North Hills Shopping Center Swirl MadeWithBalloons™

"Just Rouse It" logo - icon with purpe boarder & f2f7fc cornersSHOPPING CENTER SWIRL

This giant swirl was a marvelous design when we built it quite some years ago for North Hills Shopping Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. I think it is still a great concept.

It produces sculptured bands of swirling color in the air. And, it does it with more variety of form and fewer balloons than would be required of standard garlands MadeWithBalloons™.

Today we know how to make sculptured swirls like this a lot easier and faster than when we first hung this one in North Hills mall.

We can “JustRouseIt™” with our latest tools and techniques.


There were three basic elements in the original; the balloons, the glue and the metal tubes. The metal tubes were two 1/2″ EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing) connected end to end. The balloons were standard, round, latex. The glue was “rubber cement”.

The slow part was assembling it all. We used a special fitting that came with the EMT to join the ends. Pipe benders from the hardware store helped greatly with bending the tubes into shape, but the balloons were a considerably more difficult and tedious task.

Getting balloons and glue positioned properly and them holding them in place until the glue set was not so much fun. Glue dots would have been faster, but they were not yet available.

Glue also brought the risk of one balloon tearing up it’s neighbors if it were to pop.



Today we have new tools and techniques to make the whole process simpler, easier, faster.

Even the planning process has been simplified. Now we have honeycomb graph paper to plan the design. Square grid graph paper was readily available then, but that would give only four contact points between balloons instead of six and would also leave much larger gaps between groups of balloons.

Graph paper  and model of Swirl MadeWithBalloons™ & Rouse Matrix™ Expand-And-Load™ balloon frames

 Sketch out your design on honeycomb graph paper. In this case we have used the Banner graph paper for round latex balloons inflated 4″. The paper is to a scale of 1 to 24. That means that 1/2″ on the paper equals 1′ when you build the real thing. This design comes out about 12′ long and 3′ wide. Use colored pencils or pens for a brighter design.

Cut out your paper design with scissors. Later, you will be cutting the real thing with scissors to make your finished shape.

Bend your 6″ wire to the form you like. Later you will be working with a 12′ metal tube or rod.

Wrap the graph paper cut out around the outside of the wire swirl and attach it with clear tape. Later you will be wrapping your cut out sheet of balloons around your metal core and attaching it with cable ties (zip ties, electrical ties).

Download graph paper to plan your design.

To build your swirl on the scale of the swirl in the photo try this honeycomb graph paper for balloons inflated 8″ in diameter: 

For smaller designs like our graph paper model above, try this graph paper for balloons inflated 4″ in diameter:



REAL™ icon for Rouse Matrix™ Expand-And-Load™ Balloon frame technologyRE-A-L™

No more rubber cement... We have eliminated the tedious work of applying rubber cement and holding balloons while the glue drys. We have a new technology and we call it “RE-A-L™”.

(RE-A-L™Rouse Expand-And-Load patented technology is the basis for the Rouse Matrix™ brand of balloon frames. 

These frames are exceptionally light, compact, flexible, versatile, low cost and they come with an a nontoxic, wax, adhesive to help hold the balloons in place.

They make it much easier and faster to assemble the sheet of balloons we want for our giant swirl. They can be easily cut into the shape we desire with standard scissors. And they can be easily wrapped around our metal tubing and attached simply with cable ties.

The basic concept is quite simple: “Expand the frame & load the balloons”.

Here is an animation from another project to give you the idea.

Animation of loading balloons for a logo design in Rouse Matrix™.

The next step is to cut away the extra material.

Animation of trimming a balloon shape in Rouse Matrix™.


You create your design, trim it out to the shape you like and wrap it around your sculptured metal core.

You also get to choose how you load balloons in the framework. Here are two options we recommend for projects like this.


"SIMPLE" Rouse Original Applied Patents & Procedures (APPS) for building walls, murals and other graphics MadeWithBalloons™.


The classic and patented “SIMPLE”, system of loading balloons into these frameworks is dramatically easier and faster than gluing balloons in place.

Tie standard round balloons in pairs and then roll them into adjacent openings in the Rouse frame.

You tie only once to seal two balloons. You reach into your supply of prepared balloons only once for two balloons. When you load one balloon, the next balloon is right there and ready to load as well. And, there is none of the gluing, positioning and waiting.

That is the basic procedure, but you can learn more about how to use this Rouse original system in this article:.Get Started with RMS™ Single Layer

You get a bonus when you purchase official Rouse Matrix™ balloon frames to use with this proprietary technique. There is no need for special permission or separate written license. The license to use this technique with RMS™ is automatically granted as a part of the Rouse Matrix™ purchase.


"FAST" Rouse Original Applied Patents & Procedures (APPS) for building walls, murals and other graphics MadeWithBalloons™.  .



The Rouse patented, “FAST” way of filling RMS™ balloon frames is to tie strings of double-ended balloons together. Load the balloons of each string into a row of adjacent openings in the balloon frame.

Double-ended balloons like Quick Link Balloons™ and Link-O-Loons™ are  more expensive than standard round balloons used in the Rouse SIMPLE technique. They are, however, more secure since they are anchored on both ends to another balloon and they load much more quickly.

With a little practice, you will likely double or quadruple your loading speed compared with the Rouse SIMPLE technique. With even more practice you might approach our current world record of 52 balloons in 45 seconds. Yes, 45 seconds. That is a rate of over 4,000 balloons loaded per hour!

Learn more about how to use this Rouse original system in this article: Two Steps To Easier & Faster Walls, Murals and Graphics MadeWithBalloons.! You will speed up your balloon decorating.

You get a bonus when you purchase official Rouse Matrix™ balloon frames for use with the Rouse FAST technique. There is no need for special permission or separate written license to use this proprietary technique. The license to use this technique with RMS™ is automatically granted as a part of the Rouse Matrix™ purchase.



We call our “FAST” technique “Speed Graphics”.  Here is a short (81 seconds) video of that world record performance:

Now you have the basics of how to make your own giant swirl.

  • Download graph paper to make your own designs.
  • Get some floral wire or  aluminum clothes line wire from the hardware store.
  • Add a little 3/4″ clear tape from the drug store

and you are set to make your models.


Follow up with the full scale materials to build your project.

  • Balloons
  • Rouse Matrix
  • Metal rod or tubes
  • Cable ties

Post your questions or comments below in the “Reply” or “Comments” section.

You may also call (toll free 1-877-GO-ROUSE ) (toll free 1-877-467-6873) (international 1-864-654-4166) or write ( if you have questions of bumps along the way.

We would love to see pictures of your giant swirls. Share them here  or send them to us at the email address above.





—  “TIGERS!” For Banner Business

 “HAPPY 50TH” MadeWithBalloons™



Thanks for joining me here today. We would love to have you come again. And, do bring your friends. 

Graham Rouse
© 2014  by Graham Rouse


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