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May 26th, 2009A new twist on making a living

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by Ted Land

Anchorage, Alaska — It can be the loneliest job in the mall. You’re lucky if a customer gives you a few seconds; after all, almost no one visits the mall for the kiosks.

Unless you’re Kenneth Williams. He calls himself the “pipe cleaner master.”

“Twenty years I’ve been doing this,” he said.

It started at age 8. Williams found some pipe cleaners in his parents’ cabinets. He started twisting and weaving them, and today it’s a full-time job.

“I’ve been making this one customer a Humvee,” Williams said.

His favorite pieces are cartoon characters and superheroes, but he’ll make almost anything if you just ask.

“These have been popular lately — here’s the president and of course the governor and Todd Palin,” he said.

“I think he’s awesome,” customer Renata Cantu-Rogers said. “When I first came in here I was dumbfounded.”

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