Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spotlight interview with self confessed 'Education Junky,' Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons, Melbourne, Australia



Tina Giunta
Tina first discovered balloons 16 years ago when she saw balloon creations in the window of her local party store.  This inspired her to make her own centrepieces for her son's Christening. From this event, Tina was asked to decorate parties for friends, and before long she found herself decorating almost every weekend!

So what attracted Tina into running her own balloon business?

"I only really registered a business name so that I could buy at wholesale prices. It really was just a hobby for me. But as I mixed in circles with other young families, surrounded by young mums who were very supportive and encouraging while word of mouth kept spreading, I found myself just falling into running a business."



How did you learn to work with Balloons?

"In the beginning, I would study my Balloon Images Magazine and the Qualatex® catalogue, and I would just try and work things out. My work was quite basic back then and I found that this was enough. But as my hunger to try new products and more complicated designs grew, I looked into attending classes. My local supplier told me about the Australian Balloon Convention that was being held about an hour away from my home, so I decided to attend —and well, obviously I got hooked!"

Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
"My work space is a warehouse with an office. It's 100 square feet with an extra 50 square feet of mezzanine. We are not a retail store so we don't open to the public, but on occasions people will make appointments to discuss what they want. My website has hundreds of photographs on it, so most people prefer to just email or call.
I have one part-time employee and use contractors for the bigger jobs. My contractors are people that I have built a very good relationship with over the years. They run their own businesses, so they are experienced and have good working ethics."
Confetti Balloons
Beautiful confetti balloons by Tina Giunta

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting a balloon business?
" Learn your craft is your number one priority! Attend classes and conventions as much as possible so that you feel confident in what you offer your customers. When you believe in your work and you genuinely love what you do, people will see that in you! They feel your excitement towards their event and it makes them feel special. Once you have their trust, it is so much easier to get them to part with their hard-earned money!"
 What industry events have you attended during your career?
"I am an education junky! I attended every class and convention humanly possible in Australia and three World Balloon Conventions, one of which I attended as a scholarship recipient and the most recent as an instructor. 
1st Place Medium Balloon Sculpture.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elegant Air-Filled Hanging Decor by Luc Bertrand.

The fabulous Luc Bertrand, CBA, of Waw Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, shares another one of his truly elegant designs that would work amazingly well for a New Year's celebrations. I also believe that this design would be fabulous for a store window display or decor for elegant black tie events.

Luc is a master at using the Qualatex® Number Shapes to create elegant air-filled decor, and this beautiful design is no exception! As soon as I saw this design, I thought of the Fleur de Lys shape and saw how incredible, unique designs can be created using Luc's technique.

Materials required: Choose colours to suit your occasion or event.

2 - Number Six or Number Nine Microfoil® Number Shape balloons.
3 -13" Taper Microfoil balloons.
1 - 27" Taper Microfoil balloon.
11 - 5" Latex balloons.
1 - 260Q to tie all the elements together.
Click-Click™ Stretchy Balloon Tape®.
Heat Sealer.
Hand-pump or an electric air inflator suitable for inflating foil balloons.





Step 1.
  • Air inflate the two number balloons and secure together using the stretchy tape.
  • Air inflate all the Taper balloons. The 13" Taper balloons will require heat sealing. If you are not familiar with heat sealing, check out my post: "Heat Sealing Microfoil Balloons and Turn those Little Balloons into Big Profit Earners."
  • Tie one of the 13" Tapers balloons to the 27" Taper balloons and tie the other two 13" Taper balloons together.  Attach an un inflated 260Q balloon at the joint so that this can be used to connect everything together.





Step 2.
  • Connect the Tapers to the Number shape balloons as shown below using the 260Q. 
  • Air inflate  two 5-balloon clusters using the sizes as indicated below and with one of the clusters add a centre balloo. This cluster will be positioned at the front of the design, and the other to the back of the design. Now connect the clusters as shown below, once again using the 260Q. 

The Very Best Balloon Blog


The Very Best Balloon Blog



This is a photograph of Luc's current window display for New Year's! I love the vibrant colours and the use of the "Celebration Pink Bubbly Wine" balloon with the "New Year Confetti Dots" balloon along with the number one and seven to make 2017! 



The Very Best Balloon Blog


A huge thank you to Luc, who every year never fails to share a wonderful design with us for either Christmas or New Year's! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tip and Tricks of the Trade - Part 4 Controlling a Bubble Balloon® for vinyl application

20" Deco Bubble, with 16" White latex inside.
U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675


I recently taught a class showing different ideas and techniques working with Qualatex® Bubble Balloons and turned to Chris AdamoCBA, of Balloons Online, in Sydney, NSW, Australia, some weeks before I was due to teach the class to ask him what technique he used to "control" a helium-filled Bubble Balloon whilst adding vinyl and how to ensure that the text or image was centrally positioned. Chris has already showed us how to add vinyl transfer to flat foil balloons along with how to make confetti filled balloons in "Tips and Tricks of the Trade- Part 1," and I thought that he would be the perfect person to ask!








Chris confessed that he had not worked out a specific way, but would be very happy to work on it! We discussed a few ideas and Chris went away to play!

Within no time, Chris had devised the perfect solution —a cardboard jig, something that we can all make very easily from a cardboard box and a few un-inflated 260Q balloons! 
The video clip below gives you full instructions on how to make your Bubble Balloon into a solid colour Bubble, how to make the Bubble jig, and how to add the vinyl to the Bubble. For all you vinyl users, this is the coolest tip ever!




When I arrived at the Slovenia Qualatex Event, my first job was to make my jig, as I knew that I would need it to help me to prepare for my class. In fact, I made two: one for 20" Bubbles and the other for 24" Bubbles. They did not look pretty. Sadly, I did not take any pictures, but my goodness, it really made a huge difference when working with my Bubbles! When I showed it to the delegates in the class, they all thought that it was a wonderful, tool! 

So a huge thank you to Chris, who once again shares an amazing, time-saving, and extremely useful tool with the balloon world!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com


Monday, November 28, 2016

Fantasy Rose working with Heart Shape Balloons

Fantasy flowers can be made in a number of different ways. For many flower designs, we use floral wire inserted inside latex balloons to form petal shapes. However, when making the rose using the heart shaped latex balloons, we use very little wire.

Sue Bowler CBA


I first saw this type of Fantasy Rose a number of years ago when Jodie White, CBA, created these stunning designs for a photo shoot that we were both working on. She used 6" hearts to create the rose for this beautiful "Mother of the Bride" corsage.

Jodie White CBA
Mother of the Bride corsage by Jodie White, CBA

This is another beautiful design by Jodie. This time, she created a full bridal bouquet using a variety of fantasy techniques, and this occasion she used the 11" latex heart to make bigger roses.



Jodie White CBA
Bridal bouquet by Jodie White, CBA



A few years ago I taught myself how to make this delicate little rose and even attempted to make a small bridal bouquet which I used in a display at Spring Fair a few years ago. 



Sue Bowler CBA

To make the rose you will need the following items:


  • 6" Qualatex® Heart latex balloons ‑ there are no specific number of balloons for each flower, but I would allow approximately 15
  • Elmer's® Rubber Cement
  • 1.2mm/18 gauge wire - only 1 wire per flower required.
  • Floral binding wire
  • Floral Tape









Check out my step-by-step video to see how to create this lovely little rose.




To find out how to make other types of fantasy flowers check out my early post:
The Art of Fantasy Flowers.

Have fun and happy ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

So what tools should I take with me when working on a balloon decor job?

Having a well-kitted toolbox might just be a lifesaver when working on a balloon decor job. To find out what essential tools should be included, I asked a group of Qualatex Balloon Network (QBN®) professionals from our QBN Facebook Group to share their expertise on this subject. 

There are a number of things that we should always take with us when we go on a balloon decor job.
  • Job/order sheet with a full description of the decor, client's name, address of the event, and contact details.
  • Loose change for vehicle parking.
  • Balloons, accessories, and spare balloons.
  • Helium.
  • Balloon inflation equipment

What else might we need?


Tapes & Glues 

There are quite a few different types of tapes and glues, each one having a different job to do!



1. Scotch® or Sellotape®- A strong, clear tape. This type of tape can be used to repair a small hole in a Microfoil® or Bubble Balloon
®.
2. Painter's or masking tape - Ideal for temporary use. It is perfect for marking out areas and can be removed quickly and easily. If you work with a die-cutting machine, you can use this type of tape to transfer vinyl onto balloons.
3. Glue Dots - Great for easy application of accent details to balloon designs, such as attaching a bow or a nose to a character design.
4. Duct Tape - A good general tape. Good for strong connections on framework.
5. Gaffer Tape - Like duct tape, it is a good general tape. However, it can be cleanly removed after application, leaving no sticky residue. Ideal when working with the AeröPole System™.
6. Oasis® UGlu Dashes - A personal favourite for me since I found out about them from other balloon professionals. They are easy to work with and very strong.
7. Click-Click™ Balloon Bond - Great for sticking latex balloons to other latex balloons.
8. Click- Click Stretchy Balloon Tape - This truly is an essential tape that all professionals should have. Although it might appear to be expensive, you only need to use a small amount each time. Great for securing Microfoil® balloons together, making strong fixing points on Microfoil balloons, and for repairing Microfoil and Bubble Balloons in emergencies.
9. Low temperature glue gun and glue - Not a glue that I use very often these days, as I believe that some of the others mentioned are better for many of the daily jobs that we do. However, I would use a glue gun to secure floral foam to a base or a container to a base.

To find out more about tapes and glues, check out my post: 

A sticky situation...which glue is best for you and your balloons? Updated October 2016


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Part 3

Learning how to do things easily or in a better way can take many years of trial and error. Today, we are very lucky. We have great educational classes, YouTube, and many fabulous artists who are willing to share some of their fantastic techniques and new found skills.

"Tips and Tricks of the Trade" is a series of posts that will help you with a variety of different techniques that will make life easier and your work look better.

In Part 1, of this series, Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, in Sydney, NSW, Australia, shared some fabulous techniques for filling latex balloons with confetti and how to easily apply vinyl to foil and Bubble Balloons. This is a must read post for anyone who works with confetti-filled balloons, and for those of you who personlise balloons. To view this post, click HERE


In Part 2, I show two different techniques on how to cover a base board using latex and foil balloons. These techniques are perfect for those who make centrepiece designs. To view this post, click HERE.

In part 3, we are going to look at two different techniques for wrapping a pole with 160Q or 260Q balloons.

The first techniques is shared by Cam Woody, of Pioneer® Balloon Company.


"I learned this cool technique from Aleks Hernández of Waikify in Guadalajara, Mexico, while I was teaching in Brazil earlier this year.





Monday, November 7, 2016

Disney•Pixar Finding Dory - The Latest Trend for Birthday Parties

"Disney·Pixar Finding Dory" Bubble Balloon® #44146
U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675


Disney•Pixar Finding Dory has finally arrived in cinemas. The release of any new blockbuster film gives us many new sales opportunities. Children become infatuated by a film's characters, leading to the desire of wanting everything in their lives to be based on a film and the characters within it. In my early childhood, it was A.A. Milne's, Winnie-the-Pooh who rocked my world, and secretly, he still does!

It is very important as retailers and event decorators that we capitalise on these sales opportunities. It is easy to think that by simply stocking current trend balloons and partyware it will simply "fall off the shelf," and "sail out of the door," but in reality it rarely does. Customers need to be inspired and captivated by what they see, and part of that is to see these beautiful balloons inflated, and remember; we don't just sell balloons, we sell the emotion that the balloons create. In this case, probably a very happy child!

If you have a store or shop, this is the perfect time to create a wonderful window display showing a range of different designs suitable as a gift, or decor ideas for a Disney•Pixar Finding Dory theme party. If you sell the Disney•Pixar Finding Dory partyware range*, this is the perfect opportunity to get creative and show off your skills designing a tablescape. *Disney•Pixar Finding Dory partyware range is currently only available through Qualatex® distributors and Qualatex Direct in England, Scotland, and Wales.


Instructions to make this wonderful design by Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company,
can be found in the Jul/Aug/Sep 2016
Balloon Images magazine.

If you are a home-based decorator, you should use your social media channels and your website to show your client base what you can offer. If you have a Pinterest account, why not start a "Children's Party Ideas" board, add a good range of relevant balloon designs and decor ideas, and also re-Pin ideas and suggestions from other boards, such as themed party snack suggestions, party games to play and other non-balloon related items that will draw interest and engage visitors to view your board. Pinterest boards should always have mixed content; it is all about lifestyle and not just an advertising platform. The most important thing about Pinterest is to ensure that all your design images have a link back to your business website so customers can easily find you!




Displaying partyware is a whole new challenge for me, but I like to learn new skills and enjoyed creating a small tablescape using a variety of the Disney•Pixar Finding Dory partyware products. The objective was to show customers the range of products available and how they look when placed together.


Tablescape by Sue Bowler, CBA

Sourcing props to help you with your displays is the key to success. Remember, IKEA is great for inexpensive items such as small tables and storage boxes that can act as shelves within a display to give height and variation.

Here are some other great displays and tablescape ideas using a range of the Disney•Pixar Finding Dory partyware products.





To find out more about Disney•Pixar Finding Dory partyware range  and other collections, click HERE




The Disney•Pixar Finding Dory Qualatex Bubble Balloon is filled with vibrant colours and can be easily complemented with balloons in the Tropical Assortment range such as the "Birthday Classy Script" balloons shown in the bouquet.







For Disney•Pixar Finding Dory theme parties, I think this fabulous arch by Cam Woody, CBA, would make a great focal design. Children will have so much fun playing "under water!"

To learn how to make this Criss-Cross Arch by Cam Woody, click HERE









Here is another great idea that can be easily adapted to suit this very popular theme. This can be used as a centrepiece design or as floor-standing decor.










To make your own wonderful fish, you can simply follow this easy step-by-step recipe. You can make the fish in a variety of different sizes from 5" to 16", these make great accent details for designs, the 16" version is ideally filled with helium and the smaller versions with air.



Here are some more great design ideas!









This lovely design was made by Patrycja Lipińska of Patrycja Lipińska dla Dzieci in Warsaw, Poland. Patrycja has made some lovely fish using 6" Hearts for the bodies, a slight variation to the design shown above.


























Good ideas come from everywhere, and your business can benefit from the latest blockbusters whether or not you’re a fan of the silver screen. From fabulous in-store window displays to Pinterest boards, there are no shortages of ways to attract customers with some movie magic.



Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com

Monday, October 31, 2016

'Making the Very Best Balloons,' by guest blogger Larry Moss

A bunch of years ago, my friends’ son, then still probably 6 or 7 years old, ran up to me one day to ask, “Where do they make balloons?” The question was inspired by a song with that very name by They Might be Giants. While the song never answers the question that it poses, he didn’t let that bother him at all. He knew I’d know the answer. And he was right. I immediately told him, “Hamilton, Ontario.” I could have easily given him a few different answers, but that was the one that mattered to me. The Hamilton plant is where most of the Qualatex balloons that I use come from.
After years of using the product, I was really excited when Kelly and I were invited to the plant for a tour. We’ve often found ourselves in conversations with Pioneer employees (makers of the Qualatex brand) about the abuse we put their balloons through, and also other artists about what they expect from the balloons they use. This tour would be a chance for us to get our questions answered about the product itself, while being able to share our experience and our knowledge of balloon artist needs with the people actually making our balloons. When their tour ended, we took them on our tour of what we do with their product. We had Pioneer employees, from the people making the balloons, to the people testing their strength, to the sales team, and even the COO, all twisting balloons and trying new things that they didn’t know their balloons were used for. The goal of all of this is to make an even better balloon by devising an even more rigorous quality control regimen than they already employ.



The tour begins.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Part 2


Learning how to do things easily or in a better way can take many years of trial and error. I know this well as I have been learning for the past 26 years! "Tips and Tricks of the Trade" is a series of posts that will help you with a variety of different techniques that will make life easier and your work look better.

In Part 1 of this series, Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, in Sydney, NSW, Australia, shared some fabulous techniques for filling latex balloons with confetti and also how to easily apply vinyl to foil and Bubble Balloons. To view this post, click HERE

One of my favourite tricks is to cover a base board* using the same Microfoil® balloon that I am featuring in a design.


How to cover a base board.

Here are two designs I made that use a covered base as part of the design. The covered base helps to create visual balance, good proportion, and perfect unity.





Monday, October 17, 2016

Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Part 1 with Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online.

We all have our own ways of doing things when it comes to working with balloons. We learn in different ways and often find our own technique along the way. Over the past 25 years, I have learned many great techniques and some fabulous tips and tricks that have made my life much easier and my balloon designs look even better. But as I always tell everyone, I am still learning and love it when I see something exciting and new!

Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, in Sydney, NSW, Australia, has very kindly shared a few of his top tips.


Confetti-filled balloons are a hot trend worldwide, and finding an easier way to make these balloons was Chris's mission!






Confetti applicator:

"In our Sydney store, we sell confetti-filled 16" and 36" balloons every day. After trying many methods for over 12 months, I just knew there had to be a better way. The problem was that confetti was sticking to the Hi-Float® from the moment we placed it inside the balloon. The confetti clumped, the ink was running, the paper confetti was ripping as the latex stretched... we needed a way to add confetti once the balloon was inflated. Driving to work one day drinking a coffee, I came up with a method that was simple, cost effective, and that uses very accessible parts. I rushed home that night to build it!
The confetti applicator requires little to no training for my staff. It has halved the time required to fill and inflate the balloons, but most importantly, you can achieve a perfectly even distribution of confetti every time."
Confetti Balloons by Balloons Online.

This first video shows how to make the confetti applicator.




Sunday, October 2, 2016

Day of the Dead - Design Ideas for Halloween 2016

Day of the Dead House Decoration
Picture courtesy of fieldguide35.blogspot.com

I am loving the new Qualatex® Day of the Dead Skull Microfoil® balloon. It is very different from the usual Halloween designs of witches and ghosts. 
Not really knowing or understanding this theme, I was intrigued to find out the origin of this celebration.  Day of the Dead — Dia de Los Muertos— is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico (in particular, the Central and South regions) and by people of Mexican ancestry, especially the United States. It is acknowledged internationally in many other cultures, too. This multi-day holiday gathers together family and friends who pray for, remember, and support the spiritual journal of loved ones who have died. 

I really enjoyed working with this balloon. The skull design is full of colour and detail that can be used when creating a design. From all the pictures that I see, Dia de Los Muertos is a very colourful celebration that uses masses of flowers, lights, and decorated sugar skulls.





Design 1-  Sugar Skulls & Marigolds


Material List:

1 - 38" "Day of the Dead Skull" Microfoil.
8 - 5" Onyx Black balloons
4 - 11" "Sugar Skulls" balloons
5 - 6" Quick Link Balloons®
4 - 5" Goldenrod balloons
3 - 160Q Green balloons
2 - 260Q Goldenrod balloons
1 - 160Q Goldenrod balloons
1 - 260Q Purple Violet balloons

Balloon Weight 
Helium 

Method of Construction:

1. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 11" Sugar Skulls balloons inflated to approximately 8".
2. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 5" Onyx Black balloons inflated to approximately 4½". Secure the two clusters together and add the weight to the base.
3. Inflate the five 6" Quick Links to approximately 5" and tie together to create a chain.
4. Make Split Duplets Clusters* using the 5" Goldenrod balloons to fit in between each of the Quick Links. 
5. Connect the chain of Quick Links to the base clusters.
6. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 5" Onyx Black balloons inflated to approximately 4½".
Secure this cluster to the other end of the Quick Link chain.
7. Inflate the Day of the Dead Skull Microfoil balloon with helium. Add a scrap of a 260Q to the balloon to work as a connector. Now connect to the 4-balloon cluster.
8. Complete the design by making three 6- Petal Balloon Flowers using the 160Q and 260Q Goldenrod balloons. Use the Purple Violet 260Q to make the flower centres and the Green 160Qs to make the leaves. Secure these to the design.

*If, you are unfamiliar with how to make a Split Duplet Cluster, view the video clip below.





Design 2   Sugar Skulls & Flowers Elegant Column

Material List:


4 - 11” Sugar Skulls balloons 
8 - 5” Onyx Black balloons
1 - 646Q Onyx Black  balloon
4 - 11” Onyx Black balloons
1 - 38” "Day of the Dead Skull" Microfoil 
3 - 260Q Goldenrod balloons
1 - 160Q Goldenrod balloon
4 - 160Q Green balloons
2 - 260Q Purple Violet balloons


Method of Construction:

1. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 11" Sugar Skulls balloons inflated to approximately 8".
2. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 5" Onyx Black balloons inflated to approximately 4½". Secure the two clusters together and add the weight to the base.
3. Inflate the 646Q balloon to an approximate length of 30" and secure to the base clusters.
4. Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 5" Onyx Black balloons inflated to approximately 4½".
Make a 4-balloon cluster using the 11" Onyx Black balloons inflated to approximately 6". Secure these two clusters together and then connect to the end of the 646Q balloon.
5. Inflate the Day of the Dead Skull Microfoil balloon with helium. Add a scrap of a 260Q to the balloon to work as a connector. Connect this balloon to the top of the clusters that you just added to the 646Q balloon.
6. Complete the design by making four 6- Petal Balloon Flowers* using the 160Q and 260Q Goldenrod balloons. Use the Purple Violet 260Q to make the flower centres and the Green 160Qs to make the leaves. Secure these to the design.


Both of these designs are quick to make, appealing, and very sellable. These would be perfect additions to your Halloween portfolio of designs.


Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com