Most of my work is created using "strip method" fusing, a detailed process requiring both time and patience.  Long strips of colored glass are cut by hand, laid on edge into patterns, and then heated in a kiln to approximately 1500 degrees.  The resulting fused "pattern blank" is cut into sections which are rearranged, supplemented with additional strips, and fused again into a more complex pattern.  Depending upon the final pattern, each piece is repeatedly cut and fused many times, with each firing cycle lasting approximately 14 hours.

Once the final pattern has been fused each piece is then ground and polished to a smooth finish using a variety of diamond tools.  Most pieces require two to three hours of polishing, while larger pieces can require up to five hours.  Although some of this work is done initially with power tools, I do most of the polishing by hand using foam pads and sandpaper embedded with diamonds.

Once polished each piece is then "slumped" (fired at a low temperature) into a mold, which transforms the flat pattern blank into a three-dimensional shape.

Final surface texture is created through a combination of sandblasting and acid-etching, resulting in a smooth matte finish.  Finally, I apply a thin coat of clear lacquer sealant which seals out fingerprints and enhances the depth of the matte finish.

Once completed, each piece has been transformed from a traditional smooth and shiny ("glassy") texture to one more resembling ceramic than glass.  The most common question I am asked about my work is "What is that?  Is it glass?", which I consider both a complement and a sign of success.

- Robert Woldow

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