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Balloon decorating as a profession began in the mid 1970’s. To our knowledge, no one person or company can boast of being the first; but, it was those enthusiastic and energetic creative people, perhaps with their heads still affected by the 60’s, that got the ball rolling. By the late 1970’s, party balloons were THE new craze; and, as such innovation became the name of the game.
In 1981, the first foil (or “Mylar”) balloons were mass manufactured. These early designs were rounds that were only printed on one side (and silver on the back). They required a heat sealer to “tie” the balloon. In order to inflate Mylars on the road, you needed a butane curling iron to seal them. This was actually quite dangerous. In addition to the fire and explosive risks of carrying butane curling irons in hot vehicles, the irons were nearly impossible to use without scorching yourself…. And, if someone wanted a balloon arch, column, centerpiece, sculpture, or mural, they needed to wait a bit for the balloon pioneers to invent them.
Flash forward twenty-five years and the industry is just reaching young adulthood. In addition to balloons of every shape and size and material imaginable, we have $1,000.00 automatic balloon inflators that put just the right amount of Helium or Nitrogen in a balloon (even two balloons at once!); and, there are Helium regulators that shut off when Mylar balloons are full. Oh, and nearly all Mylars (now properly called foils because they have no Mylar in them) are self-sealing!
Balloonists have created large sculptures using thousands of balloons and hundreds of person/hours to assemble. There are even double necked balloons called “Link-O-Loons” created by an Australian balloon company which can be tied to each other to create arches, columns, tunnels, and more.
Balloon artists now have Ballooniversity, Balloon Camp, and IBAC to name a few of the professional organizations that offer balloon décor education. The Qualatex Balloon Network sponsors balloon décorator chapters throughout the world. QBN also offers a Certified Balloon Artist (CBA) program to encourage those of us in the industry to practice our chosen profession with the adequate skills and requisite safety to be successful.
Professional is an over-used and often misleading word. For any style of balloon decorating to be "professional", the balloons must be properly sized, timely inflated, artfully arranged, and sometimes treated to protect them from deflating, bursting, or oxidizing.
Classical balloon decorating generally refers to a more formal or corporate look. Classical décor includes arches, bouquets, and much of what balloon artists do. It is a bit unfair to say that classical balloon décor lacks the creativity of modern décor; but, that may still be the best way to understand it. For instance a classical packed garland arch is made with just the balloons. A modern packed garland arch may have clown faces embossed on some of the balloons. Modern décor takes more artistic liberties including altering the shape of balloons, using non-round "twisted" balloons, and incorporates different sizes and types of balloons. Modern décor has more frills than traditional or classic décor. Neither style is wrong or right. The Client determines the atmosphere he or she wants for the event; and, they choose accordingly.
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