Birthdays, graduations, weddings and corporate events — from the most casual gathering to a formal, elegant affair, balloons are a decorating staple and can perfectly capture the spirit of any celebration.

And that doesn’t just mean balloon bouquets.

Any design or theme imaginable is possible with a little creativity and a lot of know-how.

De OSteen and Jill Inman, managers of Make It Special in Claremore, have achieved the unique distinction of “Certified Balloon Artists,” following their successful completion of the Qualatex Balloon Network.

QBN is a lengthy and comprehensive educational program designed to benefit professional balloon artists.

OSteen and Inman’s certification process culminated at the Pioneer Balloon Company headquarters in Wichita, Kan., with a four-hour practical test. A panel of judges critiqued each balloon artist on her own designs as well as designs specified by the panel itself.

“It incorporates all the knowledge we have to see if we can put it into practice,” OSteen said of the experience. “It takes a lot of determination and time.”

Only a handful of balloon artists in the state have earned the CBA designation, she said.

“Becoming a CBA has provided us the opportunity to demonstrate skills and obtain knowledge that proclaims what our industry is all about,” Inman said.

No matter what the occasion, OSteen and Inman’s balloon designs can create atmosphere and communicate emotion in a unique way, OSteen said.

Their expansive portfolio includes classic balloon decor like canopies, columns and arches as well as more unique, fun designs like champagne glasses with overflowing bubbles and elaborate, themed centerpieces.

“We do an ‘under the sea’ theme with tropical fish and seahorses that is popular year around,” Inman said.

Their most challenging request was for a life-size golf man holding a golf bag — made entirely from balloons. They’ve also made OU and OSU football players for Bedlam parties.

No idea is too large or small. For those who are unsure what they want, OSteen and Inman have pictures of all their work and ideas books to look through.

“People are very surprised when they come in and see what we can do,” OSteen said.

And they will continue to learn and develop their artistry. OSteen said the pair attends balloon school twice a year in locations such as Chicago, Dallas and Oklahoma City.

In order to showcase their work, OSteen and Inman make donations of their designs to businesses and organizations around town, such as schools and banks.

They also will be starting school discounts in September for upcoming carnivals and other special events.

For more information about balloon design for any occasion, call De OSteen or Jill Inman at 343-0600.

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