It's so easy to deploy (pull down) a balloon drop that I've let bartenders do it, as well as DJ's. It's a pretty good ego trip for them and is great (word of mouth) PR for you.
*LIGHTING LIGHTED ARCHES LIGHTED COLUMNS LIGHT SETS INTERNALLY LIGHTED BALLOONS EXTERNALLY LIGHTED BALLOONS *INDOOR DROPS NETS VS BAGS STITCHING THE NET / BAG GENERAL ADVICE HOW MANY BALLOONS? DROPS GONE BAD *INDOOR RELEASES BALLOON BANNER INDOOR RELEASE GLO-STICK INDOOR RELEASE DISSOLVING 4-PACK GARLAND Confetti Drops *EXPLODING BALLOONS Conwin's Pneumatic Exploder SHOCKTUBE STINGER A SEQUENTIAL EXPLODING BALLOON PROBLEM STUFFING EXPLODING BALLOONS EXPLODING CENTERPIECES --Note:
LIGHTING LIGHTED ARCHES
Almost all UL approved lights have a fuse built into the plug for safety. If yours aren't UL listed, or don't have the fuse, I'd advise you not to use them.
Many lights come with a flasher bulb, so you can choose whether they light continuously, flash on or off, or twinkle. The better ones have an electronic switch box built onto the line, so you can choose different patterns or vary the rate of twinkling... very nice!!!!! (very fragile!)
Helium arches will only support a string of lights basically going down the center of the clusters. Do not try to wrap the lights throughout the spiral. The weight will cause the arch to be mishaped and will bring it down fairly quick. I would not size the balloons below 10 1/2, but preferably 11". You need the lift. The arches should stay up quite a while. I would guess 12 hours or more. Concerning light in a helium arch, I tied a string of 16 inch string of pearls onto a string of lights for a arch over a 12 foot door way. They floated from 1pm to 1 am. Almost made it the whole night. Luckily I always try to have a safety plan. That time I had tied some fishing line from the center of the arch up to the ceiling. So the arch did not come down on the guests. I would not recommend adding lights without a frame. I had to have put 7 foot column on each side of the door. The weight of the lights levels your arch so it will not lift very high in the center. Heat from the lights will not break the balloons, but will decrease float time. Do you construct the arch directly onto the lights, or weave it in later-and, if weave in later, how do you do that? Never, ever strain electric wires. A large arch has lots of pull power so give it its own line. Weave the string of lights loosely between the balloons, just like tucking in tulle. Our experience with 11" Helium Spiral arches is that they can only stay up for a reasonable time with a strand of lights going pretty much right up the middle of the arch. What I mean is that they cannot (should not) be wrapped around many balloons as you go up the arch but should be pretty much straight (maybe a slight bit of wrapping can be tolerated). The lights go in quite easily after the arch is made. Just spread the balloons slightly as you proceed thru the arch. We always apply the lights after the garland is made, but I've heard of them being done directly to the lights. Now if 16" balloons are used then I would think you could wrap lights in and around quite a bit. When I construct spiral arches with lights I always build the arch first. After it is complete, just slide the lights in between the balloons along the monofilament line. Try to make them a straight line so as to not add excess weight making them "loopy". The lights slide in easily and really add a lot to the effect of the sculpture. I light almost everything I do! Has anyone ever attached helium balloons directly on a string of twinkle lights? This sounds pretty to me but I have never seen it done. I could actually tie the balloons on the cord between every third light or so. Any suggestions? For 11" balloons it will not work. The lights are too heavy. But you can do it if you build it as a Packed Arch. Personally the Packed Arch works better if you create it on regular line and add lights after. But do not wrap the lights throughout a helium arch. Only put a single line of lights sort of right down the middle. The weight of the lights will distort or bring down the arch if you try to add too many lights. Even so, the life of the arch will be shorter (I would guess 8 - 10 hours). To hold up a string of lights using 16" might work. You just might need many more balloons than you were estimating, probably almost touching and even then I'm not sure. We have been attaching balloons directly to twinkle lights for quite some time with much success. A string of Pearls arch will not work well but a "double arch" works just fine - 11" or 16". I like to use a complete 147 (I think!) bulb set of programmable chase lights for work over a dance floor, and it looks great. Criss-Cross arches for a dynamic canopy effect over a dance floor and of course, we know it's really easy. I've dove several string of pearl arches with 16" on twinkle lights with no problem. I've even done criss-cross arches that needed two strings of lights (connected end to end) for each arch and the 16" balloons had plenty of lift even for the extra weight of the plugs. Just make your arch as usual. Make sure there is a place to plug in the light set. Also be sure it is out of the way so no one trips on it. Unravel the string of lights and intertwine it into the arch. Lighted designs are most effective in a darker room. I sold lighted table bouquets to a women last year and did not find out until we got there the day of the party that the room had many windows. The room was very bright and the effect of the lights was dulled. Remember DARK room! Use Christmas twinkle lights. Be sure to run the lights down the middle of the arch. The arch will not float correctly if you wrap the lights thruout the arch. Again you must run the lights down the middle near the arch line. LIGHTED COLUMNS What I like to do is: a) Light the entire column. b) Place the xmas lites inside of the balloons, and wrap them around the column on the way up c) When possible, run one wire from wall to column,(tape down). Then snake an extension cord (done in advance) through my 1/2in or 3/4" pipe. I then run my second set of lights off extension cord at top of pole (power at bottom of pole for 1st set of lights and power cord). This way I only need 1 messy (ugly) power cord taped to the floor! Try to talk your customer into stars around on 36" white. Then you can use a waterproof gooseneck for a 60 watt bulb to seal the 36" shut. Wire an outlet to the top wire that leads into the gooseneck. There are probably dozens of ways to make a lighted lamp post out of balloons, Here is one of them. Thread a lamp wire through a piece of rigid conduit. Make a hole in the conduit near the bottom and pull the wire through . Leave enough length to attach a clip. Don't leave the wire too long, just enough to reach an extension cord. Attach a waterproof lamp holder ("light socket" to the uninitiated). Tape the socket to the conduit to keep it from wobbling. Screw the bottom of the conduit to a matching flange screwed to an 18" x 18" piece of plywood. Put a LOW wattage bulb in the socket (25 watts or less). Stretch a 16" or 36" over the bulb. Obviously, you should do this really carefully. Fill the latex with air using a hose attached to an airblower,compressor, or tank. Wrap a spiral pack of 5" around the pole, with larger sizes at the bottom and the cuff under the large latex on top. How do you light columns around a dance floor without needing 4 outlets and creating a trip hazard? At the bottom of each column, plug lights into an extension cord of the appropriate length to reach the next pole. Then either tuck the extension cord under the lip of the dance floor or duct tape the whole cord down to the edge where the dancefloor connects to the carpet. (invest in a variety of colors of duct tape--get tape with a good quality mastic - it's less gooey and comes right off carpet when desired). Each time you reach another pole plug the extension cord into the new extension cord until you've gone around about the desired area and then duct tape down your 1 cord to the outlet.
We use miniature Christmas tree lights all the time. They are really cheap after the holidays - buy all lenghts 35, 50, 100, and 150 lights. You need to pay attention to how many strands can be strung together without blowing a fuse. I usually pay $2 for a 50 light set; sometimes even lower. At the start of the Christmas season, you can find the white wire sets too. They are also available year round from floral wholesalers - nice if you are working with light colors. Floral wholesalers charge more than places like Franks, Michaels, etc. - - like $8 for that 50 light set. Remove all the tags before putting into place on your design because they will show up. Also check them out before insertion so that you know they all work. Sometimes I have dabbed each light with cool glue to make certain nothing is jarred in transportation. It's also better to buy sets that stay lit even if one bulb goes out. Also remember to account for the gap at the ends of the lights if you're using more than one set - keep the lights spaced evenly by using tape. If there's a light where you don't want one, just cover it with black electrical tape. I only use the sets once - then bring them home and have one heck of a free Christmas display the following year. We use regular twinkle lights, aka Christmas lights, for most of our work. For additional effects such as chasing or dimming, we occasionally use "light ropes", available from a lot of places; we get ours from American Lighting Company in Boulder, CO. Because we find that many of our sculptures are lit every time that they are sold, we make the light rope a part of the sculpture, eliminating the hassle with the loose strings of lights. Clear packing tape in a few spots holds the ropes to the frame. Another advantage to the ropes is that if the lights cannot be hidden within a sculpture such as on a stage front, the clear tube is virtually invisible from a distance. Oh, and the lights are always perfectly aligned and spaced. ? How long do your battery lights last on. I tried them out a couple of ? months ago, and they did not last too long. ? And due to that I am very wary on using/selling them again. The whte-corded single light strands that we buy from Advance Creative Products usually last from 5-6 hours IF you use alkaline AA batteries. We have found the ones you buy at Costco for about $9/20 to work every bit as well as other name brands. The important thing is to buy ALKALINE batteries. The 5-6 hours is usually plenty long for any party or reception as long as you don't turn them on until just before the guests arrive. INTERNALLY LIGHTED BALLOONS To put a light inside a 3 foot balloon, go to Home Depot and buy the black rubber light figures (it's for inside or out and has 2 wire coming out of the bottom.) Buy a standard extension cord ( I used a white 15 foot to make sure it will go all the way down my pole). Cut the female end of the extension cord off (not the part you plug into the wall.) Pull the 2 wires on the cord apart then strip each wire about 1/2 inch. Take the light figure and twist the black wire to either one of the wires from the extension cord. Use those wire caps and twist on (also available from home depot). Do the same with the other wire from your fixture to you extension cord. Put your light blub in. Plug it in the wall and it should come on (if not check your connections). If everything is working tape over connection. Now to get the light in your balloon... I'm lucky I have a stuffing tube, but if you don't then you're going to have to stretch your balloon over the bulb and half way down the rubber fixture. Then blow up your balloon by blowing air in the side of your rubber fixture. Pull out your air supply and the balloon will seal around the rubber fixture. This works with 16 inch balloons also. So don't be afraid to give it a try. It's to easy. Just do it. GLO-STICKS Chuck Guberman entertained us with a magic act at Unique Concepts Open House in June 1986. At the end of the act they did a balloon release in the ballroom. This ballroom had a ceiling over 25 feet high. The balloons had glowsticks in them, and it was quite a sight to see them rising in the ballroom. Then as the event approached midnight the balloons began to slowly drift down. What a sight. I'll never forget it. I'm not sure who was responsible for this effect... I always wondered if the falling of the balloons was planned or just a surprise to all involved. Glow stick in balloons are awesome! There are a number of ways you can use "glow-sticks" in latex balloons for a cool nighttime effect. Here are a few: [A] You can preload the small glow -sticks inside round balloons you plan to inflate with helium. On site, crack the lights to activate them and inflate the balloons with helium. Be sure to test ahead of time to make sure the (1) balloons have enough lift to carry the lights for a significant amount of time (2) balloon colors chosen are transparent enough that the lights show up in the level of darkness you will have on site. (3) which light colors show up best with which balloon colors [B] You can do an "apple twist" with a glow-stick inside the inside-out portion of the balloon. (1) This can work with apple balloons, even better with bee body balloons. For longer glow-sticks use #524 balloons. These specialty balloons are traditionally fairly opaque, however, so test before using them commercially. (2) The apple twist concept can also work with the long, 22", lights by using #260, #340, #344, #350, or #360 balloons. Successful apple twist maneuvers can be made easier for such long balloons by inserting clear plastic tubes first and then simply and quickly sliding lights in when you have a crowd. It is still important to test light, color, and opaqueness combinations. [C] Lite-Sculptures(TM) offer a third possibility. They are patented devices that allow glow-sticks to be inserted and removed from inflated balloons at will. They also allow for easily adding or removing gas from the balloons any time you like. Generally they are too heavy to float in the air with helium. I originally designed them for table decor, but they can be used like Japanese lanterns for room decor, or in other forms for individual play. Check with distributors of the glow-sticks for related chemical light products that may not include balloons but which might go well with out door, night vending. Check out the following company. The sticks are $32.50/tube of 50...and all are 22" long. They also have super jumbo at 20% thicker size for $42.50/tube. And for those of you interested in novelties, giftware, electronics and party supplies, this company has over 500 products (similar to Oriental but much much more!) for really great prices. Ask for a catalog..it's free! Rhode Island Novelty (in Johnston, Rhode Island) Tel 1800 528 5599 or 401 274 1818 fax 1 800 448 1775 EXTERNALLY LIGHTED BALLOONS What are the best balloon colors? We want the colored gels to really enhance the balloon walls. They are using all different colored gels. And, which type of balloon would you recommend - Latex or Foil? It depends on how the client is planning on lighting the wall...From the front or back. Black lighting works best on white latex, but you will get a wall that glows mostly gold, so soft colors will be lost. Lighting with gelled stage lighting from the front... you must remember that there is a wash out effect. (thus why actors wear such heavy makeup). Don't use really pale shades or anything too dark (ie pastels, onyx, purple, saphire) because the lights are too intense and you won't see them. With front lighting, I love to use the 9" mylar squares. Colors just SHINE ! Now I know this sounds really bland but, I just did a stage back drop that was entirely silver mylar (slight design created by leaving spaces empty and the shape of the piece was triangular)...what a wild effect. they shot that thing with magenta and blue gelled stage lighting and faded in and out with the colors on a timer...Whoa! Now that I think of it, we could have even taped some of the lighting gels in those empty spaces and back lit those areas for even more color effects.... Jewel tones glow as well as clear microfoils. The Jewels will probably oxidize though if the environment is not clean and dry... then you have a softer look but not as soft as a pearl balloon. If the set is being video recorded this is a plus for the tech crew since it reduces hot spots. A good lighting company will blow you away with effects that really can transform the set! If you are looking to project images and color on to the walls, pearl silver and white act like a movie screen because they are more opaque, helping to reflect light.
Get Balloon Pro, or Balloons Away, created by L. Daniels (around $20.00, call 1-800-285-4000)... one is double the size of the other. The Balloon Pro net have their capacities listed on the package. The netting makes a 'tube' that is around 30 feet long or so (that's conservative) and about 9-14 feet wide. And that's the SMALL one. Get two if you need more coverage. With 600 nine inch balloons the norm, you should have plenty for a 20 foot dance floor.
Just follow the directions (EXACTLY). They answer most of your questions. I did, and the first drop I ever did went without a hitch. The rigging is not 'that' hard (no you don't do all four corners of the room unless you're into some weird tent effects that I've done on rare occasions). It's so easy to deploy (pull down) that I've let bartenders do it, as well as DJ's. If you're confident (but tell them EXACTLY how to do it - it's like raising a flag in terms of pull) let club owners do it. It's a pretty good ego trip for them and is great (word of mouth) PR for you.
Remember, it's stitch, stuff, and rig... not stuff stitch and rig. Don't try to move it anywhere but up a ladder. It's a BIG sausage.
Balloons Away has all the clips and secure ties plus the line. I don't recall the Pro having all the accessories (which aren't much to get yourself... but are a big breather to have the first time around).
If you want to see a loaded one, there are pictures on-line.
You can rig to a wall but the whole length of the Away and Pro systems are for ceiling rigging. The only drops I've seen that use anything smaller than 9 inch balloons are those from exploding 3 foot balloons.
A 7 foot star drop seems a bit small anyway, get yourself some round bailer netting and make a bigger one. this way the corners are not so tight.
I suggest that you practice this first with something solid (6-inch floral picks, dog bones, pens, etc.), rather than balloons. Do about 5 or 10 stitches. Then slowly pull the line, and watch closely as they come apart, and the solid items fall to the floor as they become 'unstitched.' If they don't fall out, you placed them incorrectly.
You can go either way on the cost of the net. I would bill for it, since it's not an item that I would use over and over again, since the netting can get damaged during set-up/tear down. (Although I do reuse nets sometimes for casual/private functions).
Are there any other makers of balloon nets available besides "Balloon Pro"? SILVER RAINBOW attn: JOHN McGRATH 111 Traynor St Hayward, CA 94544 1 800 94 CHIMP FAX: 510 582 2054 NETS VS BAGS I personally prefer nets over bags. But if you're stuck with the bags, make sure to bring a big can of Static Guard. The main trouble I have found with the bag drops is the static buildup. The balloons can get stuck to the bag, causing a much smaller balloon drop than planned. Not good. For my bridal show balloon drops I have used tulle netting - 72 - 84 inch, sometimes you can get it in 102 inches. I cut two lengths of tulle netting, laced them together and at each end I tied a very large ribbon using number 40 or 100 width ribbon with long streamers hanging down. It looks very pretty and more wedding-like. I just hate those plastic bags and nets (unless they are white). Two things to be aware of in TV studios. 1.) There is often a lot of static electricity in the studio. Make sure you use anti static spray or rub the balloons with those anti static tissues you can buy to put in the clothes dryer. 2.) Just in case you think it may be an option ..... Never use plastic bags for balloon drops. The static makes all the balloons stay in the bag. Hence, NO Drop! NETTING I found a netting used for covering strawberries and grapes that was the exact same thing as the balloon netting and it is black. If you're using clear netting it looks fine, and no one is going to be staring up afterward saying "look at that unsightly empty net hanging there." Go to a garden center, and ask for "Bird Netting". It's the exact same stuff as the drop net, but in black, which is probably better for New Years anyway. Lay it out on the floor, and cut out one any size you wish. The net we have is 7' wide, which makes it easier to get the right size. -- balloon drop where you need the 'attractive net' The para silk net is reusable it does not necessarily have to have 5000 balloons in it for each drop, it is relatively flat which makes it very attractive for low ceilings. How about buying some tulle (can loosely stitch two sections together if you need it wider...or tape, like I did once shhh...) then poke hole in the sides and attach a rubber band to it Next, make a support frame with link-o-loons looping the rubberbands over the stems before tying. Fill the tulle carriers with the balloons and attach one end to a huge (even bigger that the 3' balloons...more like a 4-7 footer) at a center point (creating something like a series of hamocks meeting at a spoke). I would suspend that central balloon on a line of its own from the ceiling to offset some of the weight. Attach an exploder to the central large balloon and when exploded the tulle hamocks would 'drop their loads'. After the balloon drop, the link-o-loon edged tulle would remain dropped like banners as a new type of decoration for the rest of the party. do one with the flap over the opening in my silk holding net, just like grandpa's pajama's. Using the same principals of the chandeliers of IBAC 13. I would make a ring for the perimeter to attach the net to. I could cable tie the material through the eyelet holes every metre to the ring and perhaps only need 6 or 8 attachment points to the ceiling. I would use 6 lengths of aluminium rod which would naturally curve into a circle when joined end to end. put detonators at each of the 12 attachment points around the perimeter and the silk attached at the centre as well. I will also have metallic streamers attached to the roof with tape that will be squashed up in the silk when it is lifted to the ceiling but when the silk and the balloons fall they will hang four or five metres from the ceiling along with the silk in the centre of the room. The line cutters have dropped in price to $18 ea STATIC It was very dry in the hall when we put the balloons in the bag and then it started to pour outside- the humidity made it worse instead of better. The bag opened perfectly but only 25% of the balloons dropped out- they were all stuck inside by static. Regardless of weather, spray the whole bag, balloons and all, with STATIC GUARD. It is sold in the laundry section of any store. it is a little pricy, but SO WORTH IT! spray the balloons with anti static spray or you can even use those tumble dryer cloths for anti static. GENERAL ADVICE Use a variety of sizes of the latex balloons in the drop bag. We use 5 inch to 40 inch - It makes filling easier. They fill in tighter and when they release, different size balloons fall at different speeds so the drop is prettier and more interesting. There are also less stuck necks/knots in the bag. As for the balloon sizes, I personally prefer a mixture of 5" and 11" Large, small, long, short thro 'em all in for a varied effect. Use cable ties on the sides of the bags, they cannot come undone like a "twistee" and they have no little wire in them to POP the balloons as you transport the bag. If the drop you are doing is a HEART or STAR shaped bag. Use only one color. You cannot really make the shape definition clear with a mix of colors. recommend height for balloon drop. My experience is that a 16 foot or higher ceiling works best with the balloon nets (like Balloon Pro type). However, have done them as low as 13 feet by trimming about 3 feet off the width of the Balloon Pro net. Once you get below 13 feet it is probably not a good idea to use the nets. A good, veteran balloon artist you might want to talk to about balloon drops, releases, or other types of big jobs is Charlie Johnson of Absolute Value in Denver. He is not on line but you can call him at 303-427-9484. I recently interviewed him for our newsletter, Miss Lily's News & Shmooz, and I found him to be not only a very experienced veteran but also someone who is very willing to share his knowledge and experiences and only for the price of a phone call! Tell him Miss Lily's sent you! And last, but most important, RIG IT WELL and carefully. I will always remember 5 years ago when we did a drop for a High School Prom and the guys climbed on each others shoulders and yanked on the bag, then they SWUNG from the bag and brought down the whole drop ceiling in the Sheraton Inn. I now rig tighter and flatten to the ceiling and use ceiling clips across the ceiling to run the line DIRECTLY above the DJ or designated "dropee". The greatest thing on the market for hanging the Bags/Nets is the C clamp. I use the small size that Sears sells for about 3.50 a two pack. These are excellent for attaching to the metal runners in the ballrooms and other Secure metal objects (not light fixture or other metal that is not strong enough to withstand the weight plus the pulling). These clamps are also good for attaching garlands and swags. We also did 6 - 40 foot garlands in the same ballroom and use the clamps for them too. Also thank goodness for electric powered lifts. Oh yeah... and HAVE FUN. These are really an easy and profitable part of our business. I always try to make it " LOOK" like I am working hard, so that they keep hiring me, but in reality, they are a breeze :) ?I am making a ? proposal for a New Year's eve celebration in a restaurant that is almost 3 ? stories tall. The restaurant will not allow us to use any kind of lift in ? the building but my client is insistent that she wants balloon drops! You may want to check into lifting your balloon drop with 5' helium filled balloon/s or a series of 3 footers. I enjoy the look of Daniels Company's netting for our drops. Could someone explain to me how the heck that stuff is packaged? We spend hours trying to find the ends to fold and cut so the nets can be prepared prior to being on site. Recently, we made two 80-foot long drops for a corporate event which was held in a ballroom with a relatively low ceiling. I decided to get the millennium pack and cut in half lengthwise....then stitch both bags to make parallel balloon drops. It was a nightmare trying to find the ends of the netting so that they could be matched and prepared to be cut in half. This happens every time we need to cut the stuff so I believe I'm missing something. I'm going to ask the good folks at Daniel if they've considered selling the netting on some kind of roll, or at least give an indication of how its folded in the package. Can anyone verify that the The Balloon Pro Millenium Bags (C3000) (holds 2000 9 inch balloons) is actually two x 40' by 14' nets? Our experience is that the net is actually 80' long requiring you to cut it at 40-feet. We had great difficulty with this task as our work space was limited. We ended up rolling it on a 4'x8' piece of foam and counted the rotations to get to 40-feet. Since then we have tried working outdoors (weather permitting) to measure and cut the nets. It would be fantastic if they already came on a roll for unpacking them and locating the ends is a major headache for us... The Balloon Pro Nets say that they are 2 nets 14 by 40 and will do a total of 2000 balloons (9"). It is really one net 14 by 80 that we would have to cut in half to create 2 that are 14 by 40. Tried to prepare the nets at home but really did not have the room to do it. Was much easier on site in the hotel ballroom. Just found one end and put the cable ties in. Then stretch it out and put the ties in the other end. Folded net in half and cut it. Then ran the pull thru each and of course left one end open. Took little over an hour to create 4 nets 14 x 40. We had 2 teams of 2 people using air machines to fill 2 at time. One thing that greatly aided us was the use of what I call Inflatable amusement blowers. We have several Inflatable Amusements that use blowers to keep them inflated. We use one of these blowers in each bag right at the opening. As we inflated the 9" balloons on the air machines and dropped them into the bag, the amusement blower sent them all the way to the end of the bag. We did the 4 bags of 1000 balloons in about 2 1/2 hours. Take a lesson from the man on the flying trapeze - use a net! STITCHING THE NET / BAG The debate over the proper way to drop balloons! The weave vs the chain stitch? Having dropped hundreds of thousands of balloons over my career in this business I have to remain loyal to the weave method. Done properly it never fails and the nice thing about it is that once rigged, it can be "tested" to assure that it is going to work! That is a good feeling especially when you have to rig many drops! As June stated about the chain stitch, "One precaution to take is to make sure that no necks of any balloons get into the stitching. If that happens the stitch will tighten around the neck of the balloon and the drop will fail. That is the only draw back." The word "fail" is not in my vocabulary when it comes to balloon drops! The chain stitch has its application for things like the star and heart drops, but when it comes to good old reliability, the weave method is my choice! Chuck Gruberman used the weave method for the democratic convention! I have found that there is one way for the chain stitch to foul up. Recall: You have the loop in your left hand and the single line in your right hand. Now ... if you accidently swap hands .... and in doing so pass the single line THRU the loop line ..... when you release the loop and pull, it will knot at the net. Thus, you can pull all you like, and they ain't coming down. Mind you, it is highly unlikely that a balloon pro would allow this to happen, but if you leave it to an outsider to pull your lines ...???? .... who knows what they've done? Our policy on a failed drop or magic (exploding) balloon ..... Our reputation couldn't afford whispers or bad press. NO CHARGE to the customer and a sincere letter of appology hand delivered with a balloon bouquet. Investigate and find the real error so that it can't happen again. I have done two balloon drops this week and the chain stitch that Bruce Walden teaches is the best way to go. That is the only way I would ever do a drop again since I have had two (2) failures with other weaving. Tie one end of the bag, lace it with the chain stitch and fill the other end with balloons then tie the end you just filled. I always make my last loop kinda big so that when the net is suspended I don't have to worry about the stitch falling out and the balloons falling prematurely. Then just pull the line and the balloons will come down. One precaution to take is to make sure that no necks of any balloons get into the stitching. If that happens the stitch will tighten around the neck of the balloon and the drop will fail. That is the only draw back, but with a few extra minutes of checking each balloon around the stitching, you should be fine. In his classes, Bruce Walden suggests weaving the bag. I know several top notch balloon pro's who swear by the chain stitch. Bruce Walden, in particular, one of the smartest people in the business, preaches and teaches it. I used it once and it was a disaster. I believe a large piece of confetti or a deflated balloon got stuck in one of the loops. Here's a simple experiment which will illustrate why i don't use the chain stitch. Prepare a foot or two of chain stitch in a net. Pretend one of your fingers is the neck of a balloon. Insert your finger into one of the loops of your chain stitch. Have your partner try to pull the stitch out. When it gets to your finger, feel what happens to your finger. If your line and your partner are both very strong, your experimental "drop" was a success and you will now be able to count to nine on your fingers. Otherwise your experimental "drop" failed. I was fortunate to be re-hired by the same client the following year, (I had very good rapport and a string of successes prior to that drop). There were three extra meetings with various top brass at which I had to grovel and explain to them how absolutely sure I was that I would not embarrass them, and that the drop would go flawlessly. I went back to the running stitch. I installed a second line as a backup, so I actually had a foot-wide piece of net attached by running stitch on both sides. If for any reason the first line failed I could pull the second line. The best part about it is that with a running stitch you can leave a couple of feet hanging down on the far side and test the line by pulling a foot or two of line through as soon as your drop is hung, and then again at any time prior to the drop. I have never had to use my second line, and I always demonstrate to the client that the line is working well before the drop happens. I use a simple twisted nylon line that you can buy in any hardware store and it works fine. i like the balloon Pro net because it is pretty sturdy and clear, but I've also used Bird netting from Agway. It's black, but otherwise about the same as Balloon Pro net. If you check the archives I think there was a discussion awhile back about chain stitch vs. running stitch. As I recall, Rocky Toomey, also one of the foremost balloon pro's around, is also a proponent of the running stitch. Wow, a "redundant release mechanism that allows verification prior to release." Danny made an important point with his "chain stitch finger drop" warning: "Pretend one of your fingers is the neck of a balloon. Insert your finger into one of the loops of your chain stitch. Have your partner try to pull the stitch out... you will now be able to count to nine on your fingers." And being that he kindly professes that I'm "one of the smartest people in the business" I wanted to share that the reason I switched to the chain stitch was also an unfortunate bloody story: I was doing two very long balloon drops over a giant TV studio stage and we did a test - stitching one of the nets with a running stitch and the other with the chain stitch. I stupidly forgot to tell the union person pulling the running stitch cord to wear gloves - and he came to me after the "successful" drops to show me his bleeding hands - the net had gathered (as the running stitch is want to do with any material) and he had to pull so hard to get it out that the cord cut into his hands. He specifically asked me if the bags were stitched differently and told me never to rig one the way his was again. I haven't and I've never regretted that decision. Yes, the chain stitch has the potential drawback that if something (like a balloon neck or Danny's missing digit) gets caught in the chain it can stop the chain from releasing. To keep this from happening, stitch the bag on a flat taut surface to get an even stitch. Make sure the bag is packed tight with balloons, then visually check the opening to ensure there are no errant balloon necks - if so, either cut the necks off or rotate the balloons in the net. Following this system I've had hundreds of successful drops. If you are using the running stitch, ensure you use heavy monofilament (usually 80 - 120 lbs.) and make the line as slippery as possible by coating it with soap, silicone or wax. Many good balloon artists use the running stitch - the IBAC producers and Danny prefer it. Regardless, the running stitch always has the potential drawback of gathering the net and not releasing either. So, there is no question that both techniques usually work well if done correctly and that unfortunately both have a small potential error factor built in. We all need to weigh those error factors for ourselves. However I feel the chain stitch method has many additional advantages that tilt the scales in its favor: 1. The cord can be pulled from a myriad of places making it much easier to secure safely away from party drunks prior to the drop (the running stitch must be pulled along the same line as the net). 2. The cord is tied onto the net in a chain stitch, so the rip cord can not fall down on the guests once the bag is open. 3. Since the cord is tied onto the net, the completed drop can be shaken until every balloon falls out (important because some clients feel that stray balloons stuck in the net are an eyesore for the remainder of the evening, and I personally feel it makes for a more professional effect). 4. It's much easier to pull out the chain stitch - no gloves or special strength are required. Mastery of the chain stitch also allows many other types of balloon drops - like the duplet square packed garland drop, the Japanese quilted balloon drops and releases and the Sculpture Drop hearts and stars. -Bruce Walden Regarding balloon drops and releases ... I would like to add some extra information about straight stitch pull lines. We have found that "Weed trimmer line" works very well because: 1. It stretches a lot less when you pull on it... if any 2. When you pull the line for the release the line will recoil and contain itself better then Monofilament. 3. it's color coded! 4. **** In addition, it was pointed out earlier that a straight stitch is harder to pull do to the friction created with the net and balloons. To cure this situation we have had the most success with spray cooking oil, yep, stuff like PAM. We found this out, (as we find out so many other things), in desperation when the traditional solutions don't work as well as desired! Some people bill this knowledge as experience ... at the time it was a gift from above. I was able to pull 3 - 40 ft. bags at one time and the four remaining bags were pulled by first timers! Oh yes, No. 4****, you can recycle the trimmer line back to your Weed Eater!!!! I know that a lot of people use a lot of different techniques to close the bags. At IBAC they soap the line and run it straight thru. That works well, but they wear gloves to avoid "line cuts." I still use the old tried and true chain stitch. It may be the "old"way but it has never failed me and I have a tie on spot on the bag, that allows the "droppee" to shake the bag a little as they drop so that nothing stays up in the bag upon completion. I have done a few drops, and the secret is not to pack them too tightly, otherwise the drag line will pull really hard. I like the idea of two lines, when you sew it up, sew it up in two places, in other words , add a piece of pronet about 12 inches wide, and sew it on both sides, then if one fails, you can always pull the other line. ANTI-RUNNING Don't use the running stitch!! A running stitch will not go around corners and your drops would fail! Do the chain stich as in the directions (practice one first) and then once the bag is fully stiched, keep making the chain stitch for at least one foot. This will give you a bit of safety so that if the line gets snagged, you will have that foot of chain stitch before the bag opens. Also this extra chain stich will help keep the weight of the monofil line from pulling itself open. Also be sure that once the bag is full and stiched, you must put your fingers in the holes and turn the knots toward teh inside of the drop bag. Not only does this make the drop look better but it prevents a balloon knot from getting caught in the line and keeping the bag from opening fully. I know that most running stich drops use a nice heavy weight (80 or 100 pound) line, but I have had the best luck with a 25 or 30 pound mono line on a chain stich because it is softer and easier to work with. Don't worry about the line breaking because a chain stich will almost unravel itself as you pull. You'll find this out when you practice. Practive this with the star or heart drop before you do the big ones, nothing beats experience! PRO-RUNNING We have used a running stitch on these with no problems!! Just pack it full and plump and do not skimp.... they need to be filled to look and work correctly !! The only other suggestion.... Have a slow steady hand do the pull cords... they sway easily and you need to have a good ,steady ,hand over hand pull action.... no quick ,over excited. jerky movements !! DROPS - PULLING THE CORD Has anyone ever used a kite string winder? I am thinking of the one I once saw that has a handle like a fishing reel to twist the cord on easily and smoothly. GENERAL ADVICE a) Buy a net. b) Practice the chain stitch until you can do it in your sleep. c) Determine where your rigging points in the room are. d) Have someone QUALIFIED rig the bag after it's stuffed onsite. Use a Compact Pro or something like it to stuff a tee shirt inside of a balloon. Then throw a few of these into a balloon drop. Flowers, Inc. Balloons has a nice heart shaped net with instructions for your drop. I used this net this past summer for a wedding reception using 11", 9" and 5" balloons inside the net to drop. It was beautiful and made a big hit with the bride and groom and their guests. Drops tend to scare people until they do one. They are a lot easier than you first might expect. Here is some instruction on doing one. Balloon Pro and others produce a plastic netting (squares are about 1/2" or 1"). Open net entirely. Then fold in half the long way. Use cable ties on one short side about every 7 " or so (you do the other short side last). Run your pull line thru the open (long) side by putting it thru a square about the 4th or 5th down from the opening and go thru the opposite piece of net. Now go up about 7 " and go back thru both pieces and continue until you have done the whole net. Make sure several extra feet of line extends out of the end of the net so you can test pull the line later. Now you have one of the short sides finished and the drop line going thru the long opening where the balloons will drop out. Now blow and load balloons thru the short side that is still open. As the end of the net fills use an air blower to blow them to the other end of the drop net. You may need to push a few and shake the net but it will work. Once the bag is nearly full start putting cable ties on the short open side leaving a small opening so you can a few more balloons and then close it with more cable ties. Test that the line can pull thru the net. It might take some effort to do this. Now put a few cable ties on the top of the net so you can tie off the net to the ceiling. There are several ways to do release nets and this was the easiest to explain in this forum. It may not be exactly the way we do them now but is a good method to begin with. Also your distributor can tell you what size net to buy for the quantity and size you want to drop. If the net is too big you can cut off some. DROP IDEAS We stuffed money, real money and play money, one bill per 11 inch CLEAR balloon. We rolled the bills up, stuck them thru the neck, inflated them with air and had a money drop!! The salespeople then scurried all over the place popping the balloons and having a blast while grabbing the money... think children and pinata... same effect !! They LOVED it and we do it for them regularly now!! HOW MANY BALLOONS? Q. Is there a formula to figure out what size (in square feet) net I need in order to create a bag for one thousand 11" balloons, assuming I fold the net in half? Mark writes: There are lots of formulas, but before you can use them, your question needs to be more specific. When filled with balloons, what is the shape of the "bag" that you wish to create? It is roughly elliptical in cross section? Is it roughly rectangular in cross section? Is it roughly a shallow rectangle in cross section with just one or two layers of balloons in the thickness direction? Is it circular in cross section? Is it something else? Each bag shape has a different surface area to volume ratio. Therefore, each will require a different size net to hold your thousand balloons. (For example, one layer of balloons arranged in a 27' square, and wrapped top and bottom would require a roughly 28' X 56' net. If you want to use the smallest amount of netting, try a roughly 11' diameter spherical disco-ball of balloons, made from a roughly 35' x 35' net.) Danny Magowan writes: You must approximate, because you can't tell exactly how much space there will be between balloons - it depends on just how they are packed into the net. This is a simple geometry problem, and you will never have to ask if you know how to think this type of problem through. It is simply a matter of knowing the name of the shapes you're using, and then looking up (or memorizing) the formulas. You can't be receiving this message unless you've got a computer, and even the crudest computers these days have some sort of spreadsheet software on them, so set your spreadsheet to figure out the math and punch in whatever numbers you want. We are dealing with VOLUME OK, an 11" balloon, for our purposes can be considered to be a sphere. The formula for the volume of a sphere is "4/3 pi times r cubed" "Pi" = 3.14 , r is the radius, which is half of the diameter, so the radius of an 11" balloon is half of 11", or 5.5", and to cube that, it's "r times r times r" So take out your calculator, and enter 4 / 3 * 3.14 * 5.5 * 5.5 * 5.5 = 696.5 (approx) 696.5 WHATS????? well, cubic inches, which is about 0.4 cubic feet. If you blow the balloon a little bigger, it's about 0.5 cubic feet, which you should know because "everyone knows" that an 11" balloon holds about a half a cubic foot of helium. we won't get into a discussion about pressure or teardrop shape or over & under inflation. OK, let's leave 0.5 cu. ft. per 11" balloon plus 0.25 of empty space between balloons 1000 - 11" balloons will occupy approx. 750 cubic feet. Now for the fun part - what shape of net do you want to use? Well, one usually makes a net that is roughly a cylinder. Think of a beer can vs. a can of Dinty Moore beef stew. Long and skinny, vs. short and fat. The formula for the volume of a cylinder is just like the formula for a box. You remember the volume of a box is l * w * h where l = length, w + width, and h = height. Well the truth is, what they really mean is the area of the base (l * w) times the height - that's how they get l * w * h. (If you really want to know, that formula is for any 3 dimensional shape that is made by extruding or stretching a two dimensional shape - whether it's a prism, or a toblerone chocolate bar - which is just a triangle shaped tube, or if it's a toilet paper roll, which is a circular tube inside another, or a box, which is a rectangle shaped tube) If you start with a rectangular piece of net, then one axis (let's call it the length) will be the length of your tube. (don't forget to allow for stitching, and of course both ends of this tube will really be crimped like the end of a tube of toothpaste if you stitch a straight seam) The other axis (the width) you will fold over, and it will become the circumference of your tube when the tube is full. Now the width of your net, or the circumference of the tube directly affects the length your tube must be. Let's figure it out. Supposing you're working with a net that's 15' wide. You'll fold it over and it will be 7.5 wide, and stitched along the length (as yet undetermined) 15 feet is actually the circumference of the tube (think of a slice of bologna) You must determine the area of that circle by finding the diameter (divide your circumference by pi) so 15 / 3.14 = 4.75' (approx) Your diameter is 4.75, take half of that to get your radius, oh let's say 2.4'. Now get your area using "pi r squared" (3.14 * 2.4 * 2.4 = 18 sq.ft.) And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for: 18 (the area of the circle in the cylinder) times WHAT (the length of the cylinder) equals 750 (the volume of the cylinder which will hold 1000 11" balloons) well, 750 / 18 = 41.66 so we now know that a net 15' wide and 41.66 long (let's say about 40' long, and let's say about 1000 balloons and let's say about 11" diameter) Now, just for fun (fun??) let's fold the same net along the other axis, so it's 15 long and 40' around. First of all, it's about 12' in diameter, because 25/3.14 = 12(approx) so the area of that circle is 3.14 * 6 * 6 = 113 (approx) 113 times 15 = 1700 (approx), so the same size net sewn short and fat instead of long and skinny will hold more than twice as many balloons - about 2200 - 11" balloons. Now in real life the precision of your stitching and your inflation may greatly alter your actual results. you can always make your net a little long and then roll up the end when you've put your 1000 balloons into it so it looks snug. Make sure you don't roll your release cord up into the rolled up part of the net! Of course you could look at the label for a Balloon Pro net. I've got a 13' by 50' Balloon Pro net here that says, (according to instructions written by our own dear Rob Rishmawy) it will hold approx. 1300 - 9" balloons or 700 - 11" balloons. My math actually gets 900 - 11" balloons, Rob has allowed 1 cubic foot per balloon while I allowed .75 cubic foot per balloon. Of course when you stitch and hang the net you lose some of the volume, and a lot depends on how tight you pack your balloons, and exactly what size you inflate them to. drop advice Know your math is the best advice I can give. If you have done a CBA or have the tapes etc and are in the process there is information on - volumes of balloons - that you can use as a guide. You will need to know the volume of each balloon size you are planning to use eg 5" .06 cu feet, 9".25 cu feet, 11" .5 cu feet. These are rough guides only. You will need to know the volume of the cylinder (alias the net) you are planning to use. I am assuming that you are doing a drop bag, but there are so many different shapes and sizes and styles you can do. I use to have a lot of trouble with the volume and surface area thing until I wrote down all the formulas and then applied an example and did the experiment. I have worked all of mine out in metric. Thanks to a guide I found in a magazine from the UK I believe that Ian Mc Gregor from Capel Manor College in England did these. And I would like to thank him profusely. Anyhow. My example was I have a client that wants a drop of 500 balloons. If I use 9" balloons whose volume is .25 cu feet how big will the net be? What is the volume of 500 balloons? 500 balloons x .25 cu feet = 125 cu feet is the volume of the net. I have netting material that is 10 feet wide and can be whatever length I cut it. The width of the net is the circumference of my cylinder. How long is the net??? Formula for circumference is 3.14 x diameter. To find the diameter of my cylinder divide the circumference 10 feet by 3.14 = 3.185 feet. I know that the formula for the volume of a cylinder is the Surface Area of the end of the cylinder x the Height. Volume = SA X H The formula for the Surface area of a circle is 3.14 x radius squared. Radius is half of the diameter. 3.185 divided by 2 = 1.5925 feet Surface Area of the end of my cylinder = 1.5925 x 1.5925 x 3.14 = 7.96 feet We know what the volume of 500 balloons is and we know what the surface area of the end of the cylinder is so how long is the net? SA X H = Volume of Net 7.96 feet x H = 125 cu feet H = 125 cu feet divided by 7.96 cu feet H = 15.7 feet The net needs to be roughly 16 feet long. If you want to know how many of each size balloon you will fit into the net all you need to do is work out how many 5" = 9" = 11" or how much volume each of these has. Costings. How long to inflate and fill net? Do you know how long it will take you to blow up say 100 5", 100 9" or 100 11". Use this as your guide. I would double this time or allow for an extra person for the same amount of time, as it is the filling and constant pushing of the balloons to the other end that takes up just as much time as inflation. So if you allow for two peoples wages this should more than cover it. When we set up at the venue we use two heavey base plates with poles in them and stretch the end opening of the net between the two poles and tape in place This means the opening is at the right height for us to work comfortably and the balloons fall into the net. If you have a job site where you can work with the net hanging over a balcony to the floor below, even better other wise we've found it's just as easy to load the plates and poles into the van and we know we can work fast and efficiently with out having to worry about finding things to tape the net to. You only get one good back so I think its a good idea to save it from any excess bending. Flutter fetti is best loaded in the same way you do a banner drop. I have found that the new Qualatex #40 wide ribbon is the perfect width for wrapping up the flutter fetti "pellets". I would allow one Flutter fetti "pellet" every 4 feet. Once you net is full and you have the pellets wrapped up in about 6 - 8 inches of ribbon, go to the top of the net (opposite to where the balloons will fall out) and cut a small opening to place your pellet inside. Make sure you position it so it is wedged between a balloon and the net. You can even tape the end of the ribbon to the net to ensure the Flutter fetti pellet does unravel out of the ribbon. This does not take very long and should be done just before installation. Believe me I have experienced the mess that Flutter fetti can make if the net has to be moved to much. So the net is filled with all you balloons and Flutter fetti and it weighs next to nothing. How do you hang it? I would figure this out before hand. How high is the roof? Do they have ladders or a scissor lift to access it or do you have to organise that? Do you have a license to drive a scissor lift and are you scared of heights? Maybe you could organise for someone else to hang it for you - a professional or staff at the hotel/function room. Depending on the size of the drop and all these other factors it could take YOU any where from 30 minutes to two hours. You really need to have all of this sorted out before you take on the job. And don't forget removal of the net? Who's responsible and when does it have to be done, like what time? -- In the middle of an excellent post full of good advice for drops, I read: >You will need to know the volume of each balloon size you are planning to >use eg 5" .06 cu feet, 9".25 cu feet, 11" .5 cu feet. >You will need to know the volume of the cylinder (alias the net) you are >planning to use. >If you want to know how many of each size balloon you will fit into the net >all you need to do is work out how many 5" = 9" = 11" or how much volume >each of these has. This equation sets the volume of 500 balloons directly equal to the volume of the net. This is like saying that since each 11" balloon is 0.5 cu feet, you could put two of them inside a box that measures 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 foot. Clearly, this can't be done. The problem is that your method neglects the air spaces between the balloons. Predicting net size using this unrealistic 100% packing efficiency will give you an unconservative result for net size: in other words, the net size your method predicts will be too small to hold your 500 balloons. To find a better estimate of net length which accounts for the air spaces, divide your 15.7 foot length by 0.66 to give 23.8 feet. This is explained in greater detail in the "Indoor Drops" section of the "Balloon special effects" chapter in the Guide (on the Balloon HQ web page): http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/deco_effects.html Under "Indoor Drops," look for the "How many Balloons" subsection which was mostly taken from a post written by Danny Magowan. Danny recommends a packing efficiency of 0.5/(0.25+0.5) = 0.66 = 66% or 2/3). Further down in that chapter, under "Stuffing Exploding Balloons," you'll find another discussion of the "packing factor" concept (from a post I wrote in response to one of Danny questions about gumballs). It mentions that the most efficient packing method for spheres yields only a 74% packing efficiency (approx 1/4 of the volume between spheres is air). Since balloons aren't really spheres, they won't pack quite as tightly, backing up Danny's 66% figure. For an illustrated explanation of packing efficiency in two dimensions, read the "Doing the `How many Balloons' Calculation" section of the "Large balloon sculptures" chapter of the Guide: http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/deco_sculptures.html and do the coin-arranging experiment it suggests. -- Maybe I am a haphazard balloon Artist so please bear with me on that... But I think Balloon Drops are one of the easiest and most profitable skills we have. I do not measure "space" inside the bag, nor do I stress over its success. They ALWAYS go for us! This is our simple Balloon Drop Strategy: Buy the big Balloon Pro Nets. I take the net and pull it all out and get it straightened up. I can get 4 or 5 bags out of the balloon pro net I use. I then use cable ties to close up the side of the bag, cutting off the excess. I take a 80 test mono line and "soap" it up. Dial works great and smells good too :-) I take the bottom of the bag and fold it up about "three squares" (the bag is a series of little squares in a mesh formation so that is how we measure the "squares".) I then run the mono line back and forth like a zig zag across the bottom of the bag to close it - like a fish swimming from side to side. Once I get about four foot in I start to fill. We use 5 inch, 9 inch, 11 inch, 18 inch, 24 inch and 3 footers as well as 260 Q's to give the bag a really interesting fill. The big ones fall faster, the 260's kind of zig zag and twirl as they come down, the 11, 9 and 5 inch move a little slower, so we get a " show" instead of a " dump" and that is what the client really wants... a "show!" I do 250 or 500 balloons, all sizes and types count, and then push and shove and shake and condense the bag. Once I have the latex in I finish sewing up the bag in the same zig zag, back and forth pattern. Then I go about 4 inches up the side. Finish the sides off by rolling the mesh to make the bag tight and cable tying it shut. Once I have it all done ( about 40 minutes) I rig and test. I pull the line to make sure it is "sliding" thru the mesh The one end has a piece of mono about 3 feet long dangling and the other end is the rip cord. Once I know it's fine I hang it and secure the line for the DJ or whomever is assigned the fun task. I leave a note that says to pull it in a slow, steady hand over hand fashion, Sometimes folks get so excited they just Yank and Yank. A slow steady hand over hand approach gives a steady and fun drop. WORRYFREE! There is also a GREAT article by Rocky Toomey about this in images. Check that out as well. -- Can anyone verify that the The Balloon Pro Millenium Bags (C3000) (holds 2000 9 inch balloons) is actually two x 40' by 14' nets. I purchase two for New Years Eve and want to make sure I am getting a total of 4 nets. I opened it up as much as I could and still couldn't tell if it is one bag or two. I only have small rooms to open it in. First, invest in a driveway, street, or backyard. Then you can make an empirical observation as to what you have in your posession. If it were me, I would much rather be able to say, "Golly, this is only one 14x40 net!" than to have someone on the internet tell me what they think I have in my posession based on how I described it to them. Secondly, here's some geometry for you. Assuming you are rigging this net as a cylinder, or tube by sewing the long edges of the net together, you will have a cylinder that is 40' long and 14' around (so the circumference is 14'). To figure the volume of the tube, it's pi x R(squared) x length. (If you have trouble remembering this, think of the volume of a box, which is L x W x H. which amounts to the area of one face (Length x Width) times the other measurement (Height). The cylinder is the same thing - the area of the circular face (pi x R-squared) times the other measurement, in this case, length, or if you hold the tube vertically it would be height). Now, how do you get the "pi x R(squared)" thing from a circumference of 14'? Well, the circumference is pi x diameter, so divide 14' by pi and you have your diameter, roughly 4.5'. This is a good number to have because it tells you how fat the tube is going to be, or how far down from the ceiling it will hang if you can keep it perfectly circular when you hang it. Now that you have the diameter, cut it in half and you get the radius, roughly 2.25'. At last! R(squared) is 2.25 x 2.25, = 5.06 times pi (3.14) = 15.88, times length (40') = 635.5 cubic feet. (Are you still with me?) So, we have a net which has a volume of 635.5 cubic feet. We have 9" balloons, which have a volume of roughly .27 cubic feet, (or .29 depending on whom you ask, and who is inflating), so yoou can get 3 or 4 balloons per cubic foot, which means ONE 14' x 40' Balloon Pro net will hold approximately 2000 9" balloons. Which means if you had taken your net out to your driveway, or gotten a friend to help you unroll it out in the street or in your backyard, or your local school gym or church basement, you would probably find that you'd better buy two more nets if you want 4 nets 14' x 40'. Of course if you want 4 nets of about 1000 balloons each you can probably cut the two you've got in half to make 14' x 20' nets. Of course, you need to allow for lost volume when you gather the ends of the nets, and overlap to stitch the net. But of course a little over- or under-inflation will throw another variable in, as will the fact that there are little gaps between the balloons that take up some volume outside of the balloons. -- rigging a star drop I followed Bruce Walden's instructions enclosed with the drop net to the T. I used ceiling hooks to rig it to the tracks in the ceiling. If I remember correctly there were some enclosed in the kit. I tied dacron line to three points on the top of the net and then tied those to the ceiling hooks that had already been installed. Be sure you secure the dacron cord, or whatever you use, very securely to both the net and the ceiling hooks. We've used these star-shaped drop bags successfully, both the 4' and the larger. I would make the following recommendations: -they look best done in a solid color--darker looks better -be sure to cut the necks off the balloons near the stitching (I'd do all of them), so nothing snags the release -we used three metal ceiling clips to attach to a drop ceiling grid, adding a loop of monofilament to each side so that the "arms" are supported at the right height -stuff it tight on the floor before hanging, if not, there will be some settling, causing it to lose some of its shape -may want to use slightly smaller balloons in the "points" of the star -most tweaking (turning necks inward, adjusting the pack, etc) is best done before you hang it, particularly if you are up very high They come together very quickly and nicely, but hanging anything always takes me longer than I expect... allow yourself time! I have hung the 4 foot star using only one line but I would recommend 3. One at the top peak of the star. Then one line on each side, attached to the other ends of the peaks. We also have helium filled the balloons and put the seam across the top. Once the cord is pulled, it makes a great balloon release. With the dissolving heart you will have the same worries as any balloon drop. I have found that the chain stitch works best with this type of drop because of all the turn. Make sure to keep the necks of your balloons away from your seam. -- Three questions to drop experts who use the chain stitch; do I still have to lubricate the line if I'm using the chain stitch or is that just necessary for the running stitch? What is the best pull line to use? I have ordered Dacron arch line, if it is like fishing line I don't like the stiffness, would like something more flexible. Anybody know what Bruce Walden uses in his video on drops (vol. 3)? It looks much more flexible. -- >I have some questions about using nitrogen in a balloon drop. >1-Is there a problem when using nitrogen in 5" balloons for a balloon drop? no. >2-Can they be filled a day or 2 before the job and have them last? yes. to keep them fresh the entire filled net can be stored in a plastic mattress bag (huge plastic bag) if not hung. >3-Is it necessary to use nitrogen or is air fill better? Good questions. The answer depends on the magnitudes of the competing diffusion rates. In other words, in her efforts to make all concentrations and pressures equal, does Mother Nature want to dilute the nitrogen (by forcing the other components of air (oxygen, argon, CO2, etc.) into the balloon) faster or slower than she wants the nitrogen to leave due to the pressure differential across the balloon wall? I haven't run tests of air and nitrogen filled balloons and measured the diameters each day, but my guess is that a nitrogen-filled balloon should last a bit longer than an air filled balloon. >4-Does the air filled or the nitrogen filled fall faster? Air-filled 5" balloons will fall faster than equally-sized nitrogen-filled 5" balloons, but the difference will be very very subtle. You'd get a much bigger variation in fall times just by using balloons of different size. If you want equally-sized balloons to fall at noticeably different rates, fill some of them with Sulfur Hexafluoride, a colorless, odorless, non-flammable, inert gas that is five times heavier than air (by contrast, helium is seven times lighter than air). Mix different air/sulfur-hexafluoride ratios in some of the balloons if you really want a bag full of equally sized balloons that will fall at a variety of speeds. By the way, if you take a breath of Sulfur Hexafluoride, your voice gets deeper. Of course, BHQ does not recommend inhaling any oxygen-displacing gas, whether it be He, N2 or SF6. BHQ recommends that everyone sticks to breathing air. Well, except for fish :-) Your trap door for the balloon release could be a round or square flap released by pulling one string, allowing the balloons to pour out over the crowd, then the 'flap" could have a new years greeting printed on it. I'd make sure that the 'holding cloth' that your stretching over the opening is of a very light material and that it is shaped like a bowl allowing the balloons to roll to the lowest point thus falling out the 'hole when you want them to. Make sure that you have a 'JIGGLE LINE' attached to give those slow falling fellas a bit of a nudge. consider doing the 'holding cloth in RMS. Why do you ask? you might also be able to incorporate a pattern in a stained glass ceiling effect. If that's out consider Link-O-Loons. They to would allow for a pattern to be incorporated and then leave a neat ceiling behind. They would be cheaper to install (stock wise) and allow you to make a bigger profit intead of the (sailmaker?) Another suggestion would be if you'e using RMS or L-O-L to have a cheap material over the top of them to allow for the drop balloons to freely flow or have a large dip in the design to make sure none of the balloons 'snag' on the way out of the trap-door. DROPS GONE BAD Yesterday (10/8/98) our local Wal-Mart (Toms River, NJ) had a charity event where there was going to be a balloon drop and inside the balloons were prizes (printed on paper to be claimed). It seems that the drop did not work very well and only some of the balloons came out. Parents at that point got involved and 50 people (adults and kids) were injured and 8 had to go to the hospital. The manager of the store got punched in the face by one of the parents and was one that had to go to the hospital. The story said that there was blood on the floor, and the scene was a mess. Wal-mart has stated that they had done these kinds of drops in the past and will now reconsider this in the future. There was no mention of which balloon company (if any) did the drop. What a great idea for a charity event - too bad it went bad. Promotional contest turns into free-for-all at N.J. store Associated Press, 10/09/98 05:26 BRICK, N.J. (AP) - Forty-eight children and an adult suffered minor injuries when a balloon-popping contest for kids turned into a melee at a Wal-Mart store. About 200 children had gathered at the store Thursday evening for the promotional event, in which about 1,000 prize-filled balloons were dropped onto the floor, police Lt. Nils Bergquist said. ``The kids started jumping around, then the parents started jumping in to get the balloons, not caring about stepping on kids,'' said Starla Weiss, who brought five kids to the event.``There was blood on the floor.'' Authorities were called to the store 10 minutes later. Aja Shepherd, 16, an employee at the McDonald's restaurant inside the store, said several ambulances were called to the scene. ``The parents started getting involved,'' she said. ``They were fistfighting.'' Store manager Joe Herron could not be reached for comment. Thirty-six people declined medical treatment, five people were treated at the scene and eight were taken to hospitals. This mess was caused by stupid, greedy parents. Adults. People who are supposed to demonstrate good judgement and guidance to their children. Was it children stomping on other children who caused it to get out of hand? No. Only when the adults jumped in to try to get their "bonus balloons," did the children get hurt. We once did a balloon drop shaped to look like an Easter Egg to welcome the Easter Bunny at a local mall. The different colored balloons represented diffferent "routes" to take to pick up prizes. The kids had a great time -- UNTIL the adults rushed in and the small children were "overlooked". A solution we offered (besides never doing it again), was doing the drop in a confined area where only children under 7 were allowed in. If you leave the kids alone, they will have fun. It takes an adult to ruin it. INDOOR RELEASES BALLOON BANNER RELEASE Bruce Walden does a surprise balloon banner which is lifted out of a box by a 3 foot balloon. I've done this often and have used the empty carton from Frances Meyer bags - there's a PVC rod the perfect length in the sturdy box. The box can be sprayed or covered with paper or mylar or at times I've even inserted it into another container. Place additional weight into the base of the box - we use pancake-like sandbags made from deflated 4" or 9" mylars. Most often I use wedding aisle runners cut to size for the banner because they're lightweight, easily available and easy to cut. We have used vinyl letters for lettering - and at times the holographic or mirrored mylar that's adhesive on the back. You can also get Tyvar(?) at the fast sign places which will cost more, but be cut to the exact size you need and be printed on both sides. When we haven't had a Frances Meyer carton, I've simply used an empty gift wrap carton, but then have had to fit the rod, etc. into it. Hope this helps. It's a wonderful effect, especially appropriate for domed or high ceilings like malls. make a banner, maybe with a message on it, and place confetti it. Then when the banner unrolls, the confetti drops out and the message appears. GLO-STICK RELEASE Chuck Guberman entertained us with a magic act at Unique Concepts Open House in June 1986. At the end of the act they did a balloon release in the ballroom. This ballroom had a ceiling over 25 feet high. The balloons had glowsticks in them, and it was quite a sight to see them rising in the ballroom. Then as the event approached midnight the balloons began to slowly drift down. What a sight. I'll never forget it. I'm not sure who was responsible for this effect... I always wondered if the falling of the balloons was planned or just a surprise to all involved. DISSOLVING 4-PACK GARLAND The pasta method works well for small to medium sized arches. Basically you take 2 lines and feed them through tubes of pasta. Color code the ends of the lines (e.g. one red line and one black line). I tend to use ziti or rigatoni. The tubes don't have to be pasta, but they do have to be biodegradable to use in a release. Indoors (with an air-filled balloon drop) you'd want to find something that would be soft and eye-friendly to use. Please DO NOT be tempted to use short pieces if plastic balloon stick. Not good for the environment and not good for the professional reputation of our industry as a whole. After you have the tubes on your lines, attach your balloons (helium-filled for a release) by tying or twisting around the tubes. (Note: If you twist the balloons on, make sure the tubes are long enough so the cluster won't slip off... this could trap the tubes on the line). When the arch is completed, secure both ends of both lines. When you wish for the garland to dissolve, have one person at each end of the garland release/cut one cord and pull the other (e.g. one person pulls red, the other black). When the cords pass by each other (hopefully at the top of the arch) the arch separates and becomes 2 columns... which dissolve cluster by cluster as the cord is removed from their center. Hope this helps! If you'd prefer a different method, there are 2 other techniques for dissolving garlands that I cover in my advanced balloon drop classes, or on video #8 in my Balloon School series. -Bruce Walden Q. how do you attach each cord to make it stationary while it is only an arch for decor? Also since the quads are being attached to the pasta, it makes them very loose while backing the rest of the spiral. How do you ensure that the quads end up tight and in the spiral rotation that is desired? Also, how do you keep the last rows from sliping to the ends of the line and loosening up? A. You are right about using pasta--I think I used zitti from the McFrugal's (like a 99 cent store). You string the line with the pasta first with how ever many pieces you need equal to the number of quads you need. Then you just put the quads on as you normally would but each quad is its own pasta tube. I only used one piece of arch line and then had it weighted on each end. I got to cut the line when the time came and the quads, pasta and all go flying away because the helium lifts the quads off the line. It's similar to when a necklace breaks and the beads just slide off, but the balloons go in the opposite direction. None of the quads came off the pasta either. I have sequential pictures of it dissolving and flying away--it resembled molecules floating off into the sky. disappearing garlands...here's a few things to consider: Never re-use your line as it can develop a "memory" and kink up. Ensure the necks of all balloons are cut off so they can't get tangled in the chain stitch. Similarly, only use 14" and smaller balloons with small tight knots. I'd suggest using duplet garlands (rather than quads) since there are fewer balloons to get caught in the stitch. I'm not sure why you had trouble with the duplet packing... have you used it before without the chain stitch? The secret usually is to ensure the balloons are not too fully inflated (like 11" to 9.5") so they have enough "grab" to hold onto their neighbors, and then pack them with a very even tension. Packing evenly while chain stitching usually entails having one person making the chain while a second person places the duplets in position. Bruce Walden in one of his videos( and I'm not sure which) demonstrates a great method for doing this fun and creative arch. He used Penne pasta tubes to tie the quads to. Then he strings the pasta tubes together using two lines. When the time is right, pull one line from one side and the other line from the opposite side and you will have a beautiful dissolving garland. The best thing about the pasta tubes is that they are biodegradable so they can be used for outdoor use if that is your fancy. 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.
Room size is a variable, but having access to a mezzanine certainly helps; being up higher should provide better results as far as coverage and overall effect goes.
There are quite a few different types and sizes of cannons. If you're looking at confetti, and the room is fairly big, I'd go with the larger diameter cannons. This would allow you to use more and larger confetti (1 1/2" squares that we call Aerofetti would probably work great). You could also add in some of the rectangular Turbofetti - it spins and hangs as it falls.
For the cannon, you could use a handheld device like our Sky cannon, a floor device like the Stage Mortar or an electrically fired device like the Jumbo Air Cannon, Electric Stage Mortar, or the Confetti Volcano (a device that we premiered in public at last years IBAC Mardi Gras Banquet, to keep a steady stream of confetti going). Except the Volcano, all these have the same size barrel, so it's mostly a matter of how they are fired.
Sky Cannon and Stage Mortar are manually fired and use a CO2 cartridge for each shot.
Electric Stage Mortar also uses a CO2 cartridge, but it's fired as soon as an electric solenoid gets power. It can be plugged into a switch and fired remotely; just flip the switch sending power to it and it'll go.
Jumbo Air cannon uses an air tank that can be filled from an air compressor or Gas station air hose. It holds enough air for at least 2 shots. It's also fired electrically. All of these devices would hold approx. 1/3 to 1/2 pound of confetti (which is a lot as it spreads out..)
If I haven't answered all
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A great way to surprise your guests is to explode the 3 foot balloons during the party! Exploding balloons are one of my favorite and most profitable effects. (I charge anywhere from 125 to 150 C-shells each.) IDEAS Make a column and top it off with a large 3 foot balloon filled with 5-inch balloons. Weddings - first dance explosion! For an outdoor wedding I fill a 6' color latex balloon with 11" helium and explode on the kiss of the bride and groom for an easy release! What a decoration with bows and trails before wedding as guests arrive! Grand Openings - give-aways! I use them on columns for store give-aways. Attach paper punched index cards with prize certificates to each 5" balloon in a 3'er. (about 40-50 5" balloons) Prom Gymnasium - floating drops! Here's an absolutely WONDERFUL idea for New Year's Eve. Take 11"-15" balloons (she had used round balloons that had decoration on them.) and put confetti in them. Attach a 260 to the bottom. (Tie nozzles together, then ear twist 3 lengths of the balloon so the round balloon sits on the 260...kind of like you do for a flower.) At midnight, have the guests pop the balloons above their heads... Voila, a Shower of Confetti. Really neat effect and they make a great decoration for the party as well. Any manufacturers listening? A Jumbo "sausage shape" 6ft long x 30" diameter latex balloon would be great to have as an exploding balloon in venues with 12ft to 14ft ceilings. If this balloon had a small Bee Body "nipple" it could easily be rigged horizontally. Imagine that with "Celebrating 2000" printed along either side! Use the Conwin Insider to stuff it with confetti, flitter and 300 x 5" latex. A hot seller guaranteed! I think I could use the "sausage type" balloon for weddings... There are many local venues that have low ceilings and this would be a great alternative to offer. FILL THEM WITH... 3 foot balloons can be filled with lots of great things... smaller balloons, confetti, or whatever you think would look great at the party when this 3 foot (or 4 -or 5-foot) balloon is exploded. Sell your Bride on a "First Dance" balloon drop. Fill a 3" balloon with 6" hearts. Suspend it over the center of the dance floor. Then, during the first dance, have the balloon pop. They will be "showered with tiny hearts", and it makes for a great photo. explode 3 foot balloons filled with balloons and confetti. add garland between large 3 foot dissolvers I use my stuffing machine (Balloon Wrap) to put 40 five inch balloons, and my inflator to add 60 eleven inch balloons, plus confetti into a 6' Balloon. I transport in its un-inflated but stuffed condition. I hang with air, or float with helium on site. I use telephone wire to run lines. (red, white green, yellow) You only need one continuous loop! Pick a color and untwist enough of one to go all the way around and back! I think the best tip I can give you is leave slack. LEARNING HOW TO DO IT Bruce Walden has a "Special Effect" video out. It shows how to rig and explode balloons. With all the new wonderful tools on the market anyone can be a professional. I would like to recommend purchasing Bruce Walden's "Special Effect." I believe it is number 4 in his "Balloon School" video collection. He shows you how two systems work and gives some very helpful hints. Watch the video and then decide for yourself. There are several ways to pop the balloon (squibs, electrical devices, conwins new system), but my favorite is to give the Father of the Bride a VERY long (and decorated to the teeth) stick with a pin at the end, and let him do the popping. Each method has it own merits and faults, so you need to look at your comfort level, the size of the job and how much the client is willing to spend. For more info on either the Stinger or the nomatch-shock tube, see http://www.thoseballoonpeople.com/disolvingsales.html or e-mail (Ron Levine) at firstname.lastname@example.org COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS FOR EXPLODING BALLOONS There are many ways to explode balloons: The new Balloon Viper, call Balloon Depot 1-800-264-8684 The Destroyer, call the Balloon Outlet 609-653-4499 There is a new exploding device which has been developed in Australia. You can view details at: http://www.balloon-express.com/exploder.htmConwin's Pneumatic Exploder
1 special regulator/switch with an
outlet for 3 tubes
1 gross of adhesive balloon tabs
1 roll of clear tubing (250')
1 roll of dacron line
4 inline exploders (blue)
2 end of run exploders (yellow)
Absolutely no instructions (!)
As usual, Conwin has done a quality job. The regulator is just what you'd expect from them, and the exploders (about 2.95 each) are of high quality plastic, with large tabs for easy fastening to the balloon.
I used a small piece of tubing to seal off the 2 extra outlets on the regulator and attached about 5' of tubing between the regulator and an end of run exploder. The demo worked flawlessly. Push the switch, and a little gust of gas pushes the pin through the balloon.
Unfortunately, I also found that on this very short run, the air pressure blew the tubing out of the exploder, because the fit isn't very secure. The tubing fits INSIDE the exploder rather than outside. Please note that the neither the tubing nor the exploder were secured to the balloon for this demonstration
This raises two questions:
All in all, this looks very promising as a simple, cost effect way to provide exploding balloon effects. Someone with experience in SFX felt that shock tube might be a more reliable solution, but I feel that for those of us who chose to let our customers 'push the button', leaving a small tank with the regulator is a safer, more assured method!
Conwin's new Pneumatic Balloon Exploders are now available. Non-electric system is powered by any size helium or nitrogen cylinder. Easy installation requires only a pair of scissors, adhesive rigging tabs, dacron rigging line, and clear packing tape. Reliable and safe, non-pyrotechnic system is ideal for both large and small jobs. Economical system is reusable.
How to stuff 5-inch balloons into a 3 footer
For stuffing a 3 footer with 5 inch balloons, the method of using a pipe coupling has worked OK for us. We use 3 foot jumbo balloons, an ABS --- 4 1/2-inch pipe coupling, a pre inflated bag of 4 1/2 inch balloons, and an air inflator.
The 3 foot balloon must start with the balloon about 1/4 to 1/2 of the balloon filled with air, and the coupling in place.... To inflate this balloon with the coupling in place we use the pipe attachment that comes with our balloon stuffing machine.
Then using 5-inch balloons ..... SIZED to 4 1/2 inches, remove the air inflator and fill the hole with the 4 1/2 inch plug. The 4 1/2 inch coupling has an inside opening of only 4 inches. Therefore, it is a must that the balloons be sized to 4 1/2 inches to make a great seal when used as 'the plug.'
Now, just repeat the process of pushing 'the old plug' into the 3 foot balloon and pushing 'the NEW plug' into the ABS pipe coupling. It must be noted that a little air from the 3 foot balloon will get out each time a new balloon is pushed though the coupling... therefore you might have to re-inflate the 3 foot balloon as you perform this technique.
The Conwin system can explode a lot of balloons with one box. For a separate room it would be more cost efficient to have a second box. Conwins must be attached together by an air hose. It does not have a remote advantage ( bummer ). Essential Tips for Best Results when Using Conwin's Pneumatic Balloon Exploders. 1. Pre-test exploders with a pressurized line prior to rigging. Make sure that the exploder pin is fully retracted and the base of the exploder is smooth to the touch prior to attaching it to the balloons. 2. After rigging the air line, use 11'' balloons to test the system. This will insure that the air line has been properly rigged and that all the large balloons will pop on cue. 3. Fully inflate the large balloons. The surface of the balloons must be taut where the exploders are attached. If the balloon is soft or underinflated, the exploder pin will not pop the balloon. 4. Use 2 exploders per balloon, one Continual Exploder and one Elbow End Exploder. Attach the exploders to the center section of the balloon. This is the weakest part of the balloon. 5. Use high quality, 2" wide, clear packing tape (3M works well) to attach the exploders to the balloons. Use only 2 pieces of tape, one on each tab of the exploder. Do not tape over the sides or the top of the exploder. Do not coat the outside of the balloon with Balloon Shine or Hi-Float - this will prevent the tape from sticking. 6. Use Conwin's Insider Balloon Stuffing Tool to fill large balloon with the maximum number of small balloons. 7. Make sure the cylinder has a minimum of 800 psi. before detonating the balloons. 8. Hold the detonator button down continually until all the balloons have popped. > did anyone have problems with the pins on the Conwin Pnuematic exploders > completely coming out( by this I mean actually separating from the device)? > Also, has anyone ever had a tee fitting break from the pressure of the > line or for any other unexplainable reason? I personally used them for two different events, and almost all of mine either broke at the tee or came apart totally. (although none of the needles actually came out i think) We too have had problems with the Conwin Exploding System. Although we purchased it about two years aago, we have yet to use it because we can not get it to burst more than one balloon at a time at less than 50 feet. We even spent several more hours last week trying to ready it for a small, last minute New Years Eve job. Using clear packing tape helps keep the the pieces from blowing apart, but there does not seem to be enough pressure to activate the pins or to activate them hard enough to burst the balloons. I am one of the folks that complained about the conwin exploders. The pieces did come apart, and I do wish that the ends were more durable... BUT I rigged 12 three foot balloons over 100 feet and they all went off without a hitch. I was unhappy with the ends, but not with the effect! I have discovered that like any other balloons once your 3 foot balloons have been on display, they will lose some air. If your balloon loses enough air (or is not full to begin with) the balloon surface will be soft. When the pin is pushed in and then retracts, the pin hole will almost instantly seal up. Leaving you with a very slow leaking balloon in place of the exploding one you were planning on. With luck sending a second or more air spurt will cause the balloon to explode. To help avoid these problem. Put as much air in your balloon as possible. Always place 2 detonator pins toward the upper center side of your balloon. This is where the latex is weakest. The length from your tank to your balloon should not effect the pressure. I have exploded 10 balloon over 100 feet away at once with no problem. Just make sure all your connections are air tight and those balloons are full. P.S. Always have a pin on a pole for back up, just in case. Some of those balloons can take a beating and still hang around. I had one Qualitex balloon that even held up to a steak knife, (ended up using a lighter) I own the conwin system and used it one time.... I now use the gage to check the pressure in my tanks and the rest sits in a box in my workroom. Everyone from So Cal remember the installation Dinner at Swiss Park when the system didnt work and the boys were running around with pins on a pole? SHOCKTUBE The NoMatch Shocktube, is a thin hollow tubing with a light metal dust evenly distributed along the core. You punch a small hole in the tube to allow powder out to explode the balloon when you send a shockwave thru it. You punch the shock tube and tape it to the balloon. You continue running the tube to the next balloon and so on, and then you bring the end of the tube to one location and insert a Sure-Shot Shock Starter. When its time to detonate, you use a low voltage hand blaster to start the starter, initiating the shock wave. The balloons will all go off at once unless you have run different lines. For multiple lines to detonate at different time, separate lines must be run and each must be hooked up to its own hand blaster. Shocktube works best in situations where there are lots of balloons in a row (i.e. a Wall or for a whole string of balloons on a ceiling with streamers inside that all go off at once and the streamers come down). A file describing shocktube, our most advanced product for exploding balloons, can be found at: http://www.theatrefx.com/shocktube.html We also carry the old-fashioned "balloon squib" detonators. http://www.thoseballoonpeople.com/shocktubeinfo.html Rocky Toomey came up with an idea that was used Final Night at IBAC 14. The ceiling was covered with 16in balloons all filled with Flutter Fetti and with nomatch-shock tube run to the balloons. On cue, the shock was sent thru the tube and the balloons "instantly dissolved" (I find these words make client less nervous) and dropped Flutter Fetti on the crowds below (nice effect, takes a while to rig). I am a devoted Conwin exploder user, but I have to admit the shock tube (which is a wire with gun powder in it, you punch holes in at the location you attach to the balloon that you want to exploded, one small spark at one end and BOOM). The big boom plus the easy set up makes it impossible not to check into it. STINGER The Stinger is a completely safe and reliable battery-operated detonator which works with a radio remote control. The way this unit works is you attach a Stinger to the balloon, plug the stinger to the receiver, install the balloon and the receiver where you want them, and that's it. There are no wires to worry about or to run. When it's time to detonate, you press a button on the radio remote transmitter and the balloons explode. You can set them off all at once or separately by having them on different channels. The Stinger is best for one or multiple single balloons (i.e. a stuffed balloon with confetti and smaller balloons on a ceiling). I have had great success with electric balloon exploders. I always use two match head detonators per balloon (just in case one fails) and the placement of these should be on the equator of the balloon (in the middle) as this ensures the balloon bursting as apposed to going down and not releasing it's contents. What I (Bruce Walden) state, both in classes and on my videos, is that squibs or electric matches are unsafe. The concept with these devices is to burn a small hole in the side of the balloon so it pops. Unfortunately these methods can (although rarely) cause the balloon to catch on fire. There indeed have been a few fires in the industry, including one of my own. When I first saw the stinger my initial reaction was: if it's hot enough to burn a hole, it's hot enough to catch it on fire. However, the stinger is a much more controlled device, and tests done by a government agency here in Canada said it was safe to use. Personally, I believe there is still a remote chance of fire... but there is risk associated with everything we do. My first choice for exploding balloons would be one of the pin systems. But if I needed a remote-controlled device, I would give the stinger a try. I personally use the Conwin system. But the remote detonator that the stinger offers sure would save a lot of time. SQUIBBS I use the squibs exclusively. I detonate with a 9 volt battery charged hand held detonator that I bought from One Balloon Place back in 1989. I have never had any trouble with fire. I tape (with clear tape) the head to the side of the 3' or 6' and I leave an air passage under the head of the squib, because once I had a squib go off but the tape sealed the hole. Another time a dancer took a swing at one of the balloons and loosened a squib from the balloon. So now I secure the wire with a 2" square piece of tape to act as a strain relief for the wire, and then leave leave slack in the last few inches of squib wire before that I tape the head. Most of us who have been around for a while have used squibs to explode jumbo balloons in past. But (soapbox time) we NEVER use them now. Squibs work by burning a small hole in the balloon. Most of the time the balloon just explodes and that's all. But, once in a while (and the kicker is nobody knows when), the squib can actually catch the balloon on fire. Latex burns for a long time (think tire fire) and is not something you want to be involved with. To the best of my knowledge it has nothing to do with the amount or type (battery vs. electricity) of power used to set it off. If the squib can burn the latex, it can catch it on fire. It's unfortunately as simple as that. Squibs have been responsible for fires in the industry - including one my company was responsible for - and there have been lawsuits (luckily all it cost me was a major client's annual business). Please, for the health of your customers, your business, and especially the industry, DO NOT USE SQUIBS (or any other method that employs heat) to detonate balloons. There are other methods out there - Conwin's pneumatic system, shock tube, destroyers (although these have been discontinued), the Stinger, the Viper, and several other homemade methods (including a promising new one in Australia that may make it over to North America). If budget is tight, a long stick with a pin on it is foolproof. >Squibs work by burning a small hole in the balloon. Most of the time the >balloon just explodes and that's all. But, once in a while (and the kicker >is nobody knows when), the squib can actually catch the balloon on fire. Nobody knows when? I thought I (Nathan Kahn, Theatre Effects) did, maybe I'm wrong... Squibs don't catch balloons on fire when they're fired according to the squib manufacturers instructions, i.e. with a battery, or with a "hand-blaster", "detonator box", or whatever you prefer to call those little battery powered capacitor-discharge boxes. Squibs can catch balloons on fire when they're fired with 120V AC. If anybody knows of a case where battery-powered squib ignition caused balloons to catch on fire, I'd like to hear about it. This year we used squibs for the New Year. In one hotel we ended up doing 30 balloons this way. We were there at midnight just to make sure that everything went off and they went off perfectly. The best part was the rigging. We went in on the 29th and rigged the balloons and they still went off without a hitch on the 31st. It took us about 2 hours to rig to the ceilings of all the areas that the balloons went into and then it took Ted another hour to make little boxes to plug them into. The boxes cost about $10.00 to make, looked professional and had little buttons and switches on them. Here, we use electrical squibbs exclusively. This is why: For long runs of rigging and any multiples of latex over 3ft they deliver the needed power to burst a giant latex wall, taut or not. Lacey's recent post pointed out this very important consideration. Pneumatics, as they exist now, just don't cut any serious application of exploders. No-match shocktubes sound interesting but until we can field test it with 10 or more jumbos on long runs, I won't trust it to deliver when the cue calls for power. Late last year, Bruce Walden, expressed concern about a fire he had experienced using squibbs. Nathan Kahn responded to his concerns and pointed out that used correctly and rigged properly with the right power source they are safe and do not require any permit by the fire marshal. Although they are "exploding balloons" (yes, we will always call them this), they are not regulated explosives. They pose less threat than a candle, cigarette or a lighter and even a balloon light socket in the neck of a 40". That being said, no matter what system you are using the desired effect is not always a concurrent detonation. More often than not we have requests for consecutive or delayed detonations. Nathan at Theatre Effects has promised a versatile sequencer but we have yet to see it. Here's a way we have found to get any instant random detonation sequence. Theatre Effects sells a UFK ignition system which will power up to 2 squibbs at up to 150ft run length using 22 AWG cord. These systems require only 2 AA batteries and cost far less than LV Handblasters. Moreover, the firing switch is a single switch and has a convienent mounting plate. We have taken these switches and custom mounted 20 of them on a portable wood panel. When all the leads from your separate circuits are set, you can control the sequencing combination to your own custom fit. People love the "rat-a-tat-tat" firework effect of consecutives. Always use fresh squibbs. Some hand held blasters tell you that batteries should last through multiple detonations... don't chance it, always use a fresh set of batteries whether 9 volt or double AA. I remember my former employer, years and years ago, sweat dripping down his head, pushing and pushing "fire" at the cue but an old battery just couldn't power up his squibbs. A SEQUENTIAL EXPLODING BALLOON PROBLEM We need help figuring out a job with exploding balloons. The customer wants 12 three foot balloons stuffed with confetti to explode one after the other, I'm not sure how far apart but I think about 10-15 seconds. They have to be detonated from the floor, and they will be approximately 20 feet in the air. I have the old Conwin detonaters, but not enough and I only have one box to detonate them with. I know that there is a way to do this, but I don't know what it is. With the new Conwin system I would have to attach each balloon to a seperate tank to have them explode separately. And did I mention that I won't be there to detonate them, so any system has to be easy to operate? I didn't say it was an easy question, did I? This sounds like a job for good old fashioned Balloon Squibs. I still recommend them to my customers if they are only exploding one or two balloons. (I recommend our shocktube system for exploding a bunch of balloons.) Some people are afraid to use Balloon Squibs. Here's why. 1) If you run 120V through them they catch on fire. 2) Some people (including local fire/police officials) think that you need a BATF explosives license to use them. Here are your solutions. 1) Don't use 120V to set them off. (Use 12 volts or less like you're supposed to.) 2) Carry a photocopy of a letter I have from the BATF explaining that these are not regulated explosives. (They are "common" explosives, which are not regulated by BATF, and do not reguire a BATF license to use.) We make a $100 12-shot firing box. It's not in our catalog because we rarely sell them. You hook it up to a 12V lantern battery, and then run zip cord from the firing box terminal strip to your squibs (one or two taped on each balloon). You will need to run a separate zip cord wire to each balloon. On the firing box, there is a 12 position selector switch and a firing button. Select #1, press fire, select #2, press fire, etc. This is how I would do it if it were me. Feel free to call me at 1-800-791-7646 ext. 203 if you need more instruction. Please excuse this shameless plug, and now back to your regularly scheduled program . . . Nathan Kahn at Theatre Effects writes: We are working on a sequencing controller with a speed control, where you press one button and then it goes bang-pause-bang-pause-bang up to 25 times. We'll probably introduce it at IBAC 1999. I just taught a class on exploders with Conwin's new system. You can do this with the Conwin system. All you need to do is run a separate tube to each balloon. Attach one tube to your detonator box, (which is really just a regulator which, when you press the button, allows the gas to flow). On cue, press your button, and the balloon will pop. Now you have 10 to 15 seconds to detach tube #1 and attach tube #2 (label the ends of your tubes). It takes about 5 seconds to switch tubes if you practice. ALTERNATIVE METHODS At a recent wedding, the bride wanted an exploding balloon during the first dance. Since I don't feel comfortable with any of the exploding deviscs out on the market, we opted to fill 36-inch balloons with 5-inch balloons. The parents of the couple all came out on the dance floor to congratulate them, and the mother of the bride carried the wand and broke the 36 inch balloon. This was a total surprise to everyone except the bride and her mother. Who knows . . . we may just start a tradition. It is not extremely high tech, but I had a job which needed a remote control exploder. I rigged a RC Airplane servo to a sharp needle and attached the servo, receiver and 9 volt battery to the electrical conduit with duct tape. Servo had about 3/4 inch throw. Needle popped the 4 foot balloon just fine. It was in among a lot of crepe paper decorating the hall so there was no worry about FIRE, Extra tubing or Nitrogen pressure from the system. Quick simple, not cheap but then I already had the servo's, transmitter and receiver since I fly model RC Helicopters as a hobby. You can make do remotely with a lot of hand built stuff, especially if most of what you do is special effects as opposed to traditional decorating. Here's a neat and cheap way to explode balloons. Drill a hole in the bottom of your pole (the one you use for your columns). Run your fishing wire thru the pole and tie it to the 3 foot balloon. Tie your other end of your line to a weight. (If using more than one column, put some straight pins through a velcro strip and tape it to the ceiling above your 3 footer. Also, make sure you take into account any wind that could blow your balloon away from your pins.) When it's time to explode your balloons, cut your strings. Up the balloons go, as high as they can and then bang. No one has figured my trick out yet. You also can do this down a church aisle. Take those screw in o-ring hooks (tape them of course). Hide them under the runner,one in each location you want an exploding balloon. Run your line through the hooks, looping the line twice at each hook. Wrap your line (do not tie) around a brick at the front end of your aisle and one at the back. Then tape a second o-ring hook to the side of the bench. Put your balloon bouquets on each o-ring hook as you normally would (as always making sure your hooks are covered). Tie all balloons except the one balloon you want to explode. Run that balloon line through the bench hook, and tie it to the fishing line you have running under the runner. Line up those balloons with straight pins on the ceiling. ( I make an X style out of pins and out of those paint sticks you get free when you buy paint, painted the same color as the ceiling). As the bride and groom kiss, start to pull the line. The front brick will turn over and release your line. As they walk toward you, pull your string, so that the balloon just in front of them slides off your line and lifts to the ceiling and bang. One right after another. I did this at a Bridal show Sunday and every was in awe. It sure is messy, but it is just so much fun to watch. I even impressed myself. Give it a try, and spend that $250 (that you would spend on a exploding kit) on yourself. You deserve it. TOMATO CAGE The original "tomato cage" system by Rocky Toomey is still probably the most classic and most reliable of all the existing systems out there. Rocky writes: Debby Levi asked for a way to explode 12 balloons at different times! AND feel that it is safe enough for an amateur (non-balloon person) to do the exploding! Here is one solution that is very easy and safe. I thought this one up back in the early 80's before I started to experiment with other techniques. I call it the "Tomato Cage Exploder" I am not going to go in to great details, but if you are creative enough I think you can figure out this method pretty easy. Go to your local garden shop and find the round tomato cage. These are used to grow tomatos and most are made from a heavy gage wire. They stand about 4 ft tall and are in a cone shape. Four long pieces of wire connected by four rings of wire. You will need one for each balloon you want to explode. At the small end of the cone use a wire cutter and cut your four straight lenghts of the cage just below the third ring. Cut these at an angle to make four very sharp points. With the four points pointing down, and two rings holding them together figure a way to attach these to your ceiling. I have used many methods depending on the ceiling. In the middle of this contraption secure a small ring, carabiner, or pully. (Often I have used the discarded part of the cage to make an X and tape it to the small ring and secure the ring to the cross section of the ring. Attach a line to your 3 ft exploder. Thread this line through the ring in the center of the cage and take this line the whole way over to where you want to detonate the balloons. (You may want to add an additional ring, carabiner, or pully on the ceiling just above where you will detonate from so you have a straight pull.) Like I said, its simple. When the time comes, pull your line which pulls the balloon UP towards your tomato cage. The balloon reaches the cage and one of the four sharp points on the wire will pop the balloon. Some Tips 1. Add some weight to your 3ft balloon, like a sand weight attached to the Knot. This will give tention to the line and take out the slack. 2. Make sure your cage is secure! You don't want it coming down!!!! 3. Be creative, decorate your cage to make it look attractive, but be sure your four points are exposed. In the early days I did as many as twenty of these at a time. Still today I use this method when the situation dictates the need. I hope this simple discription stimulates some creative thought on the alternatives to other methods out there! STUFFING EXPLODING BALLOONS Here is a method I developed for stuffing a 6' balloon. I don't know if any one else is doing it this way or not. This is quite a long process to do each one. First, stuff the 6' balloon with (40) five inch balloons in your stuffing machine. Then take the balloon out and add the (60) eleven inch balloons one at a time by holding the 6' balloon over the nozzle of your air inflator and poking the uninflated balloon in the nozzle of the big one just like you were doing a double bubble. Inflate the 11' balloon to about 10" and tie it off by grasping the nozzle of the balloon you just blew up inside and poke it in after tying it. Repeat 60 times while adding air to the big one once in a while. Stay away from sharp objects or you will have to start all over. Buy extra 6' balloons to be safe. People interested in this exploding balloon thing should push the exploding balloon button near the bottom of this site: http://wizzie.artist.webjump.com >I have an insider and I must be a real ditz because I cannot get the hang of >it. I finally gave up. Do you have tricks to make it easier? here are some tips for best results with Conwin's Insider Balloon Stuffing Tool. INSERTING ACCENTS: Add accents, such as confetti, silk flowers, feathers, etc., after the large balloon has been filled with small balloons. Remove the large balloon from the Insider holding tool and insert the accents directly in to the neck of the balloon. Make sure that you remove all sharp edges from anything you insert into the balloon. TYING TIP: When tying the smaller balloons stretch the neck straight out (not upwards or downwards). Place 2 fingers above the stretched neck and rotate your hand one full revolution to create a loop. Tuck the neck roll into the loop and release the neck of the balloon into the yellow flap of the insider. The instruction sheet has easy-to-follow pictures to show you how to use the tool. I use the "Insider" regularly for filling 3' latex, and have a wonderful time with it. For a 3' I put the first two finger of each hand inside the neck and roll it down a bit and then stretch it around the disc. It is important to stretch the balloon evenly so that the bulb of the balloon is centered to the center of the disc. So that the flap can open and close without obstruction of the neck. Use the hose over a powerful (red bell) air blower to inflate the 3' (this process must be repeated several times during the stuffing process so keep it handy) I take the inflater/gun and hook it up to my dual sizer and set it on .03 ? (I think) and put a 5" on holding it with one hand with the other hand holding the gun, then insert it into the 3' step on the pedal, inflate, pull the neck of the 5" balloon so it pulls back and shuts the flap on the inflator disc. Then the hand with the gun puts it down and comes back to twist the neck of the balloon and do a knot. Then I pull back on the 5" just a bit and release it and it "pops" into the 3' and the flap shuts and I am ready for the next one. It takes a little getting used to but should be able to be mastered within the first 20 or so balloons. The Insider lets me stuff a full gross of 5" plus confetti in a 3' . When I"m done I just open the flap on the disc let the remaining air out (if not working with helium) then carefully roll the neck off the disc and move 3' to a good bag for storage until the event. If working with helium for the 5" as soon as you have inflated all your 5" you must inflate the 3' and seal. If the event is still not for a bit I just clip the neck shut so I can open it once we are on site to refill. ( After I clip the neck shut) and shove it in a bag carefully and attach the bag to a dobi weight for storage/transport. for confetti I take a smallish stack and fan it and then poke it inside the flap. The only thing is the opening on the disc is small so you can't get silk flowers in and feathers are tough to get in too. Maybe a second disc can be made to work with this so you can get a little bit bigger stuff inside. I explode 6' balloons now and then. I put 40 five inch balloons in the 6 footer with my stuffing machine. Then I add 60 more 11" balloons and confetti with my air inflator one at a time. This makes 100 total balloons and looks about 1/2 full. I add a big bow at the bottom and inflate with helium or fill with air. What happens to the 6 footer? I hardly ever see more than two pieces. Some times only one piece with a hole in it. These 6' balloons can be purchased at Granger Balloons USA in Mooers Forks, NY 518-236-7044 Canada 514-273-3000 The risk is if it pops prematurely due to vandalism or manufacturing flaw you've lost a day's work and "Blown" the event. Does anyone know a formula for the maximum number of spheres of diameter X which will fit inside a sphere of diameter Y? Applied, this means how many gumballs in a gumball machine, or how many 5" inflated to 4" latex fit in a 3' inflated to 30" latex. It involves how they pack. Let's assume we've optimized the packing matrix. It also involves, I'm not sure how, the fact that an 10" sphere and a 15" sphere will hold the same number of 9" spheres (one). We will also assume a perfect inflexible sphere for calculating purposes. Good Luck, and show all work. Crystallographers deal with packing of atoms (usually thought of as hard spheres for this type of thing) and so you can borrow what they've done when it comes to optimizing the packing. The most dense way that nature has found to pack equal size hard spheres is a configuration called Face Centered Cubic where there is a sphere centered at each corner of an imaginary cube, as well as a sphere centered at the midpoint of each side of the imaginary cube. The (volume-based) Packing Factor for this arrangement is 0.74 which means that 74% of the available volume is occupied by the spheres. I thought about your question for a few minutes, and quickly realized that while the bulk packing is simple, it's the "edge conditions" will kill you - fitting the hard spheres in at the periphery of the bulk packing which fills the sphere, and locating the bulk packing in such a way that the space taken up by little spheres is optimized, is a mathematical nightmare. Crystallographers have a standard answer for what the packing structure is at any crystal _surface_ (where the regular packing structure breaks down); they usually say "Surfaces are very complicated" :-) I emailed your question to a mathematics PhD friend who I used to teach with. His reply (translated for normal humans) was that: a) mathematicians can tell you a formula (here I'm using "formula" to mean a general, closed-form solution you could plug any set of numbers into and get an immediate answer using only algebra) for the best way to pack smaller circles inside a big circle (an area problem), but b) no one has ever been able to solve the problem of the best way to pack small spheres into a big sphere (the volume analogue). (Also, though it may be just semantics since no one knows of a more dense packing method, my friend said it's never even been mathematically proven that a Face Centered Cubic arrangement is the most dense method for bulk packing of spheres!) The only way to approach it would be to write a (VERY involved) case-specific computer program that would have to be re-run each time you changed sphere diameters. It's good that you phrased your question "Does anyone know a formula..." According to my friend, the answer is "NO!" (That's probably why they always run guessing games for how many gumballs are in the jar :-) Of course, a high estimate (upper bound) could be calculated from this formula: 0.74 * (volume of big sphere) # of little spheres = ------------------------------- volume of one little sphere HANGING 3 FOOTERS At a QBN meeting, we were shown the new 3' Qualatex balloon with the 2000 printed on it upside-down! I just wanted everyone to know that this is available for those exploding balloons! Simply tie the neck of the balloon to the ceiling The majority of the halls here are "commercial buildings" and don't have a nice ceiling. A suggestion for those of you who suffer with these wacky 20-30ft "ceilings" with metal cross bars etc.- if you have the cross bars, I've found that using a plastic cabinet child-lock (the things that keep the kids out of the pots and pans) work great for hanging balloons etc. They are cheap (I get "tough" ones from the Dollar Store for about $0.75 CAN) and easily removable- push the button and slide off. Another way is to use the Conwin "Adhesive Balloon Holders". Apply after inflating the 3ft balloon. As an added precaution, get your cool melt glue gun and apply liberal amount around the edges of the holder where it touches the latex. Not as dependable as the belly button technique. Another pretty good adhesive product ..... AJ Ganz "Balloon Stick'ems". Finally .... Cut off the neck of a deflated 16" latex. About 2 inches of it. Same colour as the 3 footer. Make 4 vertical cuts towards the rolled lip with scissors about 1.5" long. Tie mono around (or through) lip of latex piece now. After 3 footer is inflated, apply liberal amount of cool glue to end of 3 footer. Now glue on the latex neck piece to the 3 footer. The 4 pieces or flaps of latex will spread to give plenty of glueing surface. You now have a false neck at the other end of the 3 footer with mono already tied. All 3 methods mentioned would cause me to worry a little. You are relying on adhesive in all cases. I sleep best when the belly button technique is employed. In fact, in the instance that originally raised this question .... I would have tried my best to have the 3 footers specially printed neck up rather than try to make the most of a balloon printed for helium fill. some of the printed 3 footers available with the print reversed. That is they are printed so they can be hung by the neck. for the belly button method, what do you suggest i use as the "button"? Use a one cent coin or a shirt button we go to the local fabric store and buy actual big plain white buttons (but in a last minute pinch I have used a "washer" and a small air filled latex (a five incher blown to 1 1/2 inches). The most important tip I can offer is this: When you stuff the button into the balloons, before you wrap the mono line, take a 11 inch latex of the same color, cut off the neck and stick on top of the 3 footer to offer extra padding. That way if the mono line cuts into the latex (from air conditioner blowing it , fans, etc..) it will cut into the extra piece of latex and not your 3 footer. Remember to use thick wired ribbon to complete the look! When hanging the 3 footers I would suggest using the clear packing tape. Certainly it should hold a 3 footer with no problem. If not then use duct tape. Use some ribbon if the tape will show. I used two adhesive balloon holders (without using extra glue) and placed them about two inches apart. I placed the balloon in an area that has a pretty good breeze going when the windows are open so that it sways constantly. Its been hanging for over 24 hrs and still counting. >Anyone out there with suggestions on how to tie a 3' and 5' balloons. G'Day from Downunder, We have the staff use rubber bands. Two reasons ... 1. Should the balloon be filled with helium, (and accidentally released) the rubber band is biodegradable. 2. The rubber band is easy to remove in the event the balloon can be reused later for a sand weight or otherwise. A Knot is difficult to untie. EXPLODING CENTERPIECES GLITZZZ Super Sparklers by J-Tech 800-321-6221 out of Boca Raton, Florida. This is a wireless exploding device that is a giant sparkler. I had the pleasure of seeing it in action at Event Solutions Expo Gala Dinner in Baltimore this summer. A picture of it is on the cover of Event Solutions November 1997 issue. Each giant sparkler was placed in about 35 floral centerpieces and all ignited simultaneously (and can be programmed in sequence, too) with one command from a hand held remote. The huge sparkling emission lasted for about 40 seconds at every table and completely lit up the large darkened ballroom. It was a VERY impressive display that did not do any damage to the table cloths (spandex material), the flower centerpieces, paper programs on the table or the guests. It is also a very expensive undertaking, as I believe each wireless and reusable detonator is about $100 and the sparkler cartridges are about $12 to $17 each and the remote is several hundred dollars, too. I also believe the setup is available to rent, as well. If you have a customer with some $$ to "burn" this would truly be a "dynamite" effect for them. EXPLODING WALLS > I want to attach > exploding devices to the balloons, and at the magic hour mash the button, > pop the balloons and reveal a second panel of balloons displaying "2000", > backlit by a flood light. I can see two possible was to do this. 1. Two layers of SDS frames (my summary) 2. One precision wall 1999 & 2000 wall of SDS behind (my summary) Linda, there are quite a few workable scenarios for your explosion and switch from 1999 to 2000. Here is a dozen of them plus one just for fun and to stretch your imagination a little further. Be sure to test your favorites before you commit to one. Then be sure to test/train your crew with that one before the event. (1) Use only one SDS framing layer, but attach the 1999 layer to the front of the frame instead of placing the 1999 balloons in the frame. Put the 2000 in the frame. You will save a lot of money on framing and eliminate the view of an empty 1999 frame as well. It will also be a lot less work than doing all those garlands for a precision wall front layer. You could attach the 1999 balloons at the intersections of the frame. If you push the 2000 balloons a little extra distance toward the front, they will help nest the 1999 layer and keep them from blowing around too much. Test your explosion system to make sure the exploding 1999 balloons will not set off balloons in the 2000 layer as well. (2) If you like this general idea but want a little more security in the front layer, use one of the Rouse Matrix System grids for the front layer. The switch from the honeycomb RMS to the square grid SDS will make the 1999 to 2000 switch even more dramatic. If all your balloons explode as planned, you can simply allow the RMS to collapse. If they do not all explode you can simply pull the Matrix, with any remaining balloons, off stage or lay it down flat on the floor. This approach will be less work and require fewer balloons than the precision wall. (3) You could use RMS instead of the SDS suggested in (1) or in (2). You could also achieve your explosion and switch other ways. DISSOLVING WALLS (4) You could use one or two graphic layers made of strings of Link-O-Loons. You would need outer framing, but the balloons are tied to each other to form the graphics. When they explode, there is no inner framework left to show. (5) You could use Marvin Hardy's Jiffy strips to create similar vertical strings of balloons for your graphics. You would not have to worry about one balloon breaking prematurely and disrupting a whole string of balloons. You could have the strips fall to the floor after the explosion. (That is, drop the front layer, if you choose to use the same system for both layers.) (6) Depending on your situation, (indoors or out, high ceilings or low, high winds or low, etc.) you might make the front layer of balloons float away (after some explosion?). Or you might have the bottom of the 1999 layer float (or be lifted) up to a horizontal position, like a page turning. (7) In another variation, you might have the 2000 fold or slide down in front of the 1999. (8) In still another related variation, have 1999 in balloon letters as an overlay on a solid balloon wall background. Explode and/or drop or raise the letters. Switch from front lighting to back lighting on the wall. Directly behind the balloon wall have colored, translucent silhouettes of the numbers 2000. just to stretch your imagination a little further, here are some exotic approaches you might try if you are feeling really adventuresome: (13) Create a wall of columns of balloons, in which balloons are stacked on each other to make the columns. Pull very tight strands of monofilament between a bottom frame and a top frame. You will probably need six lines per stack of balloons. Pull two of the lines apart far enough to insert one balloon at a time. Instead of exploding all the balloons you could cut some of the lines or let them go slack and have the balloons fall to the floor or float away. (14) I have done a similar effect using helium filled 4 pack garland (attach your 1999 with being part of the wall or attached). First if you can't screw into the platform then run a board across the full length of the platform where the bottom of your first wall will be. Screw a hook into your platform at one end (where one side of your wall will start.). Knot mono line to this hook. Then you start to attach your garland. Take your first garland (again the piece designed for that side) and tie a loop at the bottom of its center string. Run the mono line through this loop. Screw a second hook into the platform at the outer edge of the garland and run the mono line through this hook. Take your next garland, put the loop at the bottom of its center string, put your mono line through the loop then add another hook and run the line through that. Be sure to keep your mono line tight. Repeat these steps until you have finished your front wall. When you reach the final hook do not tie off. Instead run the mono line away from your wall and knot it to something. At midnight, just cut the mono line. Your wall will float away leaving your 2000. Once it floats up it lays flat on the ceiling. So if you feel you need extra support for your wall you can tie the garlands together just like any other balloon wall. I have also attached air columns to the ceiling and raised them to reveal a second item. This works great but you need really high ceilings in other to not distract too much from your finial presentation. (15) We did a Releasing Wall once where a mono line was stretched across the floor of the stage. We made up about 15 bunches of 12 balloons with 2 in each layer, helium filled of course. The ribbons all had a loop at the end which the mono line was threaded through (instead of tied to an anchor). When the mono was tensioned really tight and the bunches were pushed together it created a nice wall. The mono line was cut and the bunches came apart and everything floated to the ceiling and the product behind was revealed, just like magic. Most ( I stress most) of the ribbons didn't tangle so there was now a ceiling full of ribboned balloons, all with little loops at the end. It takes a bit of prep work to get the loops on the ribbons at the right length and set up for it to all look neat but it is simple method which creates a smart look. LIGHTED WALLS (9) If you use a aperture frames like SDS or RMS you could do something as simple as projecting the graphics onto the balloon wall from the front or the rear with special templates in front of spotlights or with slide projectors. Explode something else, like large balloons that surround the graphics or large balloons with confetti over the stage or audience. Simultaneously switch projectors or spot lights to 2000. Maybe project different color/s around the 2000 as well If you have the budget, you could even do this with animated projections through moving lights, video projections, or film projections. (10) You could do something similar with a balloon wall made of strings of balloons like Link-O-Loons or Jiffy Strips. (11) If you are willing to consider this general approach of lighting for the switch, you might use a solid backing for your single layer of balloons. Foam core, corrugated plastic sheets like Coroplast and Corex, regular cardboard or even the old Rouse Designer Panels (if you can find them) can be used to hold your balloons in place. Some of this backing material will be less expensive than some of the framing systems suggested earlier, but will require more effort in planning and installation. Project from the front or use strings of miniature Christmas lights (beside and/or behind the balloons) to spell out your numbers. Use separate strings of lights in different colors for the 1999 and the 2000. Switch power to the 2000 string along with the explosion. There are a variety of techniques for attaching balloons to these solid surfaces. The Rouse Designer Panels are corrugated board panels with special holes and slits for attaching balloons. On the standard corrugated board, corrugated plastic and foam core panels there are several options for attaching balloons. You can use Velcro type (hook and loop) fasteners. You can use adhesives like rubber cement, pan glue, or spray glue. You can pull the neck of the balloon through the board using a knitting needle. You can use double sided tape or rolled up circles of tape with the adhesive side out. The strings of lights can be taped to the front side of the backing sheets. The three sheets mentioned, however, are soft enough and thin enough to punch holes through them and push the lights through from the rear. You could even switch to pegboard and pull the balloon necks through the predrilled holes. Use Kwikie Klips, balloon tying discs or even paper clips to keep the necks from pulling back through the holes. (12) Strings of lights will also work well with RMS or SDS frames. Just pinch the lights between the balloons and the frames. I only had one string out of hundreds of strings of miniature lights I have worked with that got hot enough to pop balloons in such a situation. But, you might be wise to test yours before the event.