FRESNO, Calif. -- There's no art like the art of glassblowing.
Cory Ballis should know. He comes from a family of artists, and throughout his life, he's worked on a lot of different kinds of art.
But the day he first tried a glassblowing class in college, he was hooked for life.
"It's just a lot of fun," he says. "I like the speed of it. It's really fast. There's no stopping once you start. Once you get the glass at the end of the pipe, it's a whole another thing."
Around nine years after his first taste in glassblowing, Ballis opened his own studio in Fresno, California. There he began to craft his own artwork.
From sculptures to bowls, drinkware to ornaments, each lovingly handcrafted Ballis Glass piece is bathed in rich, vivid colors and exquisite flowing swirls and patterns.
But if the products are stunning, the process by which they are created is equally if not more mesmerizing.
Every single piece of glasswork starts as sand and bubbles and hand-mixed colors, and is melted in a fire as hot as lava, then poked, prodded, squeezed, rolled, and slowly and carefully shaped by Ballis and his team.
"We just kinda zone out. We're always playing music, we just kinda get in the groove and start doing it," he says.
If the idea of forging your own glass vase or ornament from scratch sounds like fun, you're in luck. For the last seven years, Ballis has been offering classes throughout the year. In his classes, he teaches his students how to handcraft pieces which they can take home for themselves.
In the fall, they make gorgeous glass pumpkins, at Easter, vividly colored eggs, and ahead of Valentine's Day, heart-shaped ornaments and paperweights.
His students rave about the experience, and many come back again and again throughout the year, for date nights and family outings and birthday parties.
"It's a lot of fun," says Robert Corbin, who visited this year for the second time with his boys. "It opens a different side of seeing what you are capable of doing."
Adds Amy Lindsay: "They're beautiful, and that I get to make something like that is pretty cool."