Thursday, December 22, 2022

What's in your toolbox? With Natalie Saunders

I have known Natalie (Nat) Saunders for many years, as both a friend, and as a fabulous balloon artist too! Nat has run her highly successful balloon business, The Balloon Room for over 20 years and is regarded as one of the UK's top balloon companies! 

Today, Nat is sharing the contents of her toolbox to help others who may have recently started out in the balloon business or for anyone who might be intrigued to see what another professional carries on their jobs! 

Check out the video below, in which Nat talks through and shows you the full contents of her tool box and why she has it.

Toolbox - Natalie recommends the Stanley Modular Rolling Toolbox


🎈 Scissors and Retractable Reel Holder/Scissor Keeper

🎈 Loose Change for parking 

🎈 Stretchy Balloon Tape
"Stretchy Balloon Tape is my number one tape by far. I use it a lot! It is the only sure connection for foil balloons without putting any stress on them. When using stretchy tape I take one side of the backing tape off and reposition across in the middle, I then take away the other half of the backing tape. I then position the stretchy tape on the two foil balloons that I am connecting. The repositioned backing tape now shows the distance that will be taken between the two foil balloons. Now turn the balloons around, take away the backing tape and an additional piece of stretchy tape on top. This gives a result of two foil balloons with only a few millimetres between only using the double stretchy tape. The tape kind of ‘melts together.’ I find that this is the best way to make very strong connection points onto foil, Bubble, and latex balloons. The fact that it is stretchy or elastic makes it a stronger connection as it can shrink, grow, and move with the balloon construction. 

🎈 Tweezers

🎈 Teaspoon and Tablespoon for measuring (confetti) 

🎈 Mini perfume (just in case for a quick freshen up)


🎈 Gaffer Tape - can be used to connect rods and pipes and also to cover loose cables when working as a health and safely procedure.

🎈 Glue Dots and Uglu Dashes

🎈 Balloon Bond
Click-Click™ Balloon Bond®.
This is a two-sided adhesive that is perfect for connecting latex balloons and other materials to balloons.

🎈 Nail Varnish Remover and Cotton Wool Pads - the nail varnish remover will remove the painted surface from a foil balloon which will help when sticking foil balloons together.

🎈 Double-Sided Tape

🎈 Anti-Bacterial Wipes and Hand Sanitiser 

🎈 Monofilament or Fishing Line (Strong nylon thread)

🎈 Batteries - AA + AAA's

🎈 Tape Measure 

🎈 Gorilla (Mounting) Tape

🎈 Dacron Line
🎈 Floristry Wire


🎈Command Hooks

🎈Glue Guns - Hot & Cold Melt plus Glue Sticks

You would probably think that glue guns and balloons would not be a good combination, however, low temperature or cool melt glue guns work perfectly well when making designs. 
They are particularly effective when building Mosaic Frames for Balloons, and also when adding the balloons to the frames. 
Be aware, even cool glue is very hot, and yes, it can pop a balloon, so you need to be very careful when working with one. The main problem with this type of glue is that it reacts with temperature; if it's cold, the glue sets very hard and brittle, and in the heat it can soften too much.
Be very careful when using a Hot Glue Gun, the glue is extremely hot and will pop balloons.

🎈 Staple Gun

🎈 Pins and Drawing Pins

🎈 Bag Clips (IKEA)

🎈 Small Speaker

🎈 Screw Drivers

🎈 Phone/Cell Charger

🎈 Tripod

🎈 Card Machine to take last minute payments

🎈 Wire Cutters & Pliers

🎈 Hammer

🎈 Helium Regular and inflation outlets for  different types of balloons

🎈 Balloon Stretching Tool (Castration Pliers or Tool) 

🎈 Retractable Knife

🎈 Premium Balloon Foil-Pro Inflator

🎈 Spanner and Wrench

🎈Tent Pegs

🎈 Magnets

🎈 Safety Pins

🎈 Bull Dog Clips

🎈 Torch

🎈 Balloon Weights

🎈 Cable Ties/ Zip Lock Ties

🎈 Balloon Hand-Pump

🎈 Pocket Pump

🎈 Balloon Shine/Hi-Shine

🎈 Shoe Protection Covers

🎈 Rubber Gloves

🎈 Odd 260 Balloons for tying

🎈 Safety Goggles

Check out some of Nat's fabulous balloon designs! 

Beautiful Bubble design by Natalie Saunders - The Balloonroom, Stevenage, UK.

Award Ceremony Decor by Natalie Saunders - The Balloon Room, Stevenage, UK.

Party Decor by Natalie Saunders - The Balloon Room, Stevenage, UK.

A huge thank you to Nat for sharing the content of her toolbox and all her many tips with The Very Best Balloon Blog! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Learn how to make a Flat-Pack Christmas Tree - with an easy Step-by-Step Recipe

Balloon Christmas Tree using the Flat-Pack technique

There are so many different techniques when it comes to designing with balloons! Each technique has its own set of pros and cons, and we can use those factors to choose the best technique to suit the decor that we are creating or the location that we are creating it in.

We don't often see the Flat-Pack technique being used. This style of decor is known as Classic Balloon Decor where all the balloons are sized with precision to achieve a  perfect look!  I actually used this technique to create a Halloween design recently at a training event. The pros of using this style of decor is that it is flat, so it can be used in spaces where there is not much depth, like a shop window or a narrow room.

Here is a sideways photo of the same Christmas Tree. The tree is literally only one balloon in depth, making it very slim! 

Side view of the Christmas Tree

I have made a short video that explains how to construct a column using the Flat-Pack technique. This video will be of help to you if this technique is new to you, however, for the Christmas Tree, you will need to follow the sizing on the recipe sheet below for the balloon sizes, but follow the method shown in the video.

Here is the recipe for the tree that I made. You can change the sizing if you want to make bigger or smaller trees. For my design, I use Qualatex® Chrome™ Gold and Chrome Green and topped it with a 20" Ruby Red Microfoil™ Star.

Flat-Packed Christmas Tree Recipe by Sue Bowler

I would like to thank Lynda Webb from Bloon Away Boston in Boston, UK. Lynda attended the training session where I demonstrated the Flat-Pack technique and was so inspired with it that she started to play! I saw Lynda create a number of different designs including a variety of columns, and then she used the column technique to create tree's! I asked Linda to make some Christmas Trees for the recent BAPIA Funday - Christmas with Qualatex and they were a huge success! Lynda asked me to write this post so that we could share the recipe with others! 

Christmas Trees by Lynda Webb - Bloon Away Boston

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Meet Donna Higgins, the ONLY actual Delegate at the recent Q Corner Convention!

Are you a Q Corner Rockstar? It has now been almost 5 weeks since the 3rd Q Corner Convention aired, with 78 continuous hours of virtual balloon education from more than 40 of the world's top balloon artists and training instructors. 

I expect that some of you have watched the previous Q Corner conventions. The first occurred during the early part of the pandemic, and I know it was greatly received from the Worldwide ballooning community... did you know that all the instructors gave their time for free to help others through the difficult times! 

Donna with Keith and Dom from Q Corner

The latest convention was a little different. In order to watch it, you needed to become a Q Corner Rockstar which requires a monthly subscription of only £4.99 per month... not much for some of the very best online ballooning education! 

Although this was a purely online convention, there was a team of instructors based at Q Corner HQ for the duration of the convention. This provided a variety of live, fun and exciting elements to the convention. In addition to this, one person was offered an exclusive opportunity to attend the convention as the only actual delegate, which was offered as a prize through UK's Balloon and Party Industry Alliance (BAPIA).

Today's post is an interview with Donna Higgins, the Sole owner of ‘Bird and Blossom Balloons’ and the only actual delegate at the Q Corner Convention! 

Q. It is not everyday that someone gets the opportunity to be the only actual delegate at a balloon convention. It would be great to hear about your experience. Maybe you could share a little bit about the convention and your involvement?

Ok, where do I start? The convention was an incredible non-stop experience from start to finish! The days consisted of being involved in the balloon build during the day, whilst also filming sessions throughout the day and evening.

I was pretty much hands on with all the artists throughout the whole four days. And, for me, that was the best way to use this unique experience, getting stuck in and not missing out on any chance to learn from the best!

I also found this really great for my self-esteem, as most of the techniques I was able to help with (albeit a little slower), and that was encouraging for me at this point in my career


Donna with some of the Q Corner Team! Keith, Cam, Jim, Doctor Bob, Ishani, Donna, Kerry, Bex, Alessandro, and Lucy.

Q. What were your best bits and highlights?


Honestly I really loved it all, but one of my favourite parts (which surprised me) was getting involved in the filming! My first session was alongside Julie Dunham. I was so nervous, but she really made me feel at ease.  From that session on Keith & Dom had me roped in!


I got to learn alongside the amazing Doctor Bob and Keith while having such a good laugh at the same time. (I mean their jokes were terrible, but it turns out I’m also a good actress, and I perfected the fake laugh!).


Working alongside Lucy Hennessy while filming was also an incredible experience! Her creative brain is just full of awesome little tricks, that I’m sure she didn’t even realise I was watching and picking up constantly!


Donna with Cam Woody


Donna with Alessandro PatanΓ©

Doctor Bob, Donna and Keith Stirman


Q. What do you feel that you gained by being part of this event?


The opportunity to be so hands-on alongside professionals who have worked in the industry for so many years is incomparable to anything else I will get to experience at such an early stage in my career.


From learning alongside the wonderful (and sweetest man around) Alessandro PatantΓ©, whose talent is unreal and his experience in the Italian market is something I would not get the opportunity to learn about in Northern Ireland. His creative brain is astounding!


Even being in the room with Cam Woody was amazing, watching her technique for balloon hugs and sellable designs that I can use daily was so great for me! Her neat adaptable designs and her lovely modest manner was just so lovely to be around! We had such fun.


Doctor Bob had me hooked from the beginning. Word got out I was a twister (I mean I’m a very new twister, but I guess I can do it) and we struck a wee balloon twisting bond! I watched him like a hawk and the session we all had together was really helpful for me!


Kerry Ferguson was not only so fun to be around, but she trusted me to build those walls alongside her! And I’m so glad she did, as I have never yet had the experience or opportunity to work on such a large build. These classic dΓ©cor walls were one of the things I really wanted to be a part of. The impact was so incredible to me.


And then my experience with Bex from Blow it with Bex was so incredibly helpful. Her knowledge of social media, the organic world and general business was really great for me to be around. As a young business owner, to see how she has grown so fast in such a short period of time is really encouraging.


Donna with Bex Phelps 


Q. For someone who knows nothing about the convention, how would you describe it to them, and why should they sign up? (Yes, you can still watch the whole convention at your leisure, and you will also get access to thousands of hours of ballooning education as part of your Rockstar membership, to sign up visit


These conventions are days of pure ballooning fun.  All the instructors have a wealth of knowledge, and you can go back to watch all of the sessions over and over again, which I do often! The sessions are from incredible instructors from all over the world in every technique within the industry.


I would encourage anyone to sign up to be a Q Corner Rockstar.  I personally find it such a great resource for development and learning, tan here are so many detailed step-by-step tutorials and business advice all in one place!


Keith & Dom are fantastic hosts, fun to watch and their ability to come up with things on the spot is a skill not everyone has.  I found that admirable, as I know I can talk, but those guys were on another level!



Q. Tell me a bit about you, your balloon business, how long you’ve been working with balloons!


Well, hello! My name is Donna, and I am the sole owner of ‘Bird and Blossom Balloons’.  My business is based in a small town called Ballyclare in Northern Ireland. I currently work from home, which fits around my little family of four. My stock however is beginning to outgrow my current workspace due to business growth, and I am excited to see what the future holds! 

I cannot really pinpoint the moment I discovered my love for balloons or the reason why.  It happened around the summer of 2021 pushing me to start my business and ‘see how it goes’. Since then I have slowly built up my business dealing with balloon dΓ©cor of all kinds including: air-filled, helium, twisting and lots of other fun new skills I have trained in. I recently celebrated my first year in business in September 2022, and have been really blown away by the response by my local customers.


The most incredible thing I have learnt about the industry so far is how friendly and encouraging people are.  I have travelled to England to attend courses and have made some truly great strong friendships!  I could honestly say the balloon world is definitely where I belong! 

A huge thank you to Donna for taking part in this interview and for sharing her amazing and unique experience with us all! 

If you have never attended a balloon event whether online or in person, it is truly the best way to grow your knowledge and experience and to learn some fanatic designs, skills and techniques! 

Happy ballooning, and don't forget to become a Q Corner Rockstar! 


Follow me @suebowler