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! 

"Fun on the Farm."
By Keith Stirman, 
CBA, and Dominic Cassady, CBA.
"Jungle Arch."By Keith Stirman, CBA, and Dominic Cassady, CBA.
Fun on the Farm and Jungle Arch are two really fun entrance Arch designs that would be perfect for a children's party. They would also make great photo frame opportunities, too! I love the way that Keith and Dom used the 14" animal foil heads to bring in the farm and jungle characters. The use of 260Qs and 350Qs also add great visual movement and colour to each of the Arches! Once again, we have a 3' balloon positioned in the centre of each of these Arches. More magic required!

Here are a few more fun Arch ideas for themed children's parties.

"Pirate Towers and Arch."
Design by Sue Bowler

Take two columns topped with 40" "Pirate Ships" and add a simple Bubble Balloon® Arch to connect them together! This Arch would create a fun entrance to any Pirate party and makes the perfect photo backdrop, too! 

"Princess Party Castle Arch."
Design by Sue Bowler, 
For the girls, how about creating a lovely Princess Castle Arch! This design was made using Qualatex QuickLink Balloons® to create the two Wild Berry Towers connected together with a simple Robin's Egg Blue Arch, topped with an 18" Magenta Heart.

Balloon Arches have so many uses and can add so much fun and excitement to an event. I love to see the many different ways that an Arch can come to life with the addition of a few extra elements.

For more inspiring arch designs, visit the INSPIRATION section on the Qualatex website. If you are a QBN Member you are able to download high-quality images of each of these designs simply by signing into the QBN Members area on the website.

Happy ballooning!


Monday, May 15, 2017

A "BACI" Alice in Wonderland Extravaganza!

Designing and planning a theme party is challenging, but also a great deal of fun! We are very lucky to be part of this industry, and I am very fortunate to get the opportunity to attend so many wonderful theme parties when I travel to teach at conventions around the world. I think half of my wardrobe is filled with fancy dress costumes!

Cheshire Cat by Alberto Nava, CBA.
Photograph by Luc Bertrand.

At BACI - Balloon Arts Convention Italy this year, our party theme was based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, a slightly different take on the original theme. Luc Bertrand, CBA of wAw Balloons, in Vichte, Belgium, was appointed the gala party coordinator and tasked each of the BACI instructors with a project that would be completed by them with the help of delegates on the day of the party. One of the biggest challenges was to transport all the decor from one side of Florence to the other, a factor that certainly had to be taken into consideration when making the designs. The venue was very quirky, with greenery, wood, and foliage hanging from the ceiling. This worked extremely well for our theme. For me, it looked like the rabbit hole, which was absolutely perfect!

Here is a photograph of the venue before we transformed it.

And after!

Centrepiece Designs by Enza Mondello, CBA, and Jośe Luthman, CBA.

Photo by Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa©TheDarkRoom.

Enza Mondello of Balloon Express Shop in Patty, Italy, and Jośe Luthman of Fiesta Mulhouse in Mulhouse, France, were both asked to design centrepieces. Enza chose two different designs for her delegates to make; one with fabulous polka dot teapots and the other with the Queen of Hearts/ Ace of Spades playing card Microfoil balloons. Jośe worked on an intriguing mushroom design created from double stuffed 6" Quick Link Balloons®.

Nicolas Fiault makes the perfect Mad Hatter! 

Photo by Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa©TheDarkRoom.

Mad Hatter hats! These awesome hats were made by delegates as part of a twisting class led by the very talented Alessandro Patanè, CBA, of Balloon Express Shop in Giarre, Italy.

Olga and Olga with their beautiful entrance decor.
Photograph by Luc Bertrand

Olga Baranova, CBA, and Olga Samoilova, CBA, of Sonlnechny Veter in Samara, Russia, took charge of the stunning entrance decor. Not only did it make an exciting entrance piece, but a beautiful photo opportunity, too!

Ted and Betty Vlamis of Pioneer Balloon Company came suitably dressed to the party!
Photograph by Silva Ingrid Cotellessa ©TheDarkRoom
Design by Federico Onida
Photograph by Luc Bertrand

Federico Onida, CBA, of Balloon Express Shop in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

Federico and his amazing team made these awesome flower pots filled with giant flowers.

I love how he added faces to the flowers, which mirror the flowers in the film.

Alberto Falcone, CBA, and his team delighted us with some very artistic mushrooms.

Photograph by Luc Bertrand

Photo frame and toadstools by Sue Bowler and Team.
Photograph by Luc Bertrand
My responsibility was to design the photo frame. I decided to make the frame all about colour. The base of the frame was shades of green with each balloon double stuffed to create a fabulous range, from Lime to Teal. Once we completed this, we made flowers using Qualatex® 6" hearts, and yes, each one was double stuffed to create a completely new colour! As I explained to my group, this would be one of the most photographed designs at the party, so we wanted to make sure that it looked good! With the addition of a few signs that I made to help bring the Wonderland element into the design, the frame looked fabulous! We complemented the design with a couple of Quick Link toadstools. A big shout out to Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company, who helped me out with the design recipe at the last minute! 

Here are just a few of the great photographs that were taken at the party. It really shows off the power of the photo frame!

Photographs by Evgeny Bagretsov & Simone Serio ©TheDarkRoom

And finally, Luc Bertrand. Luc does an incredible job coordinating all the amazing decor, plus adding in his own designs, too. And his contribution was just fabulous!

You know that you are working with a true professional when they send you such an incredible presentation that shows how they propose to present their decor and special effects. Any client would be very happy to see this.

I know that Luc will be teaching how to make graphics such as these during his classes on the Qualatex World Tour stops, so don't miss out!

Here is the stage set up with the Quick Link Mad Hatter's hat. It made a stunning backdrop!

And here is the stage once it had been transformed into the cat face!

Luc filled the venue ceiling with fabulous Icy Blue 4' Cloudbusters dressed with 646Qs and organic style clouds. The clouds were scheduled to drop once the dancing started!

Once again, Luc Bertrand and the instructors with their fabulous delegates did a truly amazing job. When we arrived at the party, we were immediately swept into the magical world of Alice in Wonderland! Congratulations to everyone who took part in building the decor. You did a fab job and should be very proud!

If you ever get the opportunity to get involved with building decor for a theme party at a balloon event or convention, take it! You will learn from some of the top balloon art designers in the world, and hands-on is always the best way to learn! There will be plenty of opportunities to build decor at the World Balloon Convention, so arrive early and sign up quickly! Registration for the World Balloon Convention opens on 1st September, 2017! 

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Instagram — Are You Using It To Grow Your Balloon Business?

Instagram is one of the social media groups that I have not really got to grips with. Since I set up my Instagram account, I have used it mainly to post personal photographs, rather than balloons or business related items. It was only when Shannon Kilford of Born to Party in Sydney, Australia, made a really interesting comment regarding Instagram on a recent blog post, I decided that I should really find out more about this social media platform. 
"I am also a passionate Instagram user! This social media platform has literally changed my life and my business! 90% of our customers use it and come to us with pictures off our Instagram account requesting a particular design. I also find it useful for instant messaging and sending images back and forth to my clients. Not many days go by when I'm not using direct messages to communicate with my clients this way! As our account grows, so does our business. It's definitely not a coincidence. You are welcome to check out our Instagram here;
We also use Facebook, and in the beginning it was a great tool for growing our business. But since Facebook made changes to its reach for business pages, it is not nearly as good as it used to be so we don't focus on it as much as we used to."

To read Shannon's full article on "Modern Balloon Styling," click on the link below;
Giant Balloons, Confetti Balloons, Tassels, and Organic Decor — Modern Balloon Styling by Shannon Kilford, Born to Party, Sydney, Australia.

I found this article, "The Power of InstaGram in Your Marketing Campaign" on the Paperless Proposal website that was concise and easy to understand. Ideal for those who do not already have an Instagram account set up or still a little unsure how to use it — like me!

If you are using social media websites in your marketing campaigns and not utilizing the power of Instagram you are missing out on a huge amount of potential traffic and business. Social media websites have been gaining in popularity each month and recent studies have shown on Facebook alone the average user is now spending over fifty minutes a day on that one website. Instagram has been gaining in popularity because of all the added exposure your business can gain from posting your information on their site.
Instagram is very simple to use and has the potential to get your name and links in front of millions of possible customers very quickly. When you first setup your account you are allowed to include one link in your profile. Be sure to list your main website here because your username will hyperlink to your profile page where your main website is prominently displayed. Choose your username carefully. Y
ou can change your username if needed as long as it is not already taken.
Try to get the name as close to your business name as possible so your brand is recognized across all social media platforms.
Once you have your user name and profile set up it is time to harness the power of this explosive social media website. No one is going to see your posts if you don’t have fans and friends, so use the free tools to search emails and Facebook for current fans you have. Once you have a few fans it’s time to make a post. You either post an image or a ten-second video that relates to your business. The way you get the word out. After you choose your image, use hashtags in the description that will link your post to all those hashtags as well. So for example, if you are a screen printer you use the hashtag around words like printing, tee shirts, and embroidery so that your image and link will appear automatically under all of those hashtags. This is an extremely powerful feature that many people do not utilize correctly. Your one post can be sent to dozens of other pages instantly if you use the hashtags frequently throughout your post.
One other power feature within the Instagram platform is when you are about to post your message you have the option to have it automatically post immediately to Facebook and Twitter as well. Here is where the power of social media can really explode your visibility and your business. When you include large numbers of hash tags within your post on Instagram, it auto-posts to Facebook and Twitter with those hashtags as live links too. So your one post to Instagram goes to dozens of hashtag pages within seconds, and then when it hit Facebook it does the same thing. Your hashtags are all live links within Facebook reaching another dozen pages. One single post is automatically sent to dozens or more pages with all your links to your main website in place. The power of Instagram can explode your visibility in a very short time and should be incorporated in your marketing campaign immediately.

If you are not already following Qualatex® on Instagram, start today and see all the fabulous new products that are being added to the Qualatex collection along with lots of great decor ideas, too! 

I think that it is important for us all to find the best marketing tools for our business, and it is very hard to ignore comments like these; "More consumers are buying goods and services based on what they see in their Instagram feed."

Starting an account can sound scary, but I would encourage you to just play around with Instagram. Make sure that you add a small logo or website details in the bottom corner of all your photographs. That way if they go viral or someone wants to know where that design came from they know where to find it, but it needs to be subtle or else it will take away from the image.
Here is a great free Instagram Social Plan by Fiona Flintham. I believe that this would be a fantastic tool for anyone starting or refreshing their Instagram marketing campaign, and I think that I will certainly try this and see how it goes. Click on the link and download your free planner!

I would love to hear your Instagram successes! 
Happy Ballooning!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Medium Sculpture Competition BACI 2017

I have just returned from BACI — Balloon Arts Convention Italy, held in Florence, Italy, from the 24th to the 26th April 2017. Once again, we were wowed by some truly inspiring and talented balloon artists who took part in this year's Medium Sculpture Competition. This year's theme was "Once Upon A Time," and all the entries interpreted the theme in very exciting and different ways.

The balloon sculptures had to be built within twelve hours, with a maximum of seven people in each team. The space allocated for each sculpture was 2 x 2 x 3m high.

This year's winners were the Russian team headed up by team captain Vadim Shushkanov, CBA

  • Title: "The Eye of Sauron"
  • Description: Captain: Vadim Shushkanov
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa ©TheDarkroom
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

To experience a little of the fun and excitement from this competition, check out the video below!

Here are all the other amazing entries.

In second place, Alberto Falcone, CBA. 
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

  • Title: "Il Tempo a volte e' solo un secondo"
  • Description: Captain: Alberto Falcone
  • Copyright: © TheDarkroom/Simone Serio

In third place,  Barbara Biagioni, CBA.

  • Title: "Nascondino (Hide-and-Seek)"
  • Description: Captain: Barbara Biagioni
  • Copyright: © TheDarkroom/Simone Serio

Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Alessandro Patane', CBA.
  • Title: "The Mogways"
  • Description: Captain: Alessandro Patane'
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Carlo Vavenotti, CBA

  • Title: "Asteroide B-612"
  • Description: Captain: Carlo Vavenotti
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa

Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Sara Zampini, CBA.
  • Title: "Paths"
  • Description: Captain: Sara Zampini
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa

Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Mariann Nagy, CBA.

  • Title: "The Secret of my Teddy Bear"
  • Description: Captain: Mariann Nagy
  • Copyright: © TheDarkroom/Simone Serio

Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Alberto Nava, CBA.
  • Title: "Everyday Princess"
  • Description: Captain: Alberto Nava
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa

Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Tania Torre, CBA
  • Title: "We'll make a lovely dress"
  • Description: Captain: Tania Torre
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Jose' Luthman, CBA

  • Title: "The flute player"
  • Description: Captain: Jose' Luthman
  • Copyright: © Silvia Ingrid Cotellessa
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Federico Onida, CBA.
  • Title: "La volpe e l'uva"
  • Description: Captain: Federico Onida
  • Copyright: © TheDarkroom/Simone Serio
Photo by EVGENY BAGRETSOV ©Darkroom

Congratulations to all the teams! Every sculpture was truly amazing and beautiful; it must have been very difficult for the judges to choose the winners. In my eye's, you are all winners. A huge thank you to The Darkroom Academy who took all these amazing photographs. For more fabulous photographs from this year's BACI, click HERE.

Happy Ballooning!