Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sue Bowler Reviews: Digital Balloon Images Magazine & The Very Best of 2018 Print Publication

My collection of Balloon Images™ magazines goes back as far as 1990! I have every issue from November/December 1990 to the last printed issue, October/November/ December 2018 - wow, an impressive twenty eight year collection! This fantastic free resource from Qualatex has helped me each and every day in my ballooning career. In my earlier days, it was an absolute life-line: we had no internet, YouTube or any of the other incredible resources that are available today. Even today it continues to be a fabulous source of knowledge and inspiration!

In January 2019, Balloon Images became an online publication and as much as I will miss my Images magazine dropping through the door, I am happy that Pioneer Balloon Company made this decision. 

As a QBN member, I have had access to the digital version of Images for quite a while. I find it quicker and easier to search through the magazines online, rather than trying to find the relevant hard copy in my large stack of magazines. When the new online version was launched, I was so impressed and excited by the content! Not only does the magazine continue to be a fabulous publication, it is also packed with many additional resources that would never be possible through a printed version like "How To" videos and direct links to other really helpful video resources as well as downloadable images that you can freely use! 

For example, did you know that you can trace a design directly onto an un-inflated Bubble balloon?  I will be definitely trying this out in the future - thank you Steven Shippy, Creative Art Director at Pioneer® Balloon Company for your awesome videos! 

NEW On-Images - with fabulous video step-by-step             

If you have not seen the online version of Balloon Images yet, click HERE - you will love it! 

Images™ and Balloon Magic® are available to read for FREE on The first issue of Balloon  Magic is releasing in March! This is really exciting as up until now Balloon Magic has been a paid subscription! Available on your desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile device, the online issues offer content like you’ve never seen before! With translation into 5 languages, the latest balloon news is now at your fingertips – anytime, anywhere.

So what is The Very Best of 2018?

The Very Best of 2018 - a new annual publication from Qualatex.

Now that Images is no longer printed, the general feeling was that it is important to encapsulate the important and memorable ballooning highlights of 2018, as well as future years to come in a one off annual printed publication. 

Firstly, I must mention the quality of this publication. It's impressive! It truly is a quality paperback, worthy of any coffee table for sure! I might have to buy two, one to flick through and the other to keep pristine and to save as my "do not touch" special copy.  

Zivi Kivi, CBA, host of, referred to it as a "Yummy Magazine, that is a high quality production with a fabulous selection of images that is a celebration to the eyes"! 

Sarah Courtney, of Belle Balloons, Melbourne & Sydney Australia says "The magazine is beautifully presented and displayed a vast range of what the industry has to offer!"

There are fifty one pages packed with so much fabulous content! Here's a sneaky look at what's inside!

There are so many great features, one of my favourites is the Balloon Couture article, which profiles the stunning work of Pop Culture Sculptures, Derek Wong, Stacy Wheeler (aka, Stacy Pineapple) and Emi Jingu. My own ballooning skills do not extend to this incredible art form, their work is truly inspirational! 

Balloon Artist Emi Jingu of p0p0 balloon in Tokyo, Japan, designed these
air-filled works of art modelled in photo shoots in Milan, London, New York and Paris! 

I also loved The Power of Instagram and Decor Trends article - honestly, I loved them all! 

Zivi commented that "there is a really good representation of trends and photographs that show the levels of complexity and how the industry is progressing and changing - organic style decor is king and balloon art is progressing faster than ever visually."

According to the Chinese Zodiac, it was officially the year of the dog. However, it proved to be the year of the llama, mythical creatures, tropical scenes and so much more in the world of balloons! In this issue there is a great article on trends and Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, share's her adorable llama design. I've got to have a go at making one of those!

I would like to conclude by mentioning a fabulous new addition to this publication: Industry Influencers in 2018These influencers, totalling twenty people/businesses, were chosen by their peers through social media channels and surveys. They were selected for inspiring others and for using their keen sense of style and unique offering of imagination to push the industry forward. Being voted as one of the 2018 influencers was a huge honour for me. The balloon industry has grown and changed significantly over the past twenty eight years, and I am both happy and excited that I have grown with the industry and feel that each and every day is a huge learning curve. I am proud to be able to share my passion and what I know with my friends in the ballooning world! 

Each influencer was asked a series of questions, and I have loved reading each and every response and seeing a selection of their awesome work! I have snuck in one of the influencers pages featuring Mr. Rock & Roll of the balloon industry - the fabulous Chris Adamo! Let face it, Chris has helped so many people with his awesome Balloon Design Tools program as well as his incredible sense of style - who will ever forget the after-party decor at WBC 2018! 

I think it will be very interesting to see how the influencers will change each year. Everyone has their own personal hero's, or someone who has inspired them and helped them to grow. If your hero is not listed this year, make sure that you vote next time and explain why you believe that person should make the list.

I cannot say more without sharing the whole publication with you! 

So is this publication worth buying? Yes! Is it packed with design recipes - no, this is not a recipe book, but it is a fantastic annual publication that is a time capsule of the important highlights of 2018. The Very Best of 2018 is sure to educate, inform and remind you of all the exciting trends and world events the balloon industry experienced throughout 2018.

This publication is available for purchase worldwide through an online printer, called Lulu. The cost reflects the actual cost of the printing and shipping, Pioneer Balloon Company does not receive any income from sales. It truly is a gift to the industry, and we hope people will continue to look back on it in years to come as trends evolve over time. 

Click HERE for a direct link or follow this link:
Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, February 21, 2019

How to Design a Window Display From Concept to Creation - With Bonus Tips and Tricks Videos

Each year, I have the privilege to design the window displays for the Qualatex trade stand at Spring Fair, NEC, Birmingham, U.K. It truly is a job that I love doing, although challenging, I find that I can really allow my creative juices to flow!

Baby Boy window display by Sue Bowler - Balloon Art by Sue Bowler
Baby Boy Window Display by Sue Bowler. CBA.

Designing a window display is definitely worth pre-planning. Otherwise, you can end up filling a space without really knowing what you are trying to achieve. My role at Spring Fair is to showcase a range of new Qualatex balloon designs in a way that makes them look exciting and striking. 

Probably one of my favourite displays this year was the "Baby" window. I love the NEW "Baby Stripes" balloons; the beautiful pastels with gold and white are so elegant and completely on-trend!

18" "Baby Boy Blue Stripes"
also available in 9".

18" "Baby Girl Pink Stripes"
also available in 9".

Designing my displays

Sometimes I find the process quite easy, but not always, and so planning is especially essential for me. I start by creating a design board. I want to be sure that the ideas I imagined will be functional as well as pretty. I often use this same technique when I am proposing a design to a client, and have found that it really helps them to get a good understanding of what they will get. Below is the design/mood board that I made when working on this window. It helped me see how the balloon would look with a crescent moon shape and garlands. Although I did not re-create exactly what I had originally designed, I really did not deviate too far - that's pretty unusual! 

The ability to be able to download images directly from the Qualatex website in a png format (clear background) has made designing so much easier. I simply download all the balloons that I want to feature and then play around building shapes. If you are working on Columns, Arches or balloon walls, you can use Chris Adamo's fabulous design tool that will help you to produce good look design images every time! Designing the crescent moon was fairly simple. I import shapes into a Word or Pages document and build the shape that I am looking to make, add circles and fill them with the colours that I want to use. 

Balloon Display Design by Sue Bowler

Making the design

The display was created from two main elements - the crescent moon and the air-filled garlands. Using air-filled balloons in window displays is the key to longevity. The garlands are extremely long lasting and could be easily stored and re-used for a future display. The crescent moon has a limited life but to ensure that it looked its best for the entire show, I double-stuff all the latex balloons or treat with hi-float.

The crescent moon frame was made from a length of 6mm aluminium rod bend into a crescent moon shape. I actually used one of my hoops from another display as a template to ensure that I had a good curve. I secured the frame to a NOT base, which worked perfectly for this design. If you look at the finished design you will note that the base is white. I like to spray my bases with a white, quick-drying floral paint when I am creating pastel and light-coloured designs. 


To achieve the beautiful pastel blue that has been used for the Baby Boy Blue Stripes balloon, I double-stuffed Caribbean Blue with either White or Pearl White on top. Using both whites and mixing them into the design gave a subtle change in texture, some of the balloons looked a little more shiny whilst others had a subtle softness.

I also added a few under-inflated 11" Chrome Gold and some Gold Confetti-filled balloons too! If you are wondering what the tiny gold balloons are, they are a mix of small gold baubles and the inflated tips of 260Q Gold Chrome balloons! Excepting the 11" Chrome Gold balloons and the 260Q bubbles, all the other balloons are 5" inflated to different sizes.

Air-Filled Garlands

Making the garlands takes a little time, but the effort is truly worth it! My garlands were made from 4" Metallic Gold Stars, 9" & 18" "Baby Boy Blue Stripe" balloons. These were all air-filled and heat sealed as required. Each balloon was connected together using a very fine monofilament line. The finishing touch was to decorate each balloon with a tiny hand-made satin ribbon bow - it's the finishing touches that makes the difference!

The Display

The window space is quite small, so to make the best of the space, I use a layering technique to ensure that each element stands out in its own right. The long garland with the 18" balloon at the base was positioned towards the front of the window. The crescent moon was centred and slightly angled, and the shorter garland was positioned towards the back of the window. This gave the display a visual balance as well as the opportunity to see each of the elements very clearly for every position. The gold glitter balloons added an elegant twist to the design and reflected the confetti that is printed on the balloons.

Tips and Tricks

Here are two very short video clips that will show you how to make the mini 260Q Bubbles and how to make 5" Confetti-Filled balloons using Hi-Float, both of these techniques I used for the crescent moon design. 

Getting both window and in-store displays right are critical for the success of a business. They are the opportunity to show your brand and to promote products or seasonal themes. 

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Qualatex goes "A Little Bit Spacey" at the Nuremberg Toy Fair and Spring Fair Birmingham

The start of the year is always a very busy time in Europe with the Spielwaremesse - Nuremberg Toy Fair, Germany and the Spring Fair, N.E.C., Birmingham, U.K. This year saw both stands take on an "Out of this World" space theme with the stand decor designed and create by Luc Bertrand, CBA, Fiona Fisher, CBA, and Federico Onida, CBA

Nuremberg Toy Fair Decor by Luc Bertrand
Spring Fair Decor by Fiona Fisher and Federico Onida

The trade fairs are a fabulous opportunity for customers both existing and new to see the full range of balloons, party ware and accessories that Qualatex® sells- there is nothing better than to be able see all the products close-up, you cannot always fully appreciate how fabulous they look in real life! 

The truly remarkable artist Alberto Falcone, CBA, also waved his magic wand over the Qualatex stand at Spring Fair, creating some wonderful displays that without doubt will inspire so many! It's amazing when you add theme balloons such as the adorable new "Precious Panda" Head and the Northstar "Emoji's" and the superb range of Dinosaur balloons to a wall or a display that takes the balloons to a whole new level! Each one of Alberto's amazing displays can easily be reproduced for theme parties! 

Panda with organic tree display by Alberto Falcone

Emoji's Wall by Alberto Falcone

Volcano with Dinosaur's by Alberto Falcone
Here are some more lovely displays from both fairs, featuring some of our amazing new balloons!  If you were unable to attend, I hope that it will give you a little inspiration! 

Both Luc and myself had the opportunity to create beautiful designs using the NEW "Graceful Swan" balloon, Luc managed to sneak in the gorgeous "Tropical Philodendron" balloons too! 

Graceful Swan Designs by
Luc Bertrand (left)
Sue Bowler (right)
Window display by Sue Bowler, CBA

The fabulous colours in the "Rainbow Swirl Ice Cream" and the "Birthday Pastel Ombre & Stars" look truly stunning - I think these will be extremely popular this year - I am loving all the NEW 9" and 14" balloons too! 

Window Display by Luc Bertand

I love Luc's Ice Cream display. He cleverly shows a fabulous range of new products. The base is made using the new "Colourful Dots" latex balloons - I have yet to play with these and I can't wait! He then displays the "Rainbow Swirl Ice Creams" with a beautiful bouquet of "Birthday Metallic Ombre and Dots" topped with the fabulous "Colourful Confetti Dots" Deco Bubble!
This wonderful "Loveable Llama" display was created by Louise Hedges, CBA,
of Pioneer Europe.

Kerry Ferguson, CBA, of Pioneer Europe created some truly
inspiration balloon bouquets! I loved this "Hot" tropical design!

This was one of my favourite displays to make!
I love designing balloon hoops and by simply adding
Northstar "Scripts" take them to a whole new level! 

Who could not adore this beautiful Llama baby display by
Federico Onida. Federico made this design during one of
The Stage demonstrations that are held each day at Spring Fair.
Both shows were brimming with fabulous new products and many exciting displays. If you have never attended one of these shows then I highly recommend them both! 

2nd -6th February 2020

Spielwaremesse - Nuremberg Toy Fair

29th Jan - 2nd Feb 2020

And finally, just in case you missed it, Keith and Dominic reported live at Spring Fair on Q Corner - this is a great way to truly see the amazing Qualatex stand!

Hope to see you at a ballooning event somewhere in the world this year!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, February 7, 2019

2019 Wedding Trend: Glamorous Balloon Greenery

Greenery decor at weddings looks classic and chic. At this year's Spring Fair at the NEC, Birmingham, U.K., I had the opportunity to show a few decor ideas, using some of the newest products from Qualatex® that I believe will excite and inspire 2019 brides! 

Shades of green worked really well with the beautiful new "Graceful Swan" balloon. I used a selection of double-stuffed custom coloured latex balloons to create the organic style decor that framed the design.

To achieve the colours of balloons that appear in this design I used:

Outer balloon colours: White, Pearl White, Pearl Ivory and Ivory Silk 
Inner balloon colours: Green, Spring Green, Pearl Forest and Wintergreen.

I also included a few Qualatex 11" Chrome Green and the fabulous NEW 11" Tropical Greenery latex balloons, both of which added an exciting new visual texture - I also double-stuffed some of the Tropical Greenery balloons with Ivory Silk and Spring Green to change the colour slightly, again allowing each of the balloons to blend beautifully within the design.

The frame that I used was a combination of products. The base of the frame was made from the PlexiPoles System and are called End Plates. PlexiPoles are a high quality acrylic & plexiglass product and are available from To give me the height that I required for my frame, I bought some acrylic tubing that I sourced online. I cut it to the size that I wanted and connected them together at the corners with plastic corner/elbow joints. I knew what I wanted to create, and I was lucky enough to be able to source the right products to make it! Using acrylic made the frame light, airy and very elegant. To complete my design I added some faux silk greenery and flowers.

I created this centrepiece as one of my stage demonstrations at the Spring Fair! And although all the balloons had been pre-inflated, I managed to construct this design in less than 15 minutes! I think that the new "Elegant Greenery" Qualatex Bubble Balloon is going to be a true hit! As the Bubble is air-filled and weight was not a concern, I filled it with a selection of double-stuffed shades of green 5" latex balloons, and also a few under-inflated 11" Gold and Green Chrome™️ balloons too! 

Deco Bubble - "Elegant Greenery"

I am very much looking forward to working with all these fabulous greenery style balloons in future decor! I hope you like the displays! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler