Classic Balloon Decor 102
- Balloon Columns
- Balloons On The Ceiling
- Balloons To Lower The Ceiling
- Wrapping Balloons Around Columns (The Columns That Hold The Roof Up)
Some of the following comments include amounts of money in the imaginary unit called “C-shells.” These units are used to avoid any hint of illegal price fixing in the balloon industry.
- Bases For Balloon Columns
- Internal Frames For Balloon Columns
- Balloon Columns Held Together With Monofilament
- Bottom Balloons Popping
- Attaching Toppers
- 6-Pack Columns Of 5″ Rounds
- A 5 pack cluster is the most common size for columns. 4 packs and 6 packs are also used. Both the 4 pack and 5 pack usually work very well. The 6 pack takes some extra effort and is usually used where you are trying to make a design (like Santa or Nutcracker) out of a column. We prefer the 5 pack for air filled columns and 4 pack for helium or long air filled garlands. The reason we prefer the 5 pack is that they just look much better than the 4 pack and they will stand on their own much better.In our opinion and experience, a 5 pack is best made on a monofilament line. We usually make columns sizing the balloons to 9″. Generally if it’s air filled we do 9″, Helium we do 11″ (or 10 1/2 if using tight pearls).There are 2 ways to make a 5 pack cluster: tying the necks of the balloons together, and putting individual balloons on paper clips.
- Tying the necks together is the most popular method: To make the 5 pack cluster, first size and tie 2 balloons together, repeat to make another. Now add 1 balloon to one of the 2 packs by tying the neck to one of the necks of the other 2. Now you have a 2 pack and a 3 pack. Single twist the 2 pack onto the 3 pack making the 5 pack.Place the 5 pack on the monofilament and twist one balloon around the line: this should keep it in place. Actually the first 5 pack on the line should have 2 or 3 balloons twisted around the line since it will be supporting the rest of the column. I would also suggest twisting extra balloons on the last set. This column, correctly packed, should stand on its own up to about 8 feet tall, especially if you add 1 or 2 sand weights into the column near to the bottom. As we build the column we also like to use the back of a chair or a heavy cardboard circle or even a piece of pegboard to push the first set against.
- The second method uses number 1 paper clips. Slightly open the end of the clip. One at a time add 5 balloons and bring each to the inside bottom of the clip. Try to keep the 5 balloons at the bottom until you put the clip on the monofilament. Slip the paperclip over the monofilament and thru it, trying to get to the inside middle top of the clip. Ideally you would then have the 5 balloons at the bottom inside and the monofilament just above them on the inside top of the curve. When using this method you can put several 5 packs on the line prior to positioning them. To position the 5 pack, slide it to the end of the line and basically follow the same procedure as with the first method above, that is, twist one or more balloons around the line to create tension to keep the 5 pack in place.
- Another way to make a 5 pack column is to make it directly on a pole (like 1/2″ conduit). We prefer to almost always make the column on monofilament first and then put it on the column, but many others prefer to just put it directly on the pole. It really works pretty much the same as putting it on monofilament. Place the conduit pole on the base. Now put the 5 pack directly on the bottom end against the base and twist a couple balloons around the pole to hold it in place or your can just twist 2 side by side balloons around each other which will lock the 5 pack on the pole.
- When I do a five-pack arch or garland, I find that cursing and spitting are crucial to my success. In fact, I’ve never completed one without doing both! Also, I try to do my first and second set of fives while holding them on a flat surface, like a wall, table or floor. After the first couple of sets are in place, it usually gets easier. BTW, if anybody is wondering why they should ever use a five-packed garland, here’s a couple of reasons: they are rounder and wider than 4 packs, and of course, they have room for one more color.
Bases For Balloon Columns
- There are several ways of building bases. If you’re short on time, buy a sheet of plywood (about $10.00)from hardware store. We have them cut it for us into 18″ x 18″ squares. Go to plumbing or electrical dept., pick up a 1/2″ pipe flange and 1/2″ x 6″ nipple: they cost about $5-$7 (can be any height, really, you just want your nipple and flange to be same diameter; they should be metal, not the plastic ones.) You will need a drill and some nuts and bolts to attach flange to the center of the plywood. As for pipe, we use several sizes of PVC and EMT. A 3/4″ PVC should slide over a 1/2″ nipple, a 1/2″ piece of EMT conduit will fit into a 3/4″ nipple. Remember to use duct tape to securely attach PVC or EMT to nipples.Also, save any of your PVC and EMT scraps, you can buy connectors to adjust sizes. This is an inexpensive version of a base plate, great for indoor use with air-filled columns. As for attaching large balloons, probably a mix of helium /air would be best. If you use only air, you need to make sure you have a cluster of the balloons to act as a collar for your large balloon to hold it upright. In a pinch, we’ve filled jumbo balloons with helium, tied ribbons to its neck and attachd to sand or water filled balloons. Place the jumbo balloon on top of the column and use ribbon attached to its neck to tie or wrap into the column. Hide the weight by pushing it into the cluster of balloons.As for aluminum rod, that is best used for sculptures (hearts stars, etc.) or to augment PVC or EMT. It is not rigid enough to stand alone. Look in the Yellow Pages under scrap metal, aluminum, or metal fabricators. You have to do a little bit a creative research to find it. Also, if you have a local balloon distributor, suggest they stock aluminum rod if possible. Unless you’re the only balloon business in town, others may be looking for the same thing.
- There are a variety of ways to create columns. Most of the time, if we know they will be at entrances or walls where they won’t be bumped, we use a 16 inch topper filled with helium… then just wrap the clusters around monofilament. At the base we hang a duplet filled with sand to keep the column in place. We just ordered bases and 1-inch thick poles for dance floor decor. They are going to have 20 pound weights that can be slipped onto the base if they need a lot of weight. If we are working outside and need a wider pole we can slip a 2-inch pole over the 1-inch to give extra support.
- I have my bases covered on both sides with different colors of formica embedded with my business card. They are drilled all the way through for the coupling to be mounted. I only have to turn from one side or the other depending on the color of the decor.
- A couple of ideas for those like me who get their base plates made at a steel fabricating shop…. Costs more, but fewer injuries. Read on!One more tip! To color light weight plywood bases, rather than forever repainting, my wife thought of simply wrapping them in the disposable plastic table covers. Needs 2 layers. Very quick and inexpensive. Comes in almost every balloon color. Save what you don’t use for the next job.
- I wrap a cement block in foam, then pretty material. Wrap heavy wire around the block and make a loop in the wire. Attach 150 lb. cord (from a hardware store) to the wire loop.
- i bought pieces of 3/4″ plywood 32″ x 48″, (this makes six 16″ squares). then i took a “flange” and attached it with wood screws in the center of each 16″ square board. i purchased a steel 3/4″ threaded pipe that screws into the flange. then i got aluminum rod (various lengths) small enough in diameter to slip down into the pipe. they work great! i use them all the time. now i don’t recommend using them for outdoor stuff – they’re not “wind friendly”. i bought pieces of 3/4″ plywood 32″ x 48″, (this makes six 16″ squares). then i took a “flange” and attached it with wood screws in the center of each 16″ square board. i purchased a steel 3/4″ threaded pipe that screws into the flange. then i got aluminum rod (various lengths) small enough in diameter to slip down into the pipe. they work great! i use them all the time. now i don’t recommend using them for outdoor stuff – they’re not “wind friendly.”Later, I bought steel base plates (custom cut) from a machine shop. I called around and got prices. I ended up paying only $11 each for 6 steel base plates 16″ x 16”! Then I had a friend weld flanges onto the center of each one. I use these for outside (as well as inside). Each steel base plate ended up being about 27 lbs. (They were substantial enough to support 12-foot columns (4-cluster) topped with a 3-footer, outside.) Also – when I picked them up from the fabrication shop the edges were rough. Be sure to take some work gloves with you to pick them up or move them around, and maybe an old blanket or old towels to lay them on in your vehicle.I used the bases recently for a dance pavilion at a wedding! I purchased inexpensive white (twin size) flat sheets (Wal-Mart, $3.66 each). Cut each sheet in half (width-wise, not length-wise). I used each half doubled over (for added coverage) and “wrapped” each base plate with this – kinda like wrapping a present. (Remember wrapping record albums?) Then I taped the sheet corners down with white duct tape. With tulle tied at the bottom of my column, no one could see the duct tape. This worked GREAT and looked fabulous! The bride and her family were thrilled.
- I use plywood bases. I buy 3/4 inch or 1 inch thick plywood and cut it into 12 x 12 inch pieces. In the middle, I screw in a 1/2 inch FLOOR FLANGE. Get this in the plumbing department of the hardware store. (Approximately. $2 ea.) Then screw in a 1/2 inch conduit connector. This comes from the electrical department of the hardware store. Tell them you want the piece that will connect a piece of 1/2 inch conduit pipe to an outlet box. Then add a piece of 1/2 inch conduit, cut to the right length. (COST: $1.50 or less for a 10 foot piece). Buy a simple conduit cutter for $10-$15. (It’s as easy to use as a can opener).Note – be careful. There are confusingly similar pieces that connect two pieces of 1/2 inch conduit together. These WILL NOT fit into the 1/2 inch floor flange.Instead of the FLOOR FLANGE from the plumbing department, you can also try a light fixture holder. They are shaped like a small Frisbee, 3 to 4 inches in diameter with a 1/2 inch hole in the middle. These are already painted (white or gray). They are a little cheaper than the cast iron floor flanges, but not as strong.
With either Floor Flanges or the light fixture holder, you’ll need to buy wood screws with heads big enough to not go through the holes. Be sure to get the longest ones possible that won’t stick through the base. Also ask the plumbing guy to show you some nipples. A nipple is a plastic or metal pipe that is threaded at both ends. These will screw directly into a floor flange or a light fixture holder without a connector piece. They are available 1, 2, 3, and 4 feet long. They cost a couple of dollars each.
- Whenever I need a heavier base, I use strong nylon cord (aka parachute cord) to strap the 12-inch plywood square base to the top of a 12 inch square concrete stepping stone from the hardware store. Cost is $3 or $4 each. They work great and are versatile and reusable, but cheap enough so they could be left behind if I decided to. (Of course, cover it with tissue paper or something).
- My bases use 3/4″ conduit risers, and you can see them a bit, but I keep them painted white so they pretty much disappear (as long as you have your balloons packed well). If I’m using a very dark color like black or burgundy, I’ll paint the conduit dark. To eliminate constant repainting, have a set of light and a set of dark risers.
- I went to one of the local metal dealers, “Wasatch Steel,” and picked up four squares of sheet metal. I then went to “Home Base,” and picked up four 1/2 inch pipes the length I needed, and four couplers. We found the center, then welded the coupler onto the plate. We now have four base plates, and all we have to do to change the height is to change to a different length of pipe. If you don’t have access to a welder, just make sure your plates are thick enough, and drill a hole in the center, and tap it with a pipe tap. Then you just have to screw the pipe into the hole. My wife made covers for them that velcro on. That way they don’t scratch whatever they are on, and they come off for easy cleaning.
- A long time ago I devised a base plate for my wife’s decorating business. I quit fiddling around with light weight bases made from ply or chip board. No good outdoors in wind and often the screwed on flange is ripped away due to staff mishandling or client’s abuse. Heavy 50lb steel base plates are great for canopy corners, but too heavy for female staff to handle. My design criteria;
- Minimum base area of 256 sq inches. (16″ x 16″) Can’t be knocked or blown over easily.
- Had to be easy and light weight to carry for female decorators.
- The center pin had to be a minimum of 10″ long to give rod vertical stability, and yet be removable to allow ease of storage for base plates.
- Suitable for use with SDS Panels.
- Need to ensure that the base plate won’t damage polished timber floors.
SOLUTION: 16″ x 16″ x 3/16″ plate steel with the thread only (stud) of a 1 1/2″ long bolt welded in the center. The steel “pin” has a female thread to screw onto the short male thread welded in the centre of the steel base plate. The outside diameter of the 10″ long steel pin is the inside diameter of the steel electrical conduit you use with SDS panels. Then – ALL steel, aluminum or PVC rods you use will have this same inside diameter so that they all fit snugly over your steel pins.
IMPORTANT TIP: Have your welder cut a “handle slot” about 3/4″ in from one edge of the base plate. Oval slot about 4″ long by 1 1/2″ wide. Now the base plates are easy to carry for all staff, as they each have their own “handle.”
To increase the weight of base plates, have the welder duplicate 12 extra bases only. However, instead of welding a threaded stud in the center he cuts a 2″ hole. For canopies, place 3 extra weight plates on top of your base plates before you screw in your 10″ pin. All steel should be painted with a metal primer and one coat of enamel as a min. This prevents rust stains.
Finally; To stop damage to polished floors. You can glue to the underside of each base plate a square of carpet. This allows the decorator to “slide” on polished floors if necessary to accurately position. eg: SDS uprights.
It’s a considerable investment initially, but you won’t regret having all your base plate worries behind you forever. Get the steel fabricator to make you 8 base plates and the 12 weight plates all at once and it will cost much less than 2 at a time. Indoors, outdoors, dance floors, SDS panels, canopies, arches, one base plate for any project! In the short term, the right equipment for the job will often be a considerable capital expense. Yet the most economical one for your business in the long term.
- I get 50lb plates from 1/2″ thick plate steel. Now, many of our decorators are women, so I get them made ROUND. I also have an elliptical shaped hole (slot) just 1″ in from the edge. The girls then have no difficulty ROLLING the heavy bases, or using the handle grip to lift if necessary. All bases have a carpet tile glued to the underside so as not to scratch polished dance floors. (You can velcro)
- To add extra weight to my bases I use weights from a discarded weight bench. The holes fit the poles perfectly and instantly add 25 lbs.
- One other neat trick I came up with is for storing and moving your bases. As we all know, because of the attachment on our bases for our poles, they just don’t stack or store without slipping and scraping each other. For that problem, take a 2×4 cut into four 10 inch long sections. Nail together in a box shape (2 inches high). Put fabric on both sides of your square. Place your first base with your attachment facing up (use two 10 inch boxes if your attachments are higher). Then put your 10 inch box on top of your base. Place next base attachment down. Then start again, base up, 10 inch square, base down. Makes it easy to put them all on one dollies, and saves storage space and they don’t get scraped up as much.
- To protect floors from our base plates, we always put down rubber matting readily available at grocery and drug stores in the department where they sell contact paper. It protects the floor and keeps your bases from slipping.
- To avoid marking polished floor surfaces, I recommend gluing a square of carpet to the underside of all steel base plates. Carpet tiles are ideal as the edges don’t fray. The advantage of the glued carpet is that the framework / pole can be moved easily if necessary. Simply “slide” on the polished floor surface. Can’t slide rubber mat protection. Also, if carpet is not glued, sometimes it looks a little untidy if the edge of the carpet protrudes beyond the edge of the base plate.
- Actually, I have a steel fabrication shop custom make all our base plates. To make life easier AND SAFER for the site decorators, I get the fabricator to oxy cut out an elongated slot (4″ x 2″) about one inch in from one edge. This serves as a finger slot / handle making them easy to carry. After the carpet is glued to the underside of the base, simply cut the slot out of the carpet as well with an Exacto knife.
- It never hurts to have felt (carpet) glued to the bottom of your bases. This will keep them from hurting any type of floor. Venue managers are always so impressed that we go to such lengths to ensure we do not damage their premises or property. Worth the extra effort – believe me. Besides it helps cut down on chips from bases hitting together.
- As far as weights go, weight is weight! The primary difference is how it is disguised or decorated. When using heliume we have used everything from water balloons to chunks of brick, tying it to tables, poles, etc. Air filled arches work easier with a base and bent conduit, aluminum, steel, fiberglass poles, PVC, bamboo, what have you! You just need to attach them to an appropriately weighted base (so it does not spread apart from any “spring” inherent to materials like PVC, (things that don’t hold their shape and want to straighten back out). If you need longer pieces of conduit or PVC than will safely fit out the window or on the roof of your car just add pieces together by taping them well. Overlap them by a foot or more, according to size of arch and tape at each end of the overlap and then in the middle. Outside venues are a different animal.
- We had our base plates made by a local man. We looked up welding in the Yellow Pages and went to one of them. We used 1/4″ steel on some and 1/2″ steel on some. We use a 12 x 12 square although there are many people that use 18″ x 18″. Have them weld a rod onto the center of the plate and then use 1/2″ conduit for your poles. This is very affordable and available at most hardware stores. I am also sure that if you check the archives there will be much more info there regarding exactly how people have had these done and also if they are available from someone, ready to go.
- I had my base plates made the same way only the welder put on a threaded type open end and welded on the other end to the base. Then I went to ACE Hardware and got the conduit and they put the matching threads on the end. That way you can break down your stands for easier carrying. And you can get all different heights of poles for one stand! My welder made me a extra plate to fit down over my stand for extra weight.
- To everyone who wanted to know about the poles and bases used in the Wedding Workshop in a Box video, they are part of the Dandy Uniframe System. I am not sure whether this system is available outside Europe, but if you contact Ian Herd at Pioneer Europe Limited on email@example.com he should be able to tell you where, if at all, you can get them. Dandy’s telephone numbers are +44 191 2221344 or fax on +44 191 2221842.
- The base plates that pioneer sells are excellent. They have a screw in pipe that 1/2″ conduit slips over. Pioneer original sold them with the SDS system, but now you can buy them separately.
- Here is a written instruction for column base! Cut 6 pieces to 6″. Cut 2 pieces to 14″ 4 elbows at the corners, and three tees for the center posts.
------------- | | | | 0-----0-----0 | | | | -------------
Elbows on corners and tees where the zeros are! Glue it together with a five foot or taller piece of PVC protruding from center tee. I leave the middle so it will swivel for heart arches and long low arches! Add patio blocks wrapped in material to weight down the bases. One on each side of the center pole! I use 3/4″ PVC. I buy it at the hardware store for 18 cents per foot!
Internal Frames For Balloon Columns
- Both PVC and EMT have advantages, but we consistently use 1/2″ size for both. I think the EMT shows through less, but for weddings using white latex, you won’t have a problem with pvc. Another advantage of EMT, you can cut it easily with a small pipe cutting tool, and then put pieces together using 1/2″ set screw EMT connectors to combine different lengths.
- I use conduit for all of my free standing work (except columns that will need to support weight like in the corners of canopies and for those you need steel pipe so it won’t bend), and aluminum rod for my hanging work. If you size and pack properly neither will really show. You can slip plastic shower curtain rod covers (available in a wide range of colors) over either if you are really concerned with the framework matching the balloon color so it doesn’t show, but this will not be necessary once you learn to pack the balloons TIGHTLY on the frame. I prefer conduit to PVC because it will stand up to a little pressure, but also because you can form a shape, and it holds it without all the cutting and joining you do with PVC. To form a PVC walk through heart, you have to cut and use different angled connectors. With conduit, you do one side, lay the other piece on top of that one and bend it to the same shape, then connect in the V. Then your frame is heart shaped and always will be. For me this is just much easier and more reliable.If you are using 1/2″ conduit it will slip inside 3/4″ steel floor flange (I will have to check those sizes to be sure because after all these years of doing this I buy by sight and not by the numbers but you can play with them at the hardware store and figure it out for yourself) when wrapped once with duct tape and not slip around at all. The floor flange can be screwed onto a square of plywood and weighted down (not that reliable), screwed directly to an old wooden stage or trailer for floats (But this is not an option for most of your clients), or welded to a 1 foot square of 1/2″ steel (THE BEST and cheapest way to make a reliable baseplate that will last FOREVER) to make a multi-purpose baseplate. Take a second piece of steel pipe the same size and weld at a 45 degree angle beside the 90 degree one and you have your angle for the bottom of walk through hearts.
- Buy shower curtain rod covers at the home improvement store to put over straight column support frames. You can get them in enough color types to match or compliment your balloon colors. Now you don’t see a bare rod through the balloons and you don’t have to paint the rod every time you do a new job.
- The nicest, least expensive short columns I’ve seen are available at Sam’s Club – they’re about 36-40″ tall, available in several types and finishes and are only $12.98 each. They are heavy.
- Bases – This is the basic framework that holds the balloon structure together. I make my own bases for most of the balloon work that we do. I make 12″ x 12″ squares from 3/4″ particle board and attach a 1/2″ plumbing flange to the center of the s quare. A 1/2″ threaded PVC pipe connector will fit in the plumbing flange nicely. I glue 5 feet of PVC pipe onto the threaded PVC connector and I’ve got a stand that costs me less than 5 dollars in materials. I can use these to create the balloon columns and after the event they can just be thrown away. Metal bases are a good investment. Because of their price they must be collected after an event, but they will hold up better for the heavier work and they are absolutely a must if you are planning to make balloon canopies. 16″ x 16″ of 1/2″ plate steel with a welded rod that can accept 1/2 electrical conduit will probably work for most jobs. Big canopies may require 16″ x 16″ of 1″ plate steel for the weight, or you may add weight to the base using another plate which slips over the top or exercise weights used in barbells work as well.
- Q: Let’s presume I have the 1/4 inch (or so) aluminum rod. How do I wrap the balloon cluster around it?? I assume 1/4 inch rod is TOO hard/brittle to wrap around the balloon (like we would do with fishing line or even a small rope for outdoors) So how do you anchor the cluster to the rope? Paper Clips?A: If you are using clusters of 4, inflate and tie 2 sets of duplets. Twist them together to create a cluster of four. Then slide 2 balloons over the rod so that the rod is now in the center of the cluster, near where the 4 are twisted. The two that you have placed over the rod now get twisted together once to hold securely on the rod. If using 6 or more balloons per cluster, then you might want to use paper clips instead.
- When we don’t want to return to a faraway site for base plates and frames, we use a 3 lb. coffee can (sprayed white) with a 5′ white PVC pipe centered in plaster in the can. Slide a disk of 2″ thick white Styrofoam over the PVC so you can decorate the pot with silk flowers, tulle, satin, mylar picks (whatever suits your decor). Use hollow 3/8″ aluminum tubing ($19.55 for 50′ from ACP 800-572-1ACP) and unroll it carefully shaping it into a heart. Start at the lower left bottom point with about a 12″ vertical extension (it will fit into the PVC) and continue on shaping the heart — remember to leave a horizontal space in the top, middle center, not a downward point. When I first began making these, I used chalk on our driveway to get the precise shape I desired. As you get back around to the bottom point, remember to leave another 12″ vertical extension. Use duct tape to hold these two pieces together — it should fit snugly into the top of the PVC. Of course, you can make the PVC any height you wish, but I’d raise it up so that it can be seen more easily.
- Need a disposable column? Hot glue a lomi rod, 36″, to the underside of an 11 inch lomi dish and put the shower curtain cover on top of the lomi rod. If you need additional weight, hot glue a tile on the inside of the dish.
- I use plastic shower rod covers to cover framing that will show in a design. I have found them at Wal-Mart and K-Mart for $1.00 a piece. They come in about five different colors. I bought one today at WalMart for $1.22 plus tax. They had several colors. You can find them at Kmart..Walmart…Ames…Home Depot…Lowes….look in the shower curtain area..or with the bath towels 🙂
Balloon Columns Held Together With Monofilament
- Most of the columns we create are done on 50 lb. fishing line. We anchor the line to two poles which are far enough apart for the column. Balloons are inflated and tied in duplets (one balloon tied to another). Tie two balloons to each other in one step. In other words, don’t knot the balloons closed and then tie them together. Once you have one duplet built you build another one. Armed with two duplets you twist them together at the knots to create a cluster (a group of balloons connected together, clusters are most commonly 4 or 5 balloons but may be 3, or even 6). Take the cluster to the fishing line and align the cluster so all the balloons are in the same plane (i.e. flatten the cluster out so if it was laid on a table all four balloons would touch the table.) Now put the cluster on the line by inserting the line between two of the balloons. Position the cluster near one end of the line and then twist the line around one balloon a couple of times. This will lock the balloon in place. Now make another cluster and add it to the balloon cluster already on the line. Now you only need to twist the line around the balloon once, and push it snug against the other balloon cluster. An alternative to twisting the line around a balloon is to take the two balloons that have the line between them and change their positions in the cluster. This twists the balloons around the line at the nozzle locking them in place. Push the balloons together slowly. If you push too fast you will tear the balloon. The clusters should fit together in such a way that the balloons of the new cluster fit in between the balloons of the previous clusters. Keep adding clusters onto the line until you have a column the right length. Wrap the fishing line around the last cluster a couple of times to help secure the cluster in place and then detach the fishing line from the poles. When you stand it on end it should hold itself up.
Bottom Balloons Popping
- I have a problem with the bottom layer popping. Even on a tile floor, which I swept to make sure nothing was there. I can’t figure out what was happening. I finally had to put plastic on the floor. This did help. We have found that no matter how clean the floor “seems” to be, balloons pop! We always carry our handy dandy roll of table plastic with us and it goes under everything!! Just a tiny grain of sand can pop balloons on the floor, so the plastic is a wonderful idea!! We have found more uses for table plastic than you can imagine… a very inexpensive mode of decorating and looks great!
- When building your columns put a large cardboard cake circle on the line first, or add it at the end.
- Make sure that the bottom layer has been really overblown and shrunk down to size, or, if using an auto sizer, overblow, deflate and then use the auto sizer. This will help soften that layer.
- I had that same problem with one of my bases. I cleaned it but still the balloons would pop. I notice that I had a small scratch in the paint so I sanded it. It never popped another balloon. So even if your floor was clean they might have had a small scratch in the tile. The edge even being very small can still be rough enough to break your balloons.
- You want the balloon at the top of a packed garland column to hold up straight and proud. An easy way is to duct tape the neck of a large balloon right to the column pole and snuggle it tightly into the set of duplets beneath it. If the top balloon is an 18 inch or smaller, a little rubber cement does the trick. Filling the top balloon with helium instead of air will also help it to naturally float straight. Marvin and Penny Hardy developed a method that employs a “rubber band action” to attach 16″ to 3′ balloons in a tight fitting way: Tie two uninflated 260Q balloons together at each end, forming an “O.” Hold both sides of the “O” together and make one loop at the mid point. Pull the tied neck of the 16″ to 3′ balloon through the loop and tie all together. You should have two half-size “O’s” attached to your large balloon. Now pull the two large “O’s” over the top of the packed garland and push them toward the center of the pole, hiding the 260’s within the structure. Snuggle the large balloon tightly into the set of duplets beneath it and you’re done.
- You can also make a 4 balloon garland on monofilament going up to about 5′, (you may able to go taller, I just have never tried.) you can use a 3′ balloon as a topper, helium filled and it will support the garland for a few hours, instead of using a rod and a base.
- Attaching the topper balloon to a balloon column: We put a large paper clip thru the neck of the topper and attach the clip below the top cluster of balloons. For this to work, the column pole must be slightly shorter than the balloon column so that the topper is not touching the pole. Our standard poles are 6 1/2 to 7 feet tall and our columns are 8 feet before we add the topper.
- One thing that I learned at IBAC this year that has made attaching toppers easier is one of those “DUH!” kinda things! First, find the middle of an uninflated 260Q and tie it to the neck of the balloon to be placed on the top of the column. Then tie the ends of the 260Q together forming a rubberband. Now place the balloon on the top of the column and pull the 260Q down about three or four – four packs and pop over. The tension will create a nice tight column and hold the balloon securely. Works great!
6-Pack Columns Of 5″ Rounds
- Any time we have packed six we wished we had not, but there are a few successful ways to endure the agony. My way is to make sure you do not inflate them to the max (maybe 4 inches) and tie the duplets at the end of the neck. When you pack them in your cluster start against a solid object, like a wall or floor. Then I wrap the line around each cluster to lock them in place making sure that I don’t burn the necks with the line. Another technique is to join each balloon duplet together with a paperclip. This allows more space and reduces the pressure between the balloon.
- When inflating the 5″ down, first over-inflate the balloons to the max and let them back down. The more they are inflated, the more pliable they are to work with. Then follow Jim’s advice about tying as far out on the necks as possible or use the paper clip method.
- Canopy Base
- Full Canopy
- Open Canopy
- Criss-cross Canopy
- Illusion Canopies
- Gazebo Canopies
- Low Ceiling For A Canopy?
- Building balloon canopies is easy once you know the basics. www.conwininc.com has a great video called The Art of Balloon Canopies. “The Art of Balloon Canopies” is an educational video that teaches everything you need to know about building beautiful balloon canopies and is taught by Linda Bruce, CBA. It’s one of nine titles in The Masterpiece Series of educational videos. For other titles in The Masterpiece Series, or for the name of a distributor in your area that carries The Masterpiece Series, contact Conwin at (800)877-8889.
- We make our poles for the canopy with steel bases about 16 by 16, 25 lbs each and 3/4 steel poles over a steel stud. We had additional plates cut 16 by 16 with a 1 inch hole in the middle. Depending on the size of the canopy we add plates to offset the helium pull. See “Images” Nov/Dec 1994.
- To add weight to the poles for a canopy I rob my hubby’s weight lifting bench for 25 and 50 lb weights! They are rubber and have a hole in the center that fits right onto the base and adds pounds in an instant. I have picked these up at flea markets as well for a few dollars.
- Having built many canopies and having taught several conventions and seminars concerning them I would like to present some suggestions:A full canopy (this is where the entire top is full of balloons as opposed to a border or crisscross canopy that only does the perimeter and crisscrosses the middle) needs a lot of column base weight. The size will determine the weight and 30 – 60 pounds per support is needed. I would tend to go more toward the 60 pounds.Now how to get this weight.
- You can use your plywood bases. For many years we use 3/4 ” Plywood bases that were 18 x 18 inches with a plumbing flange and pipe secured to the middle. Then we would stack regular bricks on each base (maybe 12 – 18 per base, again the larger the canopy the more we used). We then covered the bricks and base with an inverted white box to hide the mechanics.
- Later we bought some barbell weights that were 25 pounds each and had a large center opening. We would slip 2 of these over the Pipe of each base.
- Now we use the Pioneer bases that are sold with the SDS panels. I would rate these bases as excellent. Again we slip the barbell weights over its threaded pipe. Naturally there are many other ways to accomplish this.
- IMPORTANT: Be prepared to use more weight than you think you need. Countless people have come back and told us that even though we warned them they tried to use less weight and had to scramble at the last minute to find additional weight. Believe me you will need a lot of weight, be prepared.Also the size of the canopy is also a factor. We have built many many sizes of them from 15 x 15 feet up to 30 x 30. It is our experience that a full canopy should not exceed 30 x 30 if it only uses 4 bases and poles. It is possible but you would need special bases and probably real pipes (instead of conduit poles).We have never built a “Full” canopy using more than 4 bases and poles. 6 or 8 supports would allow a bigger canopy. I’m not sure how it would look as far as the canopy effect, but I would think it would probably look kind of like a double canopy. It is possible that effect might not be what you are expecting. Be sure to discuss with the customer.
Finally, just want to mention it again, you need a lot of weight. Don’t underestimate it.
- Here are some clues for a canopy that is no larger than 20′ x 20′ :
- Use 100 lb. bases for each of the columns (depending on the number of helium arches used overhead. I have 16″ metal plates made and have a 1/2″ x 4″ black pipe (plumbing department) that is threaded at the top welded in the center. Then have 3 more plates made the same size with a 3/4″ hole in the center. I get these done at a sheet metal shop for around $35 each. Now put some of that sticky backed felt on the bottom of the plate to protect floors. If you don’t want them to rust, paint them with a rust inhibitor first.
- Have 1/2″ x 6′ black pipe (for heavy work) or aluminum or EMT conduit (for light work) threaded by the hardware store on both ends. Leave the end caps on for transport so they don’t get botched up. Also purchase some 1/2″ to 1/2″ adapters to use to connect the poles to the bases at the site. I have found that this method is the most sturdy and provides a very straight line. For light work the connectors for the pipes should be from the electrical supply dept rather than plumbing. Electrical connectors are much slimmer than plumbing connectors. Paint the poles if desired.
- Now comes the tricky part – and I highly suggest practice with this. Make helium pearl arches on monofilament that is connected between two chairs so it moves freely. Connect 80lb. monofilament or polyester cord to the poles at two opposite sides (tie on down low to work, and then move them up later). Now tie the arches between each of these lines, being careful to use the exact same number of balloons on each one. An automatic sizer from Conwin is very helpful here, or a triple-speed inflator). Tie balloons directly on the line. After all arches are attached, move the two main lines up the poles and then duct tape them securely. Then cover the poles with balloon garland.
- Criss-crossing arches overhead are nice, too, and not as much work as a full canopy. I would try that first.
- The best Base Supports are the Qualatex SDS Bases, which come with threaded pipe (about a 6″ piece) that screws into the base. This threaded pipe allows 1/2 metal conduit to be slide over it.
- Another alternative is to make (or have made) your own bases. The best approach for these would be to use 1/4″ steel plate 16″ by 16″ with a 3/4″ piece of steel pipe (4 to 12 inches high) welded to center (or corner). 1/2″ conduit will slide into the pipe.
- Other types of supports are possible. Some of which I have used or heard of are:
- Cement base with pipe in center. Best made by placing a pipe flange on end of pipe fitting and inserting into the wet cement. The flange piece keeps in secure.
- Triangle shape. There are some who believe a triangle shape is better.
- Thick plywood with pipe flange and pipe. The flange is screwed into the plywood. We would suggest painting them black to make the plywood inconspicuous.
- Approximately 6 1/2 foot high made from 1/2 metal conduit, or you could use steel pipe. The conduit will slide into the pipe on your support.
- The open or criss-cross type of canopy will normally work without adding additional weight to your bases. But you should always be prepared. The full canopy will probably require more additional weight than you think. The pull of the balloons tends to tilt the supports in and they will tip over without enough weight.
- Use 25 or 50 pound weights from a barbell set. They sell these separately. Make sure the ones you get have a hole big enough to fit over the pipe fitting of the base and that it will sit flat on the base. Normally you can get away without hiding the weight, although you may want to consider it.
- 40 to 60 standard size bricks. Stack these on the base and then cover them with glossy white boxes (or something else) to cover the support and added bricks.
- In a Full Canopy, the entire top of the canopy is full of balloons.
- Do not build a full canopy bigger than 27 x 27 or 30 x 24.
- The larger the Full Canopy is, the higher the ceiling needs to be. Generally you need a 14′ ceiling minimum. But a smaller canopy (say 15 x 15) may be possible with a 10′ – 12′ ceiling.
- Use 10 to 15 bricks (or 50 pounds of weights) on each support when you are building a full canopy.
- Do the air work first so the helium work will be fresher. Overblow and size down your air work.
- Put the 4 supports and poles in the four corners of the dance floor.
- If you are making a full canopy, then run 80 pound monofilament from one front pole to the corresponding pole in the rear. Do not do this for the other types of canopies.
- If you are making the full canopy, place 10 or more bricks onto the supports.
- For the columns, 9″ balloons air filled to 9″ size.
- Make clusters of 5 Balloons (tied together or on a paper clip). Do not use a 4 balloon cluster because it will not look as good and it will not hide the pole as well as the 5.
- Build each column using 12 clusters on 50 lb. monofilament.
- Top each column with a 16″ air-filled balloon.
- If you are building a full canopy, do not attach the columns to the poles yet. If you are building the other types of canopies you should attach them now.
- For the arches, place chairs beside the two front poles and attach 50 lb. monofilament (slip knot) to the tops of the chair backs.
- Use 11″ helium filled balloons (size to 10 1/2 or 11″) and tie the neck of the balloon directly to the line. Repeat and space each balloon so that each balloon almost touches the balloon beside it. Some people prefer to space each balloon an inch or more from the previous. I have even done one where I spaced them 4 1/2 inches apart so that the canopy would have more open space throughout it when finished. But I prefer to have each balloon almost touching the one beside it.
- Once you have finished the line attach any ribbon.
- Now the important part. EVERY LINE MUST BE EXACTLY THE SAME LENGTH.
- Put another chair beside the original chairs and build another string of pearls arch lining up every balloon to the one on the other line.
- You should build several more of the arches this way. Once you have several of them done you can begin attaching them.
- For the canopy, attach the first string of pearls to the front two poles. Some prefer to skip this step. It is a personal thing. We have done it both ways.
- Attach the next string of pearls about 12″ up the 80 lb. line on each side. To do this tie the neck of the end balloon from the arch to the 80 lb. line and then tie the other end to the other 80 lb. line.
- Repeat with the other lines, placing them about 12″ apart on the 80 lb. line.
- The last line will go from one back pole to the other or skip this step if you are only attaching to the 80 lb. lines.
- Once this is done you should adjust the height of the canopy by sliding the 80 lb. lines uniformly up or down the poles. Try to have them as high as practical. You will find if the ceiling is not high enough you be adjusting them down the poles. Now once you have the height you want, you now attach the 4 columns to the poles and the top it with the 16″ balloon.
- After constructing our first 20 x 20 canopy last year, we can offer the following advice:
- 80 lb. line should be fine, we used 100 lb. for the two “rails” of the canopy and 50 lb. for each arch and felt that 80 lb. would have done the job adequately.
- Our poles are 7′ high, and the reason for that is that we wanted the arches on the ends to be as far out of the reach of party goers as possible!
- Be sure that your base plates are of the 100 lb. variety… this definitely gave us a feeling of confidence in my 7′ standards!
- Watch that chandelier!
- The best piece of advice that we have heard concerning canopies is that you should string all of the arch lines between your two ‘rails,’ but then START WITH THE CENTER ARCH, working out from there. This will eliminate the end arches looking disjointed from the rest of the canopy due to the natural pull of the balloons on the rails.
- The four sides only are constructed.
- This type of canopy is built by first attaching the columns to the poles. However you should top off the column with the 16″ balloon after the arches are all attached.
- Place chairs beside the 2 poles you are going to connect first. Now run a piece of monofilament between them.
- Build a string of pearls arch. Attach your ribbon. Attach the line to the top of the poles. You’ll have to tie it inside of the columns and around the pole.
- Now place chairs beside the next 2 poles and repeat the process.
- Another way to build the arches is to do them in sets of 2. What we mean by this is since the opposite sides are the same length (and also the criss-crosses are too) you can set up you chairs, do one of the arches and then set up chairs and make another arch the same length. This is especially helpful in that it lets you line up the balloons on the second arch using the first as a guide, and you spend less time adjusting the second one.
- If your open canopy is larger than 30 x 40, you should either add extra weight to the supports, or you should use additional supports. We have done a 25 x 75 criss-cross canopy with 8 supports.
- Open canopy plus criss crossing arches.
- To make a criss cross canopy, start with four Conduit pipe poles and bases. Make the four columns and attach the tiger heads with duct tape. Then take the deco line and tie onto the pole under the second quad of latex. Do “strings of pearls” to the next pole. Wrap line twice around second quad and keep going. Remember to space evenly and size height to others. Go all around the four corners, then run a “SOP” from corner to corner. Leave a space in the center of the second “cross over” to let them notch together perfectly.
- This type of canopy is built by first attaching the columns to the poles. However you should top off the column with the 16″ balloon after the arches are all attached.
- Place chairs beside the 2 poles you are going to connect first. Now run a piece of monofilament between them.
- Build a string of pearls arch. Attach your ribbon. Attach the line to the top of the poles. You’ll have to tie it inside of the columns and around the pole.
- Now place chairs beside the next 2 poles and repeat the process.
- If you are building a criss-cross, place chairs beside the 2 poles you want to cross, build the arch, attach it and repeat for the other 2 poles.
- The Illusion Canopy is easier than a full-dome canopy. The canopy on the cover of Images was built on a small, 15×15 foot, dance floor. If you will be making a larger one, you will need to compensate on the following for the extra size.
- The base plates we used weighed 25 pounds and were 24″x24″. This would be the minimum weight and size to use on the corners as there is quite a lot of pull from the balloons. The poles on the four corners were 7-feet tall, and we used 3/4″ EMT conduit. The four columns used quads of 11-inch balloons sized to 10″ on the top and bottom, and quads of 5″ balloons sized to 4-inches in the center (although we have since changed and are now using groups of 5 balloons instead of quads on the 5-inch balloons as we feel it looks better and covers the poles better). The double balloons on the tops of the columns were 16-inch Clear Just Married Flowers-Around sized to 16 inches with an 11-inch latex inside. The 6 string of pearl arches were made with 11-inch Clear Just Married Flowers Around and there were approximately 35, 11-inch air-filled “kick balloons” on the floor itself.
- A little tip here is that we always cover our poles with white duct tape, running the tape vertically on the poles. This technique helps to hide the poles and lasts 20 times longer than painting the poles. Add a little bit of STP Son-of-a-Gun to the tape, and the balloons go on the tape-covered poles lickety-split.
- For a gazebo, you need six sides (a hexagon). You have a pole at each point of the hexagon. Duct tape a rod to the poles (aluminum, steel, pvc). Go from corner to corner with the rod. To go a second layer up, duct tape some more rod this time in an upward direction. If you want to, duct tape a second larger hexagon above. Next inflate lots of balloons, and more balloons and quad pack to all metal (poles, horizontal) pieces. This is an easy, time consuming, lots of work lots of balloon piece of art. Size you say, what length to make the pieces. height – poles 6-8 feet, hex perimeter 4 to 12 feet, the other verticals 2 – 6 feet. Fit it to your space, time and budget. Try it, practice. You can do it on your second, third or more tries. Make your frame, get it to the proportions you like. Then the packing of balloons is just like a lot of garland.
Low Ceiling For A Canopy?
- Run monofilament between the chandeliers along the ceiling and rig to that line — this works especially well if you have a low ceiling. Be sure to secure your line to where the chandeliers come out of the ceiling, not to any moving part,
- use a 4 foot helium filled balloon to float the center up.
- The best solution we’ve come up with is to set the center heart onto a 12-foot pole in the center of the dance floor. We, of course, decorate the pole with tulle and lights and it actually looks very nice and the brides we’ve done this for were very pleased, especially when the alternative would have been to not do it at all, or to do other decor. We find when a bride has her heart set on the Cherish Heart Canopy, she really won’t be happy with anything else. The pole in the middle takes up very little room and actually adds to the look of the canopy during the “First Dance.”
Balloons On The Ceiling
- The balloons should be undersized by an inch or two. Otherwise the difference between the temperature at the ceiling when the A/C is on or off could be enough to burst the balloons.
- Double stuff the balloons that will actually touch the ceiling. Much ceiling material is rough, and the movement of air from the AC will be enough to gently brush the balloons against the ceiling repeatedly (if they’re close enough to it). To minimize this, I sometimes tie the balloons to the ceiling clip tightly enough so they’re snug against the ceiling.
How To Get Balloons Off The Ceiling
- Just have a big roll of balloon ribbon with a 16″ attached to the end. Add loops of clear packing tape (with the sticky side out) and you will be able to get down every single balloon that goes toward the ceiling. In addition, you’ll have a grateful mall staff, impressed customers, AND you’ll probably even retrieve a few that you didn’t sell.
Balloons To Lower The Ceiling
- Do you need to get rid of a “Gym” look? Need something to bring the ceiling down? What I mean is some decorating that appears to lower the hight of the room? You could do columns at the four corners and criss cross line arches across the room. That creates an inexpensive “canopy” type effect without the expense of a full canopy.
- Or you could take tulle and attach it at the middle of the room (be sure to check for rigging points and ladders first) and swag down to 7′ or 8′ balloon columns out from the corners. You can do more than four if you want, depending on the effect you want and the size of the room or dance floor that you want to do. I know that all that tulle sounds expensive, but use white or another light color. Run white twinkle lights through it, take tons of pictures and you have an effect that you can sell for weddings and proms afterwards. (The lights and tulle are reusable).
- Another effect I used one time with incredible results was balloon clouds. Just take various sized and unsized white, pearl, clear, and even silver latex balloons (all should be *about* the same size) and twist together to form sort of flat odd shaped clouds. Hang each of these “clouds” then suspend air filled mylar starts (18″ or smaller) from the clouds so they hang just over the dance floor. You don’t have to cover the entire ceiling to hide it. The eye won’t go past the balloons even if you can see past them.
- Balloon alternative – large play-balls suspended with monofilament line. Create an illusion – use air filled clusters attached to the ceiling and just attach some curling ribbon to make them look like they are floating.
Wrapping Balloons Around Columns (The Columns That Hold The Roof Up)
- Can anyone help me with this problem. I’ve got a 3 foot wide round column x 6′ high. I need to spiral a 4 balloon cluster around the pillars (I’m using 11″ balloons). How do I calculate the length of the spiral?
- I don’t remember seeing this in the CBA course material so I’ll attempt an answer. Using calculus the length of a garland wrapped around a circular column can be calculated by computing a quantity called its “arc length.”
________________ / 2 2 Garland length = T x / L + 9.87 x D \/ where: T = number of Turns around the column L = garland Lead = vertical distance the garland rises in one turn D = garland Diameter = (Column Diameter) + 2 x (Balloon Height) Note 1: You can substitute 10 for the 9.87 without introducing any significant error. Note 2: This formula works with any consistent set of units, ie., use inches for the lead, diameter and height, or use feet for the lead, diameter and height, or use meters for the lead, diameter and height, etc. Note 3: Balloon Height can be 1 to 1.25 times the balloon diameter.
- When you are confronted with a large diameter column, it’s often easier to measure its circumference than its diameter. Here is a second version of the formula that you can use with the column circumference.
__________ / 2 2 Garland length = T x / L + C \/ where: T = number of Turns around the column L = garland Lead = vertical distance the garland rises in one turn C = (Column Circumference) + 6.28 x (Balloon Height) Note 1: We'll just call this "the BHQ TLC formula." Note 2: This formula also works with any consistent set of units, ie., use inches for the lead, circumference and height, or use feet for the lead, circumference and height, or use meters for the lead, circumference and height, etc. Note 3: Balloon Height can be 1 to 1.25 times the balloon diameter.
Convert the lead and diameters to inches and use the first formula. T = 3.5 turns L = 48" D = 24" + 2 x 11" = 46" 2 and L = 48 x 48 = 2304. 2 Now, D = 46 x 46 = 2116. Multiply this by 9.87 to get 20884.9 Add 2304 and 20884.9 to get 23188.92. Take the square root to get 152.28 Multiply 3.5 by 152.28 to get 532.9 inches. Divide 532.9 by 12 to get 44.4 feet. This is the length of the garland needed to wrap the column. Now you can use the standard equations to find out how many 11" balloons are needed to make a 44.4 foot long garland.
Convert the lead and diameters to inches and use the second formula. T = 3.5 turns L = 48" C = 75.375" + 6.28 x 11" = 144.45" 2 Now L = 48 x 48 = 2304. 2 and, C = 144.45 x 144.45 = 20867.2 Add 2304 and 20867.2 to get 23171.2. Take the square root to get 152.22 Multiply 3.5 by 152.22 to get 532.77 inches. Divide 532.77 by 12 to get 44.4 feet. This is the length of the garland needed to wrap the column. Now you can use the standard equations to find out how many 11" balloons are needed to make a 44.4 foot long garland.
Options For Wrapping Your Column
- Rouse Matrix Systems
- Rouse Matrix Systems Banners, Builders, or Super Builders can be used to easily wrap columns.
- You may connect the light weight, expandable, modular units into large, flexible sheets of balloons to hide the entire column or cut the Matrix with scissors and connect the sections into strips to make stripes or spirals around the columns.
- If you prefer a fancier wrap, try connecting a series of 2 foot RMS (Rouse Matrix Systems) stars or hearts filled with balloons into a sheet or into strips to wrap the column. It only takes cable ties (cinch ties, electrical ties) to connect the pieces.
- The RMS stars might also serve for your “starburst” at the top.
- The RMS Banners, Stars, and Hearts use balloons inflated to 4″ in diameter. The RMS Builder uses balloons inflated to 8″ in diameter. The RMS Super builder uses standard, round 18″ foil balloons or latex balloons inflated to 13.5″ in diameter.
- You can find more details on these products at http://RouseInternational.com
- Long Balloons
- If you feel more adventurous, you could try wrapping the columns with long balloons like 260’s, 350’s, or 76’s. Tie the balloons end to end and then add twists in between to give a more uniform look of a series of bubbles.
- In a few months (here in the USA) you should be able to get Link-O-Loons. These are like giant Bee Body balloons. You could easily tie them end to end and wrap the string around the columns as well. (These balloons are already available in Australia, Japan and the UK.)
- Jiffy Strips
- Marvin Hardy’s Jiffy Strips should work well for this kind of situation. These long rolls of plastic strips have regular notches for attaching balloons that cause the balloons to stand straight out (as distinguished from tying to monofilament
- Rouse Designer Panels
- These are not readily available on the market today, but for those of you who still have some, you can cut them into strips with scissors, cable tie the 30″ strips into long strips, load them with balloons and wrap the columns. These paper strips function much like the Jiffy strips to hold balloons perpendicular to the strip.
- Fishing Line
- Regular monofilament (especially the premarked line) can work if you tie balloons on in regular spaces when properly sized. There are a variety of cluster forms which can be made to lie relatively flat on the column, if you work at it.
- Metal Rods
- Relatively thin (1/8″ to 1/4″ dia.) aluminum or cold rolled steel rods may be used to act as anchor for attached balloons. The advantage here is being able to set the curve of the line with less outside reinforcement.
- Balloon Flowers, Etc.
- There is a large variety of balloon flowers (both long balloon and round balloon ones) which can be strung around the column. They might be positioned with Velcro, double sticky tape, rolled tape, floral adhesives, monofilament, jiffy strips, RMS strips or Rouse Designer Panel strips or metal rods.
- Soft SDS
- It is also possible to cut the soft version of SDS into strips, connect them together and wrap the column.
Classic Balloon Decor 101
The first half of this chapter is called Classic Balloon Decor 10.