For the love of all things glass

Sandy Fontaine and Melanie Wasylyshen work together on their show of All Things Glass

Melanie Wasylyshen

The light reflects off the many glass and mosaic surfaces, creating dazzling images. Quesnel Art Gallery’s April show, All Things Glass is the work of a mother daughter team of glass artists, Sandy Fontaine and Melanie Wasylyshen.

Mother Sandy was a working business woman in 1997 when she watched a TV program, in a Vancouver hotel room, on stained glass and thought to herself, “When I retire I want to do that.”

However, upon reflection she wasn’t convinced she’d ever retire, so she taught herself stained glass through books and hands-on learning.

“It was primarily a hobby but in 2004 I opened a studio gift store in Saskatoon,” Sandy said.

For Melanie, once her mother opened her gift shop, she also began contributing her own jewelry.

Melanie admitted she had always been creative and her jewelry fit well with her mother’s glass work.

The shop closed in 2008 and Melanie and her husband moved to Quesnel in 2009 to pursue their passion for gold mining.

For Sandy, in addition to her copper foil method stained glass, she was discovering the creativity and equally interesting art of fused glass (melting glass in a kiln in a defined shape.)

Missing her daughter, Sandy also moved to Quesnel in 2011. Both women were pursuing their art from their homes and marketing their work on consignment in local retail outlets. They have plans to open their own shop in Quesnel in the near future, hopefully by June.

As for why they create the work they do, Sandy said for her its a love of pretty things.

“We live in a beautiful world; I see something and think, what can I make from that inspiration,” she said.

The show includes some interesting and unusual items, however, perhaps one of the most unique creations is a head form.

“Spirituality also guides my work and the head is called On the 6th Day, a reference to creation,” she said.

For Melanie, her primary inspiration is the wilderness  where picking wild things and observing nature contribute to her creativity.

“She always has weeds hanging around her house,” Sandy said.

For this show, flowers, butterflies, wood and raffia all feature prominently and provide the show with a truly natural feeling.

Mosaics mixes beautifully with stained class and fused glass items including a completely covered guitar, a large mosaic circle and a colourful keyboard wind chime.

Melanie said she’s never happier then when she’s creating something. Her added passion for gold mining has been incorporated in several of her pieces.

“I’m able to fuse gold into my work. It has a substantially higher melting point than glass so after the glass melts into it’s form, the gold remains as it came out of the ground,” she said.

Both women expect viewers to appreciate the work for its aesthetic value and experience happy feelings in viewing the pretty things.

“I also want people to appreciate art is more than just the traditional media,” Melanie said.

“Art comes in many forms.”

All Things Glass hangs in the Quesnel Art Gallery at the Arts and Recreation Centre for the month of April and the show is sponsored by West Fraser Mills Ltd.

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