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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Technique of the Week: Frameless Balloon Arch


When I throw a party, I like to have balloons outside to so people know where they're going and to get the fun started in the driveway.  We threw a party for the boys recently and I figured I would try something new and a little more impressive for a change.  Also, it was rainy and windy and free-floating balloons on ribbons seemed like a terrible idea.

Most balloon arches are built around a frame of some sort, but this method uses no frame, only balloons, so it's cheap and way easier.  Let me just add this piece of advice before I start with the instructions--use a pump.  Don't try to inflate these balloons with your lungs, just don't.  Please don't.  That only leads to a throbbing headache on a fainting couch and while lounging on a fainting couch might seem great, you could really do without the headache.  And it probably goes without saying, but you should do this project in the place you plan to have the arch, it's inconvenient to transport stacks of balloons.

You need to have on hand:

hand or foot pump
100 or so standard size balloons
20 or so long balloons (balloon animal size)

1.  Clean your floor of dirt and hair or put down a large sheet to put balloons on.  Inflate balloons, 16 or 20 at a time.


2.  Take two balloons and tie the ends together in a square knot.  This is called a doublet.



3.  Take two doublets and join them together by twisting the middle knots around each other a couple times. This is called a quad.


4.  Once you have a number of quads, you can assemble a section of the arch.  Take one of your long balloons and tie one end of it around the middle knots of the quad.  Hold the long end of the long balloon in one hand so it doesn't get lost and place another quad on top of the bottom quad, slightly shifted so the balloons naturally stack together.  Pull the long balloon tight in the center of the top quad and weave it over the top of the balloon to the right, under the balloon next to it, over the balloon next to it, and under the final balloon in what is basically a figure-eight pattern.  Continue stacking and wrapping quads until you have a completed section.  You can just let go of the remaining long balloon tail and it will stay just fine.






5.  Keep building sections of quads until you have enough to build the size of arch you want.


6.  Now assemble the final arch.  The long balloon tails are probably too short to be that useful, so just tie on a new long balloon to the middle of the top quad and go from there.  Attach the balloon stacks together in the same way that you built them until you have the shape and size you want.


7.  To anchor your arch, tie each bottom to something heavy with a long balloon--I used some dumbbells I had laying around.  To keep the arch from flopping over, use more long balloons to go around the centers of the stacks and tie to anchor points.

Once you get started you'll get the hang of tying the balloons together and stacking them together pretty quickly and it should go pretty quickly.  For the "installation" you'll probably need a step stool and an extra hand or two, so plan ahead for that part.

Do you have any party standbys that you rely on for easy and fun entertaining?

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