush Saga ribbons!

(This job was on behalf of Candy Crush Saga and therefore did not infringe any copyright laws).

Monday, September 7, 2015

Personalising Balloons Using a Die-Cutting Machine: Part 2

Following on from part 1 of this series of blogs, I asked a few of our lovely industry professionals if they would kindly share a little of their experience working with their die-cutting machines.

"Personalising balloons has become an integral part of WOW Balloons. We would not be without our 'little Silhouette'.
They have become so popular, if you show anyone a personalised 3 foot column,  9 times out of 10 they will buy it! We often find that they will buy 2 so that they can be positioned at the entrance of the venue. It's certainly added another W to our 'WOW', so from my point of view, it was money well spent."
- Debbie O'Neill, Wow Balloons, Essex, UK

Dominic Cassidy of All Things Fun, County Durham offers these thoughts:
The ability to say "yes" to our customers! Having the right balloon at the right time is pretty hard at times, however being able to customise with vinyl means we can do pretty much anything. Fast, create a simple design and cut within minutes. The up-sell, adding names and ages to balloons gives us a great opportunity to add extra value for the customer with extra profit for us. Unique Selling Point (USP) Gives your business that added extra that the large multiples do not do. Gives us another avenue to be creative. Consistency, Being able to make both eyes the same is one of life's simple pleasures! Additionally if your customer would like half a dozen of the same design… no problem!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Personalising Balloons Using a Die-Cutting Machine: Part 1

We have been personalising balloons for years now. I remember attending one of my first ever balloon shows over 20 years ago and seeing beautiful personalisation using glue pens and fine glitter, and to be honest, I still love it today... as long as the person writing the message or name has beautiful hand writing!

Jacqui Pettitt, of Tiffany's Balloons uses stencils to create an outline before she glitters her balloons, which gives a very professional finish!

A few years ago, I was introduced to the Silhouette Cameo and it certainly changed my world!

The Silhouette CAMEO is an electronic die-cutting machine designed for personal use. Like a home printer, it plugs into your PC or Mac with a simple USB cable. However, instead of printing it uses a small blade to cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric and more up to 12" wide and 10' long.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words!

Smile Face

A smile may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes, it seems as though its value is so much more. A simple smile creates its own message without words. In many cases, the smile takes on a specific meaning because of the surroundings or situation in which it occurs. A quote from My Well-Being Presented by Humana 

Smile Face is probably one of the happiest and most versatile balloons that were ever made. It's certainly one of my favourites. I have been using it and its variations in my designs for many years!

There are many occasions that it could be used for;
  • Feel Better soon 
  • Thinking of You
  • Let's Celebrate
  • Happy Birthday
  • To Cheer You
  • New Baby
  • Christening or Communion 

And I am sure that there are more occasions that you can think of too!

At Qualatex®, we have such a fabulous range of Smile Face balloons to choose from, making it so easy for us to create fun, unique, exciting and of course sellable designs!

A few of the wonderful Smile Face balloons in the Qualatex range!

Here are a few of my 'Smile Face' creations, that can be adapted to suit so many different occasions!

Smile Face for Birthdays!

Sue Bowler CBA - The Very Best Balloon Blog
40 Brilliant Star #24170
U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675

This is such a great design. We have so many great Qualatex Bubble Balloons that we can work with to create the body and the message for our design, including these fantastic Milestone/Age balloons. 

I made a similar design for Valentine's Day using a Qualatex Deco Bubble for the body. Here is an easy to follow video clip that will show you how to use either a Deco Bubble or Bubble balloon to make these truly cute 'Bubble Guys'. Simply coordinate the balloons to suit the occasion that you are making the design for.

Funny Face Flower

Design created by Sue Bowler CBA
Funny Face Flower #18052/ #15384
U.S Patent No. 6,782,675

This design is made in a very similar way to the 'Bubble Guy'. By using bigger clusters at the base and two Deco Bubbles rather than one for the body, we can create a design that has greater impact and is perfect for room decor. 

Smiley Flower!
Design created by Sue Bowler CBA
I love this design! It's simple but so effective! The flower is made from helium filled 16" Smile Face latex balloons, remember to use Hi-Float to extend the floating time! The clusters in the centre (on both sides), are 5" latex balloons sized to 4.5" and 3". The flower is secured to a weighted base using a nylon monofilament line (which you cannot see). I then added 350Q for the stems from the base to the flower, securing the stem to the monofilament line at the midway point. I then added a few 160Q Green and Lime Green balloons to create leaves. This design can be recommended for a high impact delivery or for decor.

Smile Face Arch!

Smile Face Arch Designed by Sue Bowler CBA

What better way to make everyone feel happy and welcome when they arrive at the party! This Smile Face arch is fun, vibrant and extremely welcoming!

For this arch I have used a combination of 16" and 3' Smile Face latex balloons. The 3' balloon in the centre creates the perfect focal point. I added a hat and nose to this balloon for extra detail.

Naughty Smile & A Kiss Guy
Design by Sue Bowler CBA

Who can resist a 'Naughty Smile & A Kiss'? A super design for Valentine's Day! Ready for collection or delivery, this design takes less than 10 minutes to make!

Once again you can easy convert this design to suit any occasion. 

I have included the recipe below along with a job cost form so that you can work out how much you should be selling a design like this for.

If you are unsure how to job cost your work check out my blog - How much should I charge for that... how to price your work!

To Download this instruction sheet visit Sue's Recipes
Design ideas for working with these fabulous balloons are endless. I found this great design by Luc Bertrand CBA. Luc has created a wonderful little character design using Qualatex Taper balloons for the main body and arms.
To download Luc's recipe click here

I love this 'Bouncing Buddy'! This would make a great delivery design and bring a big smile to its recipient!

To download instructions for this great design

If you are ever looking for inspiration for your shop window then why not fill it with 'SMILES'! Using Latex, Microfoil® and Bubble Balloons®, you could display a range of different 'Smile Face' characters and wait and see the reaction that you get from your customers. I am sure that you will bring a little extra happiness to their day!

Happy Ballooning!