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Party Consultant Michelle Hylton
Making Spiral Garlands & Clusters
The spiral garland is the basic building block of arches, columns, swags, murals, and most “figures” that are created out of latex balloons. Garlands are formed by attaching balloons to a support line, usually in sets of 3, 4 or 5. These sets are called clusters. This method may be used with either latex or foil balloons that are filled with air or helium. Once you master
making a garland, you can make almost anything.
I suggest making a 3-foot garland for practice, if this is your first time making one.
Supplies needed (for training program):
• Latex Balloons: Use 36 5" balloons, 18 light and 18 dark
• Monofilament Line: 10 feet of 50 pound test 13
Approximate Number of
Balloons Per Foot in an Arch
(Based on a Spiral Arch)
5 inch = 12 per foot
9 inch = 8 per foot
11 inch = 6 per foot
14 inch = 4 per foot
16 inch = 4 per foot
• Balloon sizing template ( make hole 4" in diameter)
• Air inflator (or hand pump)
1. Tie the monofilament line to the backs of two chairs, approximately 4 feet apart. Be sure to leave about 2 or 3 feet of line to finish the column.
2. Usually, two colors of latex are used. One will be called the contrasting color or the swirl.
3. Inflate the latex balloons uniformly (in pairs, same color) using templates to measure the diameter of the balloon.
4. Tie the first two balloons together using the duplet method. Inflate, pinch, size, and tie together. (Figure 1)
5. Place the balloons in a clean location; never let them lie on the floor, as dirt will cling to the balloons. You may use large plastic bags or an old sheet or other large cloth.
6. Inflate and tie two more balloons of the contrasting
7. Take the two duplets of balloons and lay them across each other, and twist the two pairs together. Make sure all four balloons are on the same plane. You now have
a balloon cluster, which looks like an “X” or “Cross.” (Figure 2)
8. Hold the cluster (figured in a light, dark, light, dark pattern) and place the cluster onto the fishing line you are holding tightly in your other hand.
9. Twist the two balloons (that you placed over the line) together; this causes the cluster to stay on the line.(Figure 3)
10. Repeat steps 3 through 8, and set the new pack against the first set on the line, placing one light balloon, one balloon to the right of one of the light balloons on the
first pack. This will start the “swirl” effect. In the four-pack method we are using, after four sets have been placed on the line the first color will come back to the front again. (Figure 4)
11. Continue this process until you have reached the desired length of column you want.
Properly Inflating Balloons by Sizing Balloons on Templates
Templates should be made for each phase of balloon decorating to insure uniformity and consistency. This includes pre-cutting ribbons, balloon heights in centerpieces, balloon
inflation size, arch height, etc. Balloon décor always looks its best when a consistent pattern of shape, size, height, and length is achieved.
To use the template box, slightly over-inflate the balloon and pinch the neck closed. Place the balloon upside down over the desired-size template opening. Allow the balloon to deflate until the balloon center fits the template opening. If it gets too small,
simply re-inflate and re-size.
Once you learn the basics of making a cluster and getting comfortable with balloons you can make arches, columns, swags and even balloon characters with different size and shape balloons. Here are some mores photos of clusters and the use of other balloon sizes and shapes to create objects.
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