Thursday, October 27, 2022

Creative Balloon Columns

The dictionary definition of a column is: an upright pillar, typically cylindrical, supporting an arch, entablature, or other structure; or standing alone as a monument.

Sculptured Column
Design Created by Sue Bowler

In the world of balloons, columns are defined as Classic Balloon decor and come in many shapes and sizes, and they are usually used as a structure that is supported by a base and an upright pole. They could also be self-supporting when using 646Q or QuickLink Balloons. 

I designed this 'Sculptured Column' in the picture above for a corporate event in London. It still uses the traditional pole and base, but for this occasion the pole was 'sculptured' or bent to create this elegant shape. This design was inspired by the Gatsby theme.

A traditional column is usually one that has been constructed using either 4- or 5-balloon clusters. Using a 5-balloon clusters creates a rounder, more cylindrical shape, whereas the 4-balloon clusters will gives a squared shape. 

Impressive Party Entrance Decor with these Star-Topped Columns

Candy-Coated Chrome™ Blossoms

This palm tree "trunk" was created using 5-balloon clusters to give it a rounder shape. The clusters have also been graduated in size, which helps to define the tree trunk shape. Balloon Christmas trees often use either 5- or even 6-balloon clusters to give an even more defined rounded shape.

The basic column is a good starting point for many 'simple' style balloon sculptures!  

1. Cocktail Glass by Federico Onida, CBA
2. Cactus design by Cam Woody, CBA
3. Santa by Cam Woody, CBA
4. Christmas Trees by Dante Longhi, CBA

To learn how to make a 5-balloon spiral column, check out this video with Keith Stirman, CBA of QCorner.

Columns with a Twist! 

Spiral Columns made with modelling balloons such as 260Q and 160Q have always been a favourite of mine. They are quick to make, always look elegant, and are a great way to decorate a pole when creating a design that require a pole and base structure. As with all techniques, they need to be practiced to ensure that you get perfect results every time! 

This elegant column was created using Diamond Clear 260Q with Pearl White 160Q wrapped around... so pretty! 

Elegant Wedding Column created by Sue Bowler, CBA

Polka Dot and Stripes by Sue Bowler

I love this custom coloured column by Eve Antonella, CBA of Pioneer  Balloon Company, Wichita

Circus Theme Column by Sue Bowler

If you would like to learn how to recreate this fantastic technique, visit my post - There is a step-by-step video that will show you how!

Flat Pack Column

With its elegant lines, the Flat-Pack technique is very different from the usual cluster method that is often used to make Columns and Arches. I enjoy using this style for Columns and Arches and have used it a number of times for different events. 

And finally, when it comes to designing columns, don't forget that there is a fabulous digital design and calculation tool available for balloon professionals. This tool is used by thousands of balloon industry professionals all over the world, and will assist you when designing Arches, Columns, Organic designs and Balloon Walls. To find out more, visit This tool is invaluable to my business as a means to design decor for corporate clients and for many of the classes that I teach!

What is your favourite style of column to make?

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Elf on the Shelf and Other Copyright Protection Pitfalls

Elf on the Shelf season is almost upon us, and for a number of balloon companies, it could inevitably spell the misery of disabled social media accounts, or worse a potential lawsuit! Honestly, any one of a number of heavily trademarked companies will pounce on the small independent companies who actually have no idea that they have done anything wrong! Unfortunately, breaking the "rules" on social media is easier than you may realise! So, are you committing copyright infringement and don't realise that you are doing it?

Kyrstin De Leeuw, CBA of The Balloon Store in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, creates her very own super cute Christmas Elf 

Every year, I see posts on Facebook balloon related groups where someone share their woes of their 'lost' Instagam or Facebook accounts!  A ballooning friend of mine told me that her business Instagram account had been disabled before Christmas for violating Instagram Community Guidelines  - her account was never restored and a cheeky little "Elf on the Shelf" had something to do with it! 

I personally have nothing against these elves, but they can have the habit of getting businesses into trouble, especially at this time of year! 

What is the 'Elf on The Shelf'?

The Elf of the Shelf character actually comes from a beloved children's book which tells the tale of Santa's little elf who enters the house at Christmas time to report back each night on who's been naughty and who's been nice. This iconic character is known for hiding itself in a new location each morning and has evolved into a cultural phenomenon by which a stuffed toy elf appears in many households in the lead up to Christmas. A festive month-long game of hide and seek ensues with many children and their parents, with the little one's looking forward to waking up each morning in December to find out where the elf has got to that day.

With the arrival of the stuffed elf toy being so eagerly anticipated each holiday season, many balloon companies have realised that they too can spread a little extra cheer each year by sending toy elves out to their customers. Often, the elves are sat astride stocking filler baskets topped with beautiful balloons! This can be a really fun way to kick off the festive season for lots of families.

Ok, What's the Harm in Doing That?
While it may seem like great fun to join in the "trend", businesses must always remain wary of the copyright infringement risks that surround this iconic character. You may think 'You can't copyright an idea!', but actually you can... it's what is know as 'intellectual property' a concept which protects an original idea from being copied without the appropriate credit and requital to its creators; in this case, the authors of the children's book. The character and phrase, 'Elf on the Shelf' and derivatives of it have been copyright protected, meaning use of the phrases without express permission from the copyright owners could lead to legal action. Having recently checked, it looks like Elf on the Shelf now have copyrights on over 50 words and sayings that have some relevance to their elf character... in other words, there are very few elf related words that are safe to use in a hashtag! 

The same is true for many trademarked characters, which is why when creating balloon designs, it is important to be wary of using protected names and imagery unlawfully. An example of this would be selling counterfeit foil balloons that depict popular children's TV characters. If in doubt, it is best to only purchase such supplies from approved licensees and to look out for the copyright © / trademark logo ®  as an indication that the supplier has express permission to license and distribute that brand.

Creating any likeness of a copyright protected character is also likely to be prohibited by law regardless of if you have created it yourself as you're still profiting off an 'idea' that isn't yours. For instance, twisting yourself a 'Mike the Mouse' character with whimsically large black ears, red shorts and white gloves could still get you in trouble with the people at Disney because you are still attempting to make money off the idea of the character which they created aka their 'intellectual property'. Your version must be different enough that it cannot be considered a direct copy.

The likelihood of a copyright owner finding an infringing image online is low if the image is not tagged with anything that links it to the trademark. So, avoid using hashtags, names, phrases and in generally any wording that is specific to trademarked characters and you're much less likely to get flagged in a copyright dispute.

How Can I Avoid Any Issues Going Forward? So, back to our whimsical elf; while the phrase and concept of 'elf on the shelf' is protected, the word 'elf' by itself isn't trademarked (it's very hard to trademark single, commonly used words...) and there's no harm in simply selling stuffed elf toys for families to use as they please...

It is definitely worth thinking about ways to still let customers know that you can offer what they're after without stepping on the toes of the established brand. It may mean getting creative with your wording for instance, 'Hide and Seek Elf' or 'Find Me Elf' and altering aspects of the idea enough that it's not considered an infringement. It is worth doing research beforehand to avoid getting you business into trouble.

So my advice to you is to stay clear of using any hashtags to promote goods and services that you offer that could land you in trouble, it is definitely not worth it! 

I would like to thank Jade Fraser, Marketing Manager from BAPIA Ltd. for co-writing this post.

Happy Ballooning!

Follow @suebowler

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Stylish and Creative Ways to Add Balloon Flowers to Designs and D├ęcor

Balloon flowers come in many different guises. They can be twisted, distorted, made with round and heart shape balloons, and of course they can be a flower shaped foil balloon! In this post, we are going to look at the many different styles and decor ideas that can be created with Balloon Flowers, plus a few how-to video's to help you learn some of the techniques! 

How gorgeous is this Birthday Bouquet by Sally Povey of Above & Beyond Balloons in Sheerness, England? Sally created this stunning bouquet with a collection of different styles of twisted flowers, plus she added small yet impactful accent details that help set this apart from other flower designs. 

Fabulous balloon flowers by Sally Povey

Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company, uses a variety of different balloon flowers to create this Easter themed Balloon Wall! Cam used 6" latex hearts to make the daisies, then added two fabulous 33" Pink Peony Microfoil™ balloons to give a floral focal point to her design.

A whole new meaning to flower power! This breathtaking design is by Joan and Barbara of Globosmanas Manas from Caracas, Venezuela.

This creative Flower Wall was designed and created by Alberto Falcone, CBA. Alberto has used a variety of different balloon flowers to make this abstract and colourful balloon wall for a trade show window display.

This fabulous photo is from the Qualatex Pioneer Balloon Collective - Lifestyle Photos that are freely available to download HERE and use on your socials.

Jackie Ochitwa, CBA of With a Twist Balloons from Alberta, Canada, uses Twisted Flowers to create this undeniably adorable design. To find out how to make it click HERE or follow this link

This beautiful Arch has been made using Chrome™ Balloons which have been distorted to create these unique flowers. Designer name, Leonardo Carmona, CBA, White Diamond Decor, from Anaheim, CA, USA.

If you would like to learn how to create a range of different styles of flowers, check out this video from Qualatex, where you will learn to make Daisies using four different methods!

Here is another fabulous flower! Federico Onida, CBA of Balloon Express in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy shares his 6" Heart Tropical Flower design.

Another flower that I see regularly used in 'Marquee' and 'Stack' designs is the Basket Weave Flower.

And of course, we cannot forget Fantasy Flowers! These flowers are made from uninflated latex balloons that have been wired. If you would like to learn more about Fantasy Flowers and how to make them click HERE for a direct link to my blog post - The 'Art' of Fantasy Flowers or visit -

What could be more appealing than this giant bouquet of flowers! 

Flowers are always a popular addition to any design, but the white daisy with a yellow centre is particularly trendy right now!

I hope that this post has been helpful and has given you a few new ideas that can be incorporated into your everyday balloon decor and arrangements! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler