Monday, June 29, 2020

Top Tips for Working with Balloons in the Sun and Heat

With more and more balloon companies offering outdoor balloon decor, I thought I would share some top tips when planning decor outside on hot sunny days.

You need to be aware that;
  • Balloons will swell/ expand in the heat.
  • Darker balloon colours will absorb heat and pop faster.
  • Balloons will oxidise and lose their clarity.

With the help of David Mahoney of Balloons Everyday in Texas, USA. I have put together this simple set of rules.

To combat these issues, follow these rules:

Firstly, use quality balloons such as Qualatex®; quality makes a huge difference. 
Use much larger balloons than required. 
  1. Work with 16¨ latex balloons rather than 11¨, and under-inflated them. A 16¨ balloon should not be inflated to greater than 12¨. This will allow the balloons to expand with the heat. If using 11¨ balloons, do not inflate them to any bigger than 7.5¨.  Always fully inflate balloons to their maximum size and then deflate until you reach the desired size. NOTE: Just under-inflating a balloon will make little difference. The idea is to stretch the balloon to its limit and then let it down to size. This will make the balloon more durable and less likely to pop in the heat.
  2. Use light-coloured balloons and avoid using dark colours. Use accent elements such as ribbons to introduce the darker colours into the decor.
  3. Plan for the balloons to oxidise. This is not a bad thing, it merely changes the visual texture of the balloon. You can tell your clients that the balloons will look more “velvety” and acquire a rich, matte finish.
  4. Use white balloons as much as possible; they reflect the sun and fade less.
  5. When working with framework and poles, ensure that you cover these in white duct tape or wrap with white modelling balloons. This will help to keep the framework and poles from getting too hot.
  6. If working with helium-filled balloons, keep in mind that extreme heat speeds up the balloon diffusion process. So, in high temperatures, helium will escape much faster than normal, drastically reducing float time. If you can find a way to provide shade for the balloons, it can slow the process.
  7. Do not use water to cool down balloons. As the water dries on the latex, it becomes slightly sticky. The balloons can stick together, causing them to pop as they expand in the heat or move with the wind.
  8. Use Qualatex Bubbles™️ and Deco Bubbles whenever possible as they can withstand the sun, rain, and wind, making them much more reliable for outdoor decor.
David Mahoney of Balloons Everyday, Texas, USA shares his experience working with balloons in the sun.
‟One trick we find helps, is that when it gets hot we double stuff all the balloons on the top of an arch, number, etc... This helps the entire design to somewhat implode at the same rate. The top of any design is what is hit first with UV rays and the double stuffed balloons generally give you some time to allow the design to accomplish what a client needs. Last thing we do that helps with outside work; WE DO NOT GIVE ANY GUARANTEES. You can't do it with outside work. We are upfront and very clear on this with clients. Most times clients are OK with it. We state it as a matter of fact, not that balloons suck, or that we are unprofessional, or for some reason we have done something wrong.”

Insurance and Contracts

It goes without saying that you should have good public liability insurance. Anyone who runs a balloon business needs to be fully covered by a comprehensive insurance policy. 

A contract is an essential part of your business. When installing balloon decor outside, it is very important that you ensure that your clients are aware that weather can affect balloons and balloon decor. Honesty is the best policy; we should not make any guarantees that we may not be able to keep, especially when considering potential bad weather.

It might be advisable to add in a clause like the one shown below:

‟Balloons are, by nature, temporary items: Although ‘your company name’ uses only the finest quality balloons, some balloons will occasionally deflate sooner than expected and will also be adversely affected by the wind, rain, rough handling, sunlight, and other uncontrollable factors.”

David's final words on this subject:
‟We as an industry have to accept that what we do does not fit every situation, and that it is not the perfect solution for everyone. So many are worried about getting work that they never consider the cost of getting 'the wrong work.' We love outside work but that is because most of the time we have controlled expectations and clients are generally happy.”
This post is an extract from a previously posted blog - Balloons and the Great Outdoors

Being prepared for what could happen to your balloons on very hot and sunny days will help you greatly when discussing this type of decor with your clients. I really appreciate that David says that he does not give his customers any guarantees, and that you should be upfront and honest with your clients about the potential effects of the sun and heat on their balloons.

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me on Instagram #suebowler

Thursday, June 25, 2020

How to Make a Styled Framed Number, and Make a Five Year Old Very Happy!

This week, my granddaughter celebrated her fifth birthday! So naturally, I wanted to help to make her birthday very special, especially as having a birthday party during lockdown was sadly was not an option.

I have been seeing some fabulous "Yard Art" decor being posted on the Qualatex Facebook group and decided that I would have a go at making her a Number 5 that stood as tall as her! 

I started by designing the frame. You may remember a blog post from last year that featured a "Number Eight" designed by Alexander Solomatin, CBA, for International Women's day. 

I really love how Alexander styled the frame by using different sized balloons, rather than having all the balloons the same size. View his post here: 

International Women's Day and how to make this fabulous Number Eight Sculpture by Alexander Solomatin, CBA. Click HERE

International Women's Day Number Eight 
Design by Alexander Solomatin

I thought that I would share with you how I designed and created my styled framed number.

Step 1. Choose a Font. Select a font that you want to replicate and then print it. To make it easy for me to get the proportions right, I sized the number so that the length measured 10cm, which allowed for easier conversion of measurements. 

Step 2. Make a Template. Getting the proportions correct will ensure that the finished design will look perfect. It was very easy for me to convert my design. Working in centimetres allowed me to convert the overall length from 10 cm to 100cm and all the other measurements in the same way.

I then drew the design onto a large piece of paper. This gave me a template to use when bending the aluminium rod into shape.

Step 3. Bending the Frame. Find a big enough space that will allow you to bend the aluminium into shape - I use  a 6mm rod that I buy from a metal merchant. I like to purchase rod in 3 or 4 m lengths.

You can use a Pipe Bending Tool to help to give you good angular bends, or you can simply bend the rod yourself. Be very careful to keep the frame flat, otherwise it can distort and not look good.

Make sure that you stay true to the template! All the work and effort put into making a good frame will ensure a great end result.

Step 4. Adding the balloons. When I printed the five outline, I paid special attention to the shape, which helped me to determine the sizes of balloons I would need to recreate the same style as the font that I had chosen. If you look at the photo in step 1, you will see that I have written the sizes that I felt would work best in each section. 

The first thing that I always do when working with framework is to wrap the frame using un-inflated 260Q's. Covering the frame allows it to 'disappear' when you add the balloons (no silver framework will show through) and the balloons grip better to latex, rather than directly onto aluminium.

Because the design was intentioned to go outside, I wanted to ensure that the balloons would survive the sunny weather, so I decided to double-stuff them (by putting one balloon inside another). I also used the double-stuffing method to create a softer, paler pink to compliment the other shades of pink that I used for this design.

Step 5. Adding a Base. For the base, I used an IKEA NOT lamp, with only one riser pole. I slid the pole into the design at the base at the widest part and then secured the pole to the frame using an un-inflated 260Q.

Step 6. The Finishing Touches. I now wanted to bring my design to life by adding some accent detail. My granddaughter loves fairies and unicorns, like all 5 year olds! 
I started by adding 14" Air-Filled Mini Fairy Microfoil™️ balloons.

Qualatex Mini Fairy
Mini Fairy

I then added five 260Q Chrome™️ Gold flowers, and at this point took a photo to see how the design looked and to check if I was happy with the positioning of the elements that I added. I always like to take photos when I am building my designs so that I can see how it developing; it's so much easier to see mistakes on a photo compared to the naked eye!

With a few additional flowers, and some 260Q Chrome Gold Bubbles, I was very happy with the finished design.

Here are few photographs from our birthday "Garden Party", I also added some additional air-filled balloons to our flowersbeds and it looked truly magical... and of course, she loved it! 

I hope you have enjoyed learning how to create this beautiful sculptured number and I look forward to seeing your own beautiful number creations soon! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me on Instagram #suebowler

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Elegant Flower Embellished Arch

This is a design that I originally created for the Q Tour in 2015! Today, I would like to share it with the readers of The Very Best Balloon Blog! 

This design incorporates the AeröPole System™️ and demonstrates how to create patterns within an Arch, rather than using the usual spiral pattern we regularly see. 

The design also shows great Rhythm. Rhythm is movement within a design created by repetition, transition, radiation, or variation to lead the eye along lines in a composition. In this design you can see:
  • Repetition in shape, colour, and texture
  • Transition in sizing of the big flower to the smaller flowers
  • Radiation with movement from the focal point
  • Variation with the different elements of latex and Microfoils
For the Arch you will need:

150 - 11" Onyx Black latex (or the colour of your choice)
50   - 11" Pearl Ruby Red latex (or the colour of your choice)

Inflate all of the balloons to 9"

Here is the pattern that you will need to follow to create the arch; start from the left and repeat from the beginning until you have as many balloons as you require for your Arch.

To make the 27" Taper Flower:

8   - 27" Tapers (Red Tapers are no longer available)
12 - 5" Onyx Black (or the colour of your choice)
2   - 5" Pearl Ruby Red latex (or the colour of your choice)
1   - 260Q to secure 

To make the 13" Taper Flowers (per flower):

8 - 13" Silver Tapers (or the colour of your choice)
12 - 5" Onyx Black latex (or the colour of your choice)
2 - 5" Pearl Ruby Red latex (or the colour of your choice)
1 - 260Q to secure

To make a large flower you will need:

8 x 27" Qualatex Taper balloons inflated with air (be careful not to over-inflate, and do not use a high-pressure air-inflator to inflate your balloons as this will damage the valve.) Tie these into duplets. 
12 x 5" latex balloons inflated to approx. 4.5" and made into 2 x 6-balloon clusters.
2 x 5" latex balloons inflated to approx. 3" and made into a duplet.
1 x 260Q un-inflated.

How to put the flower together:

Start with one of the 5" (inflated to 4.5") 6-balloon clusters, lay it flat, then take a 260Q and wrap it through the centre of the cluster in a figure of 8 motion. This cluster will NOT sit flat until you add your next cluster so you will need to hold it down.

Twist all the Taper duplets together and lay these flat on top of the 3 balloon cluster - DO NOT SECURE USING THE 260Q as this will pull the cluster down and the balloons will not sit flat, just bring the 260Q through the centre so you are holding it above the cluster. Nex add the second 5" (inflated to 4.5") 6-balloon cluster on top of the Taper balloons and bring the 160Q through the centre again, arranging the Tapers so that they sit correctly to represent a flower. Secure using the 260Q by wrapping this through the centre of the top cluster in a figure of 8 motion.

Design Tip:

The use of Microfoil balloons creates contrast and adds visual texture to the Arch. Use the 27" Taper flower as the focal point and the 13" Taper Flowers as accents. You can also use Taper Flowers as room decor. Suspend them from the ceiling at varying heights using the Click-Clik™️ Magmover System.

What if you want to propose this or another design idea to a client but you don't have a good photo to display:

Gathering a solid portfolio of design ideas can take many years, unless you are very lucky! However, you don't actually need a good photograph to excite your clients!

I created this graphic presentation using Chris Adamo's Balloon Design Tools program. You can test it out free for 7 days, and if you like it you can either get a monthly or yearly subscription. To find out more click HERE  - I use this software often and I've found that it makes quoting quick and professional!

Chris taught a class Digital Designs Aids to Grow Your Business during the recent Q Corner Convention, in his class he looks some of the various software (free and paid) available to create digital design aids for your business with lots of little tips on how to use digital renders to quote and up-sell- definitely worth watching! 

If you missed Chris's Q Corner Convention class, I have added the video below. Chris's class was included in part of Part 8 of the convention and starts at 4.14 if you want fast forward it to his session.

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me on Instagram #Suebowler

Monday, June 15, 2020

Q Corner Table Live Arrangement Competition - All the Fantastic Designs and Results

I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate everyone that took part in the recent Q Corner Live Table Arrangement competition! 

Eighteen balloon professionals from around the world came together during a Q Corner Show. Through the power of the internet, and some technical know-how from Keith and Dominic - The Boys of Q Corner, they created their own unique table arrangement 'live' during a 40 minutes window. 

The competitors were required to follow these simple rules:

  • Only Qualatex or Northstar balloons can be used including latex rounds and non-rounds, Microfoil, and Bubble balloons. 
  • The arrangement should be air-filled only, please do not include any helium-filled balloons.
  • Accessories such as flowers, greenery, ribbons and other decorative items can be used, however balloons should represent at least 70% of the design.
  • No balloons can be pre-inflated prior to the start of the competition.
  • Should you wish to add Fantasy Flowers, these may be pre-made and used within your design.
  • The design should be suitable to be displayed on a table.
Here is the winning design and all the other fantastic entries!

"Hello everyone! My name is Angie Chan from Hong Kong. I am very happy that my creation stands out in the Q Corner Table Arrangement competition. This activity is very exciting. All participants must complete the work within 40 minutes. It is really not easy! My heart is satisfied that I just do what I love. The following are winning pieces at various competitions and my favorite works in the past. I hope you will like my work."

Here are all the other wonderful designs, choosing a winner was very difficult as each of the designs were unique, and offered their own special attributes.

To view the competitors in action, check out the video below.

Taking part in a competition is a huge personal challenge, but probably one of the most rewarding things that you can do for yourself and your business. I have always enjoyed participating in competitions, and I really believe that it has made me the balloon artist that I am today! I am always looking for ways to make my designs stand out, and show even a little bit of distinction.

Q Corner is planning a new live competition - Balloon Column. I hope that many of you will decide to take part and enjoy this exhilarating and challenging experience! Stay tuned for details and entry rules  Mr Q.

Once again, congratulations to everyone who took part in the table arrangement competition, you all did an amazing job and made the judging truly difficult! 

Happy Ballooning!

Follow me on Instagram #suebowler

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Part 2. Baby Moon Design - Step-by-Step Tutorial - How to Add the Balloons and Finishing Touches

In Part 1 of this two-part video tutorial, I demonstrate how to create the perfect frame for this super cute "Baby Moon" design. For a direct link to this video, click HERE.

Here is a reminder of the materials and equipment that you will need to make the frame:

Frame Material and Equipment List:

  • 1 x 3m length - 6mm or 1/4" Aluminium Rod 
  • Pipe or Bolt Cutters
  • Gaffa or Duct Tape
  • Pipe Bender if you have one but it's not essential
  • NOT (Lamp) Base - this is an inexpensive IKEA (lamp) product that many balloon professionals use to support designs.
  • NOT (Lamp) Pole x 1 (If you don't have access to an IKEA NOT Base and Pole you will need to find a good, similar alternative.) 
  • White Floral Quick Drying Spray Paint 
  • String or ribbon to measure
  • Circular Template - such as a hoop

Balloon Material List - you can change the balloon colours to suit your client's needs.

  • 18" Baby Girl Pink Stripes Microfoil™️ Balloon - #88004 
  • 11" White - only a few for the cloud base
  • 5"  Pink or Rose 
  • 5"  Pearl Pink - optional
  • 5"  White 
  • 5"  Pearl White - optional, but it does give a slightly different textural look to the plain white
  • 5"  Diamond Clear - approximately 10
  • 7"  Chrome Gold - approximately 10
  • 260Q Chrome Gold - approximately 15
  • 260Q Pink - 4-5

Other items:

  • Gold Metallic Confetti
  • Ultra Hi-Float - I use the NEW Mini Bottle - 148ml (5oz) as the nozzle is perfect for using with 5" and 260Q balloons
  • Premium Twin-Air Sizer II Balloon Inflator - this will help you naturally size your balloons using the "10th's of a second" timer adjustment. While you can use any inflator to make this design, I use the Twin-Air as it makes the sizing of the balloons very easy! 
  • Castration Pliers - to stretch open the 5" balloons
You may also want to use a few Uglu Dashes when connecting the foil balloon and pink ribbon for a nice finishing touch! 

Hi-Float - 148ml (5oz)

Premium Twin-Air Sizer II
Castration Pliers

I hope that you have enjoyed learning how to make this beautiful baby design, and I wish you every success making and selling this design in the future! 

Happy Ballooning!

Follow me on Instagram @suebowler