The most difficult part of fusing glass is deciding how long to leave a piece in the kiln. There are different levels of fusing. A tack fuse just holds the glass together as each piece retains its shape and texture. In a full fuse, all pieces melt together, and the glass becomes one form. The colors are there, but you cannot see where one starts and the other begins. Sometimes, I can not decide what I want a piece to be. Should I keep the temperature about 1400 degrees and leave it in a short period of time so that the individual pieces and shapes remain? Or should I take the kiln to 1600 degrees and leave it for an extra few minutes allowing it to blend together? Only five minutes can make a dramatic difference in the look of a design. I have been working on a triptych for my boss’ birthday. My original decision was a mountain scene of three long panels. It was to go into a metal frame that holds three pieces of glass each about four inches wide and a quarter inch thick. The design did not come out like I imagined. I had hoped it would have mountains of blue and purple in the background with a green meadow. I scattered round and crushed glass as though flowers were growing in the foreground. Not only did the three pieces come out sloppy looking, but they were too thick and did not fit into the holder. If I had left them in the kiln longer, they would have fused more and been thinner, but I was trying to retain the shape of the mountains. The worst flaw was that one panel cracked at the bottom. I do not know why. So, I went back to the drawing board and designed three new panels in a simpler pattern. Just stripes of translucent greens and blues with a yellow sunflower at the top of each panel. They heated well, and after an hour and fifteen minutes of gradually increasing the temperature, I had to make a decision. Full fuse or partial? The decision has to be almost instantaneous. Too short, and it will not be fused long enough. Too long, and the piece becomes solid. I left it for five minutes and in those few minutes, the temperature reached 1600 degrees and a full fuse took place. As I thought about how the full fuse occurred so quickly, it reminded me of the twenty eight years my husband and I have been married. The first years were rough as we fought to retain our individuality and desires. We were a couple on paper, but not truly united. Then, somewhere along the way, we melded into one. Like the glass, the colors and design of our life are there, but you can’t see where one of us begins and the other starts. Along the way, the choice to be fused is continually made and most times, instantaneous.