Patents and Portraits with Bonnie Morse

Arts & Culture

Pictured: "The Racer." Courtesy of: Bonnie Morse

Art meets entrepreneurship for Sarasota native Bonnie Morse, who received a patent last year for her singular artistic process, creating glass and wood installations, utilizing the strengths of both media in a process combining stained glass traditions, modern mosaicking and woodworking for a new approach to all three. Spending the months following perfecting and crafting her work, Morse looks to take the next step and spread her creation across the region, and eventually the nation.

“Growing up in Sarasota, I was always exposed to the arts,” said Morse, who now splits her time between Sarasota County and Gainesville. “It’s such an art-minded community.” Still, Morse went on to study public relations and journalism, only turning her mind to her own artistic endeavors when, over a decade ago, she made fast friends with a local crafter working in stained glass. Morse felt a natural attraction to the medium, to the gem colors and the light, she said, and asked the artist for the scrap glass. Taking it home, she was struck by an odd notion. “I took a hammer to that glass and broke it into a thousand pieces,” said Morse. Taking the remnants, Morse created a mosaic on terra cotta. Something wasn’t right.

“No light came through it. It could reflect off of it, but it didn’t flow through,” said Morse, “and the functional property of stained glass is to allow light to pass through.” Her solution – scrap the terra cotta and bond her stained glass slivers directly to another pane of glass, providing stability but allowing light to pass freely. Still unsatisfied, Morse found the final component for what would become her patented style through a hunch. “I could see wood as a natural balance to the texture of the glass,” said Morse. “It blends absolutely beautifully together.”

Today, Morse begins from the wood, sketching a subject or scene onto the panel before using a saw and a drill to remove material and create a relief pattern for her glass. After sanding, staining and sealing, the panel is bonded to the matching glass panel, allowing for the passage of light Morse sought. The final step involves painstaking precision and surgical tweezers, as Morse lays out each individual sliver of glass into the relief, taking care for composition and color. It’s time-consuming, both in terms of the style’s decade-long development and its tedious nature, but to Morse that only enhances the value. It’s decidedly hers, both in style and content.

Awarded a patent for the process last September, Morse wrote the patent herself (“I know that medium better than I could ever explain it to anyone else,” she said.) in a move belying the artist’s inner business drive and acumen. Now Morse is meeting with venture capitalists and interior designers in the area in attempts to spread the medium and see what it inspires. “That’s what makes the medium exciting,” Morse said. “Glass can tell thousands of stories.”

Pictured: "The Racer." Courtesy of: Bonnie Morse

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