Thursday, July 13, 2017

From Traditional to Contemporary Jungle Party Decor Ideas.

Black & White African Party Theme.
Designer unknown 
When it comes to designing a theme party, this event designer has ticked many boxes for me! I love how the balloon stylist has created this fabulous African-themed children's party using black and white balloons, with helium balloons on the ceiling and a few air-filled balloons scattered on the floor mixed in with paper honeycomb balls.  I love the addition of the Qualatex® Black & White SuperAgate® balloons mixed within the clusters that sit neatly below the awesome 3' Giant confetti-filled balloons! Some might say that this is not very representative of a toddler's second birthday. However, it's not uncommon for a parent to throw a trendy, lavish children's party, especially for first and second birthdays.  Unfortunately having discovered this photo on Pinterest, I cannot find the original designers name. If you know who created this beautiful decor, please let me know as I would love to give them full credit.

When it comes to creating fabulous decor, here is another wonderful designer - Tope Abulude, CBA, of Balloon Inspirations Design Studio, Brentwood, UK. Tope recently designed and decorated this stunning "Tropical Jungle"-themed party for a baby's first birthday in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Tope really nailed it with this fabulous organic style entrance decor!
The purpose of entrance decor is to set the scene and welcome guests to the party.
This entrance looks simply stunning, exciting, and very memorable!

Once inside the venue, Tope continues to thrill the guests with his fabulous designs. 

Tope blends all the shades of green Qualatex Quick Link and round balloons to create great variety and contrast with his fabulous trees.

The organic ceiling filled with greenery and lighting looks awesome!

Here are some more fabulous examples of "Jungle Party" ideas. 

I love this fantastic entrance Arch created by M & M Balloon Co. of Seattle, U.S.A. The monkeys and the giraffe add so much fun and life to this fabulous design. This design will create a fun and exciting welcome for party guests and a great photo opportunity, too!

Lily Tan, CBA, of Myairtitude, in Singapore, shows her wonderful design skills creating another awesome jungle-themed entrance design. I love how Lily builds much of the detail into the base of her Arches. The design flows throughout the whole Arch, making it exciting and fun to look at.

When it comes to adding animals to our jungle designs, we have a great selection of Qualatex animal shape balloon heads to work with!

39" "Ellie the Elephant" #16987 — #16136 (pkgd.)

30" "Tickled Tiger" #31041 — #16189 (pkgd.)
14" Air-filled #41808

35" "Mischievous Monkey" #40194 — #16097 (pkgd.)
14" Air-Filled #41793

32" "Zany Zebra" #35404 — #16166 (pkgd.)
14" Air-Filled #41805

32" "Jolly Giraffe" #31035 — #16095 (pkgd.)
14" Air-Filled #41790

29" "Lovable Lion" #16860 — #16154 (pkgd.)

Have you checked out the NEW Inspiration page at It is perfect when you are looking for ideas and inspiration! There are articles, videos, bouquets, and decor ideas, too! The search feature is awesome; simply search either the bouquet or decor page using a search term and filter your results by occasion and theme. You can download the design image for future reference, and if you are a QBN member, you will find that many of the designs have downloadable recipes!

Here are a few of the design ideas that I found in the new inspiration pages. The Mischievous Monkey is super cute and is always a number one favourite when made into these lovely little balloon sculptures. For QBN members, there is a downloadable recipe once you log into the member's area on

I recently showed this design in a post about Balloon Arches, but it deserves to be shown again! This is another fantastic use of the small animal heads. Keith Stirman, CBA, and Dominic Cassidy, CBA, of All Things Fun in Country Durham, U.K., have created a design that is fun and full of excitement and visual energy. It's not a huge Arch, but it would be perfect for a children's party and, once again, would make an ideal photo opportunity.

Lily Tan has used both sizes of the Zany Zebra balloon to create these fabulous centrepiece designs. She also uses the Zebra Stripes from the 5" Safari Assortment balloons #87144 to complement her design. 

Mike Harris, CBA, of Every Occasion Balloon Artists Ltd. in Rhyl, U.K., puts a contemporary twist on the jungle theme with this Quick Link Zebra Stripes Balloon Wall. The addition of the Starpoint balloons adds a new dimension to this style of wall.

I love to design theme parties and the jungle theme is a great one to work with. It can be traditional, or as both Tope and Mike have shown, they can have a more contemporary look, too!

To conclude this post, I am adding a couple of fun animal design recipes that you could use for this party theme. You can download these by visiting the RECIPE section at the top of this blog page.

Tiger Design by Sue Bowler, CBA.

For more great ideas on this theme, check out an early post - Animal Magic - some great balloon designs with an animal theme.

Happy Ballooning!



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Balloons and Photography - Nicci Rene Shares Her Two Passions.

When I look at all the amazing balloons and designs posted on Facebook and Instagram, the photographs that stand out most are those that have been taken in a creative way — the photo captures the emotion of the event, or makes the balloons look exciting and fun! Balloons are very much a product that is sold on emotion. We don't sell a Column or an Arch; we sell the "Wow!" factor. Balloons are "trendy" and used in a variety of adverting campaigns as well as many different types of events.

Nicci Rene.

I recently interviewed Nicci Rene, of Balloon Boutiques, London, U.K. I have known Nicci for a number of years and  had the pleasure of working with her on several occasions at events in London. Nicci was part of the team that recently worked on the incredible Chelsea Jungle project at Chelsea Flower Show earlier this year. Balloons at Chelsea Flower show — wow, another amazing first! Even more proof balloons are on-trend!  Not only is Nicci a very talented balloon artist, but she is a very competent photographer, too. 

Nicci started to work with balloons when she worked as a Saturday girl in a party store. Her boss did not believe in training and left Nicci to her own creative devices. Twenty-nine years later, Nicci is still working with balloons but in a very different way.

Earlier this year after twenty-five years of working at and then later owning a party store, Nicci decided it was time to close. 
"I felt that I had out grown my shop and wanted to take my ideas and business to a different level. The shop was holding me back. Retail shops were struggling, and the location I was in was not busy enough. I noticed a significant decline in sales, and it was becoming worrying. 
It was the perfect time to close. Over the past 5 years, I started to change the way I designed events with balloons. I had built a good name and reputation as Balloon Bouquets and this gave me the confidence that I could work from home and make a living. At first I was really out of my comfort zone and it took a bit of getting used to, but now I absolutely love it — I feel free!" 
I asked Nicci what she believes has helped her to grow her business.
"My business is growing every day through the help of social media. Facebook was great for me when I had the shop, but I discovered Instagram a few years back and this has proven to be amazing. I love it! It connects you with like-minded professional people, be that companies or independent people. For me, I felt Instagram was more classy, and people's profiles were more elegant and of a higher standard. It was perfect for me with the new direction I wanted to take my company. It has connected me with lots of corporate companies and private clients.  In my own experience, I have found people connect with you more on Instagram than Facebook.
Currently, with the way I have changed my business direction from party and classic décor to detailed elegant pieces that range from simple designs to the organic style, I am finding that my clientele love my style and are always looking for something different, from personlised bubbles and centerpieces with the addition of lots of non-balloon materials. Big balloons and organic is very popular at the moment. At this time, the most popular colours vary from gold, silver, pinks, and ivory, plus different shades of greens and blues."

What do you believe is the secret to success?
"A successful business needs lots of great qualities. I’m very conscientious in the way I present my balloons, and I do my best to deliver a high standard at all times. It is important to me from the start, when the client first contacts you through to the very end of having a highly professional attitude and service. I love having a good relationship with my customers and making them feel comfortable with anything they need. I set the standards high from the beginning; I do not lower my standard or devalue myself doing things too cheap. Presentation is very important from how you deliver your work right through until the photographs and showcasing, either via my website or through social media, and I like to keep my style consistent."

What are your favourite Qualatex® balloons to work with?
"Some of my favourite Qualatex products currently are Deco Bubbles, as I love the amazing things you can do with them and the fact that they look stunning and elegant. Big 3ft. balloons are one of my favorites, too — the impact when you fill a space with them are just wow. And Superagates are so pretty. I love adding these to design, and my clients love them as they are very unusual."

Where do you find your inspiration?
"I get my design inspirations from many different places. I am always looking at balloon artists from around the world, seeing what they do, and how they stylise their decor. I also look at the floral industry and get inspiration from there. I love the pretty side to balloon designs. I make a lot up as I go along. Once a client contacts me, and I know what they want to achieve, and I've seen the venue and know what the event is, then I get creative!"
How important is taking a good photograph to you?
"I decided to teach myself photography as I would produce some amazing designs and take pictures on either a standard camera or my smartphone. When it came to showing the photographs, they just didn’t do the balloon decor any justice and you could never get the true feeling of how amazing the balloons actually looked.  I wasn’t happy in showing them to clients or happy about putting them on my website or on any of my social media channels. I knew the look I wanted and it was all part of my change in direction for my business. I bought a good professional camera and started to take pictures the way I wanted the balloons to look. I create different looks and styles of pictures depending on what the event was. You still need to have an eye for shooting pictures. I always think about angles and always have the editing in mind when I'm shooting. I always shoot in raw* so when it comes to editing the pictures you can do so much and create different effects. I really enjoy the photography and editing part of the balloons. It’s changed my whole image and would highly recommend it to anyone." 

I totally agree with Nicci; learning to take a good photograph could really help your business stand out against other balloon companies. A great photograph is worth a thousand words and in our very visual industry, it is important that we find the best way to take those amazing photographs. There are some great articles that you can read, and of course, you could take a course.

A huge thank you to Nicci for sharing her very inspiring story. Moving her business from the high street to being home-based is a big decision, but certainly for Nicci it's proven to be the best move and the opportunity to follow her dreams. Her dream job would be to drape balloons from all the windows at Buckingham Palace, organic style!

Happy ballooning!


RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image, information is compressed and lost.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Few Tips When Designing And Making Centrepieces.

Beautiful bat mitzvah centrepiece design by Tanya Joselowsky, CBA, of The Pop, and working with Gideon's Functions and Flowers, Johannesburg, South Africa.

What is a centrepiece?

 Design by Cam Woody, CBA,
Pioneer® Balloon Company

By definition, a centrepiece is a display that can be placed in the centre of a dining table. It helps to set the theme of the event and brings extra decoration to a room.

Just consider all the ways a well-designed centrepiece can contribute to your client's event space:
- Will be the centre of attention at the dinner table— guests have no choice but to spend most of the event gazing at the centrepieces!
- Creates a visual atmosphere that sets the mood for the event
- Ties together the theme of the event and helps bring it to life
- Acts as icebreakers for guests at events with assigned seating
- Provides an opportunity for individual expression
- Can be souvenirs for guests
Leaves a lasting impression—good, or otherwise!

Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, creates two fabulous complimentary centrepiece designs that work perfectly on this rectangular table.

Mixing Tall and Low Centrepieces - and those all important height rules.

There’s nothing worse than walking into a reception space that feels empty or under-decorated. Mixing short and tall centrepieces will help make a space feel vibrant and full.

For tall centrepieces, the added height helps to fill up a room. Just be careful to use them appropriately—you don’t want to block the line of sight for guests. You can put tall centrepieces on tables with less traffic (i.e., gift or buffet tables), or make sure guests can see through the centre of the design. Conversely, short centerpieces are great for accommodating conversation amongst the guests. You’ll want to make sure the centrepieces are low enough that seated guests can see over the top. As a general guideline, you’ll want to start your tall elements 24” (60.96 cm) from the table or higher, and 14" (35.56 cm) or lower is the maximum height for your short elements (the floral industry recommends a 12" height rule for a low centrepiece). When adding helium filled balloons to a centrepiece, ribbon is not considered a visual barrier; be sure to follow the 24" rule. Equally, when using products such as the Lomey Pedestal System or Plexipole, these also do not affect the visual line rule due to the fact that they are made from a clear perspex.

Centrepiece using the Lomey System

Don't Forget About the Shape of the Table

When designing centrepieces, you need to consider the shape of the tables at the venue. The most common shapes you’ll come across are round, square, and rectangular. Each shape will have its own considerations:
Round: This table suits a single centrepiece. You can definitely use tall centrepieces since the circular shape makes it easier to look around to the other guests. 

Square: Square tables have more space in the centre than other shapes. Design a more substantial arrangement to utilise this space and keep the table from looking empty.

Rectangular: A single centrepiece on a rectangular table will look lonely. Aim for multiple centrepieces (i.e., a larger middle centrepiece with smaller arrangements on each end). Keep them narrow to avoid crowding the table since you need to leave space for the place settings.

And remember that your centrepiece arrangement should be proportional to the size of the table.

The Design

When designing a centrepiece, we need to ensure that we create perfect harmony; ensuring that all the elements within the design give a sense of oneness or wholeness and that they look like they all belong together. Every element used should complement one and other and not compete for attention! 

To find out more about Unity and Harmony, check out my post - Part 6 Beginners Guide to the Elements and Principles of Design - Unity & Harmony

Fantasy Flower 
centrepiece design
by Sue Bowler, CBA.

If you would like to know more about Fantasy Flowers, check out my post - The Art of Fantasy Flowers.

I hope that some of you find this post helpful. I love to design and create centrepieces using different techniques and textures within my designs.  I would like to thank the very talented Tanya Joselowsky, Tina Giunta, and Cam Woody for allowing me to share their beautiful centrepiece designs with the Very Best Balloon Blog!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Balloons at Weddings — Elegant or Tacky?

Balloon Canopy by Sue Bowler, CBA.

There are divided public opinions regarding balloon decor at weddings. I have actually heard people calling balloons "tacky," and on occasions I can understand why people might think this.

When we walk into a traditional style wedding there is one colour that usually dominates the room — white! White table covers with white place settings or even a white marquee and often held in very neutral venues. So when colours are added into this very pure environment, it needs to be subtle and blended in carefully. 

So how can we make our wedding decor elegant? When I design wedding decor,  it is important for me to keep the decor very neutral. I like to create the majority of my designs using White or Ivory and Diamond Clear balloons. Today, silver is often used at weddings. This can also be considered a neutral colour.

Adding Accent Colour

So when a bride tells us the colours that she is planning to feature at her wedding, think of these as being the accent rather than the dominant colours. Consider using only 5" balloons when adding colour, and simply add just a hint rather than a big block of colour. Another tip is to offer the accent colour in tints, tones, and shades rather than just one single colour. For me, colour blending is more elegant than using one single hue.

To learn more about colour, check out my post: Beginners Guide to the Elements and Principles of Design - Colour.

We are very fortunate with balloons that we can create a multitude of colours simply by putting one balloon inside another to create new and unique colours. This is known as custom colouring, a technique that I love and use very often in my designs. 

These are columns that a group of students made as part of the Complete Wedding — Series 2 Course that I teach in the U.K. and around Europe.

The accent colour in this design is blue, but if you look carefully, you will see that the 5" balloons all vary slightly in colour. This was achieved by using the custom colouring technique mentioned above and therefore creating additional excitement and interest within the design, without the colour being domineering or overbearing.

Here is a chart that shows you how to create some very exciting colours. If you right click on this image, you should be able to save it to your computer.

Wedding Arbour by Sue Bowler, CBA.

Here are two more examples of wedding decor designs where the wedding colour has been added in as an accent colour and also using the custom colouring technique to create the tints, tones, and shades of a single colour. In both of these designs, I used fabric and greenery to add colour and texture to the designs.

Light-Up Wedding Column by Sue Bowler, CBA.
Today, there is a whole revolution of exciting new design ideas and concepts using balloon at weddings! Rose Gold is a colour that is becoming very popular, and in response to this, Qualatex® has introduced a fabulous range of Rose Gold Hearts, Round, and Star shape Microfoil® balloons.

To find out the full range available in this colour, click HERE.

We all love Qualatex Bubble Balloons! These are just perfect for weddings! Ruti Grodzinsky, CBA, of Designed by Ruti — Balloon Decor, Israel, recently created this fabulous decor, combining Bubble Balloons and asparagus fern for a beautiful, elegant wedding. I love the simplicity and elegance of Ruti's design, and I am really loving this Bubble and greenery look!

I recently published a post - Look at Colour Trends for Spring 2017. This shows some other great examples of this new greenery trend with balloons.

Keeping the colours subtle and reacting to trends is a great way to succeed in the wedding market.

I personally believe that balloons at weddings can be extremely beautiful and elegant. Just keep the decor neutral, light, and airy, and keep colours as an accent detail, rather than the main player. 

To promote your wedding services, ensure that you have a good social media presence, especially on Pinterest and Instagram, as they are both very visual and highly used by brides to be!

Happy Ballooning!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Happy Caterpillar - Step by Step Design

Some of you will know this fun design. I have made it a number of times over the years in different guises! It's one of those cute designs that can be used for a number of different occasions! I really liked making the Stand-Up Love Bug version as shown below.

Here is a step-by-step video that will show you how to make this cute little critter. I hope that you have fun making this design. By the end of it, you should have mastered the Apple Twist technique! I apologise for the counter at the bottom of the video clip, this was an extra design that I filmed when I produced my DVD - Balloon Decor 2, so instead of wasting it, I thought that it would be great to share it with the Very Best Balloon Blog.

The Happy Caterpillar by Sue Bowler, CBA.

Happy Ballooning!


Please note that the "Rose" Microfoil® Balloon shown in the Love Bug design is a discontinued item. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chelsea Jungle

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been held on the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital in London, U.K., every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars. It is considered to be the most prestigious flower show in the world. This year, Chelsea saw its first ever design that showcased Qualatex® latex balloons and greenery in the now very familiar organic style. The design was named the "Chelsea Jungle." This fabulous installation was the collaboration between two artists, garden designer Catherine Chenery of Catherine Chenery Garden Designs, and balloon stylist Fiona MacOwen, of Riot Balloons.

Chelsea Jungle 
Photograph by Nicci Rene


This year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as you walk through the tunnel which connects Main Avenue and Ranelagh Gardens, you will find yourself entering a jungle dream with a canopy of exotic leaves and colourful balloons. 

By immersing you into an imaginary jungle scene, the designers aim to embrace the lighter side of life and the importance of escaping reality every now and then, if only for a moment.

The tunnel gives you an opportunity to let your mind wander into a dreamscape, as though you have let yourself drift into a daydream of luscious plants and clouds of colour, 
before re-entering reality at the other end.

The installation encourages us to take our time, not rushing to our destination but enjoying the journey. 

Chelsea Jungle
Photograph by Nicci Rene

As with many projects like this, it takes a team, and through BAPIA - the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance, Nicci Rene, of Balloon Boutiques, London, jumped at this unique opportunity.

Nicci Rene (back second left) with designers Catherine Chenery, Fiona MacOwen and John Bowler of BAPIA and team!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Setting The Scene with Fabulous Balloon Arches.

Design by David Saker, CBA.
As a balloon decorator, Balloon Arches are a big part of our everyday business. David Saker, CBA, of, regularly sells multiple Garland Arches for sporting events such as this recent cycle race that was held at Windsor Racecourse in the U.K. David was commissioned to build fifteen Arches to mark the start and finishing line of the race. Each Arch was built using the AeröPole System, a fantastic system for creating air-filled Arches that still gives the free moving appearance of a helium-filled Arch, and is perfect for outdoor events!

Arches are such a fabulous way to set the scene, bringing attention and colour to an event. When used outdoors, they work fabulously well for sporting events, the opening of new stores, and to indicate where an event is happening! Indoors, they are often used for entrance decor, welcoming and greeting guests as they arrive at their function. For theme events and parties, they can create a big statement and are often used as backdrops and photo opportunities.

The great thing about Arches is that we can make them in so many different ways. Here are some great examples of balloon Arches that have been "embellished" — which is to be made more interesting by adding extra decorative detail, which is something that I love to do with my Arch designs.

"Flower Embellished Arch."
Design by Sue Bowler, CBA.

This Arch is very elegant, and perfect for formal black tie events. The pattern created by the placement of the red latex balloons creates a wavy, asymmetrical line that shows perfect rhythm and motion within the design. The use of the Qualatex® Taper balloon flowers adds a whole new dimension to this Arch using Microfoil®  balloons and shape, as there is a huge contrast between the roundness of the latex balloons versus the pointedness of the Tapers.

"Colourful Candy Suprise."
Designed by Cam Woody, CBA.

When I first saw this Arch it was love at first sight, and I could not wait to have the opportunity to make one myself! Making an Arch solely out of Microfoil balloons is challenging. Firstly, you need to step out of your comfort zone of the formal placing and sizing of latex balloons, much like the organic style decor we see much of today, but there is also the technical issue of securing the balloons to the frame. 

"Game-Winning Goal."

This is another version of an all Microfoil balloon Arch! Once again, this design has a huge visual impact by using a range of Stars 36", 20", and 9" Stars and the 36", 18" and 9" Soccer Ball round.

Mickey Mouse Polka Dot Arch
Designed by Cam Woody, CBA.
Who could not adore this fabulous Mickey Mouse-inspired Arch! Cam has used one of my favourite latex balloons, 11" Polka Dots to add fun and excitement to this awesome Arch! I expect you're wondering how the 3' balloon is so neatly placed in the centre of the Arch? A little bit of balloon magic, of course!