LA CROSSE — There are flowers, horses, a mermaid and even the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes.
When it comes to his art form, James Bourassa is willing to try creating just about anything. He owns LA Art Glass in La Crosse, with a downtown studio at 703 Main. The windows and walls of his studio are adorned with a variety of brightly colored stained-glass panels.
Mascots and insignia for sports teams — running the gamut from local high schools to professional teams — have been especially popular. Bourassa also enjoys designing customized glass panels based on customers’ requests.
“If I can draw it, I can do it,” he said of personal orders.
Unique projects have included a truck driver who wanted a glass panel featuring his semi, and a pet owner who wanted art in the image of their basset hounds. A customer also once brought in a picture of a speedboat for Bourassa to portray.
A surprisingly popular request has been for small, circular glass designs soldered to metal rods to plant in the ground. Several customers have ordered these creations as permanent graveyard decorations to honor loved ones, he said.
“Anything somebody could think of or want,” Bourassa said, noting he enjoys the challenge of filling custom-orders.
But when he’s not busy filling personalized orders, Bourassa enjoys the opportunity to be creative and make designs of his own, which are available for purchase at his studio. The business is open on weekday evenings and weekends, as the artist also has a full-time job.
Creating the glass is a tedious process, as each little piece of the design must be first traced on paper, then cut into the glass. The small pieces of glass then are soldered together.
“The good thing is they’ll last longer than I’ll be here,” he said. “If they’re hanging up and don’t get bothered, they’ll last 100 years.”
Bourassa opened his own art studio a few years ago, but has been creating stained glass since 1984. He worked professionally at a Hutchinson-based stained glass company after first moving to Kansas, but grew tired of commuting to and from his home in Bison.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll either do my own thing or I’ll give it up,’ ” he said. “And here we are. I can’t give it up. I like doing this.”
His largest project has been replacing colorful, stained glass windows at a church in Kalvesta. He currently is working to create 17 vintage windows for a home in Alexander, and a few downtown businesses in La Crosse have ordered custom panels for their entrances.
“The neat thing is when the sun shines … the whole floor will be orange or red or blue in the morning,” Bourassa said.
The name LA Art Glass stands for “love all,” but it worked well since that is also the first part of the town’s name, he said.
He picked up the glass-making hobby to create “one little thing” and has been hooked ever since.
“Something told me just to try doing it again,” he said. “I’ve always liked doing this. It’s relaxing to me.”