I am so excited to get this balloon blog going and share some wonderful installations and experiences with you!
Whether you're just a fan of balloon décor, my family/friends who follow along just to support me, or a balloon artist looking for inspiration, insight, and real-life decorator experiences - this is the place for you!
Let's get started with a BIG ONE! Buffalo Traders Lounge in Grand Rapids.
Levi contacted me about a month ago, inquiring about a big piece that would cover a large portion of their ceiling for a fun Mythology themed/toga party. The goal was an insta-worthy statement piece with a WOW factor, and I think we got the job done.
After discussing all of the details and the budget, he went with an approximately 30ft long by 4ft wide balloon cloud, adorned with vines.
From a balloon artist standpoint, this setup is quite simple, just a LOT of organic garland. A lot. From a rigging standpoint... it's scary. HAHA!
I did visit the location prior and I'm so glad that I did. Levi and I addressed potential issues, and how I would rig on the ceiling, with such beautiful paint, older fixtures, and wood accents, 3M hooks wouldn't work everywhere.
We decided to go with 3M hooks on the wood. I don't prefer using 3M hooks but in cases like these, we didn't have options for other rigging points, anything else hanging from the lights would be too heavy. We had a "plan B" to add screw-in hooks directly into the ceiling, which the client was OK with due to having extra paint/easy touch-up. We were luckily able to avoid this. The goal is to always have damage-free rigging. Business owners: CYA Always get your rigging options and damage waiver signed before installation!
The day before installation, I got ready for the install by loading my van with all of my tools and supplies and begin inflating and bagging as many feet of garland as I can. Turns out, that about 450 balloons fit into my minivan. I swear the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica with double stow n go seating... feels almost as big as a cargo van. Awesome balloon van, I'll do a blog post on the pros/cons some other time.
The morning of, I load my van with the inflated balloons and drive the 45 minutes to the bar. I get started right away unbagging everything and then just begin inflating balloon after balloon. I think I inflated for about 2 hours before getting on the ladder to add the 3M hooks.
I added (4) 3M hooks to each light area. I hung a 260 from each 3M hook so that clouds would float down more. At this point, I'm ready to hang! I took big strips of garland, 8-10 FT of it at a time, and tied the 260 into each garland. I made special care to bring the balloons down past the lights to create an illuminating effect. I can't wait to see pictures of it with all of the lights turned down!
Once the base of the clouds was up, I began filling them in with clusters of 5-6 balloons each, this process took about 2 hours. After we were happy with the shape and fullness of the clouds, I hung the vines carefully throughout. Some hanging low, some draped across.
About 4.5 hours later..
This was sooo fun to put together. Everyone was impressed and most importantly, the client was too.
Q & A
What was the best part of this job?
Talking to the staff and watching my client's vision come to life! He did a great job with all of the décor for the entire event so it was fun watching that happen while I worked. Experiences on the job can be so vastly different depending on who you have to interact with. This was such a great experience and the bar itself was so cool and beautiful, ut helped that I didn't run into any problems with the install along the way. These big jobs are FUN and rewarding, but they're always anxiety-inducing. :)
Is this your biggest/hardest installation?
Besides some of the big installations I've done at Amazon, this was my biggest one, and probably my most difficult. (Besides the Amazon warehouse traffic drive-thru columns... FAIL, I'll do a blog post on that at some point too, my husband and I are still traumatized.) I'm not a fan of heights or ladders, so this is why it was particularly difficult for me. The ceiling is 11 feet tall and quite intimidating to me.
You did this yourself? Don't you have a team?
Yes, I completed this particular install myself. I have completed the majority of the installations on my own. I do hire close friends and my husband/teen son occasionally, and have one trusted friend who works on an "as-needed" basis, which can be so hard to find! But overall, I work alone, and I don't mind it.
Besides enjoying working alone, I try to pay well. AT LEAST $20-$30/hr, which doesn't leave every job open to having a team. I do when I can and I definitely hope to have a full-time team as my business grows.
What materials do you need for this installation?
The list is short, pretty crazy how these few things can look SO impressive!
Tools/on hand supplies: 8FT ladder, uglu dashes, fishing line, 3M hooks (a LOT of them) step stool
Qty 1 - 200FT Artificial Vines - I got mine from Amazon. I liked these because it comes in a roll and you can cut various lengths. I didn't use anything to adhere to the balloons, I just tied them in.
Balloons need: Qty 200 - 9" white balloons, Qty 100 - 260 balloons (clear or white), Qty 600 11" white balloons, Qty 200 18" white balloons. (I would've added in 24" white balloons but they were out of stock at the time.) That's it!
I'm a balloon artist, how much should I sell something like this for?
Your selling price is dependent on so many factors. Location, cost of supplies, your personal overhead, and more. My suggested price, for my location, level of expertise, and overhead is $1500 + delivery + tear down.
What would you have done differently?
The only thing I would've done differently is bringing a taller ladder! I only had a 6 FT and I really needed an 8 FT. It was a stretch reaching up to add the 3M hooks and I think I would've just had an easier time overall hanging it all if I had the appropriate height. That was all my fault though, poor planning! Live and learn.
I think that covered all of the questions I've had and hope you've enjoyed reading... it's JUST A BALLOON.. the BLOG!