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Norwood woman wins Rochester competition with balloon dress

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NORWOOD — The north country knows her as Cubby T. Clown’s partner in fun, but recently Faye M. Ori has taken her balloon-twisting designs to the runway.

For the past year, Ms. Ori has been designing dresses and showing them in bridal shows across the county. Two weeks ago she won first place in a balloon couture competition at the Twist and Shout Balloon Convention in Rochester.

“I didn’t even know balloon dresses existed until I did some random searching on the Internet,” she said.

Ms. Ori said she and her husband, Christopher A. Durand, have been clowning around making basic balloon animals for 16 years, but she wanted to add something to their IYQ Balloon Decor, a division of their business Cubby T. Clown and Company.

She said she started reading magazines about balloon decorating.

“They said to push yourself and try something out of your comfort zone,” she said.

Ms. Ori stepped out of that comfort zone last year during the Bridal Expo in Ogdensburg, where she showed off her first of 10 balloon dresses.

“People were amazed to see it,” she said. “Even in the cities, you don’t see that very commonly, but up here, you never see that.”

Since then she’s shown multiple dresses at different bridal shows around the county.

She was up against eight different contestants, some of whom have been designing balloon dresses much longer than she, at the Rochester competition.

Her husband inflated pink and orange balloons for her as she wove them into a dress.

“There was about 24 hours of labor that went into that dress,” she said.

“This just shows what she’s capable of,” Mr. Durand said.

During the convention, Ms. Ori took a master class on balloon dress making.

“I figured I already kind of figured out the basics, but I wanted to see what I could improve on,” she said.

Ms. Ori will have three dresses at the Bridal Expo in Ogdensburg this weekend.

She said she’ll start making them today, since the dresses don’t have a long shelf life and the balloons will deflate if she starts too soon.

She also said that although most of the dresses are woven before the show, she leaves the backs open for the models.

“I have to weave them into the dress. They can’t put it on themselves,” she said.

Ms. Ori said she’s never sold a dress, but she’s keeping an open mind about her new artwork.

“It would be nice to be able to teach this someday, do bigger events and bring balloons to the north country,” she said.

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