Born in Boston Massachusetts in 1951, Toots Zynsky's first, and immediate fascination with glass began in 1969 at the age of eighteen, when she walked into the glass shop at Rhode Island School of Design and was instantly intrigued: “That day, in the glass studio, they were making a film. The furnaces were roaring; hot glass was swirling around everywhere; music was playing.” The energy was infectious, and since that moment, Zynsky has enthusiastically explored and experimented with the possibilities of glass in all its forms-- molten, cold, blown, slumped, cast, shattered – and pushed it to the limits of its and her own creative potential.
In 1971, Zynsky was among the original group of glass artists who founded the now world-renowned Pilchuck Glass School. She received her B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1973. In 1980, following many other creative ventures, moving to New York City, she went on to contribute her considerable energies to the founding and development of the second New York Experimental Glass Workshop (now called UrbanGlass). There she began to further explore and work with hand pulled glass threads, fusing them separately and combining them with blown forms. The origins and evolution of her current work can be directly traced back to these experiments with glass thread in the early eighties, and the pieces she created at that time.
By the end of 1982, with her guidance, a thread pulling machine was designed and built for her by a friend and colleague, Mathijs Tenuissen Van Manen, enabling her to produce larger quantities of longer and finer thread, in as many colors as she chose. It was at this time that she started being able to make pieces that were entirely comprised of thousands of glass thread. Zynsky gave a name to this technique that she developed: “filet-de-verre” (or fused and thermo formed glass threads).
In 1983 with the aid of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, Zynsky devoted more time and focus on her own work. She moved to Europe and was invited by the legendary VENINI Company of Murano, Italy, to design a special series of unique pieces to add to its line, examples of which were recently featured at New York’s American Craft Museum exhibition Venetian Glass: 20th.