For many of us, the colourful, floating spheres of joy conjure up happy memories of childhood birthday parties and days spent playing outside while sausages sizzle on the barbecue.
History of balloon decoration
The history of these pretty orbs have a rather grim beginning. They are believed to have originated with the Aztecs, where they were made by filling animal bladders and intestines with water. Faraday made them a bit more agreeable in 1824 when he figured out a way to make them using rubber. The inflatables as we know them today were invented by Tillotson in the 1920s; his colourful latex orbs closely resemble the ones that we now know and love. Since then, many new types have been created – from foil to neoprene.
Why choose balloon decoration
Confetti, ribbons, flowers, candles – there are so many ways to spruce up your space; why choose inflatable orbs? Balloon decoration provides many benefits. These include:
- They are versatile; they can add colour, liveliness and fun to parties, or add a soft, delicate, classy atmosphere to weddings
- They come in a range of shapes and structures (such as pillars and arches)
- They allow you to add a custom logo or design in order to showcase your brand or personalise your wedding or party
- They are affordable, starting as low as 20c a piece
- They are long-lasting; helium-filled ones can last at least 12 hours while air-filled ones can last for up to 7 days.
How they’re made
Balloon decoration starts off in a long, mostly automated, batched process which begins with selecting the best materials. Natural latex is ideal due to its high elasticity – it can be extended up to eight times its starting length and still go back to its initial shape! Natural latex is a white, yellowish liquid secreted by plants like the Hevea tree. It is harvested from the trees and gathered into big containers, filtered and mixed with alkali to stop it from coagulating.
It is then transported in liquid form to manufacturers, who combine the latex with additives to make it usable. Things they add include antidegradants, which slow down the decomposition process, and pigments, to add colour (which looks great in balloon decoration!).
Once the liquid latex is ready to use, it will be poured into a large tank (which may be stirred to stop the latex from settling). Next, the forms are warmed up and immersed into a coagulant solution, followed by the liquid latex, where the coagulant will cause it to gel in a sheet around the forms. The forms are then heated to a temperature of around 38-93 degrees Celsius and dipped into a tank of coloured latex. The longer they are left in the tank the thicker their coating will be, so they are typically left in for only several seconds.
To give the sphere a ring, a lip is made on the neck of the orb using rollers. They are then dipped in leaching solution in order to dissolve any excess coagulant. They are then dried, cured and removed from their forms, where they are ready to be packaged and sold!
Your style options
The most common balloon decoration options are pillars, arches and columns. However, there are a range of things you can do with the spheres, limited only by your imagination. Some ideas include: