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Heart of glass

Glassmaking is both art and industry. In the case of Vermont artist and glass industrialist John Chiles, getting involved in glassmaking requires a rare passion that includes a little science, a little engineering and a lot of artistry.

Connecticut-born Chiles owns the Hub Consolidated, Inc., and John Chiles Glass. The Hub operation is pure Vermont cottage industry; it occupies a 3,000 sq. ft. former dairy barn and addition at Chiles' residence in Orwell, Vt. The John Chiles Glass side of the business is pure art and an outlet for a man and his passion.

Hub Consolidated is a leader in the design and manufacture of "durable, reliable and efficient glass heating and melting equipment."

Hub furnaces are known for their design features; they are manufactured for maximum efficiency and minimum maintenance.

Ask any successful glassmaker or glass artist - they probably have Hub hardware in their shop. Made-in-Vermont Hub products are recognized in glass shops and factories internationally.

"All of the furnaces we have built are still in operation," said Chiles. "Our oldest furnace has been in daily operation melting beautiful glass day-in and day-out for over 20 years, and will continue to work just as hard and just as effectively for many years to come."

On the flip side of the manufacturer, there's John Chiles the artist. His heart of glass isn't the fragile kind. But his heart is in all facets of glass, from sand to furnace to art - he's a Renaissance man of glass.

Chiles' inspiring artwork is found in a wide-range of retail shops and galleries. High-end customers may also commission Chiles to create special one-of-a-kind works.

According to artist Mary Martell, Chiles' wife and manager of the Hub operation, "John's very creative with an intuitive understanding - he can make anything in glass."

On a recent visit to Hub's plant, Hub employees were working on unique commemorative-plate stands for Steuben Glasswork. The high-end product, which will celebrate the first African-American U.S. president, will be available on Steuben Glasswork's website.

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