Painting in Glass: The Exotic Birds Vessel

From the Huntingdon Museum of Art

Toots Zynsky's glass vessels are remarkable for their graceful form, dazzling colors, and inviting texture. Trained as a painter at the Rhode Island School of Design, Zynsky is attracted to provocative designs that can be achieved with the use of layered colors, much as one might achieve with paint on canvas. She combines this painter's sensibility with her experience as a weaver and an enthusiastic collector of textiles to create vessels that are truly unique.

The raw materials Zynsky uses are glass threads created by a machine that was developed by Dutch designer Mathijs Teunissen van Manen, which uses technology similar to that which creates fiber-optic strands. Her technique uses threads that are placed in patterns that she has designed, often made up of a multitude of rich colors. Following a heat treatment in which the threads are fused flat, they are placed in a mold that creates the bowl shape. Taking advantage of the pliability of the warm glass, Zynsky shapes the rim and further works the piece to achieve the form she desires.

A journey to West Africa in 1984-1985 inspired her African Dream series. While there, she marveled at the rich array of colors she observed in local textiles, houses, wildlife, and flowers. During an extended stay in Ghana, Zynsky collaborated with an African weaver on a large textile work that used the brilliantly colored yarns and cloth she found in area textile markets. Upon her return to her studio, she began making the striking multihued glass vessels that included The Exotic Birds, African Dream Series.

Use the zoom viewer here to take a closer look.

THE EXOTIC BIRDS, African Dream Series, Toots Zynsky, 1985, glass vessel (collection: Huntingdon Museum of Art)
Credits: All media
Share this story with a friend
Translate with Google