Story last updated at 11:11 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2002

Exhibit shines light on couple's talent

Touch of glass

by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment
  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Bournonville and her husband JohnFejes' glass floats are well know in Homer, but this is the couple's first show.  
While glass artists Michele Bournonville and John Fejes' colorful vases, balls and sculptural works have been a staple of craft fairs as well as gallery exhibits around town for years, the husband and wife team had never put together a complete show until this month.

"Hot Glass," on exhibit through July at Ptarmigan Arts Back Room Gallery, is the couple's debut show. True to their character, it contains examples of both their ever-growing understanding of working with molten glass as well as their sense of humor.

The artists, who have been creating glass works for several years at their Homer studio, say they waited until now to put on a full show in part because they felt they were still learning their way through the sometimes unpredictable world of art.

"We've started to understand glass, and we're starting to be able to get the shapes we draw on the floor or on a note pad consistently, whereas at first we were lucky to get those shapes," Fejes said.

The show contains many of Bournonville and Fejes' familiar forms, such as the classic decorative balls swirled with colors and iridescent spots. Three clusters of these forms, called "Goof Balls" hang against the far wall of the gallery like grapes, while others are singled out for detailed scrutiny on metal posts.

Also part of the show are paperweights and vases of all shapes and sizes, including one with its design blurred like a flock of birds rising in flight. Another bowl warps with the color and flow of toffee, laced with strips of color.

In the center of the room sits Fejes' largest piece, a welded steel and glass coffee table centered by a spent crucible, the ceramic form in which glass is heated to 2,400 degrees. When the crucible wore out and had to be replaced, Fejes said, it was too interesting to throw away.

"The spots that have been eroded by hot glass vary, and each (crucible) is different," he said. "We had to use it some way."

The table, which is edged with a ring of colorful balls, also allowed Fejes to dabble in his other passion -- working with steel. Fejes said the two mediums have many similarities, such as the element of heat and the need for tools to work the material into its final form.

Different, however, is how long-lasting the metal forms are, and the speed at which a piece is done.

"Glass-blowing is almost instantaneous," Fejes said. "When you are working with steel, you work on a piece slowly."

In addition to the crucible coffee table, both artists allowed some mishaps to lead them into new sculptural terrain, as was the case with Cosmic Ray, a blue glass form with a swizzle stick (think ray) piercing it.

Fejes said the work was a piece gone awry, but after a little squashing, Bournonville convinced him not to toss it.

"I thought it looked deflated, so I thought, 'what was it hit by,'" Fejes said. You guessed it, a cosmic ray.

Other unusual works bend the tradition, such as a larger-than-life martini glass embraced by a pair of even larger lips, a la Bournonville.

"That's a little glass humor," Bournonville said. "Glass can be funny."