Friday, September 23, 2016

Balloons and the Art World by guest blogger John Bowler

John Bowler, founder and chief executive of BAPIA*, shares his experience working with artists working with balloons. 
The Arrival, very best balloon blog,
The Arrival by Jason Hackenwerth 

"It appears that as times goes by, more and more artists are turning to balloons as a medium for their art projects. We have seen artist, Jason Hackenwerth travelling the world with his amazing balloon creations including this awesome piece, 'The Arrival,' built in 2014 for the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. I was very fortunate to meet up with Jason when he was commissioned by Selfridges Department Store in London in 2011 for an 'Under the Sea' project, which was part of a huge campaign to create public awareness regarding the ocean, over-fishing, and protecting the sea . On this project, Jason used 35,000 Qualatex® biodegradable balloons and created eleven sculptures that reflected sea-life.
Balloon Art by Jason Hackenwerth 

Only last year
Charles Petillon, a photographer from France, was commissioned to install a giant cloud of balloons under the roof of the 19th Century Market Building in London's Covent Garden. Known as 'Heartbeat,' this sculpture used a massive 100,000 white Qualatex balloons, stretching 54 meters in length and 12 meters wide, with pulsating lights to symbolise the beating of a heart. Once again, I had the fortune of meeting this artist along with a group of BAPIA members who assisted with the inflation, installation, and de-rigging of this incredible piece that lasted for a number of weeks.

Heart Beat, Very best balloon blog,
Charles Petillon, 'Heartbeat.'
The latest project that I found myself getting involved with was only a few weeks ago by Artist Noemi Lakmaier, with a live art installation named 'Cherophobia'. 
Cherophobia was a 48-hour durational living installation. An attempt to lift the artist's bound and immobilised body off the ground using 20,000 helium party balloons. This all took place inside St. Leonard's Church in Shoreditch, London."
Cherophobia is defined as a work of contrasts and opposites, of the push and pull between fear and desire, freedom and constraint, and about our responsibility to make choices. The cheerful, happy image of a giant cloud of balloons stands in stark contrast to the artist's bound, restricted, and immobilised body, while the helium-filled balloons pulling upwards are in turn constrained by the church building. 
"Noemi and her team called upon BAPIA members to assist with the Hi-Float® treatment and inflation of the balloons. It was determined by the artist's team that it would require approximately 12,000 11" Qualatex balloons to lift her. With six BAPIA professionals and changing teams of volunteers, it was felt that this should be achievable in 12 hours. However, due to some unforeseen issues with Noemi's health and wellbeing, the lift-off was delayed until the following day when, with the use of approximately 13,500 11" balloons, Noemi started to float underneath what can only be described as a 'mountain' of balloon. The contrast of the multi-coloured balloons mountain against the church decor was striking and certainly not what you might to expect to find in a church!"

"Noemi took off at about 3pm and was airbourne for about 5 hours."

The start of the balloons being installed.

13,500 11" Qualatex Balloons and the project is a success!
It is very interesting to see how a balloon art installation such as Charles Petillon's  'Heartbeat' has created a trend within the balloon community. I have seen a number of photographs of similar installations around the world that have a very similar look and have obviously been inspired by the original design.

I believe that seeing balloons being used in such diverse and interesting ways can only be a good thing, as it brings balloons in a bright and positive way to the public.

Thank you to John for sharing his Balloon Art experiences with the Very Best Balloon Blog.

Happy Ballooning


BAPIA — the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance is a U.K.- based independent trade organisation that works much like a trade association. BAPIA's aims are to increase public awareness of the balloon and party industry, promote industry professionals and the benefits of working with them, fight negative and anti-balloon campaigns, and much more! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Are you ready for Halloween 2016?

I am sure many of you are thinking that it's a little too early to start thinking about Halloween — it's seven weeks away yet! Halloween has been a steadily growing celebration for the balloon and party industry. In the U.S., Halloween is huge on the holiday calendar, and in the U.K - and around the world - we are certainly heading that way too. Speaking to some U.K.- based balloon companies, they say that Halloween now far exceeds Valentine's Day sales! So, early planning and preparation are essential to get the most out of your sales campaign.

U.S Version

U.K. Version
If you have not already seen the fantastic 2016 Qualatex® 2016 Halloween, Christmas & New Year Collection, click HERE to view and download. Please note that there are different downloadable versions for Europe and Canada.

The Qualatex Autumn Business Booster is a great place to start to find our Halloween Inspiration.  Each Bouquet and decor design can be enlarged, downloaded, and used as part of your marketing campaign on your website, business Facebook page, and on Pinterest, too. Make sure that any photographs Pinned to your Pinterest boards are linked back to your website or business Facebook page. Otherwise, you are missing out on a great marketing opportunity.

Don't forget to check out the Professional Resources Seasonal Bouquet ideas. These are a great way to show your customers the exciting range of balloons and bouquets that are available this year! Plus, there are some fantastic ideas from previous years, too!

Day of the Dead Skull, Very Best Balloon Blog,

I think that this 38" "Day of the Dead Skull" Bouquet design is fabulous! 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 living in other places, especially the United States. It is acknowledged internationally in many other cultures. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and help support their spiritual journey. 

People in Mexico wear traditional skull masks, and the tradition of painting faces to look like skulls has evolved as a variation of this practice. Masks have always been powerful objects in many cultures, ones that often allow the wearer to get in touch with their darker, chaotic side. Skull face painting is a chance to overcome the fear of death, act recklessly, and get up to the mischief that is forbidden at other times of the year!

FREE POSTER: This great poster is just a click away when you visit the Sales Tips section of the Autumn Business Booster. Use it in your shops or stores and as part of your pre-Halloween marketing campaign on your social media channels.

Halloween, Qualatex, very best balloon blog

And don't forget that if you are a QBN® Member or a Certified Balloon Artist™, you can access the exclusive QBN Members area that has additional designs and recipes available for you to download!

Here are some great design ideas for Halloween 2016:

Quick Links, Bubbles, Qualatex, Very Best Balloon Blog
This fun and easy to make column requires:
  • 22" "Halloween Messages & Icons" #43433
  • 11" "Big Polka Dots", assorted Orange & Onyx Black #38470 (U.S) #23017 (Europe)
  • 12" "Jack Faces" Quick Link Balloons® #44648
  • 5" Orange #43570
  • 5" Onyx Black #43548

The base and column are entirely air-filled, with only the Bubble Balloon® helium-filled at the top to give the design stability.

Party Monster Pillar, 
Designed by Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company

Qualatex, Halloween, very best balloon blog

For the recipe and full instructions on how to make this funky Halloween design, click HERE

I love the 22" "Jack O' Lantern", Bubble Balloon. It has been designed in such a clever way that it makes it appear like it is lit up from inside!

This design makes a fantastic centrepiece. It has such impact visually with its vibrant colours and the textures of the orange sticks, raffia, and leaves. 

As a QBN member, you can download the full instructions by clicking HERE

Top sales tips for Halloween
  • Start your Halloween sales campaign as soon as possible. Create Halloween social media posts. Keep the posts relevant to what your target market would enjoy but add a spooky twist. People are more likely to share your posts if they have some fun and humour attached to them. "When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween.' – Author Unknown
  • Use #Hashtags — #Halloween, #Boo, #Freaky, #Scary, #Creepy, #Halloween2016, #Oct31, #Haunted, #Ghosts, #Zombies, #Witches
  • Create themed products. Gather some of your products together that could be used for Halloween, like these wonderful Halloween Fun Faces with Candy Weights filled with sweets! 

  • Decorate your shop windows and store interior. What better way to show passing customers that your store is the perfect place to buy all their Halloween supplies. And if you don't have a store, make sure that you update your website homepage and all your social media channels to show that you are Halloween ready!
  • If you have a die-cutting machine, create some fun decals for your windows, like this creepy rat!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, September 12, 2016

The power of the #Hashtag

Hashtags — what do they actually do? I see hashtags that have been added to posts. I have even used them, but if I am honest, I am not really sure how they work!

Hashtags were first used on Twitter and are now used on Facebook, Google+, Google search, Instagram, Pinterest,  and I am sure many other places, too! 

The hashtag appears to be the most popular means of categorising content on social media. It makes your own content discoverable and allows you to find relevant content from other people and organisations. The hashtag also allows you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest.

It has become common practice to use hashtags at balloon events. I believe that it started at the World Balloon Convention 2014 with #Worldballoon14.  It is a fantastic way to see all the different photographs posted by everyone attending. I was recently at the Qualatex Event in Johannesburg, South Africa. We created a unique hashtag for the event, #QualatexSA2016 and asked everyone to add this hashtag to all their pictures when posting on Facebook. We even turned it into a competition and awarded prizes to the photographers that captured the spirit of the event. We had great results and were able to see lots of wonderful photographs that we might not have seen without this common link! Plus, we can easily find these photographs again in the future simply by using the hashtag. These are the winning hashtag photographs from the event.

Balloon Wall with Jag Dhillon by Fyah Lighter
Photo Frame and Arch by Balloon Pop
Photo Frame by Madeleine Janse van Rensburg 

Using hashtags on Twitter

A hashtag—written with a # symbol—is used to index keywords or topics on Twitter. This function was created on Twitter and allows people to easily follow topics they are interested in.

Using hashtags to categorise Tweets by keyword:
People use the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase in their Tweet to categorise those Tweets and help them to appear more often in Twitter search results.
Clicking or tapping on a hashtagged word in any message shows you other Tweets that include that hashtag.
Hashtags can be included anywhere in a Tweet.
Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

Tips for using hashtags:
You cannot add spaces or punctuation in a hashtag, or it will not work properly.
If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet.
Twitter recommends using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet as best practice, but you may use as many hashtags in a Tweet as you like.
Type a hashtagged keyword in the search bar to discover content and accounts based on your interests.

The Twitter Cheat Sheet Infographic above, is based on data from Buddy Media and was from an article that I read, "Twitter Cheat Sheet To Increase Engagement And Followers" on Linchpinseo. It's a great read and gives some very helpful information and statistics!

I was really interested to read that Tweets with one or two hashtags have higher engagement than Tweets that use more than two hashtags.

Using Hashtags on Pinterest
In Pinteresthashtags are only clickable and searchable in pin descriptions and they work a bit differently than they do on Twitter or Instagram. Clicking on a hashtag in a pin's description will not only result in pins that include that hashtag but also in pins that include the same word or phrase in the description.

I tested hashtags on Pinterest, and sure enough if you click on a hashtag it brings up every picture with or without a hashtag that relates to that word. So it's not such a great filter on Pinterest as it is on other social media channels.

Using Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtags turn topics and phrases into clickable links in your posts on your personal Timeline or Page. This helps people find posts about topics they’re interested in. To make a hashtag, write # (the number sign) along with a topic or phrase and add it to your post. For example:

I just saw the cutest puppy! #dogs

When you click a hashtag, you’ll see a feed of posts that include that hashtag. You may also see some related hashtags at the top of the page.
Please keep in mind:

  • A hashtag must be written as a single word, without any spaces.
  • You can include numbers in a hashtag, but punctuation and special characters (like $ and %) won't work.
  • You can search for a hashtag using the search bar at the top of any page.
  • You'll only see posts that were shared with you.

When you add a hashtag to your post, the people you’ve shared your post with can also see it in that hashtag's feed. For example, if you share a post with a hashtag  #Friends, they can see your post in that hashtag’s feed.
Keep in mind if you use a hashtag in a post you share to Public, and allow people to follow you, your post will appear on your public profile and in that hashtag's feed.
Using Hashtags on Instagram - extracted from an article by By Brittney Helmrich from Business News Daily.
Hashtags are a great way to help other users find your content on Instagram, just like on Twitter. Since users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts on the app, using relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, just like on Twitter, you have to make sure you're using the right hashtags for your brand, and that you don't go overboard.
Hashtags like #nofilter (if you're sharing a photo that hasn't been heavily edited with filters added), #selfie (if you're sharing a picture of yourself,) and #tbt or #throwbackthursday (if you're sharing an old photo) are all incredibly popular on Instagram, but they may not work for you or your brand. Using popular hashtags just because they're popular might annoy your current and potential new followers, and it will be obvious you're just trying to get more followers and exposure.
It's a good idea to look at other established brands (or even personal users and bloggers) in your industry for examples of what to do, especially when it comes to hashtags. A fashion boutique, for example, would want to use very different hashtags from those used by a bicycle repair shop, so following and paying attention to other successful Instagram users in your field can help you get a feel for what works and what doesn't.
On Instagram, it's not just the hashtags you use that matters, but also how many. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but 30 hashtags is a lot, and using that many would be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a large number of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won't increase your following all that much. The interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand, but rather those who just saw and liked your image. If you aim to keep your hashtags relevant, interesting, and specific, you won't need 20 hashtags to gain exposure.
It's also important to note that hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can't contain any non-numerical symbols (so #DaveAndBusters might work as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not, for example). Using hashtags that don't work on the app might make you look like you don't know what you're doing, and they won't help you gain followers or likes, either.
Searching hashtags on Instagram is also a good way to find new users to follow and get your account noticed. For example, if you use a certain hashtag on your posts, or if there's a certain hashtag that is relevant to your brand, you can do a search for it and see all of the photos posted with that hashtag. Scroll through and like the ones you find interesting, and follow users with content you like. If those users think your content is relevant to their interests, they'll likely follow back — or at least check out (and maybe interact with) your posts.
Incorporate hashtags to categorize your content and make it easier for non-followers to discover you. We recommend up to three hashtags so they don't detract from the simplicity of the post. Ask questions to engage people.
To read the full article, Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know - See more at:
Well, that was a lot of information! But it has helped me to understand hashtags a little more. It is important that you understand how hashtags work for each of the social media channels that you use. Hashtags used on Pinterest, for example, are not as effective as those used on Twitter or Instagram. One of the biggest tips that I have learned is that you should not use too many hashtags on each of your posts. Often, 1 or 2 are more effective than 3 or more! 
Businesses can really benefit from using hashtags in their posts. Adding one or two hashtags to a post can help to increase their social reach and improve brand awareness. Following and using trending hashtags can help a business if they join in on a high traffic discussion on topics related to their industry and service.

Here are just a few of the top trending hashtags that can be related to the balloon industry:



Simply by using any of these hashtags in your posts could give your business a greater reach to new customers! Check out what's trending and start hashtagging!



Monday, September 5, 2016

Balloon Basics - Bubble Balloons

Qualatex® Bubble Balloons are a relatively new balloon made from stretchable plastic, making it unusual and eye-catching. Unlike a Microfoil® balloon, it is inflated until all the creases at the seams have been removed, making it more like a beach ball, and looks great from all angles.

Bubble Balloons are non-allergenic, making them ideal for hospital gifts and deliveries. They do not oxidise* and floating times are mainly measured in weeks rather than days.
22" "Birthday Pink Starburst Sparkle"
U.S. Patent No. 6,782,675

Single Bubbles

These stunning balloons are available in 22". They will float for approximately 2-4 weeks.
They come in a fantastic range of designs including licensed characters, birthday including milestones and age. New baby and special occasion. They are extremely versatile and can be used in balloon bouquets, centrepieces and to make fun little character designs.

These balloons are simple and elegant, with 3-D designs that look beautiful from any angle. They have self-sealing valves and come with a pre-attached ribbon.

To find out how to inflate a Qualatex Bubble Balloon correctly, view the short clip below.

Double Bubbles
24" "Baby Blue Bear"
U.S. Patent No. 6,758,715

These 24" balloons certainly have the "how did they do that" wow factor displaying a balloon inside a balloon creating a magical show-stopper! They have self-sealing valves and come with pre-attached ribbons. The inflating will be done in three steps:

  • Inflate a small puff of helium through the "A" valve, you can use an Auto-Foil outlet for this.
  • Now go to valve "B", using an Auto-Foil outlet, fully inflate the inner balloon.
  • Now go back to the "A" valve, using a latex outlet, gently inflate the outer balloon until all the creases have been removed. 
If you find that the inner balloon looks like it has gone down a little, this will because of the pressure change within the outer balloon. To puff the inner balloon back to its original state, I recommend that you use a small hand-pump or pocket pump to add just a few puffs of air, and not to attempt adding  additional helium, as it is difficult to measure accurately how much you will need and you can easily burst the inner balloon.

To find out how to inflate a Qualatex Double Bubble Balloon correctly, view the short clip below. 

Deco Bubbles

These are probably one of my favourite balloons. They are perfect for so many different occasions with endless creative possibilities for a balloon professional. This un-valved balloon is available in both 20" and 24" sizes, with fantastic floating times of 7-10 days for the 20" and 3-5 weeks for the 24"- the different floating times will be subject the type and amount of balloons that you add to a Deco Bubble. Once filled and fully inflated, they should be closed using a 160Q or 260Q balloon.

Luc Bertrand, CBA of WaW Balloons, Vichte, Belgium has made a great video that shows clearly how to inflate and tie a Deco Bubble.

Bubbles Helium Guide

Over inflating or under-inflating Bubbles can decrease floating times, so follow the package instructions to inflate correctly and achieve the best float times. Actual flying times will depend on temperature and atmospheric conditions. Deco Bubble float times will vary if other types of balloons are placed inside. Giving accurate gas capacities is almost impossible as everyone inflates their balloons slightly differently. Personally, I only inflate a Bubble Balloon to the point at which all the creases disappear, however, if I am adding tassels or tulle to a Bubble Balloon, I might add in a little more helium or balloon gas to give it greater floating capacity.  As I already mentioned,  giving accurate capacities is not easy, but I have used my Dual Split-Second Sizer to help me measure the volume of helium that is used to inflate the 20" and 24" Deco Bubbles and found that a 20" Deco Bubble took approximately 1 cu.ft. - 0.0282 of helium or balloon gas and the 24" took approximately 1.5 cu.ft - 0.0425 mof helium or balloon gas.
Here are the suggested average number of Bubble Balloons inflated from a 3.6m3 tank.

  • 22" Single Bubbles 90-130
  • 24" Double Bubbles 85-105

Air Bubbles

New for 2016, the 12" Air Bubbles provide all the fun of Bubble Balloons but in a smaller size. Sold in packs of 10, they are perfect for air-filled store displays, point-of-purchase sales, and fun decor accents! 

Follow these simple steps to perfect Air Bubbles.

Step 1. Remove Bubble from foil packaging. If you do not intend to inflate all 10 Air Bubbles at the same time, I recommend that you re-seal the packet using your heat sealer or place into a zip lock bag to prevent the Bubbles from drying out.

Step 2. Inflate Air Bubble using a hand pump until the balloon is fully inflated and has no wrinkles at the edges.

Step 3. Using a heat sealer, seal the Bubble, I like to start close to the opening of the balloon, rather than higher nearer the actual balloon, this gives me the opportunity to try again if it fails the first time. The heat sealer needs to be set to a low temperature, I recommend  starting on setting 2, you may need to adjust slightly, either way depending on your own heat sealer.

Check out this short video clip that demonstrates the steps above.

To make this design, I inflated an
11" Orange latex balloon inside
the Birthday Cupcake Air Bubble 
and secured it to a Cello-Cup and
Attached it to a Candy 
Bouquet Weight
These balloons are perfect for double-stuffing. You can make the balloon look so different simply by adding an 11" latex balloon inside! This is also a great tip if you do not own a heat sealer but would like to sell this balloon. To keep the balloon clear, simply use an 11" Diamond Clear 11" latex balloon inside and you would never know the difference.

To Make this design, I inflated 
an 11" Robin's Egg Blue latex balloon
inside the Birthday Cupcake Air Bubble
and secured it to a double 5-ballon Cluster base.

©Premium Balloon Accessories

Candy Bouquet Weights used with 

Original Cello-Cup™Clear and

Candy Connectors

Check out this short video clip that demonstrates how to put an 11" latex balloon inside an Air Bubble.

For me, Bubbles Balloons are a truly magical balloon in every way! For decorators and retailers, the Deco Bubbles are just fabulous, they look so elegant and can be prepared several days in advance of an event, giving you more time to work on other event decor that cannot be prepared so far in advance. Decor Bubbles are so versatile, they can be filled with latex balloons, Microfoil balloons, confetti and even feathers! Bubble Balloons are long lasting, vibrant and fun! 

This is Part 3 of Balloon Basics - to view Part 1 "Inflating and tying latex balloons," click HERE and to view Part 2 Balloon Basics - Microfoil Balloons click HERE.

In the UK and around Europe, Qualatex Europe runs a 1-day course for beginners. This full-day seminar embraces all aspects of the balloon business, including health and safety requirements, balloon inflation, bouquet construction, and simple garland creation. It includes a comprehensive, full-colour manual that will be a valuable reference guide on float times, pricing, basic design principles, and more. To find out where and when the classes are being held, check out the Education Calendar HERE for full details.

The Qualatex Balloon Network℠ - QBN® program, is also a great way to learn the foundations of running a successful balloon business. This 3-part DVD program covers:
To find out more about the QBN program and the benefits of becoming a QBN member, click HERE

Happy Ballooning!


*Oxidation - Whenever you inflate a latex balloon, you immediately subject it to oxidation, it is just a fact of atmospheric physics. Latex balloons will become cloudy and take on a velvety appearance. To prevent balloons oxidising during delivery, store and transport the balloons in a clear plastic bag. You can also use products such a Balloon Shine™, that will help to prevent oxidation and add a long-lasting sparkle to your balloons.