Month: April 2014

Aeropole system testing

This weekend we put the new Aeropole Arch System through its paces.  We had wind speeds between 10 mph and 20 mph  with gusts upto 28 mph.  We opted for Polka dots garland.  We chose this pattern so we could see if the balloons twisted on the poles.

We joined the Aeropoles using gaffer tape as advised in the Aeropole video.  We then covered the black aeropoles with white 646q’s.

The balloons were made into garland then attached to the poles.  We used the full 35 feet of Aeropoles and once attached to the the bases it became apparent that the bases would hold the arch shape fine and not move outwards but when the strong winds started the bases lifted.  We know that the manufacturer advises doubling up the bases to use outside, but as this was our first system we only had one pair of bases supplied with the kit.  We added 2 of our very heavy weight plates to the base plates on either side and then nothing moved.  We tied the poles to the bases using dacron line and the whole system was solid.

Below is an image showing how close we were to the coast line being affected by winds.

Arch Location
This is how close the arch was to the sea front


This is how the arch looked when we started, note the line up of the pink balloons.

Aeropole ARCH 1
Start of the Day
Aeropole Arch 2
Balloons in place at the start of the day

As you can see from the following pictures the wind started to gust.

Aeropole with the Wind Starting
Wind started to move the poles
Aeropole in Strong Winds
The wind got very strong up to 28 MPH

Aeropole Videos

Here are a few videos of the arch and how it moved in the wind.

Movement in the wind

Wind on the arch

More winds

Wind is not a problem

At the end of the day the arch looked as good as it did at the start of the day.  Notice the pink balloons are still in line and have not spun on the pole at all after 8 hours.


Aeropole Arch end of day
This is how the Arch looked at the end of the day

I also spent some time discussing the system with Mark Drury of Pioneer Europe and he had some great advice.

“When attaching and disconnecting the poles it is very important to not to put too much stress on the end of the pole that slides over the metal pin that you have secured to the base plate. The end of the pole should not be allowed to be under stress until the pin is fully inserted or the pole has been fully removed. Naturally with both base plates and pins flat on the ground the poles want to bend to allow all the pieces to connect and create an arch.

You should attempt to straighten the last pole before inserting on to the pin and removing the pole from the pin. The easiest way of doing this is to stand inside the arch and gently push the pole upright to achieve a straight pole. The straighter the pole is when removing and inserting the easier it will be to slide over or off the pin. If the connection seems to be tight or stiff the pole is not straight enough. DO NOT FORCE or you risk damaging your poles.

Other Aeropole Tips: 

Work on one side at a time! 
If you find it difficult to do alone, work in pairs.
When the pole is covered with balloons you can place one hand inside the clusters to grip the pole close to the pin and pull towards you and place the other hand inside the clusters higher up and push the pole away from you to ensure its straight.
When removing ALWAYS aim to remove the pole from the pin fully in one movement.
Remember if its difficult to move, the pole is not straight!
Store poles in there original packaging to avoid damage to the ends in transport.”

The Aeropole is a fantastic system that has proved itself to us in high winds in a costal location.  If I had to make one comment it would be that the base plates should be heavier for arches 35 feet wide, but we had a solution for that.  The notes that come with the aeropole system recommend additional weight and, this is essential.

Don’t forget to cover your poles with 646q’s,  this will stop your balloons moving on the poles and also make your arches look more professionally finished.

I hope this blog was useful.

50th Birthday Celebrations

This weekend we had the pleasure of decorating a 50th birthday party. To say the van was full would be an under statement.

Full van
How many balloons can you fit in a van

We started off with a beautiful Champagne bottle entrance arch complete with twinkle lights to give movement in the design.

Entrance Arch with a bit of bubbles and lights
Entrance Arch with a bit of bubbles and lights

To enhance the cake table we added a simple string of pearl arch in rainbow colours.

Cake Arch
Rainbow cake arch

and to finish off 18 of our basic table centres in an amazing array of rainbow colours.

Basic Table Centres
A mix of colours brightens up the room

The client was happy, we loved the look of the room.  Job done and on to the next one.

International Award Winners

Well we did it. We travelled all the way to Denver, Colorado USA to the World Balloon Convention.

Our Room at the Shereton
Lots of room and nice comfy beds

What a fantastic time. We met up with the rest of Team GB and began a 27 hour marathon to create the sculpture we had been designing and planning for over 6 months.

30000 Balloons
30000 Balloons all waiting for a bit of air

We allocated tasks to everyone, from double stuffing to inflating and building frames.

Bending Ali Rod

The Inflation Station
Team GB inflating
Bending Rod
More Ali Rod to Bend

As the day went on the balloons were inflated and the wall started to come together.

The Wall is taking shape
The Wall is taking shape

We had a team working on the wall with Matt Lewis CBA leading the build of it, a Team inflating the clouds and another team building the planes.

clouds in bags
Bags of balloons ready to build the clouds
Covering Frames
Covering the frames is one of the most important Jobs

At about 11pm, well into the build I heard a scream from Sara.  The next thing we knew her hand was swelling like crazy.  We tried putting it in ice and getting the hotel first aid to have a look at it.  They recommended going to the ER but Sara was determined to carry on.  Not for long!  In the end I had to play the husband card and tell her point blank it was getting worse and she had to go to the hospital.  Julie Conner from Pioneer took Sara to the hospital.  The Sheraton Hotel provided transport both directions complimentary.  So an Xray, medication and an hour later Sara comes back to the competition room with a damaged tendon, a nice bracelet and a $600 bill.  The meds were so strong she had to go and sleep it off for a couple of hours but then she was back with us (what a trooper).

Saras arm
The result of a damaged tendon, damaged by balloons that is

The sculpture was finally coming together.  Matt had taken control of the clouds. and they were slotted in to place.

Clouds taking shape
The Clouds coming together
Matt Lewis in a balloon cloud
Matt Lewis with his head in the clouds!!!

He was so happy I think he was on Cloud 9!!!

I think the lack of sleep caught up with Matt though.

Matt Sleeping
Matt doing what he does best!!!!

All that was left was to finish the planes and put them into place.  We could not have finished the planes without the help of Beth Barlow from Australia.

Weaving Planes
Weaving Planes

Everything came together even with Sara’s damaged hand broken by balloons!

We were so happy with the final design, Sara and I just burst into tears.  This was our baby, we had dreamed this sculpture, designed it, changed the design several times, worried that we would not be able to hold our own on a world stage and then led a fantastic team to create an amazing sculpture that we are so proud of.

The sculpture
We did it
Movement in a sculpture
Static Sculptures that look like they are moving

We could not have done it without this amazing Team GB.  Thank you.

Team GB
We did it what a Team

Team GB are, Mike Harris, Sara Harris, Matt Lewis, Lucy Hennesey, Mari Forret, Joanne Dunne, Janine Crispin, Jeanette Carden, Aileen Murray, Marcia Tull, Caroline Evans and help from Beth Barlow and Matt Russell from Australia.


Sara and I also entered the Balloon Column competition.  Due to Sara being injured WBC allowed us to have Mari Forret come and help do the hand work for Sara, while she had to just sit, watch and direct – she loves giving out orders so she was quite happy (not so sure Mari enjoyed this aspect though!)

Mari helping with the column
Mari looking so happy to be Sara’s hands during the column competition

The column came out great and we had some loverly comments about the use of colour and the texture.

Sara and Mike Column Entry
The Column competition entry

So we spent  over 30 hours building a sculpture and a column (27 hours for the sculpture, a two hour break and then a 3 hour build for the column) and then we had to wait until the Saturday final night party to find out how we had done.

We got a bronze award for the column competition and a silver award for the sculpture.

The trophies
Very happy with our awards


The following day the public got to come and see the sculptures for themselves at the Festival of Balloons.

Festival of Balloons
Seeing the public reaction to our work was priceless

So what do you do with a sculpture made of almost 30000 balloons when an event is over?

After the sculpture was destroyed
After the sculpture was destroyed

Pop it!  27 hours to build it and 45 minutes to destroy it and it felt so good too!

More about the rest of the World Balloon Convention in our next blog.