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Issue 2003.02      RMS AT IBAC 2003 ENTER SHANGRI-LA

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Graph Paper Layout

Graph Paper Model

It takes six RMS Builders (12 half Builder panels) to make the two spiraling columns. Connect the panels as shown in the Graph Paper Layout above. You may download a larger version of the layout along with instructional notes from

Spray one side of the Matrix with adhesive (We recommend 3-M brand #77 spray adhesive.) before you stretch open the Matrix. Let it dry and then spray the other side as well. Let it dry before you load balloons. The goal is to get a textured surface on the plastic that is slightly tacky. The adhesive is normally not necessary for flat displays with the Builders, but is important when bending the Builders as in these spirals.

Generally it will be easiest to fill all the openings with balloons first, and then cut along the horizontal and diagonal lines shown in the layout with scissors. This will pop a number of balloons. Trim off the dangling edges of Matrix with scissors. This will give you a matched pair of large Matrix triangles filled with balloons.

Note: If guests will come close to the spirals, it will be worthwhile to rotate some of the balloons along the cut edges to better hide knots.

If balloons on the edges of the triangles are clear or white, as in this design, the Matrix straps will virtually disappear. On other occasions, you may want to paint them or cover them with ribbon, greenery or tulle.

The longest edge of the triangle (the diagonal side) will become the upward spiral. The shortest side of the triangle will become the vertical edge. While the piece is still flat, move over a couple of rows of balloons from the vertical edge and attach a vertical support pipe or rod with cable ties.

Wrap the cable ties around one of the Matrix straps and around the vertical support. Tighten the cable ties until they are snug. All you need is a little friction at several places along the support. If you make the connection too tight it will force balloons out of their holes.

Paint, ribbon, or colored tape can serve to cover the vertical support and camouflage it. It also helps if you attach the support so that it will be hidden inside the spiral.

Stand up one of the triangles and attach the vertical support to a base so that the support does not spin around the base.

Pull the triangle around the base into a spiral. Make the spiral tighter than you plan to use, and then let it spring open again to the size you want. Secure the bottom end of the spiral to the floor with a base plate or with tape across the Matrix strap where it meets the floor. You may also need to secure the base at the tall end of the spiral to keep it from spinning.

There is another technique for getting and keeping the spiral in shape, but it requires skill that is usually gained only after some practice. This involves moving most of the balloons in the Matrix slightly off center toward the outside of the spiral.

Slip one hand between the Matrix strap and a balloon. Gently squeeze one side of the balloon away from the strap (You may hear it crackle as the balloon separates from the adhesive.) and roll the balloon a small distance toward the outside of the spiral. You will get neater and stronger results if you move many balloons a very slight distance rather than trying to get by with a few balloons moved a greater distance.

Repeat the process for the second triangle which should be spiraled in the opposite direction.

Add lights, glitter, artificial snow, etc. desired.

Review instructions that come with the Builders for details on sizing and loading balloons into the Matrix.


Check out an array of other fun ways to use RMS Builders in our Balloon Arts Builders Gallery at

Download basic instructions for using RMS Builders from

Download honeycomb graph paper to plan your own designs with RMS Builders from

Purchase RMS Builders from RMS Distributors. Find a distributor near you at

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Last Updated: 24-March-2003
copyright 2003 Rouse International