To get the longest life out of your latex balloons, they should be stored away from extreme temperatures (hot or cold) and away from light.
Storing Uninflated Balloons So They Last
- Balloons should be stored away from heat, light and exposure to the air.
- Does freezing help preserve balloons?
It seems to have worked well for my balloons. Mine are more than 5 years old, kept for almost all of that time in a freezer. They seem just fine. I do not thaw and re-freeze them much, though, which may make a lot of difference. They are also 260Es (double dipped) rather than 260As (single dipped), which might make a lot of difference, too.
- I used to keep my balloon supply in the freezer, and there were times when I’d have the same gross in there for a year, or more, and they always worked just fine, even after all that time.
- When I bought large batches, I used to store my balloons in the refrigerator. I found I had to give the package time to come to room temperature. As long as I did the warming, I had no difference in the breakage rate.
- I often hear of people storing their balloons in the freezer section of their refrigerator. You can do it without harming the balloon but it is not necessary. Of course you must let the balloon thaw out before attempting to inflate it. Some clowns who twist in cold weather, keep their balloons in an inside pocket so that their balloons will be warm enough to inflate. Cold balloons are too stiff and will often burst upon inflation. Storing your balloons in a refrigerator is okay, but not necessary either. As far as the storage temperature is concerned, room temperature of about 72 degrees F is all that is needed. The typical air conditioned home is fine. The Houston based Gayla Balloons stores their balloons in a warehouse that does not have air conditioning.
- In the summer months I keep balloons in the crisper drawer in the fridge and transport them in a cooler with either ice, or those re- freezeable blue jobbies. It helps epecially when working outside.
- The thing you want to worry about is keeping balloons in your car way too long. When you pack up your car to go to a gig, be sure balloons are one of the last things you put in your car. When you get home from your gig, be sure balloons are one of the first things you take out. Nothing kills balloons more than heat from a car.
- I’ve created a storage container that keeps my balloons fresh in warm weather. I cut a piece of stiff material (I just happened to have some sheets of plastic hanging around but I imagine other things would work) to fit the bottom of my Coleman cooler. I covered it with a fabric pouch. I glued gunned in some cardboard dividers, using the same principle as candy box dividers. This way I can keep by balloons separated by color or style. The advantage to this is that I can easily find the one I’m looking for quickly, but there’s another good reason for it. I can also see, at a glance, which colors or styles are running low. I can lift the whole pouch up out of the cooler and I place one of those blue ice things at the bottom. I realize somebody else in the list suggested the blue ice, but let me tell you why my plastic divider is a nifty idea. If the blue ice actually touches your balloons the direct contact of that moister (condensation) isn’t the best thing in the world for the balloons. The divider keeps the cooler cool without letting the balloons get wet. I’ve done 5 hour jobs in 105 degree weather, and the balloons have stayed nice and cool.
- To get the longest life out of your latex balloons, they should be stored away from extreme temperatures (hot or cold) and away from light. This is why I use the large insulated coolers like the ones for camping or picnics. Latex will keep for years stored this way.
- I have run into problems during the winter when I would leave my performing case in my car over night. When I had to perform, the balloons were not frozen but were very cold and would pop. I literally had to warm them up so they would be able to handle the rapid expansion of being inflated. Just keep that in mind before you grab a bag of balloonsicles and run off to a gig.
- If balloons have degraded from warm temps or age, will freezing “restore” them?
If you are out working in the heat and sun, and the bag of balloons you are working with feels hot and soft, putting that bag back in the cooler can help. I’ve had hot bags that seemed bad end up okay after they cooled down.
Carrying Uninflated Balloons So They Last
- Carrying balloons around in a coat pocket seems likely to flex them a lot while they are cold. This is definitely bad for them. Ziplock bags are pretty good for storing balloons, they keep the air away.
- Keep the uninflated balloons out of the reach of crowds, and preferably in a cool place. You don’t want them melting before you get to use them. If you bring a cooler with drinks, but the balloons in there.
- They make thermally-insulated zipper packs to keep individual juice boxes cool. Again, if you always want to have just a small amount of balloons with you, these might be handy for carrying them in when it’s hot out to prevent them from deteriorating.
- Do you carry around balloons wherever you go and make them for kids that you see? I’d like to do this, but the balloons I keep in my pocket get hot and soft and pop when I go to use them. Keeping them in the car is worse, since in CA it’s almost always warm enough to ruin balloons on a sunny day.
- A friend of my mom’s has to carry around medication at all times, and it must be kept cold. We found a fanny pack for her that has a large zippered pocket on the front. There is a second, smaller zippered pocket on the back of the pack. It came with two small, flat “Blue Ice” containers that fit in the small pocket. One of those ice packs keeps the pack cold for 8 hours. It would be a great way to carry balloons, without them getting too hot. We found it at a clearance sale, but I bet you could find them in Hiking/Outdoorsman/Sporting Goods Stores.
- As a part-time twister, I’ve been looking for a good way to carry a small amount of balloons around with me. (I don’t need to haul around a gross of each color, yet, but I’m getting to the point where I want to separate my colors). I came across this:
“Correct Change: For the traveler who can’t get their lire and pounds straight, Magellan’s offers the Five-Pocket Pouch by Baggallini. Each pocket has a different colored zipper so you can store a different currency in each pocket. Carry your marks in the blue pocket, francs in the orange pocket and be currency correct on the road. $9.85. 1-800-962-4943.”
(Remember, five pockets can easily separate 10 colors, if you store a light and dark color together). The pouch is 5 by 7 inches, with two pockets on one side, and three on the other. It weighs 1 ounce. Shipping costs are an additional $3.95, but that covers shipping for however many of these you would wish to order. http://www.bonaventuretravel.com/store.html
- I bought a Five-Pocket Pouch from Magellan’s , and just wanted to say I like it. It’s got two pockets on each side, and then one big pocket in the middle. The zippers are color coded, I keep my green, light blue and yellow in the green zipper, for instance. My sharpies (black, red, blue), super balls, hearts and Swiss army knife fit in the center pocket. You can only carry about 3 of each color, without it getting ‘puffy-looking’ (if you have all of the assortment plus violet, clear, and brown) which is the only drawback. You can’t quite carry enough balloons, and you have to re-load after you use it once. But, for non-professional me, it’s nice to store in the fridge, and grab it quickly on my way out.
- I carry balloons with me in a small cosmetic pouch in my purse.
- At a big gig, my kids and I like to work from my balloon case. It is an oblong case made for cosmetics. I made a container from plastic canvas that fits inside it. The plastic canvas is color coded, so each color always goes in the same bin. It is lightweight and easy to carry.
- I carry my balloons around in a belt pack that I bought at REI (a camping/hiking store). It is small, has several pockets, and attaches to a belt.
- If you’re just going to be doing a small/informal event, get a fanny pack. They are usually available for under $10, and even a modest-sized one will hold a gross of 260’s. It seems to help when you have the top of the bag sticking out of the pack because that announces to folks that YOU are the one with the balloons. By keeping them in the pack, they are accessable to you but not to anyone who wants to root around in the bag.
- Keep an eye on the Warner Brother’s Superstore in your area (if you have one). They also offer a catalog to order from, and a Web Page store on Netscape. Several times a year they get in a variety of bags with characters on them. Almost every one ends up on the clearance rack. Cute stuff, and most of it is excellent quality.
- As for how I carry balloons, I’ve been very creative so far. A zip lock bag with balls, 130s, geos, hearts and a sharpie tucked inside a regular assortment bag of 260s plus brown and clear baloons. I carry this in my briefcase right next to my stethoscope. For parties I use a black army tool bag (pockets on the outside and slots on the inside that hold pens, etc., and I use the same setup with additional baggies for the hard-to-pick-out colors. This also contains my pogo instant repair kit, Judy the mouse (thumb puppet), some sponge balls, and a few packet card tricks.
- I store balloons on a pogo pump. I tooke plastic containers that used to be filled with peanuts (from BJ’s), drilled holes in them and screwed them all together, except for the back left one. The front middle container has a broom holder clip screw into it’s back. The whole thing fits around the bottom of the POGO (where the broom stick is) and is clipped on to hold it in place. The balloons are divided amongst the containers. When you want a balloon, you lift up the pump and take the one you want. You can see the whole set up on my (Bruce Kalver) balloon videos.
- I went to the hardware store and got some thin (but very strong) nylon cord and a couple of plastic snaps like you see on a “fanny” pack. Divide your balloons into the various colors that you want to use and group them in about 50 per color with the nozzle ends all iin the same direction. Take one of the small geo balloons and put the group of fifty through the hole in the middle of the geo. You can adjust the number of balloons to make this easier. You now have a “cush” of one balloon color. Do this for each color you want to use.Take your nylon cord and roughly measure around yourself. Attach one side of the snap to one end and then slide each of the colors onto the cord by sliding the nylon cord through the center of the geo. When you have all the colors, attach the other half of the snap to the other end of the cord, and you now have a great way to keep balloons around your middle. When you need one, just grab the nozzle end and give a tug. The balloons will slip out easily. It looks very colorful, and you can easily walk around when twisting. I can fit about 16 different colors around my waist and still have access to them. It also shows those waiting in line what colors you have available. It also helps me find the dark colors quickly. The dark ones next to blue are purple. The dark next to white are black and the dark ones next to yellow are green. I wear this both twisting as “Buttons” and twisting as myself.
- If you take a work apron (the kind that only tie around the waist ), double up the bottom, and sew the edges up, then you get a large pocket. You can also run a few extra rows of stitches on up to create extra pockets (or rip out rows to widen skinny pockets). Then use double sided tape to stick two Ziplock bags together close to the top. Fill each one with a different/contrasting color and slide them into one of the pockets. Do the same for each of the remaining pockets. Now, when you want a balloon, you reach into one of the pockets into either the front or real bag. At the end of the day just zip each bag and you’ve got them stored.
- I bought 2 canvas “nail” aprons at a hardware store for $2 a piece and cut the straps off of one and sewed it on to the bottom of the other. Each apron normally came with two wide pockets. I sewed a new seam up the middle of each and got 8 pockets about 3 inches wide. It worked great. Stuffed each different color into a pocket. I had 10 colors but I found that the colors were not evenly distributed in the bag (lot’s of purples, not many blacks). So I combined some balloons where it would be easy to identify them (black with white, green with lt. blue).
- I purchased some strong black fabric, black belting, one of those clip together plastic buckles which open when you squeeze them – they are used on everything nowadays from fanny packs to knapsacks to SCUBA diving BC’s – and I was also able to get 6″ lengths of brightly colored 5/8″ wide satin ribbon. I got 11 different colored ribbons plus one with red hearts on it. I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine to stitch the whole thing together and it turned out very well. I made four rows of three, 6″ wide pockets, with one loop of ribbon sewed to the top edge of each pocket like a little colored handle that will allow me to pull open the pocket and also tell me what color balloon it holds. (I added a final layer, not shown below, which gives me two wide pockets in the very front of it all – for assorted junk). I chose black so that it wouldn’t stand out from my clothing (I usually make my creations for friends or in bars where I don’t want to look like a clown!), but the fabric store does have some very pretty material that could be used instead. I saw some with Looney Tunes characters on it, and I expect that you wouldn’t have to look too hard to find some with printed (at least round) balloons on it – or you could just paint your own with that T-shirt decorating paint.
______________________________________________________ [X]________________| |___________________[X] |__~__.__~__.__~__| |__~__|__~__|__~__| |__~__|__~__|__~__| |__~__|__~__|__~__| | | | ^ | | | | | | !_____!_____!__|__! | front | | | | | _ | || _ <----+-------+-- typical location of loop ||| _ <---' of colored satin ribbon |||| _ ||||| ||||| ||||| side (shown before stitching together)
I make my own aprons out of black trigger (a cotton - polyester blend) which is very washable, doesn't need to be ironed and wears like iron. The dimension of the bottom layer is 21 by 15, the next layer is 21 by 13, then down one and one half inch increments. I make five layers of pockets, then sew through all five layers, dividing the pockets into seven inches wide (outline the apron and layers with double wide bias tape). That way I can get my hand in them to load and unload easily. My 260's are in the top two layers, two colors to a pocket (a light color and a dark color). I load the balloons long wise with the nozzle end sticking up, about one to two inches protruding from the pocket. Fifty of each color will fit easily. This leaves three layers for specialty balloons, tip pocket, trash pocket, and pocket magic... or whatever. I make these for my clown friends out of their clown costume fabric. For the first apron, I made four inch pockets, but I had a hard time getting my hands in and out of them. So, now, I go six to seven inches wide at least. I also make a little teeny pocket for business cards, and a small scissors pocket. I don't have the hand strength to break them like a lot of you guys do, so I carry a little pair of Fiskars children's scissors with me. I also put a piece of Bounce (dryer sheet) in one pocket because it is VERY dry here and static builds up fast.
- If you do not sew, I do make and sell balloon aprons. I also add three small pockets on the front of the apron for business cards, scissors, and markers.
- Arlene (WAY COOL) Powers made my apron, and I don't know if I could work without it now. They should be against the law for being so addictive. Not only do they have a place for everything and allow quicker loading and organizing, but they allow a balloonhead to work fast and efficiently. I think the apron makes the twister look more professional when they approach the table, and it gets the kids a little more excited as they see all the balloons and colors.
- Mine is just a plain black apron with 20 pockets. I gave my first one with fewer pockets to my daughter a few years ago when I got this one. I am ready for an apron with even more pockets, and I guess now she will inherit this one. I understand that Arlene can do some awesome embroidering of names and logos and match costume colors.
- Put a tab of Velcro on the apron pockets. Kids have very light fingers and it's only when you see one wandering off with a handful of balloons that you realize you've been had!
- I have a unique, but really effective system for carrying my balloons. First, I use the T. Myers 5 pocket apron, to which I have added a Velcro pocket on the inside for tips. This apron is big and roomy. The most important thing though - it is built out of steel. This thing will not tear, rip, wrinkle or stretch out of shape. I sort the pockets as follows:
- (Big top pocket) Geo Blossoms (I use a ton of these)
- (Other Top Pocket) 321's
- (Bottom Pockets) 5" Smileys and Hi-Bounce Balls (I use another ton of these!)
- 5" and 11" plain assorted
- 6" and 11" Hearts ( I should own stock in Pioneer because of these!)
"But Wait!!!!" you're saying. "Where do the 260's go????"
That's the unique part. I HATE trying to find the color I want, even when the balloons are sorted two or three colors to a pocket. So, I buy solid color bags, and keep them separated on my apron.
The best way I've found to do this is to put 50-60 of each color through the center hole of a 6" geo blossom. Pearl tones work best, they seem to be able to handle the stress of stretching over the 260's better than the jewel tones. This also allows me to "Label" the dark colors - I use a light green blossom to hold the green 260's, a pearl lavender for purple, and so on. I use white blossoms for black, and clear for brown. I have found this eliminates searching for the color I want, and trying to guess green from black from sapphire. I also use a blossom to hold my 130's and another for my 350's.
To attach the blossoms to my apron, I tie two 350's together to make a long elastic cord. I tie the ends of this to the straps of the apron, so the 350 band stretches across the front of the apron. Then I tie the neck of each of the geo- blossoms to this band, spacing them about 2" apart. The resulting apron looks like a GIANT KOOSH, but that's part of my look.
I have found that I can spend 1 hour "loading" my apron this way, but I have enough balloons to last 12-16 hours of restaurant work. The only drawback is that, when you have fewer than 10 balloons left in a blossom, they tend to fall out on their own. Otherwise, I love this system, and customers are amazed at the variety of balloons I have.
- I use my apron pockets and set up a rainbow (sort of a koosh hula skirt). When it's on and I'm looking down on it going from right to left, I have onyx, white, light blue, dark blue, (new pocket) clear, green, yellow, orange, brown, (new pocket) red, pink, purple, raspberry, 350's, and 130's. I have three inner pockets (1) business cards, (2) 321's, (3) pens. I made it from fabric that is covered with plastic and has a bright print of a shopping mall on it.
- Beenie's cool Balloon Apron - Product Review
I love my new balloon apron from Arleenie Beenie. It is replacing a smaller 3 pocket apron. Her "lap" apron is made out of strong cotton and is about 12 by 16 inches. It has 15 large pockets and a few other small ones. I hate it when I pull out a wrong color balloon, and this apron solves this problem. It also tailors the amount of balloons you can put in it; I usually put way too many balloons in my old aprons. This new apron holds about 6-7 gross comfortably. The aprons are relatively inexpensive, and you can choose your own colors. It is very strong.
- I had someone make me an apron out of canvas. It is striped with 4 different colors. The apron stripes run up and down with the pocket stripes running sideways. It is real cool and very durable. It has additional pockets at the top to hold: pens, ball putter, super balls, cards, menu cards, hand pump, and scissors. It is nice to be able to offer a selection of color and still be able to get to that color fast.
- I use Tom Myers' 5 pocket apron as my main apron, and I also use my smaller 3 pocket apron positioned on my backside (backwards) to hold bee bodies, hearts and my Ball Putter.
- I first tried to sew nail pouches together which gave me a total of six pockets. It was okay but still not good enough. So my wife and I talked about what we could do instead. We came up with the jumbo pocket apron. We now have a total of 16 differnt pockets on our jumbo apron. We made our own aprons, and what a blessing they have been. Getting the correct color is no longer a problem with the apron. We even have two extra pockets for hearts and bee bodies. To make us look more professional we added a trash sack on the side to hold our trash. I can't tell you how easy it has made our work.
- For my larger shows, parties etc, I now use an apron and have an army aviator helmet bag for my hand pump, back up bags of balloons, my bag of scraps, and a few miscellaneous items. The apron fits in the bag going to and from. Its an ugly army green color, but it'ssoft, has handles, and is very portable with lots of BIG pockets. This also fits nicely into one of my magic truncks if I'm doing a full show.
- I tried out an apron for parties, and what a difference to have the colors right at your fingertips instead of digging through the bag and hoping to get a purple instead of black! It will be a permanant accessory for my twisting.
- As for aprons I use one with 15 pockets that are able to carry almost a whole gross of each color without a lot of bulk. However, with the new colors and other specialty ballons, I am going to make one with at least 23 pockets. I originally used black washable light canvas, but the next apron will be out of light weight synthetic material (the kind used for light rain jackets or material kites). Each pocket has the same color ribbon as the balloon sewed to it topped with colorful matching animal beads you can get from the hobby stores. It looks great and fun and you never forget where your colors are. Having them right at hand is definately quick and easy. The new material will be lighter and cooler.
- My husband really loves his balloon apron that Arlene Beanie made. She did an excellent job. It is well worth the price. It has 20 big pockets. She must have been psychic because she made it with a extra row of pockets.
- We have just came out with our new 24 pocket aprons for those of you who are interested. For more information please visit our web page. See the Balloon Master Pump at http://home.communique.net/~jhvh/index.html
Justin & Vicki Hamilton
- The Creation Station carries two types of vests, three styles of aprons, pants, baseball hats, bow ties, straight ties, cummerbunds, 260 cinch sacks, fanny packs, duffel bags, earrings, tank covers and more. They have 5 different prints/color to choose from.
The Creation Station
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: (310) 430-0295
Fax: (310) 594-4540
- Balloon Gallery in Lafayette, IN, carries ties, aprons, etc.
- Flowers, Inc. Balloons at 1-800-241-2094 has balloon t-shirts and aprons on page 306 in their 1997 Catalog. -->
Bucket O' Balloons
- Seen at Farm & Fleet: The Bucket Boss. This is a bright red, fairly sturdy canvas apron designed to fit over/around one of those 5 gallon plastic buckets. 35 pockets, 24 outside and 11 inside. On sale for $14.99 (marked down from almost 20 bucks).
- I just made myself a balloon bag that I really like. It is a Butterick pattern #4364 and is called a bucket cover for working in the garden. It has 10 pockets and you could add more (I think I'm going to add compartments on the inside too). I made it out of colorful print and lined it with a solid color. Between the material and the lining I put sheets of plastic canvas that were sewn together (found in craft stores) for more body. I can fit 3 gross of assorted 260's inside and with the outside pockets. I can carry geo's, green 260's, hearts, rounds, brown 260's, bee bodies. There is also a pocket for cards and one for markers and one for scissors. I made the strap long enough that it goes over my head, and I think it has passed the test.
- When doing restaurant work, I also wanted to sort the balloons but do not want to wear an apron - too restrictive in my humble opinion. Instead, I made a balloon bucket.The bucket is a 5 gallon white paint bucket fastened to a 1" wooden dowel that is fastened to a round piece of particle board. You could go into Michaels Arts & Crafts and purchase one of the their ready- to-finish bird houses and replace the bird house with the bucket. I painted the dowel and bottom piece dark blue.For the color pouches, I used felt squares 10-20 cents each at craft or fabric stores. I cut them to about 3 1/2" wide and 7"(finished length) long with the bottom of the pouch folded up to about 5".
I drilled holes in the pouches and the bucket and have strung 8 different colored pouches on the outside of the bucket and the remaining pouches inside the bucket.
Inside the bucket is also room for my keys and personal items at the bottom, pumps for 260's and 130's, business cards, and balloon straws that I put all scupltures (except for hats) on. The balloon bucket is quite an attraction in a restaurant. I pick it up from the dowel and set is down next to their table. I reach in and select whatever color balloon they desire, a business card or coloring page, and depending on the location, a small magic trick or two. While I'm inflating or twisting, the bucket is nearby but not the most important part of my entertaining. I usually have a few samples on straws sticking out of the bucket which helps people make choices so I can easily move from table to table.
I made the bucket for use at the 1997 Rose Parade event here in Pasadena but had to carry the bucket over my head to get through the crowds. Yes, I had bought a permit from the city to sell balloons on 1/4 of the parade route. I'll do it again next year, but I'll put wheels on the bottom of the bucket and get a loud horn so people will let me by. Lifting that loaded bucket over my head made me aware of sore muscles I didn't know that I had ever used before.
- The "Bucket Boss" is described in the Guide as a possible way to carry balloons and balloon supplies.
- The company that makes the "Bucket Boss" now makes a number of other equally well-made, heavy duty, canvas/nylon carrying and storage bags:
- "Chutes" is an approximately 11" diameter, 6" deep, 6 compartment bag (compartments divided radially, like pizza slices) with a flat bottom, an open top, and a centrally mounted strap handle. They stack 3 or 4 deep in a standard 5 gallon bucket. Each "Chutes" is ideal for putting holding 6 gross of sorted-by-color balloons. Buy a 5 gallon bucket and enough "Chutes" to keep all your entertainer balloons sorted and in order. Then purchase one of those padded bucket lids designed for turning your bucket into a seat (find them in the fishing department) and after you unload the bucket, you have a cushioned stool to sit on. "Chutes" are approximately $10 each.
- Everything old is new again: the "Gatemouth" is a modern version of the "carpetbagger" style bag that you might remember from your post-civil war history lessons. A hidden hinged metal frame built into the top creates a wide rectangular opening which allows easy access to the bag's entire contents. Numerous side pockets line the cavernous interior. A beautiful bag for busking. Approx $30 each.
- The "Gatemouth Jr" is the Gatemouth's little brother. Approx $20 each.
- The "Rigger's Bag" is a multi-pocket bag without the "gate- mouth" feature.
You can find these bags at industrial hardware and home & builder supply stores, or write:
Portable Products Inc
58 E Plato Blvd
St Paul, MN 55107
- Balloon case for large outside jobs: I picked this idea up from Bumper the Clown here in Clearwater, Fl. I do many parties at parks and in back yards so comfort is a factor. At a hardware store I purchased a 5 gal bucket and a "tool belt" that fits around the outside. That's where I keep my pens, my cutting tool, a few balls and other stuff like my car keys. The pockets are made in all different sizes to carry miscellaneous tools and supplies; some even have velcro closures. I often put my pumps into one of the pockets on the outside; this works well for short trips because I'm never away from my bucket so the children don't get a chance to get at it. I keep my balloons separated for color and size in zipped plastic bags, inside the bucket. Also available are stackable, divided trays which fit inside the bucket. I use them to store my facepainting supplies. The final item to put it all together is a really comfortable black plastic seat that covers the top. This becomes the most important part after about an hour of standing in the heat and twisting for and bending to reach the kids to fit that hat or collect that hug.
Carrying Cases and Stands
- Try a DJ case that can be bought at major DJ supply houses.
- I have a balloon suitcase that I made myself. I went to a skate shop and got a red and white skate case (my clown colors). Then I divided it into sections - there are 7 (I think) long sections and 7 short sections - I keep my pens and scizzors in the two small front sections and then geos, hearts, darts, etc. in the other long sections. I have my balloons - white, pink, and purple in the first, orange, yellow and red in the second and so on.I also keep business cards in there too. On the inside lid I put my picture and my name and my phone number and say that I do birthday parties. I stuck bright letters on the outside saying T O M A T O - got them at a balloon store. I also have my menus in the case and lay them at the side and let the people take them if they want to.I don't use this for birthday parties - only functions where I am ballooning only. It doesn't work for parties. Too bulky and heavy with all my other stuff.
- I don't like wearing aprons because I sweat under all that latex when they're full of balloons. Not a comfortable way to twist. The way we get around aprons is by using a suitcase. This is one that we found in an art supply store, so it's colorful, sturdy and lightweight. We then attached a flange, pipe and music stand base which screws off and collapses for easy transport. Inside we have divided up the case into 16 smaller compartments with foam board dividers that we made. Each section has one color or type of balloon, and the blacks, greens, and purples are labeled so we know what is what (by now we know where each color is by heart - its a good system). From the handle of the suitcase we hang a small cutting device and a cinch sack for trash (or to store tips when we empty the hat). Each compartment can hold 1/3 + gross of 260's depending on how tight we stuff them. When it's time to go, we have another foam board piece to cover it all so the balloons don't jumble around in transit. Then we close the case and are on our way. This is the easiest way for me to be able to give the kids their color choice without driving myself crazy or blind. The other advantage we've found is that when we do set up, we look almost professional, not as much like a street vendor. When we set up this contraption, people seem to know that something will be happening.
- I recently saw and really liked a magician's table that I saw. It was basically an over sized briefcase on a tripod and looked real classy. Royal had a smaller more colorful one at TJam. I really want to get one for twisting. The cost of the one I saw was rather prohibitive ($250-300). I'm sure I could build one for far less than that but I'm too busy.
- Sammy Smith has a great case that he sells for much less. I think its around $60, but I am not completely sure. I have it and love it! You can get a tripod or even a waiter's butler thingy to set it up on. It comes in black with brass accents or an all gold metal looking one.
To order the prop case or get a cataolg, you can reach Sammy at:
Samuel Patrick Smith
PO Box 787
Eustis FL 32727
- All of my balloons for big jobs (all day festivals, or company picnics) are now in a suitcase. Mine is 24x16x7 inches. I got it from Samuel Patrick Smith. I divided the inside into 20 compartments using foam-core posterboard. Each compartment can hold about eight dozen 260s. A piece of foam-core covers everything for travel so things don't fall out of their places.At first, I was going to put all of this on a music stand or microphone stand, but then I thought of an easier solution that won't require me to poke holes in the suitcase. I'm using a keyboard stand. I haven't gotten it yet, so I can't tell you the brand I'm using, but there are some X-shaped ones at the music store that are light, strong and easy to set up.This configuration also serves the additional purpose of "protecting" one side of me from the crowd pressing in. The Pump1 is out front running interference and the two of them form a nice "corner" that I can use to gain space. I haven't had to ask the kids to move back lately. It's great!
Total Cost is just over $100.00 for the suitcase, dividers and stand.
- I went thru 50 dollar tripods for my prop cases, expensive keyboard stands that are black and easily left backstage in a small town 4 hours away (thats me), but the best of all is a waiters tray stand available at any new or used restaurant supply store for about 15-20 dollars...strong enough for anything...light to carry...and you dont have to poke holes in anything!!!
- I use one from Bob Markwood. It small but big enough to be a handy table. It packs down really small and sells for $50.00 for 1 or 90.00 for 2. For my standing gigs I like to be able to have something to hold my water and balloon stuff. I love mine and use on most of my big gigs where I'm standing. By the way, Bob's phone number is (323)257-4433
- I constructed a "clown cart" out of an old garden cart I found at antique mall. On wheels, I added two tables with drop hinges. On the left side, I set up my face painting equipment. On the right side I put my balloon box (a bright red tool box filled with balloons sorted into small colored pouches that match the 260 colors). In the middle of the cart I place my promotional materials, coloring page give-aways, and bunny puppet. Because I have a colorful sign that says: I "clown around" at birthday parties, picnics and all types of special events, people ask me about my services, prices and availability. To the right of the cart, I place my well-used Pump-O.
- I separate my balloons by color and type. When people come to me, I work off a cart on wheels. On one side I have all my face painting stuff and on the other side all my balloon stuff. In the middle I have coloring pages, business cards, and my puppet bunny, Lulu. I took a small red plastic tool box and use it for my balloon box.I bought inexpensive fabric in all the colors of the balloons and made a small pouch of each color that fits the width of the tool box. Using clear plastic thread, I stitched the pouches together. I also have a pouch from heart fabric and a couple of extra pouches.The child can look at the samples for color or at the balloons sorted by color in the tool box. When I need a purple balloon, I select one from the purple fabric pouch. I also keep my markers, small scissors, and anything else necessary in the tool box. When working in the sun, I close the top between selections.
- I use a stand I put together for about $17 total. I use a stand that has three wire shelves that you can get to put in bathrooms or whatever. It is usually metal covered with a thin coat of plastic of sorts. In the top shelf I fit 12 round tupperware containers which hold twelve different colors beautifully. I wrap a piece of brightly colored cloth around it, and stash things on the bottom two shelves, out of site. The cloth removes and straps over the top so the balloons don't tip out. It is light, easily movable, and my battery-pump takes the place of three containers and is just a waist height, and the whole thing is sturdy and free-standing. It stands right on a luggage- wheelie rack for easy transport from the often horrible parking that fairs provide 🙂
- I do restaurants quite a bit, and I am a clown. My costume is red and white polka dots and stripes. I was lucky enough to find two purses that are red and white polka dotted! I wear them criss-crossed over my shoulders and they lay down at my sides. In my left purse (the larger of the two) I keep all the 260 colors that you can identify by looking at them once! In the little purse I keep my green 260's and my hearts, geos, and a few dart-balloons. This purse also has a little pocket on the side and which is where I keep my Sharpie pens and a pair of scissors. In the left pocket of my costume, I keep black 260's, and, in my right pocket, I keep purple 260's (a few other tricks are kept in these pockets too)! I have brown balloons, but I don't carry them with me with this set up. I do keep some in my extra bag. If someone insists I can stop and get a couple.I also carry a little basket (with a Tomato on it of course), and in this I keep clear 260's, rubber balls. When I am working for tips, I also put a little wire basket in the center for tips.The kids are fascinated by my red and white polka dotted purses and the fact that they match my red and white polka dotted clown shoes.
For a while I was having health problems and had to use a pump. The guy from "Just for the Fun of it" made me a pump in a fanny pack and it was - ( yes you guessed it) - red and white polka dotted!! I am all better now and blowing the balloons up myself so I leave the pump at home. I will probably use it a lot this summer when it gets hot!!!
- I learned very early on in my career to keep my balloons where they can't be seen or touched. Built into my clown costume, a dress, I have three front pockets left to right. One is deep enough for my pump. Then I have one the exact same size next to it for anything else, business cards, pocket magic, scissors, etc.... A third pocket, measuring no more than an inch to two inches wide, holds my sharpies.BUT WHERE ARE THE BALLOONS!!!Well... this is a little bizarre, but I keep them up my sleeves. That's right. Nothing up my sleeves accept 260's, which go in my left sleeve (I can hold 2 gross). Being right- handed I just reach in and whip out a balloon. People are amazed. "Where did you get that balloon??" they ask. After doing this for the past eight years, I can do it so fast I can't believe it sometimes. I keep hearts, or other types of balloons, in my right hand sleeve.
As for how to distinguish what color I'm getting, I tell them, "I just reach in and grab a balloon, I never know what's going to come out - because the greens turn into purples and the blacks turn into green and the purples turn into plaid etc..." This is a great line, and it works well. Plus, I don't have to search or pre-sort for that purple/green/black. The kids think they are "Magic Black balloons". I do have enough play in my sleeves however, and have gotten good enough at it, that I can see what color I am pulling out, if needed. If the lighting is bad, and I can't tell what color it is, I reach in and pull out a hand full of "Rainbow Pasegety".
The only draw back to this is that when I first go out I look like Popeye! But I'm the only one who seems to notice. This works for me, but to each their own!!
- They have several conveniently sized pockets. I filled each of the pockets with a different color and/or size of balloon. This works great, and provides easy access. Also, there are Velcro gear straps on the vest, and one was the perfect size for my 2 way hand pump. The top breast "fly pocket" held about a hundred of my business cards. All in all, a very good set up!
- Last weekend I was at a local mall, and I had modified my vest with little stickers identifying the different pockets. I was able to crank out balloons quicker than I have ever been able to.
- The vests usually go for about $20 - $30. I use the cotton ones, which seem to hold up to more abuse than their nylon counterparts (and are much cheaper as nylons go for around $60 and up). The large pocket in the back holds 2 - 3 one gross bags of balloons, and the elastic or cotton "net cord" can be modified to carry a large pump fairly easily.
- I use a gift bag like Hallmark Cards carries. One gift bag will hold four round bird food cans ...to keep balloons sorted. 6" hearts are in one can (with a playing card down the middle to divide the can; I put white hearts on one side, everything else on the other), green 260Q's in another, assorted 260Q's in the 3rd, and the last is for whatever miscellaneous balloons I decide to carry (sometimes Geo's, usually 130's, and, most of the time, I'll put rubber balls there as well). My palm pump is usually stored in this can also. I use the space between the cans to store scissors and other miscellaneous odds and ends.I like the bags because I can usually find one for the current holiday or season. I wouldn't mind switching to a more permanent bag like a Dr's bag or something, but I have yet to run across anything that caught my eye.
Tips for Sorting Your Uninflated Balloons by Color
- Under normal light, which is at home where I sort, I can usually tell now just by how they look, but you can also just lay the first inch over the tip of your finger and stretch it. It doesn't hurt the balloon, and you can see the color you would when it's inflated.
- I've been sorting for almost 5 years and use no special lights or anything. Actually under bright light you can see the difference between black, brown and purple. The black looks black and usually shines, the purple appears like an extremely deep purple, but the shine is muted, and has a soft appearance, the brown looks like dark chocolate. Also, the black and brown are usually more wrinkled in the bag than the purple.
- I've found that with practice I'm able to distinguish the dark blue and green just by looking at them, and most of the browns as well. (Hey, I bought those in a solid color bag, how'd they get mixed into this mess?) I only have difficulty with the purples and blacks, and I sort those with the light bulb method.
- How do I tell the colors? I take the balloon in my hand and sort of squeeze the balloon and run my fingers down to the tip - this will force what little bit of air is in the balloon to the end and then you can see what color you are using.
- You don't need to stretch them out or inflate a small portion. I buy the assorted bags due to the fact that I am a cheapskate! It does not take long to separate the balloons. If you hold the black and purple together, the purple looks brownish in color.
- I keep my balloons separated but if they get mixed up this is how I separate them again:
First, buy bulk separate colors! When I first started twisting, I didn't know how ANYONE could EVER use so many balloons to merit buying colors separately, but believe me I found out quickly! In my apron, I keep the darks as FAR away from each other as possible. When I wore a 3-pocket waist apron for work, I put black in the left pocket, green and brown in the center separated by yellow and/or orange, and sapphire and purple separated by lt blue and/or amethyst (though, with a little practice, you can tell blue apart from the others by sight).
- Buying the assorted means stretching 'em out or inflating a small portion to tell the color. This gets really tedious really quickly! I started only twisting 2 nights a week my first summer and even then found that buying in bulk was a very sound decision.
- One thing I have fun with is when I am working with a bunch around me and someone asks for Purple - I pull out a purple balloon and show it to them. When they said it is Black - I say - I know, but I am magically going to change it to purple - right before your eyes. Usually gets a "WOW! you are good!"
- Dark colors? I find that if I stretch them in bright sunlight I can easily tell the difference. Or you could be risky and put the closed end in your mouth (!!) and make a poodle-tail thingy - but the balloons are slobbery then 🙂 !
- I've got my +400 balloon charity even this weekend, so I'm sorting the balloons at the moment. I have a box with divisions and put a colored sticker in each compartment to put each color in it's own compartment.
- My husband sorts our dark balloons by a black light. The blue look blue and the green look green, but the purple look brown. We use a black light bulb that you find at a novelty shop. It fits in to our desk lamp (regular size bulb).
- In good lighting conditions, I can tell what color the balloons are. I occasionally get purple and black confused. It literally surprises people that I can do that, but the purple seems to be a darker, deeper color while the black is flatter. It's hard to explain. Anyway, I buy the balloons in assorted bags and separate the brown, black, and purple in case I use them in poor lighting conditions (as most of us do).
- In general, I only use the assorted bags if the event planners are determined to provide the balloons in order to "make it less expensive." They end up realizing that I run out of balloons after 2 hours if I am only provided 1 bag. Also the children are fussier because they become limited on the choices of colors as the balloon show progresses.
- Whatever your method of sorting, if you are in a low light situation (dimly lit restaurant, nightclub, maybe a torchlit cave) and you use an apron, it is difficult to distinguish purple from brown, emerald, black, or sapphire. To help memorize where they are, I put the dark color with its opposite or complimentary color... purple next to yellow...black next to white. When you want a black balloon you find white!Or I put one color right next to the light version of that color... Midnight Blue next to regular and light blue...Quartz purple next to lavender... Emerald next to Regular green. The color wheel is discussed in the guide at BHQ under "using color to your advantage," in case you dont know how it works.
- At the risk of sounding like some hot shot who thinks he's really cool, I thought I'd mention a fool-proof technique for sorting balloons.
- 1. Get a regular opportunity to make a lot of balloon sculptures, such that you go through at least a gross of balloons each time out.
- 2. Make enough money to be able to afford to buy individual bags of each color by the gross.
- 3. Buy only bags that have all one color in each bag. No more assorteds.
- 4. Don't dump all the dark ones out of their bags, into the same container at the same time.
- 5. Don't throw out the bag as soon as you empty it. If you're like me (please, God, NO!), you might throw it out before you read the label on the outside of the bag. This is usually where they print the color of the balloons that were inside it.
- 6. Go to a Target or Wall-Mart store. Buy yourself one of those storage bins with the double hatch doors on top that open like a cellar door.
- 7. Buy at least fifteen (15) shallow trays (Rubbermaid) that are meant for insertion into kitchen drawers. They have edges that allow them to lock together, side-by-side.
- 8. Open one bag of whatever color and pour the contents on the floor or table. Sort the balloons in such a way that the nozzles all wind up on the same end of the pile. One gross will fit in the tray just right. Repeat this for each color.
- 9. Using a Dymo label maker, create labels that you will stick on the floor of each tray. This is a life-saver when you reload your apron in the dark or limited light. These trays stack up beautifully inside the storage bin. Two trays fit side-by-side, and the pair can get as high as nine trays, equalling 18 trays. I use one tray as an empty for assembling the bundles for each pocket of my aprons.
- 10. Speaking of aprons, I use two: one five-pocket on the front, one three pocket on the back. I'll be switching the 3-pocket to a five very soon. T. Myers has these, and they are GREAT! I put quick-release buckles on mine to get in and out of them swiftly. I put the yellow, green, grey and red together, bound down by the nipple end with a popped balloon tied together like a fat rubber band, in the left pocket of the front apron. I bind the bundles this way so as to avoid having them slide out to the floor as I walk around. The middle pocket gets the light and dark blue, white, amethyst and pink. The right pouch has the purple, clear and orange. The left rearward pocket of the front 5-pocket apron gets the black; it's opposite mate gets the brown. The back apron gets the hearts, bee-bodies, rounds and whatever else. The left back pocket is trash for pops and breakaways.
- 11. Whenever you get low on a color, open the bin, stack the trays from one column onto the other until you get to the color you need. The balloons are already all oriented in the same direction, making it a simple matter to grab as many as you need to tuck into the apron pocket of choice. I work in restaurants and just run out to my car, open the hatch, flip open the bin, grab and go! My bin is white, so it deflects any direct rays from the sun as it sits in my car. I also have the back windows of my Honda Civic tinted quite darkly. I have NEVER had a heat problem with my balloons...EVER!
Admittedly, I've had my tongue jammed firmly in my cheek as I write this, so I hope I haven't insulted your collective intelligence too badly. The bin and kitchen drawer tray thing works great for me. You may have a better system that you like to use. I'd like to hear how others lug their latex around town.
- When I started, I only carried the assortment bags and would buy the colors not included and throw a handful in each bag. And yes I did offer a choice. Often the kids would enjoy my hunting for a green/black/purple. I turned it into a kind of game with them like "OK, what color do you think THIS one is... nope, lets try again." I still carry a bag of assortment and a baggie of miscellaneous stuff (hearts, geos, balls, bee bodies) in my briefcase for that moment when a balloon needed.
Making Inflated Balloons Last
- Twisted sculptures last anywhere from two days to a week. Refrigerating a balloon sculpture will extend its life even longer, though it might surprise an unsuspecting snacker.
- Putting an inflated balloon in the fridge makes your sculpture stay fresher for longer. My Father put a one - balloon motorcycle in his freezer on Jan. 1, 1995, and the last I heard (end of June), it was still there, looking only a little different than when he got it. I got the idea from a client who left his kids' sculptures in the freezer while he went away to Alaska for 3 weeks and returned to discover that they were like new. When I need to save a sculpture for some reason, I always put it in the freezer if possible, or in the fridge if there is no room.
- Super Hi-Float is a liquid substance that is designed to go inside helium-balloons to make them float longer. If used in 260's, it makes them last for months. It can be a little messy. Before you insert the gel into the balloon, make sure that you remove all of the air from the balloon first (If you don't then the gel will be forced back out of the balloon). Don't use very much Super Hi-Float either because all you need is enough gel to give the balloon a thin layer of protection. The gel takes about 30 minutes to dry. But once dry, you've got a balloon that will stay inflated for months.A very helpful book is available at no charge from the manufacturers.Phone: 502-244-6873
Address: 13025 Middletown Industrial Blvd; Louisville, KY 40223
- Any time I am working on a balloon sculpture "exhibit" that I want to stay fresh for more than a day, I use the Hi-Float and water mist (half Hi-Float and half water). I keep the solution in a 6 inch deep plastic bin and use a small submersible pump to dispense it. I suspend the sculpture over the bin and use the hose to get a good covering. It only takes a few minutes for them to drip dry. A slow-speed fan helps to speed up that process. The coated figures stay clear and last for days.
- Marvin relates great duration of his pieces to completely covering the sculpture then hanging out to dry (mixing 50% water and 50% Hi-Float).
- I use Super Hi-Float in all of my larger models now, and they stay fresh and fully inflated for months on end. One tip, however, is to coat the knot with the gel (not much is needed otherwise the balloon becomes sticky & messy etc). Otherwise you'll find that the nose of your animal will go down the quickest, as air escapes from the knot.
- Dipping your 260Q sculpture in a combo of Hi-Float and water will prolong the life of your creation.
- STP brand "Son of a Gun" can be used on the outside of a latex balloon (instead of Hi-Float) to prevent the chalky oxidation that results from long exposure to air. I doubt that it has any of the Helium-diffusion-rate-altering qualities of Hi-Float though. Knowing how slippery "Son of a Gun" makes car seats, it may not have any practical application for twisted sculptures.
- Don't use Armor All until after the balloon is inflated and the figure is made. I've had hearts and blossoms stay shiny for more than 3 weeks in the mall after being treated.
- Copied from a Fredericksburg VA area Newsletter:"Hi I'm POP-O the Clown... Balloon sculpting has always been one of my favorite crafts, but felt that they didn't last as long as they should, so I decided to do something about it, and discovered a way of preserving the balloons with a clear non-toxic coating that seals the balloons and gives them that shiny just blown up look for weeks or even months.
Since then, I have been able to supply people with colorful long lasting balloon sculptures, store displays, and memorable party decorations of all sorts, I have also found that, People enjoy making the sculptures themselves once they're shown how. "POP-O has written down the secret of this balloon-preserving process for anyone who's interested, to get your copy send $4.50 for the booklet to:
POP-O the Clown at PO Box 607, Locust Grove, VA 22508