Glass Blowing is Demanding Art

To stand before Gary Zack's 2,100 glass furnace, the heat forcing you to squint even standing 6 feet back, is to watch a happy man at work.

He dips a long metal pole into a bowl of molten glass. He quickly removes it and takes it to his work bench. He pinches the glass glob, still glowing orange, with a tool that looks like large tweezers. In a few seconds, it hardens into the shape of a seashell. He smiles.

"Sometimes you go into it with something in mind," said Zack, 55. "Sometimes you just see how the glass flows."

The artist and business owner has made hand-blown glass creations for 10 years after spending 25 years as a stained glass artist.

He works from a small studio in Saratoga Springs off Van Dam Street.
In addition to his art studio, Zack, who owns about 20 apartment units around the city, also owns Symmetry Gallery on Broadway with his wife, Dianne. Dianne Zack is an artist in her own right; she makes glass jewelry.

Zack said the balance between art and business can sometimes be tricky, but it's the occasional tension that keeps his busy life interesting.

Zack, a Chicago native, began experimenting with stained glass in high school. After serving in the Army he went to work for AT&T as a lineman, but kept up his art all along.

He said he has always been able to balance many different pursuits, inspired in part by his father, who owned several different businesses.

"He always said, 'I can do anything. Just teach me how to do it.' "

It's that sensibility that led him to blowing glass after years of making stained glass. He said he's largely self-taught and is happiest when he's experimenting with new colors and designs.

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600450 Glass Blowing is Demanding Art
Date: 14 April 2006

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