Monday, February 12, 2018

Qualatex® @ The International Toy Fair and Spring Fair 2018

It has been a busy few weeks for the Pioneer® Europe team! Kicking off 2018 exhibiting at two busy trade shows, The International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, and Spring Fair at the N.E.C. in Birmingham, U.K. 

Display by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Spring Fair, Birmingham.

Both shows are the perfect opportunity to meet and connect with prospective customers and to meet existing customers face-to-face. It is also the perfect way to showcase new and exciting products, and that was certainly high on our list of objectives!

I have been part of the Spring Fair team for quite a few years now and very much enjoy the opportunity to create the window displays each year. I also spend two days on the stand talking to customers and demonstrating new products! The design on the left was one of my displays. I love the new Qualatex 38" "Glitter Gold Wedding Cake." The soft Pink, Rose Gold and Blush colour palette, and gold glitter with greenery textures are perfect for 2018 weddings! 

Display by Luc Bertrand.
International Toy Fair, Nuremberg.

The launch of the new Chrome Balloons™ has been one of the highlights of the year so far, and it was a fabulous opportunity to show these off at both shows! Luc Bertrand, CBA, created a fabulous organic style swag using Chrome 11" with added 260Q detail.

Display by Luc Bertrand.
International Toy Fair, Nuremberg.

Display by Alberto Falcone.
Spring Fair, Birmingham.

Alberto Falcone, CBA, created this fabulous Mickey Mouse balloon wall at Spring Fair. He cleverly coordinated Chrome Blue and Chrome Silver with the Onyx Black Silhouette of the Mouse Head. Did you know that Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th Anniversary this year!

Fiona Fisher, CBA, created big impact with these awesome Chrome Balloon Pyramids! Fiona and her team created decor that showed off the full Chrome colour range, and the beauty and elegance of these fabulous new balloons.

Display by Fiona Fisher.
Spring Fair, Birmingham.
Display by Alberto Falcone.
Spring Fair, Birmingham.

This fabulous organic style swag with added distortion designed by Alberto showed the fluidity and smooth elegance of these stunning balloons, giving a liquid metal appearance.

Here are some more photos from both fairs, showing many of the fabulous new products for 2018 and some of the great displays too!

Organic Tree Display by Louise Hedges, CBA, and Julie Dunham, CBA.
Window Displays by Sue Bowler.
Rose Gold & Chrome Gold Mr & Mrs. Design by Luc Bertrand.
Baby & Unicorn Designs by Sue Bowler.
Rose Gold and Chrome Gold Design with Roses by Luc Bertrand.

And finally, a big shout out to those whose hard work made it happen! Congratulations to everyone involved!

Spring Fair Team

Toy Fair Team

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Valentine's "Love You" Guy - Step-by-Step - by Sue Bowler, CBA

Sue Bowler CBA - Valentines "Little Guy" design
"Love You" Guy by Sue Bowler CBA

Here is a quick and easy design that would be perfect for Valentine's deliveries. Don’t delay, and make some of these truly cute guys today! Simply change the colours so that it’s perfect for any occasion. I have matched my “little Guy" design to complement the fabulous 22" “Love You Confetti Hearts" Bubble Balloon®.

Material List 

 5" Onyx Black - 9
 6" Wild Berry Quick Link - 1
 5" Wild Berry - 2
 5" Masculine Face - 1
 160Q Blush - 2
 160Q Wild Berry - 2
 160Q Onyx Black - 1
 160Q scraps

Hand Pump



Make a 4-balloon cluster base that is weighted - I like to double stuff each of the 5" Onyx Black balloons and make each balloon a water-weight. Tie together to form a 4-balloon cluster.

Inflate the 6" Wild Berry Quick Link - 5 pumps using a Qualatex® Green Pump. Secure this to the base cluster.

Add a “raisin twist” into the top of the Masculine Face balloon and add a scrap of 160Q to create a fixing point. Inflate the head to the desired size, making sure that it is in proportion to the body.

Connect the head to the body.

Using the 5" Wild Berry, create two “split bubbles” and twist these together to form a cluster. 

Add this cluster in between the body and the head.

Using a 5" Onyx Black, make an “apple twist” and secure with a 160Q scrap. 

You can now connect this to the head. Make sure that you tie the ends tightly together and remove any excess balloon.

Partially inflate the 160Q Onyx Black. Make two small “pinch twists.” Now wrap the 160Q around the base of the hat to form the brim. Twist the 160Q at the point where it fits neatly around the hat and remove the excess 160Q, making sure that it’s connected securely into the double “pinch twist.”

To make the hands, inflate the tip of a 160Q Blush balloon, then secure a partially-inflated 160Q Wild Berry.  

Make two small pinch twists to hide the mechanics. Repeat to make the second arm.

Adjust the arms to the desired length, and tie both arms together leaving a little stretch between the two. 

Slide into position so that they sit neatly either side of the collar.

Add ribbon or a bow to add detail and a helium-filled balloon or a balloon bouquet to complete the design.

Valentine's Guy by Sue Bowler

Don't delay, and make up some of these truly cute guys today! Show them off in your store and if you are an online retailer, post a cool photo of them on your social media channels!

Trade Tip
If you want the 160Qs to last longer, use a tiny amount of HI-FLOAT inside the balloons - it really works! 

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's New at Qualatex - 2018

Wow, what a fantastic start to 2018! We have had some amazing new products, and a new live-streaming talk show launched already this year!

Centrepiece Design by Sue Bowler, CBA
This design was made using Chrome 11" and 260Q
The hearts are 11" Chrome over 9" 
Microfoil® Hearts.

I first saw the then "top secret" Qualatex® Chrome Balloons™ a few month ago when I was visiting Pioneer® Balloon Company, Head Office. I can honestly say I was completely blown away by this new and amazing balloon. It is unlike any other latex balloon with its unique, solid-looking metallic finish. The colours are rich and radiant, and when inflated, they have a reflective surface. I have had the opportunity to "play" a little with them and find them extremely easy to work with. They are soft, easy to inflate, and look fabulous! They are currently available in 11" and 260Q sizes to order from your Qualatex distributor.

Flower in a vase by Colin Myles, CBA.
Flower picture by José Luthman, CBA.

QCorner was also launched this month, with the first live show being aired on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018, at noon Central Standard Time — 6 p.m. U.K. time.

QCorner is a monthly live-streaming balloon talk show hosted on YouTube by world-renowned balloon artists — and wisecracking quip machines — Keith Stirman and Dominic Cassidy of All Things Fun in Peterlee, UK. In the span of 30 minutes to an hour, each episode of this “edutainment” (education + entertainment) program will feature a wide variety of topics, including:  

New Products
Q&A Sessions
Tips & Tricks

QCorner will also feature special guests from around the globe, and for those who can’t wait between episodes of QCorner, Keith and Dom will release pre-recorded mini-episodes, QCorner Quickies. 

Make sure that you subscribe to the channel, and don't forget to tune in on the 24th!

Many of you will be excited by the return of the Qualatex Latex Colour Portfolio.

Includes a sample of all 86 Qualatex latex colours (one extra slot for the next new colour)

Agate and Neon samples are 11".

All other colour samples are 5”.

Note: a sample pack of the 11” Chrome line is included until 5” Chromes are produced.

Added Bonus: 
Back Inside Panels.
  • Qualatex Custom Colour Chart showing how to make 70 additional custom colours.
  • Colour Wheel with explaination of the four basic colour harmonies.
  • Size comparison chart for entire Qualatex line.

To find out more, and how you can buy this fabulous tool click HERE

And finally, the 2018 Everyday Catalogue is ready! If you're like me and cannot wait to see all the exciting new products, you can view it online! You can also view the Valentine's and Spring Collections too! Click HERE - please note that this is the U.S. version. Please contact your Qualatex distributor for your countries version.

Not only does the catalogue show all the exciting new products, it is packed with inspiring design ideas, too! 

What an amazing start to the year! I know that I am very excited about working with the new products and very much look forward to tuning in to QCorner. I am sure that it will be fun, at time's hilarious, informative, and of course, action-packed! For those of you in the U.K. who are attending the Spring Fair next month, please make sure that you come and say hello to me, Alberto Falcone, CBA, Dominic Cassidy, CBA, and the entire Pioneer U.K team, and if you are planning to attend the Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany,  make sure you say hello to Luc Bertrand, CBA, and the Pioneer Europe, team! 

Happy Ballooning and I hope to see you soon!


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Creative Valentine's Ideas - Part 1

Valentine's Day has a habit of creeping up on us very quickly, arriving very soon after Christmas and New Year. We don't seem to get the same lead time as we do for other key seasonal occasions. So if you have not already started your Valentine's campaign, now is the time to get started! 

This morning I thought that I would have a little play with Chris Adamo's fabulous Balloons Online Design Tool - I have added a link that will take you directly to the page. Remember to save or bookmark the link for the future!  I have designed many balloon walls, but this FREE program makes it so incredibly easy!

If you are wondering where this little gem of a program is hidden, look on the menu for the Quick Link Designer. Once you click on that, it will take you to the design page where it will open in the last model that you used. To change the model, click on ADD MODEL on the right-hand side of the page and it will open a drop-down menu where you will be able to select the type of wall that you want to design. I selected the Alternate Size Pack wall as it allows me to add greater detail to my design versus Duplet Square pack.

Alternate Size Pack Walls

I really like this style of balloon wall. It is robust, always looks good, and is probably the most widely used method of precision wall. It is made by alternating clusters of four balloons in two different sizes packed on to 50lb Dacron line. This produces a square garland (see example below).
The first and last garland in your wall starts and finishes with one size of balloon cluster. The next garland starts and finishes with the alternate size of balloon cluster. The example below shows the green balloon being the bigger of the two sizes.
Sue Bowler
Square Garlands
The difference in size between the two sets is relative to the size of balloon used.

 2" - 4½" = use a ½"differential
4½" - 7½" = use a 1" differential 
7½" - 11" = use a 2" differential

5cm - 11.5cm = use a 1.5cm differential
11.5cm - 19cm = 2.5cm differential
19cm - 28cm = 5cm differential

Practice and see which size works best for you. The garlands are laid side-by-side and interlocked when built, then joined together using the elastic band method* 

Sue Bowler
Square Garlands locked together

Accurate sizing of balloons is paramount with this style of balloon wall. When making the duplets, we must make sure that the balloons are tied as tightly together as possible, leaving no slack latex between the knot and the inflated part of the balloon.

Everyone will pack clusters on the line at a particular tension. It is typical to have only one person pack the garlands while others inflate and tie. This may not possible when working on large-scale jobs, so you will need to practice consistent sizing and packing with your crew.

This method produces quite a smooth design with a flat surface that allows for good diagonal lines and triangles. Not all balloon wall types work with different patterns!

The inspiration for this Valentine's wall was from the Qualatex® "Love You Red Ribbon" Microfoil® balloon. If you made a display using both, it would look stunning and very eye- catching - perfect for a window display! 

18" & 36" "Love You Red Ribbon" Microfoil Balloons

If you would like to have a go at making this wall, here is the design recipe. It even tells you how many balloons of each colour you will need! If you right-click on the instructions, you can save the file to your computer and open it in its original size!

Image 1 - Balloon Wall as it will look when completed.

 Image 2 - Balloon Wall in columns.

To secure the columns together, I use the paperclip and elastic band method that I was taught many years ago by Ian Herd, CBA.

This is such an important part of the wall construction. If done badly, the wall can distort and not look good. There are many people who use 260Qs to fix a wall, but for me, the elastic band and paperclip method is the best technique!

If you have never made a balloon wall before, this style of wall is a great one to start with. Don't forget, you do not need to make it huge; use 5" balloons and you will get exactly the same results, but on a smaller scale!

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing more Valentine's design ideas to help you with your campaign! Don't forget that there is a fabulous INSPIRATION area on the Qualatex website where you can view and download BALLOON BOUQUET and DECOR ideas, like the "Embellished Heart" designed by Luc Bertrand, CBA. If you are a QBN member or CBA, you are also able to log in and download the recipe sheet and a high-resolution photograph that you could use for marketing purposes.

Once again, my sincere thanks and gratitude goes out to Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia, who continuously gives to the balloon industry and inspires many of us each day with his incredible ballooning skills! Thank you, Chris. Your gestures are truly helping so many!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Christmas Party with a 70's Disco Theme

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you had a productive and profitable Christmas and New Year! I thought that I would start the year by sharing one of my own Christmas experiences.

For the past few years, I have had the privilege of working with Ali Welsh to design and decorate a Christmas party in one of London's top hotels. Each year the theme has been very different, with this year being 70's Disco.

70' Party Decor by Sue Bowler - Ali Welsh Events Ltd.
Ali Welsh Events Ltd.
Balloons by Sue Bowler, CBA
Quick Link Disco Design by Mike Hurst CBA
When I started to design the party, my first two thoughts were — "Mirror Balls" and the word "DISCO"! 

I usually start my design process by surfing the Internet for inspiration and found this image. I thought that this would be perfect for the stage decor. 

I felt that the style of letters would look good made from Qualatex® Quick Link Balloons™. They would have a great visual impact and be light enough to hang. The only problem I faced was that I had no idea how to make them! It was at this point I called a good friend and expert, Mike Hurst, CBA, of Red's Balloons and Party in Brackley, England. Last year, Mike developed and ran a course teaching how to make numbers using Quick Links, and I really liked his style, so Mike was the perfect person for me to ask to design the letters for me. 

I spent an afternoon with Mike at his shop learning how to make the letters and to see how they would look. As you can see they were pretty huge, but I knew that they would need to be big to have the impact that I was looking for.

Mike will be releasing an online "NUMBERS" course later this year that will show you how to create all the numbers using this fabulous technique. He assures me that he will be starting on his letters course soon! 

"Disco" Stage Decor
To re-create the Mirror Ball look was a little easier! We made one hundred and fifteen "Mirror Ball" centrepieces! 

3' Confetti Balloons with Neon Tails
Photograph by Nicci Rene

Each balloon was prepared with Hi-Float and then filled with square-cut silver confetti — we used approximately 60 grams of confetti in each balloon.
Photograph by Nicci Rene

The balloons look fabulous grouped together before we put them out on the tables! 

Photograph by Nicci Rene

For the lower ceiling areas, we made an air-filled Bubble Balloon® version that worked perfectly! 

Photograph by Nicci Rene

One of my favourite foils is the Holographic Stars! These always look so fabulous when used for decor, but this was the first opportunity that I have had to use all the colours for the same job and they looked amazing!

This is a short promotional video created by Peter Lane Creative Studio on behalf of Ali Welsh events. It shows the magical transformation of the ballroom - we did it in less than two hours! 

Ali Welsh Events - Highlights video - Grosvenor Christmas Party from Peter Lane on Vimeo.

I would like to say a huge "Thank you!" to my amazing team who worked so hard — and made quite a lot of mess, too!

"The Confetti Queens" - Nicci Rene - Nathalie Saunders - Kerry Ferguson - Debbie Magill
"The Quick Link Disco Kids" - Stuart Davies and Aimee Smith
"The Base Boys" - John Bowler and Jim Magill

"The Bubble Girl" - Sue Bowler
"The Finisher" - Dee White
I hope that you have enjoyed a little look at how our day went! Did I have any sleepless nights before the event? Yes, of course! Did I have that sicky feeling all day in my stomach? Always! 

Happy New Year and Happy ballooning!