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Since the humble balloon was first invented in 1824 by Michael Faraday, it has remained popular with adults and children as a fun way to decorate and celebrate special events. Yet, the properties of a balloon are remarkably simple. Produced from natural latex that stretches under pressure, modern balloons are inflated and filled with water, gas or air to create a decorative or novelty object. Party and novelty balloons Balloons are most commonly used for special occasions, such as birthday parties, as their ability to float and bounce can provide endless amusement for young children. Although the traditional balloon is spherical in shape, many novelty balloons are now available in the shapes of animals, numbers or favourite children's characters. Party balloons are often filled with helium, a gas which enables the balloon to float vertically in the air. Helium is now commonly available to purchase in canisters for the purpose of inflating party balloons. Balloon modelling Children's parties require entertainment, and the production of extra stretchy balloons has led to a rise in balloon artists, who have the talent for keeping children amused by creating animals and other sculptures out of twisted balloons. Skill and practise is required in balloon modelling to ensure that sculptures can be created without causing the balloon to burst. Decorative balloons The close association of using balloons in parties has led to balloons being used more generally as a decorative accessory at celebrations and special events. Decorative balloons are often used at wedding receptions as table centres and at mass events such as New Year's celebrations.