By BRITTANY FULLENKAMP

Multimedia Coordinator

bfullenkamp@timesbulletin.com

Tammy Corzine has worked with her mother in the wedding and special event industry since 1990. But it was only in recent years that Corzine incorporated her artistic skills in the business in a manner that few imagine about when they think about special events.

After taking a class with her mother on how to put together wedding flowers and balloons at Vantage Career Center, Corzine got her start in the special event industry. By working with the instructor of the class and later in the instructor's business, Corzine learned the ins and outs of catering, cakes, flowers, balloons, and everything else essential to create the perfect party. When the instructor decided she did not want to decorate anymore, Corzine and her mother decided to take the skills they had learned and strike off into their own business. That was she learned about a whole new side of decorating: balloon design.

"Up until we started the business, we had only done your basic arches that you see everywhere - nothing really out of the ordinary," said Corzine. "Probably six or seven years ago, I stumbled onto balloon conventions and magazines, and I realized there was a whole world out there that I didn't know existed."

Corzine explained most decorators do not know they can take simple balloons to a new level because they have not seen anything beyond the basic arch or balloon bouquet. But learning how to take that next step means traveling long distances for training.

"A lot of the (seminars) we go to are in Dayton," said Corzine. "They bring in teachers from all over the country to come in and teach us different things. We've gone to Ft. Wayne for seminars as well. Conventions, on the other hand, are all over the county. The local ones we attend are Chicago, Cincinnati, etc."

Right about the time they started their business, Celebrations, located in Delphos, Corzine and her mother attended their first balloon convention. The following year, Corzine competed in a contest and won first place. It was after that success she really started learning more about being a balloon artist.

"We go to classes and seminars and we have DVDs and magazines to help us learn the techniques and designs. Then we put our own twist on it," explained Corzine.

Corzine used her skills at the recent FLOAT competition, an international balloon convention, where she was named Designer of the Year for her large balloon sculpture titled "Reflection of a Kiss." The design depicting two frogs kissing over a pond of water was also awarded first place by a panel of judges and named Delegates Choice by her peers in the industry.

To be eligible for the Designer of the Year award, Corzine had to compete in three different categories: entrance décor, centerpieces and large sculpture. The total points in all three competitions were combined to determine the winner.

For "Reflection of a Kiss," the team of five had 20 hours over two days to complete the piece. At the end, the sculpture measured 7' tall by 12' wide. It took approximately 900 latex and foil balloons to create.

One of the prizes she was awarded was two free registrations to Ideias Gigantes 7, a balloon convention in Brazil. Corzine is unsure if she will be able to attend it, however, since the event takes place in May, the busiest time of the year for Celebrations.

"It's in May, and that's our busiest time with graduation, so I'm not sure I'll be able to leave the store to do it," said Corzine. "It's going to be a tough decision."

Graduations and the conventions are not the only events Corzine caters to. From weddings to baby showers to themed parties, Corzine provides supplies for just about anything the consumer can think of for a celebration. It is not just balloons, either. Centerpieces, columns, backdrops, themed table settings and numerous other decorations fill the store on Second St.

But more than all the rest, Corzine's favorite part remains the balloons. "I love doing the balloons. I love seeing people's reactions when we bring them something cool. If we do a big dance floor with balloons, people are just taken aback by it. I like to see how happy people are when they see the finished product."