Retiring at 83, valley man quitting after decades of work - FOX 13 News

Retiring at 83, valley man quitting after decades of souvenir making

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

The average retirement age is around 60 years old but one Mesa man is finally calling it quits at the age of 83.

For the past two decades he's created handcrafted paperweights with scorpions, tarantulas, or other small animals that you've probably seen at gift shops around the southwest.

But with his retirement he worries his art form will retire too.  "I started doing it in about 93," said Paul Way.

More than likely you've seen his work but have never seen his face. "For 10 years I've been manufacturing this stuff," he said.

They've been sold in gift shops in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California but now the man behind these handcrafted scorpion and tarantula souvenir paperweights is calling it quits.

"I decided after being 83 I should take some time off before I go upstairs," he said.

Paul got started making the paperweights after he decided to help his brother with this business after moving to Arizona.

Little by little the business grew and he eventually took over the business altogether.  He would make up to 50 pieces a day just to keep up with demand and 500 pounds of resin to his house on a regular basis

Way says he is the only person he knows of in the valley that still makes the paperweights.  "I know of some people in China that made these things, but they were no where near as good as I was I could tell that by looking at their product," said Way.

Now, way says it's time to fully retire. But he doesn't want to see his art retire with him.  He's looking for someone to take on the task to keep his love and business of more than 20 years alive saying it's an Arizona tradition.

"I call it an art and I think that it is an art to do this and do it well," said Way.

Paul Way says he's hopeful someone will take over his trade in fact, he says he may just have someone willing to take it on.  The only problem he says it growing difficult to find the little critters to put into the resin.

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