Friday, March 18, 2011

Stained glass artist Marc Sarrazin

Marc Sarrazin, Restorer of Stained Glass Treasures

By Manfried Helmuth
If you have been in any of the older churches in the Townships which has a stained glass window or two, you have probably seen the work of Marc Sarrazin. He is one of about 3 master stained glass artists registered with the Quebec government as expert restorers of those incredibly intricate treasures. When a church gets a grant to re-do a broken panel or one where the leading that holds the pieces in place is defective, the Government contracts those qualified to do the work to offer a contract proposal. Marc has done more than 40 churches in the Townships alone but over the past 20 years this 54 year old artist also has restored churches in Montreal, in the Maritimes and places between.

The Montreal born Sarrazin spent eight years as an apprentice to the great Quebec master The'o Lubbers, a Dutchman who, according to Marc, "trained anyone in the province who is any good". After eight years of unpaid work he set out establishing himself. He had various studios in the Townships, mainly in Knowlton and Sutton and last year he moved into a large space in Abercorn village. There are numerous pieces on display or in various stages of production. While approximately 50% of the work is churches or stained glass restoration for owners of vintage houses, Marc also makes stained glass to architectural specifications as well. The rest of the business is home owners wishing to adorn their house with a piece of original stained glass art. This can be as small as a light catcher or a huge door.

"Sadly, so many churches have been sold for use as condominiums or mosques, youth centers and what have you, " Marc explains, "A lot of the stained glass has to be removed and stored because it was originally gifted to the church by an individual or a family. By law they are the perpetual owners of the work in case the church gets sold. Right now there are hundreds of priceless pieces being stored because it often is not possible to find the ancestors of the original donors".
The work is priced by the square foot and the demand of materials such as special glasses. "I have an excellent supplier in Montreal who will actually ship to me on short notice but antique glass is very hard to find and when I do find it, often in Europe, the price is exorbitant and will influence the cost of the work or piece desired".
Marc cuts all his panes freehand and it is amazing to watch him deftly cut an intricate pattern on a pane of glass using just a glass cutter with a specially hardened cutting wheel. The cutter is the size of a fountain pen.

If Marc is not in his studio or busy with a church, you may find him at places like Sutton's Pub Mokador whe he is frequently playing in a band of friends at "open mike nights". He is a gifted base player and finds his music an excellent way to unwind after the tedium to shape glass to the most precise specifications. Does he have a website? "No, I have so much work now that I could not add any more. I am happy the way business has been going"
I own an old stained glass window with one pane missing. Chances are I shall shortly add to Marc's workload....

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