INFORMATION



John working on a bottle stopper in his glass shop in Orwell, Vermont

BIOGRAPHY

John Chiles was born in Groton Connecticut in 1962. John grew up in Hawaii, Guam, England, the U.S., and France as the family followed his father’s work for the U.S. Navy.

John first began working with glass in 1980 while a student at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania. Classes at Bucks prepared him for an apprenticeship with a local glassblower. From there he got a job in a production studio where he worked for the next six years as a glassblower and studio manager.

Glassblowing requires cooperation and encourages collaboration.The glass community is relatively small and people for the most part are generous in their exchanges of knowledge and information. This exchange most often happens in workshops, collaborations, and seminars. Over the years John has attended many crafts schools, glass workshops, and seminars with master craftsmen and artists from the United States and Europe both as a student, teaching assistant, and teacher/lecturer.

In addition to his own work, John has worked on a contract and freelance basis for other glassblowers and manufacturers. He has worked in glass production teams on small and large scale projects that range from one of a kind art & architectural installations to the coordination and production of seasonal product lines for a large manufacturer.

During his early years in glass shops John became skilled at glass shop equipment building and design. He has been designing and building furnaces, glory holes, annealing ovens and other glass shop equipment for over twenty five years. Equipment he has designed and built is used by some of the United States’ most preeminent glass blowing studios such as Steuben Glassworks in Corning, NY.

He maintains both a glass equipment business and a glass blowing studio where he designs and makes functional glassware and one of a kind pieces.

John lives and works in Orwell, VT and sells his glass work in galleries across the United States.

 

ON BLOWING GLASS

Many of the traditional glassblowing techniques that are practiced today have been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. And along the way craftsman have left something of themselves in what they have made.

The desire to master my craft, make a living doing what I love to do, and to leave something of myself in my work is what compels me to return again and again to the studio.

THE WORK

When I first started making the pieces that have evolved into my current work I was preoccupied primarily with making simple and elegant classical forms. Over time I began to elaborate on these forms by adding colorful shapes to their exteriors. With the addition of external elements the pieces began to take on more character like attributes. These expressions of character have become more emotional in nature as they have found their way to the insides of the vessels

THE PROCESS

The process of designing glass is essentially the attempt to best realize an idea within th e technical constraints of the medium. Trying to coax the material into new forms gives rise to new technical solutions and inspires new design ideas. I get a allot of satisfaction and inspiration from the process itself and find designing both product lines and one of a kind pieces to be equally challenging and rewarding in their respective ways.

The design process begins with sketches that are rendered to scale drawings which are then used as templates by John and his assistants in the glass shop.

Production time is organized around specific colors and shapes in order to work as efficiently as possible. Production begins with the shaping of elements that will later be attached to the body of a piece.

Elements are made from hot molten glass gathered from the furnace and worked on the end of a solid metal rod. When each element is finished it is put in a gas fired oven called a garage where it is kept hot until it is time to attach it to the finished vessel. For the vessel, molten glass is again gathered from the furnace but this time on the end of a long hollow metal tube called a blowpipe. The glass is blown and shaped at the glassblowing bench. A gloryhole is used to periodically reheat the glass during the shaping process. Reheating keeps the glass soft and pliable enough for the glassblower to continue working the glass.

After the vessel shape has been completed and while it is still hot at the glassblowers bench the previously made elements are brought from the garage, heated by the assistant, and then fused into place. After all the parts have been been attached and adjusted the finished pieces are put into an annealing oven where they are slowly cooled.

   
 
©John Chiles 2007