COLUMBIA, S.C. — Glass blower Devan Cole came to the South Carolina State Fair from Americus, Georgia to teach fairgoers about the ancient art.
"If they can walk away from knowing even just a little bit more about what we go through to make our work is a successful story in my book," Cole shared.
He is set up everyday in the fair’s Heritage Village, teaching people about glass blowing.
"We take hollow steel tubes and gather the glass kind of like gathering out of a honeypot," he explained about the process. "Then we apply color by just taking that molten glass on the steel tube and rolling it in our crushed colored glass called frit. And then from that point we're manipulating, shape it, making our artistic vision and then eventually cooling it starting at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and then cooling overnight for about 12 hours."
Cole tells me glass blowing dates back roughly 2,000 years ago. It’s an art that he wants to keep alive by showing the process to people like Charlie Taylor.
"We look forward to it every year, our kids definitely do," Taylor told me. "And watching them kind of get to experience little different things every year is definitely a plus. Like our youngest right now, he just gets to soak it all in and we get to watch him kinda experience everything every year as if it's all brand new."
Seeing that reaction is exactly why Cole keeps up his work.
"By far the most rewarding is seeing people spark their imagination and really showing off our craft again and building a community around the arts," Cole said.
From pumpkins to flowers to bowls, the creation options are endless. Diane Bruno is visiting the fair from Oklahoma City. She made a stop by the glass blowing to check it out.
"It looks so easy," Bruno laughed. "But I found out he’s gone to school for it, gotten a degree for it."
Cole spent four years in New York and got a degree in glass art at Rochester Institute of Technology and "fell in love with it."
Bruno saw that passion come to life as she watched him make his custom creations - something she thinks makes the pieces special.
"I've known a lot of people that make things and give things away, and it means a lot more," she said.
The glass blowers are here every day of the fair. Heritage Village is on the north end of the fairgrounds by the rocket.