Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
27.9 x 62.9 x 22.9 cm (11 x 24 3/4 x 9 in.)
Medium or Technique
Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery (Gallery 258)
Fan-shaped filet-de-verre (fused and thermo-formed colored glass threads).
Toots Zynsky’s distinct contribution to the studio glass movement is her original method of fusing and shaping layers of fine glass threads into vessel forms. Using thousands of hair-thin threads of varying colors and lengths, Zynsky places groups of them together in patches of color on a board, so that the bottom layer will eventually form the outside of the vessel. She then heats the flat layers of threads until they fuse, removing the layered glass from the oven at varying stages to manipulate it into a bowl form with spatulas or to slump (or bend) it in a steel bowl or mold. The threads remain distinct after fusing, so that the vessel appears to be made of many delicate fibers; the overlapping streaks of color resemble a painter’s brushstrokes. Deeply fluted edges allow the viewer to consider the inner and outer surfaces of this bowl simultaneously.
Zynsky trained during the early years of the studio glass movement, when a great sense of experimentation prevailed. She studied with famed glass artist Dale Chihuly at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s and was later one of the first students at his Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle. After working in multimedia art, she developed her technique of fusing hand-pulled glass threads in the mid-1980s while living in Amsterdam. Mathijs Tenission Van Manen, a Dutch inventor who visited her studio in 1982, built a machine allowing her to pull the threads in a fraction of the time the process had formerly required. As Zynsky has explained, glass is “amazing” because “you can do everything with it. You can pour it and cast it like metal. You can stretch it, carve it, saw it, you can stick it together … It’s such a strange and plastic thing. I think that’s what keeps drawing me back to it.”
This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
"Z" shaped thread on bottom of piece
From the collection of the artist.
Gift of the artist in honor of Evelyn and John Zynsky
Reproduced with permission.