Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Finding the Perfect Air-Filled Balloon Decor Solution

Fulfilling a customer's needs is what we all strive for, and finding the perfect decor solution is very rewarding.

Several months ago, I started discussing decor ideas with an event organiser. The event was one that I had decorated two years ago, so I had a little background knowledge of the venue and some of the difficulties decorating this particular event.

This event had used balloons for its decor for many years, but due to a number of circumstances we needed to find a good alternative to a helium-filled table arrangement or a domineering air-filled design. Our mission was to create the perfect air-filled table centrepiece.

The customer's requirements were very specific:
  • The design needs to have a good visual impact without interfering with sight-lines to screens around the room.
  • It should have a little actual movement, like helium without using helium.
  • Each centrepiece needs to display the names of the event sponsors.
  • Should be heavy enough to withstand strong winds as the venue is an open-sided marquee.

A few years ago we were hit by a short-term world helium shortage. As a result of this shortage, we had to find good alternative solutions to creating different types of decor with air-filled balloons. 

To help with ideas, inspiration, and solutions, Qualatex® produced a wonderful flier called, ‟The Qualatex Air-fill Advantage.” The flier is still available to download. Click HERE for your copy!

One of the design concepts that inspired me greatly was by Sandy Pressley, CBA, of Creative Balloons in Warren, MI, USA. Sandy showed some wonderful no-helium balloon bouquets using ceiling tile wire to support the balloons.

When I knew that I had to find an alternative way to make my centrepiece designs for this event, this for me was the perfect solution.

I believe that ceiling tile wire is readily available in hardware stores in the U.S. However, to find straightened wire in the U.K, I had to go to a specialist ceiling tile company, that sold pre-straightened wire in 3m lengths. This wire is also known as 12-gauge hanger wire.

Having found a solution to support my air-filled balloons, I needed to decide which balloon would be the best for the job. This was not too difficult  to determine as my customer's requirements were quite specific. We needed to be able to display each of the sponsor logos within the design, but we could not make the centrepieces too big as we needed to ensure good visual lines to television screens around the venue. 

I decided that working with 9" Qualatex Microfoil® would be perfect! I would be able to use five stars per table, and on each of the stars I would have the sponsor's logo printed.

The Design - Starburst Centrepiece

The colours that we used made these designs boldly stand out in an extremely large, white marquee, injecting an element of fun and festivity to the occasion.

The Method of Construction

Considering the number of centrepieces that we had to make - 95 in total - it was not a quick and simple design. As I mentioned at the start of this post, there was a number of factors that we had to take into consideration when making these centrepieces.

For the base of the design, we used a 33cm x 33cm (13" x 13") white floor tile. The weight and size of these tiles made it impossible for the centrepieces to be flipped over in windy conditions.

As I have already mentioned, each of the Microfoil Star balloons were secured to ceiling tile wires, but again, that was not quite as simple as it appeared!

For each centrepiece, we cut five different lengths of wires. Each wire was bent over at one end and then a short length of balloon stick was slipped over the bent wire. Each wire was then covered with a Caribbean Blue 260Q and secured at the end using binding wire, much in the same way as a fantasy flower. Once each wire was covered, an Original Cello Cup™was secured to each of the wires. This fitted neatly onto the balloon stick that was hidden under the covered wire.

As you can imagine, this took quite a long time as we had 475 wires in total to prepare, but we were able to work on these well in advance.

To hold the five wired stars in position, we needed a short pedestal.  I chose to use a 14" Lomey Clear Pedestal for this job. I secured each of the Lomey Pedestals to the floor tile base using Gorilla Glue™.  Finding the right glue for the job was very important, and reading the glue's description gave me confidence that it was the right product. I allowed the glue 24-hours to set and fully dry, and it worked perfectly!

The product that started it all. Original Gorilla Glue built a name for itself with its incredible, industrial holding power and versatility. Water activated, it expands into materials to form an incredibly strong bond to virtually anything. As your solution for almost any project or repair, Gorilla Glue is 100% waterproof, weatherproof, you-name-it-proof. It's safe for indoor and outdoor use and strong enough to stand up to intense heat or cold. Sand it, paint it, stain it. Simply stated, it’s the Toughest Glue on Planet Earth.

Each of the 9" Microfoil Star balloons needed to be inflated and heat sealed. If heat-sealing is something that you are not too confident doing, check out my blog:

Heat Sealing Qualatex Microfoil Balloons and turn those 'little balloons' into BIG profit earners!

This is another job that can be done well in advance, and I strongly recommend that you do, as it will give you the opportunity to re-inflate any of the foils that deflate I think I had about 5, which was an easy fix. 

Assembling the 95 centrepieces took approximately 24 hours in total, which I did over several days and stored ready to deliver on the morning of the event. 
For each centrepiece I secured 5 different coloured stars to a Lomey pedestal. I then "wrapped" the pedestal with a 350Q to cover the wires and hide all the mechanics. At the base, I added two clusters of balloons, the Purple Violet inflated to 4.5" and the Caribbean Blue to 3.5". I also added two 4" Magenta Microfoil Stars. At the top of the pedestal, I added a "split-duplet," using two 5" Caribbean Blue balloons. Once we arrived at the venue, we positioned each centrepiece and arranged the stars to make a starburst effect. Each centrepiece looked slightly different.

With preparation and assembly time, I calculated that each centrepiece took approximately 25 minutes each to make; Not quick and simple, but very rewarding, especially when the client tells you that they are absolutely perfect!

I was extremely happy with the outcome of this job. It taught me a number of things. Spending time with a customer to find the perfect solution is paramount to success and a happy customer. And that good preparation is key when making so many centrepieces!

Happy Ballooning!




Christine Maentz, CBA said...

Hello Sue! Thank you so much for this valuable information. What material is the floor tile? Is it ceramic or vinyl? Thank you!

I'm working on a job for 30 centerpieces. I'm struggling with the build as it is tiny balloons on a wire that is spiraled and leans to the side (instead of spiraling upwards). I can't figure out how to weight it and be discreet with the base....

I guess this is how we learn, right? :-)

Suseela Susiee said...

That is very interesting; you are a very skilled blogger. I have shared your website in my social networks..!

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Lorain Antaneda said...

Very interesting and useful information.
Thanks Mrs. Sue , a big hug from Panama.

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