Debbie Tarsitano working on a large torch in her Valley Stream studio.

When my father, Delmo, and I first started working glass, it was difficult for us to find materials and equipment. We began by using a small welder’s torch to melt Pyrex glass, which turned out to be very difficult. Our friend, James Kontes, gave us some soft glass, which was easier to melt, and we immediately improved our encasements. From soft glass, we then moved on to creating work encased in optical crystal that we melted with large torches.  In those early days, learning was a matter of trial, error and discovery as my father and I rediscovered the secrets of encasement.