As many of you would know I am a local, Melbourne event decorator who prominently works with balloons. What you may not know is that I have recently returned from 11 breathless days at the World Balloon Festival, 2016 in Xiamen, China. At the festival I was joined by 45 other balloon manipulators from around the world who we together inflated, knotted and wrapped 365,000 latex (party) balloons to construct ‘The Largest Balloon Project’ ever attempted. After seven days of constant inflating they created a unique Chinese palace and a brand new Guinness World Record.
Conceived and project managed by the world renowned large balloon sculpture designer Guido Verhoef from the Netherlands and presented by the Chinese AEMI events company the stunning display attracted over 240,000 visitors.
It was an incredible experience and with 36 years of working with balloons I can say I’ve worked on many large projects in Australia. The largest being where we inflated 100,000 balloons for a release at the MCG but I have never been involved in something of this enormous size.
The 45 balloon artists, performers and decorators who made up the hand picked team came from 22 different countries spread over five continents. I was also privileged to be joined by fellow Australian the amazing talented balloon artist/performer Donna Egan from Queensland. We both, as did everyone else consider it a great honor to be invited to participate in the project.It all began for me back in mid June 2016 when Guido visited Australia to give classes at the Balloon Artists and Suppliers Association of Victoria Balloon Camp in Creswick, country Victoria. Having only communicated with him via Facebook I was eager to meet the man who has designed many of the biggest balloons sculptures in the world most recently a 26mt high, 30,000 balloon Dove of Freedom in Israel in May 2016.
Once we met we realised we had a mutual respect for each others work which resulted in me being invited to be on the China build team.
Each artist was assigned a particular section of the project and had assistance from 40 local Chinese decorators and over 100 volunteers. We began by building the 137 nine meter long three meter high walls that divided the different sections of the palace. After they were finished everyone set about constructing the archways, temples, houses, shops, a school, tranquil garden, Chinese warriors, lions, dragons and many other features that made the display such an awesome spectacle. After our ‘B-Team’ had finished constructing the palace we fired up the electric inflating machines once again to build floats, costumes and characters for the all balloon display street parade. Featuring a Chinese Dragon, Ninja Turtles, Stormtroopers along Darth Vader a giant octopus and various Disney characters who marched through the streets of Xiamen every day for the next week.
I am no novice to the world of balloon display work and during the last 20years I have presented classes in Australia and overseas, written over 60 instructional sheets, designed dozens of displays for local and international companies as well as written numerous articles for various trade magazines.
I’ve attended and taught at many balloon conventions in Australia and overseas but I have never seen so many specialist artistes inflating and creating on the same project. The experience was truly awesome. Even with the language and cultural differences the instant comradery and support between us all was inspiring. We became an instant ‘balloon family’ all working towards the same outcome.
The sheer scale of the project is hard for most to imagine when you consider that the initial order for the balloons was no less than 400,000. ” I chose the artists involved like putting a football team together” said Guido. ” I needed team players who could shine when they were needed and also know how to support each other during the build. They all have their particular strengths and when they came together the result was fantastic and we achieved a Guinness World Record “
Needless to say I am still pumped by the adrenalin rush of my China balloon adventure but, I’m back at work designing and installing decorations for my company Balloon Decor. I learnt dozens of new designs and techniques working alongside so many individually creative people and I’ll be incorporating many of them into my future designs.
But for now my day to day involvement in the wonderfully colourful world of balloon decorating mainly centres around corporate and marketing events where the balloons are printed for display or promotional give-aways, decorating trade shows, retail stores and shopping centres as well as providing table, dance floor and stage area décor.
Whether we are building large scale signs and logos, installing balloon drops to anchor that special moment or decorating a trade stand we are always required to create something unique for the each individual customer. I truly love my job and I never underestimate the joy it brings to the child in us all.
Over the past few months I have moved Balloon Decor into a new area of the celebration industry by joining forces with a Melbourne audio visual/special effects and fireworks company called AVFX/ Crack-a-Jack Fireworks. Combined we bring together over 60years experience and become a ‘one-stop-shop’ for major events and functions.
So if you are in need of an creative balloon decorator, an experienced lighting expert, some special effects or even a spectacular fireworks display to brighten up your next event just check out www.balloondecor.com.au
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 0414 546 173
I’m sure we can help you with your celebration