Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas balloon 'Puffballs' by Luc Bertrand CBA

Luc Bertrand of WAW Balloons  has very kindly created 2 lovely design ideas for Christmas for 'The Very Best Balloon Blog' plus he shows us how to make the perfect base too!

Design 1.

Material List 

18 x 11"    Christmas Snowflakes - 96588
14 x 11"    White  - 43802
  2 x 5"     Green  - 43561
  1 x 646Q Red    - 13786

Christmas 'Puffball' version 1 by Luc Bertrand CBA
Method of Construction:

Starting from the base working upwards.

  • Inflate base cluster to 9" (Green)
  • Second cluster to 7" (Red)
  • Third cluster to 5" (White)
For the 'Puffball'.
  • Inflate the Red and Green Christmas Snowflakes to 10.5" and create 2 x 5-balloon clusters
  • Inflate the White 11" to 6" and create 2 x 5-balloon clusters.
  • Inflate 2 x 5" Green to 3.5"
To make the 'Puffball', start by laying one of the white 5-balloon cluster flat, you can add a 160Q to secure the additional clusters or you can tie the balloons neck to neck.

Now add the first of the coloured 5- 11" balloon clusters and then the second and then finally the other White 5-balloon cluster, securing each cluster as you go using your preferred method.
Finally add the 2 x 5" Green at the centre of the 'Puffball' on each side,

Luc has covered his pole using a red 646Q... a great technique- simply stretch the balloon over the pole and secure at both ends!

To make the base and pole watch this great clip by Luc Bertrand CBA

For added value try adding 5 x Green 350Q balloons!

Christmas 'Puffball' version 2 by Luc Bertrand CBA

Thank you Luc for these great designs, we very much appreciate your time creating these and the great DVD clip and sharing them with us!

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

World Balloon Convention 2014 - Amazing Decor Opportunities!

Circus Theme Party Decor by Tope Abulude CBA
I just wanted to take this opportunity to highlight not 1 or 2 but 3 amazing chances of a lifetime to be  one of this events leading designers!

The World Balloon Convention producers are looking for designers for the following:

Lobby Decor
WBC 2014 Thursday Night Costume Party
WBC 2014 Grand Gala

At the WBC 2012 delegates, instructors and the entire event production team where blown away by the incredible decor throughout the event! In fact, I know that for many people the highlight of their WBC experience was the parties! Here are a few of many great comments!
Malachi Robinson CBA -  "The costume party decor by Tope was fun and rich and it was great to see everyone partying and just having a good time. The Black Tie Gala, what a beautiful night this was! Being nominated and winning an award for all your hard work really pays off. The look of astonishment on some of the nominee's faces were priceless, What a great way to end a fun filled week!"
John Brew CBA - "Blown away by the Circus theme, absolutely fantastic!"
Annabelle Claire Tan CBA - "Circus theme party and Gala Dinner where everyone dressed up for the occasion!"
With so many exciting aspects to this convention, the parties always stand out as being one of the top highlights!

Calling balloon art professionals

 from Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe, Russia, South America, USA! 

 I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to take this very rare opportunity to enter the WBC 2014 Decor Design Competition! I know that you are out there, I see so many amazing designs and decor posted on the Qualatex Facebook Group almost daily!

Here is an outline of the criteria to enter: 

  • The competition is open to balloon professionals whose businesses significantly rely on the use of professional quality balloons, only Qualatex balloons may be used at the WBC.
  • You must be able to show your knowledge of working with balloons and large scale decor projects, plus have worked in the industry long enough to have a professional portfolio of your large scale decor work.
  • You are not required to be a CBA or a QBN member, however any professional credentials will be considered if relevant in the selection process.
  • You will be required to submit a minimum of 5 photographs of large scale decor jobs you have completed, along with any organisational paperwork- proposal drawings, layouts etc.
(Please note that this is a shortened version of the eligibility guideline,
click here  to read the full version and to download the application form).

At this stage you are not required to submit any designs for any of the decor opportunities that you are applying for, you are merely submitting an application with support photographs and a little support documentation that proves that you have the skills to be able to work on one of these great projects!

Earlier this year I asked Tope Abulude CBA to talk about his own personal experience being one the the 2012 event designers... I think that this makes very interesting reading and may help some of you to consider having a go!

So what are you waiting for... you only have 13 days to submit your application, the closing date at this initial stage is 3rd December 2012!

Please do not miss out on this AMAZING opportunity, all you have to do today is complete the application form and tell those lovely folk at Qualatex why you would be the perfect choice as one of the designers, add the required number of large scale decor pictures and any other relevant information!

Oh and I forget to mention that all the winners will receive the following!

  • Transportation to and from WBC 2014
  • Full-package Registration for WBC 2014
  • Lodging for the duration of the event
If you have any questions relating to your application, please do not hesitate to contact or call 1-800-743-9879 or (316) 685-2266

Good luck everyone!

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, November 16, 2012

How to make a Christmas Wreath

How to make a Christmas Wreath... and a few other ideas!

Sue Bowler

Let's start with the frame.

There are a number of things you can use to create a frame. I have used Aluminium rod, ¼" or 6mm is good for this or you can used a pre-formed circle such as a child's hula-hoop, but you will be limited by the sizes available. To find your nearest Aluminium distributor talk to your balloon wholesaler first, as often they will sell it, or they may know of a local supplier? 

Childs Hula Hoop
Circle made from Aluminium Rod

How many balloons will you need to create your wreath? There is a simple calculation that you can use to work this out!

If you have studied the QBN programme you will already know how to do this, but if not, let me help you!

You will need to know the diameter of the circle before you can calculate the circumference.

Measure the diameter of your circle to calculate the circumference.

Circumference of a circle.

The circumference is the length of the edge around the circle. For any circle, the circumference is:
3.141592 x the diameter. So what is 3.141592 then? This is a special, unique number it is known as 'pi' and is pronounced 'pie'. I bet when you studied 'pi' at school, most of use thought that we would never need to use this again!

So looking at my circle, it's diameter measures 65cm, therefore 65 x 3.141592 = 204.4cm or 2.04m or in inches 25.5" x 3.141592 = 80.11" or 6.6' - How easy is that!

Once we know the circumference of our circle we can use this information to calculate how many balloons the circle will need by using the Qualatex Balloon Estimator available at to QBN Members, or you can refer to a Spiral Garland Chart.

Let's assume that we are going to use 5" balloons inflated to 4" and use 4-balloon clusters. We will need 15.1 balloons per foot of garland, and as our circumference is 6.6' we would need approx. 100 balloons 15.1 x 6.6  = 99.66 

This is such a great help when you need to work out how many balloons you need to order rather than guessing!

The above calculation is assuming that you are going to use all the same size of balloons. For the Christmas Wreath I have used 2 sizes (3 actually), but I do not want to confuse you, so lets say 2 sizes, the reason for using 2 different sizes is to create the perfect inner curve rather than seeing the balloons on the inside of the wreath looking all squashed up! 

Prepare your framework.

Whether you are using aluminium or a hula hoop, you should cover the frame in the same colour as the colour of the balloons that you will be using, this will stop the frame from showing through.

This can be achieved by wrapping a partially inflated 260Q or 350Q around the frame, see below.

Qualatex Balloons used:

I used a variety of shades of Green and finished it off with a few Red 5" balloons.

5" Pearl Teal - 43596
5" Pearl Emerald Green - 43581
5" Pearl Forest Green - 43582
5" Pearl Ruby Red - 43594

I used Pearl Teal on the inner edge and Pearl Forest and Pearl Emerald Green to the outer edge, I was a little unsure initially whether to use the Pearl Teal, but once I added it to the frame I really liked the look and the contrast in the different shades of Green.

You will need to play around with your sizes as your frame may be a different size to mine, the rule of thumb is to allow approx. 1" difference when working with 5" balloons and 2" when working with bigger balloons.

Continue to add your balloons until the wreath is complete.

Sue Bowler

I have added a little accent colour using 5" Pearl Ruby red balloons inflated to only 1" to make small bubbles, I simply added these in by carefully securing the neck of the bubble into the wreath.

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler
Add a beautiful bow!

There are so many different accents elements that you could add to your wreath... a large bow, some "Holly Leaves" - made from heat sealed stars as shown in my Distortion Technique Blog 1 last month (October 2012).

You can use this same technique to make 'wreaths' for other occasions, not just for Christmas!

Sue Bowler
Summer 'Dream Catcher' created by Sue Bowler CBA

Sue Bowler
Wedding or Baby Wreath - there are many different ways you can use these lovely wreaths!

If you are interested in learning more skills regarding adding balloons to framework, I have covered this in greater detail in my DVD - Balloon Decor 1, where I demonstrate step by step how to make 3 different 'Perfect Hearts' - fantastic for Valentines Day and Weddings and how to create amazing air-filled arches plus lots more! To find your nearest distributor visit or order online from my online shop!

Sue Bowler

Have fun and Happy Ballooning!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ask the Expert - Elisa Helman on Bar/Bat Mitzvah's

Ask the Expert!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s

I have asked Elisa Helman, of Elisa in Balloonland Jerusalem to share some of her expertise when it comes to Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s.

Elisa Helman, Elisa in Balloonland Jerusalem

Firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a second generation balloon artist.  My mom and her business partner started doing balloons 23 years ago.  
It started when we wanted to have balloons at my brother’s Bar Mitzvah.  I had seen “Back to Cool” written out in balloons at a local shopping mall and I decided we needed to have something similar.  
We looked all over Boston and there was no one that was doing anything creative or unusual with balloons.  We contacted the mall and we went to New Hampshire to meet the balloon artists.  They were ahead of their time and we were hooked. 
They made my brother’s name in balloons, they made a spiral arch that went over the kids table and they attached balloons to the centerpieces that we made. 

We decided that we were going to try making balloons at my mother’s friend’s (soon to be business partner’s) daughter’s Bat Mitzvah a few months later.  The balloons fell in the middle of the event.  Someone saw the centerpieces from my brother’s Bar Mitzvah and our friend’s Bat Mitzvah and decided Mom and her friend had to decorate her son’s Bar Mitzvah!  They said no, but she was presistent and kept calling.  They finally broke down and agreed to decorate her the event. 
They went to a local Qualatex Balloon distributor and he gave them some tips.  The Bar Mitzvah party was Saturday night and the next Sunday morning they had three orders.  I was in high school and I remember the phone calls back and forth deciding wether they were going to do this.  They agreed to do the events that were scheduled for  the spring.

By luck IBAC (International Balloon Arts Convention) was in Boston that winter and Mom and her friend decided to go.  They were amazed at what they saw from Gary Wells’ fantasy flowers, Bruce Walden’s Pinocchio, a dragon sculpture that was breathing smoke, exploding balloons and more.  Within 24 hours Dad was packing all the kids into the car and off we were to Boston to see balloons every night for a week!

Bruce Walden
PINOCCHIO - created by Bruce Walden  CBA

When I moved to Israel after college, I did one party for a friend, word of mouth spread and within a year I had a full time decor business.  The balloon distributors in Israel laughed at me that I would never make it, that no one would pay those prices.  14 years later, not only do I have over 5,000 decor clients, I have been distributing Qualatex balloons for the last 8 years.

Elisa Helman
Gumball Centrepieces by Elisa Helman

What is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s?

A Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age within the Jewish community.  It is when a Jewish child takes on the responsibilities of being an adult in the community.  A Bar Mitzvah is for a boy, this happens when he is 13 years old.  A Bat Mitzvah is for a girl, this happens when she is 12, though there will be some streams of Judaism that will celebrate when they are 13. To celebrate the occasion, a religious ceremony is held in accordance with each stream of Judaism’s laws and congregational rules.  In most cases, the young adult is called to the Torah (Bible) to read.  Following the religious ceremony there is a celebratory meal.  

Elisa Helman
Ceiling Decor by Elisa Helman

Are all Bar/BatMitzvah’s the same, or can they vary?

All Bar/Bat Mitzvahs can be different.  They can vary in the number of celebrations, the days of the week that they are celebrated, the size, etc.  There is no set pattern.
Also, the celebrations can vary.  It can be mainly a ceremony where the child reads from the Torah and then there is a small lunch after.  That can also be followed by a large, sit down dinner with dancing.  Or there can be a child’s party with a dj and pizza.  Or there can be all of these celebrations for the same child.  Outside of Israel the large parties tend to be held on Saturday nights, after the Sabbath ends.  Balloons can be needed for more than one event.  I have had Bar Mitzvahs where I have decorated up to four events for the same child!  

Elisa Helman
Shai's Bar MItzvah - by Elisa Helman

Are there any ‘rules’ or definite no-no’s when it comes to designing a Bar/BatMitzvah party?

Again the rules and no-no’s will depend on the community.  If the event is in a location where they keep the Sabbath, then all preparations would need to be made Friday before sundown.  On our Sabbath, Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown, there is no work done.  If it is in a location that keeps kashrut (Jewish Dietary Laws, kosher) then you have to check if certain candies and foods are allowed.  

Elisa Helman
Shai's Bar MItzvah- by Elisa Helman

What are popular themes for a Bar/BatMitzvah party?

It is interesting, in the US, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs almost always have a theme from sports, dance, theatre, film, shopping, animals, etc. At our big parties in the evening mine was ballet, my brother’s was the Celtics.  In Israel there is usually not a theme, though sometimes you will find a sport theme, animal theme or as recently someone approached me for a Willy Wonka’s candy theme.  

Elisa Helman
Rainbow Garland Arch by Elisa Helman

In observant circles, the theme of a party can be related to the portion of the Torah (Bible) that the child is reading or something related to Jerusalem or the state of Israel.  It could be a theme like creation, Noah’s Ark, the cities of Israel, etc. 

This was a Bat Mitzvah ceremony, the actually reading of the Torah.  The men and women sit separately amongst the Orthodox, so the balloon flowers actually served as a divider:

Elisa Helman
Shai's Bar MItzvah - By Elisa Helman

How can a decorator market themselves specifically for Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s?

First, learn in depth what a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is and all the events that are related to it.  This is a brief introduction.  It takes time to learn it all and the difference in the Jewish communities.

There can be a kiddush (light meal) after the reading of the Torah or a lunch after a child puts on phylactaries for the first time.  There can be a party where there could be a candle lighting ceremony, cake ceremony, there can be a dance floor, a kids table, a dais for the rabbis and learned scholars, there could be a stage where speeches are made, etc. etc. 

I think it is important to learn what type of community you are near.  Is it a Conservative community where the child is called up to the Torah and has a light meal after the service and then a big, black tie party in the evening for adults and kids?  Or are you near an observant community where there are events of 300 people coming?

It may be that you are near many different types of communities, as I am.

In that case you need to have a range of ideas.  Price ranges and ideas that will suit everyone.  

I recommend trying to introduce yourself to the local synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and private schools.  Once one person has employed you, your name will get around.  

Elisa Helman
Elisa wearing a Balloon Car! - one of the great classes taught by Dom Cassidy and Keith  Stirman at Balloonland Event 2012!

Balloonland Event 2013...January 27-29, 2013 with Alberto Falcone and Patrick Van De Ven in Jerusalem.  Three great days of learning and fun.  More information is available at or at; you can vouch for us Sue that it is a great event!!!

"Yes I certainly can Elisa! The Balloonland Event was wonderful! Israel is such a beautiful country with truly amazing people! So many great opportunities to learn balloon art skills, from some of the best instructors - Alberto & Patrick are awesome! All classes are taught in English!"

Balloonland 2012

Having fun at the Dead Sea - Elisa, Keith Stirman and Dom Cassidy!

Thank you Elisa! It has been very enlightening for me as someone who has never decorated a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to understand a little more of the background information, I am sure that this will help others to approach a whole new market with many great opportunities!

Happy Ballooning!