A part of the religious heritage of Alma is found, for a few weeks, warm and safe in a workshop of Lac-Kénogami. The hands are regular visitors of the master glassmaker Harold Bouchard would restore some of the stained glass windows of the église Saint-Joseph d’alma.
Harold Bouchard is not his first restoration of its kind. The fruit of his rare expertise is visible in the four corners of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean in particular to the church of Normandin, the Ermitage Saint-Antoine Lac-Bouchette and to The Pulperie de Chicoutimi.
Force is to admit that time has done its work on the works of art installed in 1951 in Alma. Once property rights, and all in height, some of the stained glass windows are now rounded up, crushed by the weight of the glass, and years.
The image of a construction site, Mr. Bouchard has planned his actions for the works from a workshop in Rennes and the house of Desmarais & Robitaille, a montreal company specializing in the liturgical arts.
As he explained in an interview with The Progress, there is no precise recipe for conducting a restore. To get there, he must allow time for reflection.
The craftsman began his restoration project with the two parts of which the state was the most urgent. The heaviness of the material has curved to the facilities this has, among other things, changed the size of the pieces, adding up to nearly three inches in width in some places.
Even if the goal is to keep the original appearance, reinforcing bars are added to the pieces of glasses. The corrective measure which has very little visual impact, will strengthen the work dating back to the mid-20th century.
A partial cleaning of the parts restored will be made. However, the expert would have to go there with restraint. The pieces are fixed should be harmonious to the rest of the stained glass windows marked by time and dust. The result is, in part, to Harold Bouchard, but, more importantly, the urgency to restore some parts. The master glassmaker will advise the leaders of the church of Saint-Joseph in Alma regarding the timing logic of the restoration work to predict.
A RARE EXPERTISE
Back to Europe in the summer of 1976, Harold Bouchard did not suspect that by accepting a job as a student, he was about to set foot in what would become a unique career. Forty years later, it ranks among the twenty glass masters who live their art through the Quebec, by a great majority, in Montreal.
Let’s face it that the handy man has come a long way from the first projects of the rue Notre-Dame in Montreal and those in progress in his workshop in Lac-Kenogami.
After you have learned the basics of the profession during three years, in the company of a master glass-maker of Montreal, the craftsman saguenéen founded his own workshop in 1979. It is the nostalgia of the area and the friends who have urged him to make a return to the Saguenay at this time.
Working in an art quite rare, Harold Bouchard has met a few bumps in particular at the beginning of his career. The fashion trends of the 80’s and 90’s have not been particularly tender with the stained glass window. The black granite, white melamine and the halogen contained very wrong with this folk art which has lasted through the centuries. During this period, the one who works the glass in different ways turned to glass etching that was more his place in the decorations. Luckily for the craftsmen and enthusiasts, the trends are cyclic and the stained glass window returned to its place over the years. Four decades later, Mr. Bouchard is proud of being able to live this art for all these years.
The art of stained glass could be explained simply by the meeting of the glass and lead. A paradox resides while the weight of the rigid glass with the lead, this soft material.
“As much as it is fragile, the weight of the stained glass window on the lead, as much as it is strangely solid. The lead and the glass, it is a marriage that is done for centuries and centuries. It is super solid. Unlike a window, it is only one portion that will break and not the entire room, ” he explains in his workshop adjacent to his residence.
Harold Bouchard adds that his job is anything but routine, as he works as much with the infinitely small with the size. Her studio confirms her fears, while on the one hand are large parts of the church of Saint-Joseph, Alma, and the other parts are dedicated to a dining room.
The duality is also illustrated in the kind of parts while stained-glass windows of the church take place alongside contemporary pieces.
“The strangeness of the traditional technique of stained glass is that it is still the best after 1200 years,” says the artist in a crowded room of glass pieces of all sizes and all colors.
In spite of these few decades of experience, the principal has always the same tract prior to the delivery of an order. “Time and time again, I’m not used to it not. It is always unnerving. When I’m going to wear a piece for a client, I always have this small fear. Is this going to be at the height of their expectations? I love pleasing “, he says in his house, where there are many works of art in the years of The business will permit to its collection of top of the numerous works of quality. “There are art forms that may cause more, then that me, I make decorative art. A table, it moves. But a stained glass window, it does not move “, he adds.
Retirement is not a feasible option for the craftsman 63-year-old that gets most of its contracts through word-of-mouth that operates. It hopes rather to devote his time to save the heritage as he is of the opinion that certain works deserve to be restored and preserved. Today and for years to come, he now has the luxury to choose his projects.
Disregarding religious beliefs, force is to admit that the work of Harold Bouchard is a real work of a monk.