By Briana Trusty
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
As he has done for the last 30 years, professional glassblower Ken Curtiss came to this year's Craftsmen Classic Arts and Crafts Festival to create fanciful creations that he describes as "heating up liquid in mid-air."
The Craftsmen's Classic Arts and Crafts Festival opened its doors to the general public in Columbia for the 42nd time on Nov. 3. The festival, which spans an entire weekend, showcases the original designs and work of over 200 artists and craftsmen from across the United States.
And while some of the vendors simply bring their work with them premade, there are certain vendors who will create their pieces at their booth right before your eyes. Curtiss is one of those vendors. He left behind a job in the corporate world and hasn't looked back.
"Before I was blowing glass, I was working for my brother doing paperwork," he said. "I'm not much of a paperwork person," he says. "I got tired of working in the corporate world where they say, 'We need a dozen of these by Friday.' That wasn't me either."
Luckily for Curtiss, the festival allows him to work at his own pace and visit cities where customers return again and again to enjoy his work.
"There's a lot of people in Columbia who know me and collect my glass so, I have a lot of regular customers" he said. "I always sell something here."
One of his regular customers, Barb Way, was happy to see that Curtiss had returned for another year.
"I've come in the past to get things for family members and loved ones at this booth, but this time is my time to get something," Way said.
Earlier in the day, Curtiss had created a pink flamingo at his booth, and Way ended up picking that piece to take home with her.
"Sometimes you have to indulge yourself and do things that will make you smile," she says.
And as much as customers like Way enjoy purchasing the figurines, Curtiss enjoys making them just as much.
"For me, glass blowing is a major stress reliever. It's changed my life," he said.