John Chiles designs and fabricates both functional and
decorative glass using
traditional glass blowing techniques. The design process
begins with lots of sketches and then scale drawings.
The scale drawings are used as templates by John and
his assistants while working in the glass shop. This
is helpful as they can organize production around specific
colors and shapes and be as efficient as possible with
studio time and materials.
The work begins with the shaping of elements that will
later be attached to the body of the piece. These are
made from hot molten glass gathered from the furnace
and worked on the end of a 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. To make the vessel, molten glass
is again gathered from the furnace 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
of the vessel. Reheating keeps the glass soft and pliable
enough for the glassblower to continue working on the
shape. 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 electric annealing
oven where they are slowly cooled.
The process of designing glass is essentially the attempt
to best realize the medium¹s
potential within its technical constraints. Trying to
coax the material into new forms gives rise to technical
solutions and inspires new design ideas. I get allot
of satisfaction out of this process and find designing
both product lines and one of a kind pieces to be equally
challenging and rewarding in their respective ways.
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.
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 the
work is what compels me to return again and again to
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 father¹s 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. During this
time John also began designing and building glass shop
Glassblowing requires cooperation and encourages collaboration.
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
In addition to developing his own art, 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
years. Equipment he has designed and built is used by
some of the United States¹ most preeminent glass
blowing studios such as Steuben Glassworks in Corning,
NY. He maintains both a glass equipment business, with
two partners, as well as a glass blowing studio where
he designs and makes functional glassware and one of
a kind pieces.