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Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Janet Smith's interest in art began at a young age. Her father was a writer and her mother a dancer. She assumed she'd grow up to be one or the other, but in college she fell in love with painting and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduation, she looked for a way to make a living with her art skills. 

``I realized with glass I could do fine art and design in the same medium,'' she said. ``I liked having the range and I thought I could make it into a business and work for myself, not work somewhere else and do art on the side.'' Smith often vacations on the Outer Banks. ``It's my favorite place to go to the beach,'' she said. Color is what makes her glass expressive, Smith said.