July 26th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Selling handmade furniture online is considered preposterous by many. Fine furniture must be seen in person for one to appreciate the quality and workmanship that goes into each piece. But at Vermont Woods Studios we’ve been hard at work making an exception to that rule for 8 years. Much of our success is due to the talented group of web development professionals we’ve managed to persuade to join our cause– and Martin Corbin is the newest among them.
Martin’s interest in computers and digital art began when he was a young boy. As an adult, he enrolled in a PC repair course and entered the IT field, first working for a local computer shop then going freelance. Martin enjoyed experimenting with digital art, and eventually combined his interests into designing websites. However he hasn’t left his creativity behind. On his personal website he shares a bit about his artistic side:
“I was raised in an artistic household and began drawing at an early age. My mother Rita Corbin was already an established artist before I was born. I watched her work daily and used what I learned to try to make my own drawing come to life…. My approach is simple: draw or paint what I want, when feel like it, and don’t worry about how it comes out. Simple as this is, not over thinking remains a challenge. I believe this relaxed approach makes the process more enjoyable while still allowing for great results.”
I want to know how to relax and get as much accomplished as Martin has. In addition to his expertise with computers, programming and art, he is also an accomplished musician. We know Martin as a die hard Phish phan but I’ve recently learned that he has a long history with music. During Brattleboro’s heyday, he was in a band called The Weld, playing acoustic, instrumental jazzgrass music at The Common Ground Restaurant and McNeill’s Brewery. You can check out his artwork and music on his website, MartinCorbin.com.
We feel very fortunate to have Martin working with us at Vermont Woods Studios. Stop by our fine furniture and art gallery at Stonehurst to see samples of his artwork. And help us welcome Martin to the Woods by giving him a thumbs up on Facebook!
July 2nd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Last week Dennis and Kelsey and I went to Mondo MediaWorks in downtown Brattleboro where owner, Luke Stafford was hosting a Vermont Life Magazine Pitch Party. Such a cool idea: Mary Hegarty Nowlan and her staff from Vermont Life were traveling around the state inviting people to pitch their artwork, businesses, personal stories and such– for possible inclusion in future magazine issues. So we pitched our Stonehurst Fine Furniture and Art Gallery story. But the best part of the evening (other than free pizza, beer and wine) was getting to meet and hear the stories of many unique, talented and fascinating Vermonters.
Susan Osgood was one of them. She creates beautiful, colorful oil paintings (on paper, canvas and wood) inspired by such muses as snakes, rivers, hands and maps. Susan showed us photos of many of her contemporary works and discussed the challenges of trying to make a living as an artist. As with most artists, Susan has a second job. Lucky for her (and the rest of us) it’s also in the art world. She works for the University of Chicago’s archaeological project in Luxor, Egypt and has spent the last 25 winters there drawing the carved and painted reliefs of ancient tombs and temples. Susan also worked on the KV 63 Tomb Project, (the first new tomb to be discovered in the Valley of the Kings since Tutankhamun’s in 1922) creating drawings of the coffins. Wow, can you imagine being entrusted to record and interpret these pieces of human history dating back 3500 years or more?
As I listened to Susan’s presentation and that of several other artists, I was thinking of an article* written earlier this year, by Dave Ackert of the LA Times and realizing how true his words are:
“Artists are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime…. Every day, artists face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life – the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because artists are willing to give their entire lives to a moment – to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Artists are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”
Agree? Tell Susan thanks for all the hard work she’s put into touching our hearts, opening our minds and stirring our souls.
* Thanks to another Vermont artist, Linda Eaton-Marcille of Crow House Studio for re-posting Dave Ackert’s article on her facebook.
May 23rd, 2013 by Loryn Dion
Memorial Day weekend is usually a time when most New Englanders open their swimming pools, break out the barbecues and attend parades and memorials honoring those that have served our country. Many organizations use this time to open their doors to travelers during the three-day weekend. If you will be traveling May 25th or 26th, one event that is a must-see is the Vermont Craft Councils Open Studio Weekend Tour. This is a bi-annual event, held once in the spring and once in the fall, and is a great time for anyone who enjoys arts and crafting.
Artists throughout southern Vermont will be displaying their work at various showrooms and galleries during the open studio weekend. You’ll be able to find everything from paintings to sculptures to pottery and even wood furniture. A few of our favorite furniture makers in the Dorset area like Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge will be opening their doors to fine furniture and art enthusiasts.
If you are an avid art lover, this open studio weekend is a great opportunity to not only take in various art but you’ll also be able to see the places where artists work and be able to buy or order work directly from the studio and speak to the artist directly. The Vermont Craft Council strives to make this an educational and enriching event for all who participate.
Here you can find a map of all participating artists and what they’ll have on display. Also check out their 10 Ways to Plan your Open Studio Tour, which is full of great tips for scheduling your weekend.
The weather is supposed to be beautiful for being out and about during the holiday weekend, so why not venture to a few southern Vermont galleries for some art enrichment and education. Let us know what you plan to do this weekend here in the comments or on our facebook.
April 16th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
I don’t know how to describe for you how beautiful Karen Kamenetzky’s fiber art is. It really has to be seen to be appreciated, but I thought I’d make an attempt by posting this screen shot I derived from a Google image search for “Karen Kamenetzky”. Wow. The image above is just my random sampling of Karen’s body of work but look how coherent it is! How can dozens of works, over years (maybe decades?) of time be placed together so randomly and look so integrated? I love Karen’s choice of colors and shapes and the illusion of movement. It’s remarkable, don’t you think?
You don’t see that much fiber art anymore. I’m so happy it’s making a comeback in the vibrant, contemporary works of Karen Kamenetzky. A little bit about the artist:
Karen works out of a typical Southern Vermont studio tucked into the woods of West Brattleboro. “I dye, paint and stitch cottons and silks to create boldly colored wallhangings inspired by microscopic/cellular imagery – a kind of visual invented biology with textiles. I find this imagery metaphorically rich since all change fundamentally happens on this infinitesimal level.” Karen shares information and inside scoops about her work, techniques, philosophy, inspiration and gallery exhibits on her fiber arts blog and on her Facebook.
If you love it as much as I do, you might want to consider attending the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center Apple Blossom Gala on May 10th at 7pm at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, NH where Karen’s “Cellscape II” is up for auction. You could be the lucky bidder and end up taking this piece of fine art home. But even if you’re not you’ll still find “lots of wonderful, innovative art for auction, a good cause, great people, delicious food and a raucous wine tasting!” Hope to see you there.
February 26th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Dorset is one of the prettiest hamlets in all of Vermont, so Dennis and I were happy to make the trek to Dorset Custom Furniture last Friday. For us, the main attraction wasn’t the quaint New England Village architecture or the view of the Green Mountain Forest. It was to meet with Dan Mosheim and three more of Dorset’s famous custom furniture makers. I guess it’s no coincidence that four of the country’s finest craftsmen have set up shop in this idyllic spot. Dorset is quintessential Vermont at it’s finest and it’s natural beauty inspires artists and craftspeople from all walks of life.
Once we found our way to the slice of paradise that’s home to Dorset Custom Furniture we caught up with Dan, his wife Kit, and their sons Will and Sam. The whole family is involved in the arts, creating not only furniture but also jewelry, musical instruments and sculpture.
Dan had invited three other powerhouses in custom furniture to meet with us: Steve Holman of Holman Studios, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge. We were brainstorming ways to collaborate in shining a light on Vermont’s long legacy of creating sustainable, high end, custom furniture. Dennis and I extended an invitation to the Dorset crowd to show their furniture at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture gallery so we will be working with them to make that happen before our grand opening this summer.
If you’re wandering around the world of Vermont arts and crafts before that, be sure to drop by Dorset and visit these fine furniture craftsmen in their studios. I think you’ll find that in commissioning a piece of their custom furniture, you are acquiring much more that a functional piece of art. I’m not sure how to describe but it has to do with getting in touch with a level of authenticity that is often missing in our lives. I think you’ll just have to go to Dorset and check it out for yourself. Then tell us about your experience on Facebook. Happy travels!
February 23rd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Vermont woodworkers: the 10th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture Festival is upon us. Hard to believe it’s been ten years since VWMA (the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association) first led the initiative to share Vermont’s exquisitely beautiful handmade wood furniture with the rest of the world. Kathleen Wanner and a number of other visionaries in the Vermont wood working community began work in 2003 on what is now one of the Top 10 Fall Events in New England. It’s the Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival and woodworkers throughout the Green Mountain State are encouraged to participate.
This year the Fine Furniture Festival is being held September 28-29 in Woodstock, Vermont at the Union Arena. Woodworkers can contact Erin Lorentz at VWMA to register for the show and/or the annual design competition (more about that later). Just to let fellow Vermont woodworkers know… the show really has an expansive reach. In addition to hundreds of craftsmanship fans from New England you may well meet customers from across America, Canada and beyond. We had a couple from California come to visit us at the festival a few years ago and we’ve run into shoppers from Alberta, UK and Germany as well. Vermont fine furniture has a good reputation and a far reach!
The woodworking festival is paired with the Forest Festival at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park on the same weekend and free shuttle buses run between the two locations. This gives visitors a chance to see and experience the sustainable forests of Vermont that supply the wood our furniture is made of. I can’t think of a better way for visitors to spend a sunny Autumn day, than taking in these two quintessential Vermont festivals. Be a part of it!
February 17th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
If you’re in Brattleboro this weekend for the Harris Hill Ski Jumping events and you need an escape from the cold, why not head downtown and wander around Main Street? You’ll find lots of little independent shops and art galleries to duck into– my favorite being Vermont Artisans Designs at 106 Main.
Owners Suzy and Greg Worden always have an eclectic mix of handcrafted artwork by some of the most talented artisans in Vermont and New England. You’ll find paintings, sculpture, pottery, hand-painted silk, carefully turned salad bowls; exquisitely finished furniture, lamps and other wonderful items crafted by well-established and emerging artisans.
This month, Vermont Artisan Designs Gallery is featuring the portraits of Juan Jr. Ramirez, and paintings by a variety of artists including Deborah Lazar, Carol Gobin, Paul Stone, Jeanette Staley, Jim Murphy and Dane Tilghman.
If this weekend doesn’t give you enough time to take in all the art Vermont Artisans has to offer, come back for Brattleboro’s monthly Gallery Walk. It’s held on the first Friday of each month. You’ll see why Brattleboro was named the No. 11 Best Small Town in America by Smithsonian Magazine and has consistently been in the Top 25 Best Arts Towns with populations of 100,000 or fewer.
Enjoy your weekend in Brattleboro– inside and out!
February 14th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Try celebrating Valentines Day in Vermont! Your romantic adventures could include anything from a visit to master craftsman Steve Holman’s studio to getting married on the slopes of your favorite ski resort.
Steve’s one of our favorite Vermont artisans, crafting the impossible out of wood and transforming it into beautiful, often whimsical furniture. Every Valentine’s Day I think of Steve’s bright red, heart-shaped chair. Wouldn’t this be a show-stopper gift for your honey on a day like today?
If you’re looking for an outdoorsy agenda for Valentines Day, how about a trip to Mount Snow for the second annual Cloud Nine Nuptials? Last year 20 couples renewed their vows and three couples tied the knot for the first time at the summit of Mt Snow. The event is free, taking place on the Cloud Nine trail where a local justice of the peace conducts a ceremony around a giant heart painted on the snow.
For more Vermont Valentines Day activities, check out Ski Vermont or stop by Vermont Teddy Bear where you can buy the world’s most expensive teddy bear. It’s the Big Hunka Love Bear and he goes for $30,000 including the 6 carat diamond ring he’s wearing.
February 9th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
I got a mysterious brown paper package in the mail yesterday. The return address label said Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery, South Ryegate, Vermont. I thought it was going to be a sample from one of our craftspeople in the Northeast Kingdom but instead it was an unexpected gift from my old pal, Doctor Blakley. I used to work for Sally at Tulane University in the distance learning section of the Center for Applied Environmental Public Health. She was my champion during a pretty difficult time in my life.
But anyway… inside the package was a personal note from Sally and a beautiful handmade wall plaque with the traditional Irish Blessing my mother’s had hanging on the wall of her home for over 50 years:
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again, my friend
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
What a perfect gift!
If you’re ever looking for something special for a friend or relative, check out Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery. They have tons of plaques, dishes and magnets with messages of all types: funny, inspirational, religious, irreverent, sentimental… you name it. All made in America, handcrafted in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
And thanks, Sally for your kind and thoughtful support throughout the years. Did you notice that Mountaine Meadow let’s customers submit sayings for new pottery pieces? I think I’ll submit one: “old friends are the best friends”.
February 7th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Does this seem excessive? President Obama was presented with 500 personalized, limited edition limousines on his inauguration day, January 21, 2013. Each handmade automobile was carefully crafted in Vermont by our friend (and leader of Vermont’s Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA) Mike Rainville and his staff at Maple Landmark Toys.
Dennis and I were lucky enough to see the limos last week at the annual VWMA meeting which was held in Middlebury, Vermont at the headquarters for Maple Landmark. Actually, the toys were purchased by President Obama’s Inauguration Committee for resale as part of a fundraising activity to defray the cost of inauguration activities. The cool thing is that there are still a couple of these keepsakes left and you can buy a limo online for $20. Obama fans: hurry and scoop up this Vermont made souvenir before the secret gets out!
On another note, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Mike Rainville for his leadership and dedication to our Vermont made furniture and woodworking industry. As president of our industry group he’s been volunteering huge amounts of his time (for many years!) to promoting our craft and building synergy amongst our members. As owner and founder of Maple Landmark he acts as an ambassador showing customers all across American and around the world the beauty and quality of Vermont made wood products.
Last week Mike told us the story of how President Obama’s inauguration staff phoned him on December 28 to ask if he could design, produce and deliver the limos to Washington for the January 21 event. Less than a month’s time and during the holidays (a toy makers busiest season) too! But Mike and his staff were happy for the opportunity and pulled out all the stops to get the job done. He said the biggest challenge was getting timely government safety ratings and approvals but I guess the mention of his client might have greased the skids a bit on that. Great job, guys.