Girdwood glass blower Darby Andrews is looking ahead to the possibilities for his small business if voters approve the legalization of recreational marijuana and his most popular wares lose their stigma.
Andrews, a U.S. Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, said Alaska's attitude toward toking up is very similar to a saying from his military days: "Don't ask, don't tell."
When Andrews returned from war in the early 1990s, he had a blood clot in his leg. He said he had to find work that he could take breaks from when it was convenient, so he started looking into the arts. He played with leather and hemp before one day finding his friend's 7-year-old daughter playing with a small torch, melting glass.
"I saw it and I was like, 'Ooh, me next!'" he recalled. That day he made two glass beads, which he sold to a traveler at a bar that night. He was hooked; he went back to his friend's the next day.
By 1995 he was traveling around the Last Frontier, peddling his products at festivals around the state. His business evolved away from the small festivals selling directly to customers, and it now includes more repair work, custom designs and sales to shops in Alaska and Outside.