Ingredients : Balloons, rubber cement, and a few feet of fishing line.

Step 1. Design it on paper. If it’s going to be "inlaid" or a combination of "inlaid" and "overlaid" be careful in the designing because the "inlaid" portion will dictate the overall size and proportions. In the beginning you may find it easier to deal with "overlaid" designs on simple backgrounds. The picture above is a good example of this style. Design the inlaid portion on 1/4" graph paper (1 square = 1 balloon). Warning: The tendency of these things is to grow and grow. Make sure it will fit in your intended location. Practice with a small chunk and measure the distance covered per balloon. Determine how many balloons you will need.

Step 2. Inflate the balloons almost to the bursting point and allow them to relax to a point of about 1/2 full. For 11 inch balloons this would be no bigger than about 8". You will find that they will be very durable after this process. Any size balloon can be used to build the wall depending on your needs. Obviously you can get much greater detail out of 5" balloons. Warning: Sizing must be perfect. Use a Holey box.... auto inflators are not needed.

Step 3. Cut some strips of cardboard about 10" long and 1 1/2" inches wide. Cut with the grain of the cardboard.

Step 4. Pour about 1/8 cup of rubber cement (available at any office supply) onto a glass or ceramic plate. Warning: Rubber cement is flammable.

Step 5. Position yourself on the floor next to a wall so you can use the wall and floor to help you get started in a strait line.

Step 6. Use the cardboard strips to apply rubber cement to the side of a balloon in a more or less circular pattern just slightly bigger than a silver dollar. A small amount is plenty, evenly distributed so that drying is rapid and uniform. The balloon is sitting on the floor with the stem pointing up. The cement is halfway down the side. You then press another balloon up against it (cement is not needed on the second balloon) in the same position using the wall to get started in a strait line. After you have a line of 10’ or so, begin the second line. ( if you are making a long wall, build it in manageable and transportable chunks, and put it together close to the installation point) The second line is critical. Attach the first balloon of the second line to the balloon above it, and then attach the second balloon to the one above it. With your patch of cement on one balloon or the other, position the 2 new balloons so that the "diamond" formed in the gap is equal on all sides and stick them together. This may sound complicated but with just a little practice, you’ll be amazed at how fast it can go.

Step 7. Put on the overlay items, (usually made in a similar fashion out of 5" balloons) sometimes it’s best to affix the overlays as you assemble the "chunks". If you have someone with very small feet they can walk in the "diamonds". Although you may break a few balloons along the way, (they are easily replaced) you will find that these walls are surprisingly strong and durable. We recommend prefabing the chunks and overlay pieces no more than 4 days in advance and keeping them cool and in the dark. You’ll find that it is not at all expensive to rent an enclosed truck to haul the "stuff" to the venue.

Step 8. Rig it. This specific type of glued wall is best for hanging next to a wall. With minor changes they can be hung in the middle of a room and made to look good from either side. You will need one tying point for about every 6’ of wall. These tying points need to be positioned so as to allow the wall to hang flat and even. Key to this is to have the outside rigging points just slightly (6"-12") beyond the limits of the balloon wall itself. Run fishing line (25 - 30 lb. test is fine) through your rigging points and back down to the top portion of the balloon wall. Tie the wall (using the stems on the top or second line) to the lift lines. Slowly take up the slack on the lift lines as a couple of people gently lift the wall. (This process takes several people. We have always grabbed a few volunteers from nearby.) It only takes a few seconds to get the wall into position and level. Tie it off. Simply cutting the lift lines makes it easy to dispose of after the event. This is easily done by the venue staff and can help avoid you returning to break down the deco.

ALSO : You can fill the "diamonds" with glued 5" and achieve a nice effect.

Try to avoid places where the wall will be "backlit".

The photos below are of walls made with the "glued in the crotches" technique. It is a good way to have less "showthru" spaces. It is also less flexible and therefore more fragile.


I hope these instructions are useful to you. This is my first attempt at writing out this sort of thing. Please e-mail me with your comments and suggestions. Let me know if you need clarification on any step. I expect you may soon improve on these techniques.

Mitch wrote:

My question on those instructions, is: What you're saying in effect, is

a) build it backwards Line up against a wall put a balloon against the wall, rubber cement it on side, attach another balloon next to it

continue until at end of section build 2nd row, cementing EXACTLY in same places continue until at desired height

Then decorate it on top with the names..??

Response: I think you’ve got it. It will take some practice to get the right amount of rubber cement for quick drying. If you are doing an inlay, remember that you are building it "reversed" since the stems are up. What you will see as you build it is kind of a "mirror image". After you design it on graph paper, Turn the graph paper over and look at it from the back side as you build it……when you turn the wall over, the letters will be correct. Make a small one for practice ….it gets easy soon. Watch to see that the diamonds are equal on all sides and it will look great.