Balloons are a classic way to decorate for parties or other festive events. For a more personal touch, you can print custom words or images on the balloons. Transfer your design onto a Mylar balloon with tattoo paper, or onto a latex balloon using rubber stamps and quick-drying ink. For professional-looking custom balloons, create vinyl designs with a Cricut machine that can be applied to both Mylar and latex balloons.
EditStamping the Balloons
Inflate your balloon so it is ¾ full of air. Using your mouth or a pump, blow up the balloon until it’s three-fourths of the way full. Hold the neck of the balloon tightly between your thumb and forefinger to keep the air from escaping.
Make sure the balloon that you plan to stamp is at least long. Small balloons are difficult to stamp.
This method only works with latex balloons.
Ink a small rubber stamp with quick-drying ink. Double-check that the stamp has been fully inked or some of the design will not be visible. For the best results, select stamps that are no longer than . Whether your design contains images or words, make sure the lines are bold and thick.
Select a color of ink that contrasts with the color of your balloon.
You can buy pre-made rubber stamps at a craft store. Or, you can order a personalized stamp that relates to the event you’re celebrating.
Press the stamp gently on the balloon in your desired position. Determine where you want the design to appear on the balloon, then gently press the fully-inked stamp on that section of the balloon. Rock the stamp back and forth slightly to make sure all areas of the stamp have come in contact with the latex.
You can repeat this process with additional stamps if your design involves multiple words or images.
Wait for the stamp (or stamps) to dry, then deflate the balloon. Let the balloon sit for up to 2 minutes to allow the stamp ink to dry completely. Then, release your fingers from the neck of the balloon so it deflates. Set it gently aside with the inked design facing up.
You can touch the ink lightly with your finger to test if it’s still wet.
Repeat this process with any remaining balloons.
Inflate the balloon with helium and tie on a string. Using a helium tank, fill up your stamped balloon with helium. Tie the neck of the balloon in a knot with your fingers, then tie on a ribbon so it’s easier to display.
You can also re-inflate the balloon with air, using a pump or your mouth, but it will not float.
EditApplying Tattoo Paper
Create a design using a word processing or design software, then flip it. Using a program like Microsoft Word or Photoshop, design your custom balloon. Incorporate words, images, or a combination of both. Once you’ve finalized your design, flip it along its vertical axis.
If you’re using design software, you can flip the design within the program. Many inkjet printers also have the capability to print mirror images of a document, which you can select under “Properties” in the Print dialog box.
Since you’ll be printing this design using an inkjet printer, you can use multiple colors for your words or images. However, consider the color of your balloons when selecting colors for the design—black words will not show up well on a dark blue or black balloon, for example.
Print your design on tattoo paper. Tattoo paper can be bought online or at your local craft store and consists of a sheet of wax transfer paper and a clear top sheet. Print your mirrored design onto the transfer paper using an inkjet printer. Make sure to read the instructions included with the tattoo paper you’ve purchased, since they vary slightly between brands.
Tattoo paper is generally used to create your own temporary tattoos, but in this case, you will be transferring your design onto a balloon rather than someone’s skin.
You can print multiple designs onto a single sheet of tattoo paper, then cut them apart to decorate several different balloons.
Attach the clear, sticky top sheet to the printed transfer paper. Once you’ve printed out your design onto the waxy transfer paper, apply the clear sheet on top. Make sure the edges of both sheets align when you press them together.
Make sure there are no air bubbles between the two sheets. Smooth them with your hands to get rid of bubbles.
Cut out your design with a pair of scissors. Stay close to the edge of your design while you cut. If you’ve printed out several designs on the same sheet, cut them apart.
Remove the top sheet and place the tattoo ink-side down on the balloon. Gently pull the clear top sheet off your tattoo, starting with one corner and working your way across the entire design. Holding the tattoo paper along its edges, place it in the center of the balloon. Make sure the ink side is facing down.
Use a Mylar balloon. It should not be inflated at this point in the process.
Blot the tattoo paper with a damp sponge or paper towel. Get a sponge or paper towel wet, then wring it out so it’s no longer dripping. Press the damp sponge against the back of the tattoo paper several times.
Make sure the entire piece of tattoo paper is damp. You may have to add a bit more water to your sponge or paper towel if you are applying a large design.
Peel away the tattoo paper after 15 seconds. Once the entire piece of paper is damp, let it sit for 10 to 15 seconds so the ink can adhere fully to the balloon. Then, starting from one corner, slowly peel back the paper until it’s fully removed.
Your design should now be printed on the balloon. The transfer process will flip the words or images back to their correct orientation.
Allow the design to dry fully, then inflate the balloon. Let the balloon sit for a minute or two until the ink has completely dried. Then, using your mouth or a pump, fill up the balloon with air or helium.
If you’d prefer a double-sided balloon, you can flip the balloon over after the first design has dried and repeat the process on the back.
EditUsing a Cricut
Buy a Cricut to print the design for your balloons. Cricuts are available for purchase online or at most craft stores. A Cricut is a die-cutting machine, and it operates a lot like a printer—you create a design on your computer and then send it to the machine. But, rather than printing your design with ink, the Cricut cuts it out of the material that you’ve inserted into the machine (anything from fabric to vinyl to craft foam).
There are two types of Cricut machines: the more expensive Cricut Maker, which features additional blade types, and the Cricut Explore. Both will work for cutting vinyl designs to transfer onto balloons.
Create your balloon design digitally. The design can include words, images, or a combination of both. Use Cricut Design Space, a free design software, to create your custom balloon design. Or, use a separate image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or PicMonkey to craft the design. Then, upload it to the Cricut Design Space.
If you’ve created the design in a separate program, you will need to save it as a PNG file in order to upload it to the Cricut Design Space.
Since the design will be printed using a single color of vinyl, simple graphics and line drawings work best if you plan to include images.
Inflate the balloon and measure the space you plan to decorate. Blow up one of the balloons using your mouth, a pump, or a helium tank. Determine where you want your design to appear on the balloon and how big you want it to be. Mark this distance with a washable marker. Then, using a flexible measuring tape laid flat against the balloon, measure the width of that marked area.
Wipe off the marks with a damp finger one you’ve finished measuring.
Printed vinyl designs can be applied to both latex and Mylar balloons.
Adjust your digital design to fit the balloon. Change the sizing of the design in Cricut Design Space so it will fit the area you just measured. If you plan to print multiple designs in the same color, see if you can fit them both on the same page without overlap.
Set the Cricut to its vinyl settings. On the Cricut Design Space, click the green “Make It” button in the top right corner and then select the type of vinyl you plan to use. Make sure the dial on the Cricut machine is also set to vinyl.
Vinyl options include holographic vinyl, glitter vinyl, and metallic vinyl.
Cut a piece of vinyl and place it on the Cricut mat. The piece of vinyl should match the size of your file on Cricut Design Space. Position the vinyl so its paper liner side is facing the mat. Use your hands to smooth the piece of vinyl flat across the mat so it sticks.
Scrape out any air bubbles with a card.
If you’re using high-shine vinyl, use a non-stick roller to smooth it out instead. A scraper could damage the vinyl.
Load the mat into your Cricut and press go. The machine will translate your design onto the vinyl using a series of small, precise blades. The Cricut is designed to cut only the vinyl, not the paper liner.
Remove the excess vinyl from the sheet. Once the Cricut has finished cutting the design, take the piece of vinyl out of the machine. Start by gently pulling up one corner of the vinyl sheet and work your way across to completely remove the excess vinyl. Don’t forget to pull off the smaller pieces of vinyl that remain inside or around your design.
This process is called “weeding.”
Although you can do the entire process by hand, a metal weeding hook makes it easier to work with precision when removing the small pieces of vinyl inside letters or images.
Cut a piece of transfer paper and apply it to the vinyl design. Measure the transfer paper so it will completely cover the vinyl design. Peel the sticky transfer paper off its paper backing and lay it across the vinyl design, pressing down to make sure it’s attached.
Smooth out any air bubbles with a plastic card.
If you’re working with a large design, consider cutting the design into several sections that can be applied separately.
Peel the transfer paper off the paper liner, taking the vinyl design with it. The sticky side of the transfer paper attaches to the vinyl design, allowing it to be pulled off its paper backing. You will end up with something resembling a large sticker.
Position the vinyl on the balloon and press gently on the transfer paper. Start by pressing in the middle of the design with your fingers. Do this gently, or you will pop the balloon. Let the rest of the transfer tape fall naturally against the balloon, and continue to work your way outwards, pressing gently.
Once you’ve pressed it down with your fingers, you can go back in with a scraper and gently smooth out the transfer paper to make sure the design has completely adhered to the balloon.
Gently peel back the transfer paper, leaving the vinyl design on the balloon. Start at one corner and peel the transfer paper back carefully to keep from shifting the vinyl. Once you’ve completely removed the transfer paper, go in with one finger and press down slightly on each piece of the design to make sure it’s completely attached.
If you cut your vinyl into multiple sections, you can repeat the transfer process with each section until the design is fully applied to the balloon.
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