Toots Zynsky | Beau Couple
Toots Zynsky

born 1951
Resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Biography              Statement              Ask the Artist
Toots Zynsky lives in Paris. She was born Mary Ann, but was called Toots almost from birth. She earned her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, then went to Seattle to study with Dale Chihuly at the Pilchuck Glass School. Since then, she's returned to Pilchuck as a teacher.

In the mid-1980s, she spent six months in Ghana, on a special research project, recording Ghanaian music. In 1995, her work is being shown at special exhibitions in Tokyo, Zurich, Italy, Philadelphia and Chicago.


It's really amazing. You can do everything with glass. You can pour it and cast it like metal. You can stretch it, carve it, saw it, you can stick it together. It's the only material that you can melt and blow. It's such a strange and plastic thing. I think that's what keeps drawing me back to it.
[International Herald Tribune 12/4/94]

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

From everywhere. I look at everything. I listen to lots of different music, etc., etc.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

Alone, but an assistant pulls the glass to thread for me with a special machine.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I teach only occasionally and really don't take apprentices. ( I used to teach a lot more.)

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

Seeing the finished work when it comes out of the oven.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Days when I wake up and I have to keep working and I draw a blank.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

My work is a combination of almost every technology used for glassmaking including fiber optics, yes I'm grateful to Corning's development of fiber optic technology and their generous sharing of that information. Also the development of new refractory materials and non-asbestos insulator.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Count on working your heart out and good luck.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

Nothing really. I think we learn enormous amounts from our biggest mistakes.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

About 90%.

Nathan Youngblood Suzanne L. Amendolara