In Episode 4 of Rough Cut, Season 4, Tommy endeavors to build a glass desk lamp, which features triple-mitered corners and beautiful glass panels crafted by glassblower Neils Crosman.
Crosman is no stranger to Tommy or Rough Cut. He played host to the woodworker last season on a Road Trip to his studio at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In that episode, he helped Tommy come up with an “optic twist” design for his Barley Twist Lamp.
This season, Crosman meets up with Tommy at a Cambridge glass-blowing school to teach Tommy a little bit about the art of fusing glass. Together they cut glass diamonds from three sheets of blue-colored glass and lay out the diamonds to form the cube-like design you see in the final piece. Once laid out, those individual pieces are heated up to 1500 degrees, where they fuse to become one solid panel.
It is widely believed that the process of glass fusing dates back to the Egyptians in 2000 BC. This fact is subject to dispute, as some scholars suggest the Mesopotamians discovered it as far back as 2500 BC, while still others state that it wasn’t until the Romans that fusing techniques first were implemented. Regardless of the origins, it is more widely accepted that fusing lost favor when the glass blowpipe gave rise to glassblowing, which became the dominate glass-forming process for over two millennia, until fusing’s resurgence in the 20th century as a fine art form.