BMTV 90 – How to Make Balloon Columns: With Mark Drury from Qualatex

This week we are joined once more by Mark Drury from Qualatex, who is here to talk about balloon columns and even demonstrate how he makes them!

Mark defines a column as a pillar of balloons designed to make an impact at events. He describes them as ‘classic décor’, which means that they start in terms of a duplet- 2 balloons tied together at the neck. According to Mark, once you master columns, you master a lot of classic décor! Columns can be created with or without equipment including poles and bases, and Mark is going to show us which method is best for which event.

Column Method Number 1

Firstly, Mark is going to show us how to make a column without a pole or base. He tells us that when he first started decorating, he used nylon line to tie the balloons. The line is durable and inexpensive, but can also be difficult to create knots with and can leave gaps in your decoration. A step up from Nylon Line is Dacron Line, which is softer and does not stretch. Unfortunately, this line also has its drawbacks as it will create friction which can damage the neck of the balloon (or Greg’s fingers, as he discovers!) However, Mark still swears by Dacron for large helium arches and decorations with a bit of weight to them.


The method he’s showing us today however consists of a 260Q attached to a double-stuffed water weight. Start off with two 11-inch duplets (Mark recommends tying each individual one together tightly for consistency), and cross them over each other to form a cluster. Don’t forget to check out our Balloon Basics video on Duplets and Clusters for more information! Place the weight directly beneath and wrap the 260Q around the necks of the balloons. The important thing to remember about using the 260Q is to take the stretch out of it by keeping it taut while wrapping. Wrapping it in a figure 8 motion will help to keep the latex balloons in place.


Add a new layer of duplets onto the first one, push the necks down and wrap the 260Q around the balloons as before around any 2 balloons. Repeat this step with the new few layers until the column matches your desired height. Remember to keep ensuring that the 260Q is stretched taut while wrapping. Mark tells us that the best consistency comes from going to the balloon’s natural limit for tension.

When you have added all of your layers, do one more figure 8 motion with the 260Q and knot it to the balloon necks to properly secure them. If you like, you can add a foil shape to top the column. Mark has roll-tied the neck of his with a 160Q, but he tells us that a 260Q will also work. From there, you can wrap the modelling balloon around the top cluster in the usual way to secure the foil.

Et voila! One easy, impactful, cost-effective column!


Column Method Number 2

The next method Mark is going to show us involves a pole and base which is good for maintaining the durability and longevity of a column. This time Mark uses a ‘not’ lamp, which is a popular decorating accessory in the balloon industry (from a famous, Swedish shop!). They are very cheap, easily portable and do not damage balloons, which makes them a great base for creating a balloon column. He warns us however that they are not good for outdoor use, as they can be easily toppled by people and the elements, and the bottom balloons will be touching the floor which can cause bursts on rough ground. He advises using a proper pole and base (which is much bigger) for outside columns.


Mark is going to make a ‘Slow Spiral’ design for this column. To do this he starts with one duplet of one colour and one of another. For indoor use, these duplets can be added to the column by wrapping one around one side of the pole and the other around the opposite side. You can then repeat the process by adding more layers of duplets in a spiral pattern. These layers will take longer to create a full 360 around the pole, which earns it the name ‘Slow Spiral’. Despite the name, this process is very quick to get all the duplets onto the pole. Mark warns us that using it outside could result in disaster, as if somebody was to knock one balloon off, the rest would follow it.


You can then add a foil balloon topper in the same way as before, which will tie the top latex balloons into the pole. And there you have it! Once all the balloons are inflated and the duplets created, assembly time is amazingly quick!

Column Method Number 3

Method number 3 also involves a not lamp, and here Mark uses 11-inch latex balloons downsized to 9 inches and tied into duplets. He attaches them to the pole in the same way as method 2, however, instead of adding a second layer of 11-inch balloons, he uses a cluster of 5-inch latex. This he calls the ‘Alternative Square Pack Design’, which will keep the square of the column moving upwards, while the spiral is happening on the alternate sides. It’s important to make sure the smaller alternate balloons are no smaller than half the diameter of the outer balloon, as this keeps the structure rigid and prevents the larger balloons from touching.


From here, you can continue attaching the balloons in this manner until the column reaches the desired height. This design is great for mixing in a number of different colours to really stand out. When the process is complete, you can add a foil topper in the usual way. This design gives a great symmetrical effect which Greg loves! Mark explains that the Alternative Square Pack Design is great for columns standing either side of a doorway or catwalk. He explains that while a spiral design will take you visually off to the side, this design will keep you looking straight ahead.


A few Tips

When asked about costs and added value for balloon creations, Mark has this advice to give:
• Make sure you have a price for your work that will cover ‘the worst’ scenario, e.g. returning to pick up equipment.
• Make sure your designs are different – there are many combinations of column patterns to make, and different print designs to choose from. Be creative and co-ordinate well!
• Be confident with your pricing – know exactly what you’re going to charge. These columns make a huge impact, so will definitely fetch a good price!

We leave this week’s question of the week to Mark, who wants to know: What’s your favourite classic décor column? Leave a comment or show us a picture, and we’ll see you next week!


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  1. Pingback: How to make a QuickLink Cross Column : Balloon Market Wholesale balloons and party supplies, helium and balloon accessories for the balloon and party trade,

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