In a haze of party planning euphoria, I decided it would be a great idea to purchase one of those large foam numbers that you can use to create a balloon mosaic.
I stepped into this project largely unprepared and very naïve. The road was a bumpy one. I’m going to share with you my rocky journey to the great eight balloon mosaic in hopes that it makes your journey a smoother one.
Foam 3 or 4 ft number (choose your desired number) – (read the reviews before purchasing!!!)
This is the most critical part. Obviously you know what number you are looking for. I wanted an 8 for my daughter’s 8th birthday. I also wanted one 4 feet tall because she’s 4 feet tall and I thought having one her height would be fun for her.
So I searched Amazon for a 4 foot 8. I found only one – and it had no reviews. I am usually a big read the reviews person, but for some reason this time, I threw caution to the wind and added it to my cart with no hesitation. I mean, it was my only option after all.
Lesson #1 – READ THE REVIEWS!!!
Selecting the Balloons
Identify the theme colors you are going for and then order the balloons in those hues. You want balloons of varying sizes. I found that a balloon arch kit like this one works wonderfully. It comes with coordinating colors and varying sizes of balloons and balloon tape. I only needed one kit and I had balloons leftover.
I also highly recommend ordering a balloon pump if you don’t have one. I had the hardest time blowing up those little balloons, it was actually impossible for me until I pulled out the balloon pump.
Assembling the Number
Assembling the backboard
I knew I was in a little bit of trouble when my 4 ft number 8 showed up in a small box. As I unfolded the 8 multiple multiple times and laid it flat, I thanked my lucky stars I had a good glue gun because I was going to need it. Mine is cordless which I highly recommend.
Lesson #2 – Get a good glue gun. You will need at least 3-5 glue sticks.
You must hot glue along all the folds. I recommend protecting your floor with a silicon glue mat if you have it. I have 4 of them, but didn’t think of it until after I was finished.
Lesson #3 – Use a silicon / glue mat to protect your floor from the hot glue.
Attaching the Sides
The instructions that came with the foam number were not super clear. They were very basic actually. So of course, I started assembling the 8 incorrectly. I started by gluing the sides to the top portion of the backboard.
This is not correct. Luckily I didn’t get too far before I realized my error and was able to pull it off without too much damage. You are supposed to glue the sides to the side of the backboard, so when you look at it from the side, there is no seam.
Lesson #4 – Glue the sides to the side of the backboard, not the top.
It took me over an hour to attach all of the sides. Why? Because I had to hold them on until the glue dried. There are a lot of curves on the 8, so if the glue wasn’t dry, it would pop off or start to gap. Other numbers with less curves might be quicker and easier.
It didn’t take me long to realize the side pieces were TOO SHORT!!! There were gaps all over. My 8 was manufactured incorrectly. It seemed like I had a 4 foot backboard but outside pieces that were made for a 3 foot backboard. This is where the read the reviews part would’ve come in handy. If there are no reviews yet, don’t purchase it.
It was this point, complete with burnt fingers from the hot glue, when I started muttering to myself about how big of a disaster this was turning out to be. My kids were looking at me with side eye glances and keeping their distance.
Fixing the Foam Number
So I spent over an hour building this 8 and it has huge gaps. Lovely! At this point, I was committed, and I wasn’t giving up. So off to Michael’s I went.
I purchased 1/4 inch foam board and cut it to fit the gaps. Ignoring the drive to and from Michael’s – cutting and gluing in the pieces took me another 30 minutes.
It didn’t look perfect because the new foam board was a brighter white, but honestly it wasn’t noticeable once I got the balloons in.
Adding the Balloons
Inflating the Balloons
The timing on inflating the balloons is key. I put the balloons in a little less than 24 hours before the party. I only had to replace 2 balloons that deflated overnight. If you have time to do it right before hand, perfect. I did not.
Lesson #5 – Do not inflate the balloons more than 24 hours before hand.
The balloon pump really comes in handy here. It was impossible for me to blow up the small balloons without the pump. Unfortunately there is no balloon tying apparatus. I literally wore the skin off the sides of my fingers tying all the balloons. At least they now matched the tips of my fingers that I burnt with hot glue. Lol!
My strategy was to inflate approximately 5-6 large balloons that would reach from one side to the other – fill the entire interior space.
From there I blew up 6-8 balloons that were slightly smaller and then 8-12 balloons that were slightly smaller and 12-16 that were smallest in size.
Lesson #6 – Do not inflate all your balloons. You will need some very specific sizes once you start putting the balloons in.
Adding the Balloons
Now we are finally to the fun part. I loved adding the balloons and working them in like a puzzle. There is no right or wrong way.
I tried to fill almost all of the blank space. I strategically planned the approximate location where I wanted my big balloons and worked them in when I got to that spot. Then I just filled in the rest with varying colors and sizes.
If I had any blank spaces, I took the balloons I hadn’t inflated yet and sized them to fit exactly.
You definitely want to utilize those glue dots here. Use a combination of gluing the balloons to each other and to the sides. This makes everything more secure. That way when they start to deflate, they don’t fall out.
Location, Location, Location
One thing I didn’t think through all the way was the fact that my party was not at my house. This meant I had to transport my gorgeous balloon mosaic. By this time I was very protective of it since I put so much effort in. Ask my husband how many times I reminded him to be careful with the 8.
We ended up having to take two cars and I had to put all the seats down in my SUV to fit it in. Definitely not the best call, but it worked.
Lesson #7 – Have a transportation plan in place if the party is offsite.
By time the mosaic made it to it’s party location, some of the balloons had shifted and I was doing last minute emergency surgery.
Lesson #8 – Have balloon glue dots handy for last minute repairs.
This was a beast of a project. It was definitely more work and more frustration than I planned. It took me a total of about 3-4 hours to complete. However, everyone LOVED it! My 8 year old LOVED it. Which was the whole reason for doing it.
If I had purchased a balloon mosaic that wasn’t defective, I think it would’ve been more manageable. Plus I’m guessing an 8 is one of the more difficult numbers to construct. Why couldn’t she be 1? Lol!
This big question, would I do it again? I’m thinking it might be like childbirth; with time you forget the pain and only remember the beauty. So possibly, but I’m sure my family who witnessed the whole fiasco the first time will think I’ve lost my mind. Lol!