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Blog | Art and Culture

Marc Cournoyer: focused on glass

This article is one of a series on artists who are participating in various Christmas markets in Brome-Missisquoi

I was still standing in the doorway of stained-glass maker Marc Cournoyer and we had already talked about death, King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings, and whatever else…

Once we were in his living room, we dwelled for some time on philosophical musings.  “A material that is solid as well as translucent is metaphysical!” Marc declares.

But all this contemplation doesn’t prevent a person from getting things done, and Marc Cournoyer isn’t just a man of words. Like his father before him, a jack of all trades, Marc is someone who is extraordinarily skilled with his hands, knows his stuff and is a stickler for perfection.

In his younger days, at one time he thought about becoming an ironworker, but back then, in Montréal where he lived, there was no training in the trade. While he worked as a waiter, Marc made medieval-inspired jewelry and started learning how to do welding and glasswork, both of which would later become essentials in his endeavours.

He developed his skills in stained-glass making through trial and error. By teaching himself, but, in fact, by drawing extensively on the knowledge and patience of Bernard Noël, a seller of classic art glasswork, who would become his friend.

Studio Vitriol, the business Marc Cournoyer founded 20 years ago, is currently located in Philipsburg. Marc does glass making, mainly on order, and renovations, in particular.
 

At your service

 
When he processes an order, Marc, through his techniques and knowledge “taps into the desires of his clientele and becomes the fulfiller of their imagination.”  Light – and shadow – is so important that with stained-glass making you are entering into people’s private world, notes Marc Cournoyer. It’s impactful work that calls for meticulousness, even more so because it is for posterity. “A stained-glass work is made to be beautiful for 100 years,” says Marc.

He is especially proud of a glasswork he made for a stately home in Montréal. It was a celebration of Sicily, the Mediterranean island of which the home owner is a native. In doing this particular glasswork, whose dimensions, positioning and curvatures posed a technical challenge, Marc Cournoyer did some extensive reading about the history of the island, and he made a point of depicting the cultural diversity that is so special in Sicily. “I like finding a history to everything I do, to give it a soul,” he remarks.
 

Meticulous

 
Restoration presents other challenges. You have to find original materials, not just glass, but copper, lead or wood, too, and reproduce their transformation which has occurred by pollution and aging. Marc Cournoyer remembers having to work extremely hard, using glass-stain paint called grisaille – a shade of grey –   to reproduce the exact colour of the Archangel Gabriel’s foot positioned on the head of a serpent. When he gets his materials – abstract, wavy or opalescent – the artisan doesn’t content himself with the code designation for them; he examines every specimen, one by one, from all angles.

At the Salon des métiers d’art in Saint-Armand, Marc Cournoyer will be displaying small figurines, such as angels and fir trees that can be hung near a light source. He will also have small, abstract-style glass mounted on old wood frames.

“As a material, glass is hard to beat,” states Marc.

You can meet Marc Cournoyer and buy his glassworks at the Salon des métiers d’art in Saint-Armand which will be held at the Saint-Armand Community Centre.

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