Celebrating 35 Years of Our Glass Works
35 Years of Upholding the Stained Glass Tradition
A five-thousand-year legacy. Thousands of years of artisanal craftspeople creating works of art for private homes, cathedrals and public buildings. From ancient practices in the middle east and north Africa, up to Moorish Spain, and across Europe, stained glass works graced windows of some of the most esteemed buildings created.
And then, in more austere times, the craft waned, replaced by more sober works and reflections.
The revival in the nineteenth century, and then in North America at the turn of the twentieth century was relatively short-lived. By the mid-century, it was a dying art form.
And that is where Judy Bourhis steps into the scene.
A Living Legacy to a Stunning Art Form
“All along, I have worked to keep the art form alive,” says Judy. And, after 35 years in Birken, British Columbia, she has done more than that. She has helped it to thrive. From creating 4 installations at the Howe Sound Secondary School in Squamish to teaching locals the craft in such an inspired way that they are now continuing on the tradition.
Revival in Birken
In Birken. Birken, British Columbia in 1980 had only gravel roads. No telephone service. No electricity. I suppose if you’re going to revive a medieval art form, it only makes sense to start as rustic as possible.
But there was more to it than that. Judy relates the feeling she and her family got rolling into Birken, the lake, the sunshine, the feeling there. She says, “The day we arrived it was 80 degrees and sunny. I need the sunshine, so I was set. Lock, stock and barrel.”
In the early years, she studied at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. As she says, “I took a class called Glass Fusion and Public Art. I was one of ten students and the only Canadian enrolled.”
Determination and Beauty
Wanting to continue the practice and, as usual, always working to keep the art form alive and vibrant, Judy decided she really wanted to continue to practice fusing and slumping glass.
This is the process of firing glass in kilns ranging from 1,099 degrees to 1501 degrees (for fusing) and 1099 to 1291 degrees (for slumping).
That intersection where desire meets grit. That’s often where true calling becomes apparent. There were at that time no kilns available in Canada. In fact, the closest kiln she could buy was in Texas.
So Judy ordered, and shipped, a kiln from Texas to Birken, British Columbia.
Our Glass Works: Thirty-Five Years and Counting
Thirty-five years have passed, and in them, Judy has created stunning pieces of art that have touched lives and kept an art form vibrant. It is so easy to imagine those early years, people out for a drive, coming upon an artisan in the woods as it were, and realizing their find. Now, thirty-five years later, Judy Bourhis has made a name for herself and for her art. People seek her out, and she is more than ready and willing to meet the demand.