Richie Roberts

Click images to enlarge Inky GlassCOE 90Suspect #4

Artist Statement

Rich Roberts has a pragmatic background including 2 years in the US Army, owning a lawn mowing business, renovating a house and teaching for 20 years at various NJ high schools. As an Industrial Arts teacher, his subjects ranged from desktop publishing, offset printing, photography, drafting, wood-shop and engineering design.
While visiting Portland Oregon in 2011, he discovered Bullseye Glass Co. and the modern methods of creating glass art. He went on a factory tour and never looked back. Saving for the new materials, however, took time and he ventured into creating mosaic pieces for a few years.
In 2012, Rich stumbled upon an art exhibit in Prague that displayed the works of the Czech artist Karel Nepraš (April 2, 1932-April 5, 2002). Nepraš’ complete work at the DOX Art Museum. It consisted of 5 floors of drawings, ceramic molds, steel castings and industrial sculptures that spoke to the artistic side of the industrial arts teacher. Serendipity put everything in place and the seed for creative ability was planted.
He has been creating about one stained-glass panel per year since 1991, when he received his B.S. from Glassboro State College. When his position as a shop teacher was eliminated in 2013, he became an elementary inclusion teacher and he displayed his first piece at a public art show.
Since then his interests have shifted towards glass that is fused together in a kiln. He now tries to create several pieces a month.
With a history of manipulating materials such as metals, wood and paper, fused glass presents a whole host of challenges unlike any other. The benefit is expanded creative potential and eye-catching outcomes. Many pieces are fired several times between 1,300 and 1,500 degrees. The heating cycle itself takes about 12 hours. Additionally, a 30 second design could take 30 hours cutting, cleaning, prepping and alignment to create the final product, in addition to the time to fire.

Many designs are personal in nature and reflect his relationship with friends and family. Other ideas are inspired by life events and the design process becomes cathartic. Fused glass as an art form can easily be confused with plastic or paper designs. As a homemade craft, there are imperfections and limitations based on material constraints. A frame detracts from the custom creation, thus many designs do not attempt to hide the edges, reminding the viewer that this art-form is very unique.

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