By MATT KENWRIGHT
BISON -- Sunlight brings the glass artwork to life and illuminates the passion driving its creator.
Sketches tacked to the wall in Jim Bourassa's home studio near La Crosse offer a glimpse of his work. With approximately 70 pieces in his portfolio, the artist can scroll through his phone and show his glass depictions of Dale Earnhardt's iconic car number, kissing swans and Batman's logo.
The craft gives the artist purpose.
"It's me; it's who I am. It's what I like," he said. "I'm the happiest in life, I mean. It's like dying and going to heaven. I'm the happiest in life doing glass."
Bourassa discovered his enthusiasm for the hobby 27 years ago working with windows in churches, spas and entryways. He launched LA Art Glass in November and hopes to set up a showroom in nearby La Crosse by 2016.
Surrounded by glass, materials and his designs, the artist gestured to the final product and explained the joy it brings him.
"I decided this part of it, when you draw it out and you cut it out, when you stand it up, it brings out the light. It's like your own cartooning," he said.
Bourassa can do orders as small as a 6-inch circle to a 4-by-8 foot panel. The rounded glass products were intended to decorate potted plants, but customers have bought them to stick into graves and use the glass to express the deceased's interests. The artwork can last between 50 to 100 years outside, he said.
Delivering the glass to customers is the highlight of his experience.
"The smile. I like to be there when they get the panel," he said. "The reaction when they get them is what keeps me going, I think, and what makes me want to do more."
The process includes cutting the glass, grinding the sides to make them smooth, wrapping the edges in copper wire and soldering the pieces together.
The art begins at $45 per square foot, and a chain can be added for an additional $5.
For more information, visit www.laartglass.yolasite.com.