If you've traveled through Vermont, you've no doubt noticed that the Green Mountain State has no billboards. None. Not a single one. They're illegal here. It's true.
So the way many Vermont businesses reach out to visitors and customers is through our Information and Welcome Centers. These respites are strategically located along our most traveled roads, particularly routes I-89 and I-91. I'll post some photos of their unique Vermont architecture another day but today I wanted to show you something on the inside: Art Galleries!
I took this picture at the I-91 Welcome Center just north of the Massachusetts line in Guilford, VT. It's part of a collection of paintings by Caryn King of Newfane, VT. You can't help but smile at Caryn's paintings of farm animals– so much personality shines through. She also does breath-taking floral paintings and commissions of your favorite pets. Her blog, A Chicken Painting Every Day is a cheerful way to start the day!
Vermont's information and welcome centers also offer tons of information and brochures on local, regional and state-wide events, activities, hotels, inns, restaurants, ski areas, outdoor recreation, shopping, sight-seeing and much more. Stop by and have a look!
What do you think about replacing billboards with Welcome Centers? Let us know below or on our Facebook.
Peggy Farabaugh owns Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. She travels around the Green Mountain State collaborating with woodworkers and feeling very lucky to live and work in a place where nature and creativity are flourishing.
Calling all Vermont woodworkers and fine furniture makers. The 9th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture & Wood Products Design Competition wants YOU. The festival which has been dubbed one of Vermont's Top Ten Fall Events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity to gain recognition and notoriety for your work.
Join some of the world's finest woodworkers and furniture designers and compete for best:
- Custom Studio Furniture
- Production Furniture
- Custom Woodenware and
- Carving and Sculpture
There is also a special category where students and apprentices can compete. The Woodworking festival takes place September 29-30, 2012 in Woodstock, Vermont and the Design Contest entry forms are here. If you're not already linked into the Vermont woodworking community, we recommend you become a member of the Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association, VWMA first. That gets you a discount on entry fees and insider info on all things wood in Vermont. We hope you join with us, VWMA and the "best of the best" woodworkers who are letting the world know that Vermont's the Fine Furniture Capital of America.
I got an email from our friends at Rainforest Rescue the other day. It was a request to sign a petition asking IKEA to stop clear-cutting Russian woods, many of which are old-growth forests and home to critically endangered species like the Amur tiger. IKEA's furniture and home decor supply chain "by no means embodies responsible forestry, as it promises its customers," noted the non-profit conservation group.
And that's the sad truth but with so much else to worry about these days I don't suppose many people think about where their furniture and home decor items come from.
Unless they're Vermont Woods Studios customers, that is. And for that we send a big "Thank You".
Many of our customers come to us specifically to purchase 100% American made furniture as an alternative to imported furniture made from illegal wood.
So in contrast to the unknown origins of IKEA furniture, I thought I'd show you where some of the handmade furniture and artwork we sent to customers last week came from. I was lucky enough to be the one to drive around town and pick things up from local artisans so I snapped a couple photos for you.
The first photo is of Donna Scully's garden shed which sits next to her art studio in Vernon, VT. From there she creates original paintings and home decor items with local materials, often reclaimed from old barns.
The Tabouret tables below were handcrafted in this barn, home to Chad Woodruff's workshop. Chad is one of our state's premier craftsmen of mission, craftsman and arts and crafts style furniture. Typically he works in quartersawn oak, but we asked him to customize this table in black walnut wood and it came out beautifully, don't you think?
One of Donna Scully's paintings is shown here with Chad's Tabouret table. I posted another photo of Donna's work last week.
With tomorrow being the Fourth of July, perhaps it's a good time for us to think about the origins of our "stuff". Is it Made in America or is it imported from unknown origins and illegal sources?
Customers often tell us that knowing (and seeing) where their furniture comes from changes they way they feel about their home. What do you think?
100% American Made Furniture from Vermont woods Studios
Vermont art lovers, take note: this is your big chance to acquire an original painting by our friend, neighbor and renowned Vermont artist Donna Scully.
Donna is cleaning out her studio to make room for new inspirations and new artwork. So lucky for us, all of her inventory is on sale at prices you won't be able to resist. I stopped by Donna's studio yesterday and found this beautiful iris painting ready for sale. I snapped it up and it's hanging in our showroom today.
Here's a link to Donna's Facebook where you can see examples of some of her work. Many of you have taken painting lessons from Donna and followed her world travels as she's shared her talents with fans all over the country and the globe. For those new to Donna's work, I can say that she is an extraordinary artist who's very approachable and a joy to work with. Looking for something special for a particular place in your home? Commission Donna to paint exactly what you want. It's a luxury you can afford and one you'll enjoy always.
Today "From Vermont's Forests" debuts at Frog Hollow Gallery in Burlington, VT. It's a group exhibit by 14 members of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. These artisans have created furniture using lumber from Vermont forests for inspiration and I know you will love it!
Believe it or not, there are more than 50 species of trees growing in Vermont's green mountains. The Guild's exhibit will demonstrate the beauty of this local harvest and the creative designs that grow from it.
You can catch them all at Frog Hollow during the entire month of June and/or visit them individually in the artisan's workshops (here is a map). Here's a sneak peek of what's available now or talk to them about your own unique custom artisan piece– an investment that will carry your legacy forward, through many generations of your family.
The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers is an association of master level furniture makers dedicated to the promotion of quality craftsmanship, excellence in design, and the pursuit of artistic vision. Their goal is to increase public awareness and appreciation of this time honored art.
What are you doing this weekend for Memorial Day? If you're looking for something fun and fascinating come to the Green Mountain State for The Vermont Crafts Council's 20th Open Studios Tour.
The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend so it's the perfect opportunity to wander around rural Vermont and duck into hidden nooks and crannies where our state's best artists are practicing their craft.
If you love handmade furniture like we do, check out the Dorset area of Southern Vermont where you'll find some of our favorite furniture makers, including Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge. You'll be awed by their work, I promise. And this weekend is the best time to purchase handmade furniture and crafts because the artisans have all their samples on sale, sometimes at up to 50% off regular prices.
Open Studio maps and directions are available online and at Vermont's welcome center's located along I 89 and I 91. While you're there, check out the Vermont Woods Studios' furniture displays at the Welcome Centers and pick up our brochure.
Our own small showroom in Vernon, VT is open this Saturday from 9am-5pm but we close on Sunday and Monday to allow our staff to go out and enjoy the Open Studio Tour. We hope to see you there!
Southern Vermonters are spoiled because we can often see and experience Johnny Swing's art at the Newfane Cafe & Creamery in Newfane VT. But for all of you who don't get to visit the Green Mountain state much, here is your chance.
Johny's "Murmuration" show is now on display now through June 29 in Manhattan at Chelsea's Sebastian + Barquet gallery and well worth the trip.
If you're not yet familiar with Johhn Swing, he's famous for his work using US currency as his medium: benches made out of quarters, chairs created from pennies, pillows and teddy bears crafted out of dollar bills. Every piece is a genuine work of art, completely unique and incredibly engineered. "Murmuration" is a must see!
Now you're probably not going to be able to sit on his works of art at the S&B show. You'll have to come up to the Newfane Cafe & Creamery to do that.
My mother keeps me up to date on the progress of The Adirondack Carousel, a project that involves many of our passions at Vermont Woods Studios: woodcarving, nature, wildlife and the human spirit. It's just across Lake Champlain in Saranac Lake, NY and I'm excited to see how it's going.
The story behind it is inspiring. Over 10 years ago, a Saranac Lake wood carver Karen Loffler, "while working on a master’s degree in creative studies, came across an article in a woodcarving magazine that showed a small children’s carousel fitted with woodland animals. The combination of a creative approach to problem solving, her love of woodcarving, and a desire to foster imagination and strengthen her local community, inspired Karen’s dream of building a full-size carousel complete with hand-carved figures of animals indigenous to the Adirondack Mountain area."
Now, after a decade of relentless hard work, supported by a close-knit community of like-minded people Karen's dream of the Adirondack Carousel project is becoming a reality. Woodcarvers from near and far have donated their skills, sponsors have underwritten the cost of production and local builders and volunteers have worked tirelessly to make it all come together.
We're thrilled for Karen and crew and wish them all the best during this exciting grand opening year. You can have a Sneak Peak this Saturday, March 10 in Saranac Lake. Don't miss it and don't forget the camera!
We posted a few suggestions for Valentine's gifts last week, but here it is Valentine's Day already and you may be caught unprepared. What are you going to do now?
But if you're looking for something faster and less expensive, how about sending a free Valentine's Day Ecard courtesy of The World Wildlife Fund? There are many cards to choose from– one is sure to catch your sweetheart's fancy.
Yesterday we were discussing the different types of furniture that people call "custom wood furniture". My last post was about Made To Order Wood Furniture and Customized Wood Furniture. Today I wanted to distinguish these from true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Here are my thoughts:
- True Custom Wood Furniture is unique furniture that's made more deliberately and artfully than customized furniture. Usually, you'll want to work directly with the furniture maker if you're purchasing custom wood furniture because it's born from a collaboration between you, the customer and the furniture maker. Custom furniture is more expensive than customized furniture and for many good reasons. Design of custom furniture can take enormous amounts of time and several iterations before the furniture maker even progresses from the drawing board into the studio. Wood selection is also a time-intensive process with the woodworker hand-selecting each board for the proper grain, color, match, size and shape. Building a custom piece– well, it just takes, time, time, time. It's all about detail and custom pieces haven't been done exactly like this before (they're unique) so every step along the way is a little challenging. But the result with a custom piece is perfection, or near perfection anyway. And each piece is signed by its creator. If you're someone who truly understands and appreciates the fine detail of a custom piece, this is the way to go. It's not unusual for the price of a custom piece to be twice as much or more than a similar "made to order" or customized piece but the cost is a worthy investment for those who understand its enduring value.
- Custom Artisan Wood Furniture– well this is yet another notch up from true custom wood furniture. It's an ultra luxury. It's a piece of functional art. It's museum quality furniture that is a privilege to own. Lucky for us, Vermont is home to some of the world's most talented custom furniture artisans like Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Kit Clark and others, many of whom belong to the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. Check out their websites and their blogs to understand how truly special and unique their furniture is. We work with these master craftspeople on a referral basis. When customers come to us looking to invest substantially and commission custom artisan furniture we help them find the artisan who is best suited to their needs. Usually it's based mainly on their style preference and the specific types of expertise and equipment needed to achieve their vision. But often other factors enter the decision including time constraints, budget, wood species, FSC or LEED criteria and such. We also take into account the personalities involved to make sure the experience is enjoyable, stress-free and enriching for both the customer and the artisan. Lastly, we negotiate a fair price so both parties achieve a win. Vermont Woods Studios was actually started as a company that would focus almost exclusively on marketing this important part of Vermont's heritage and culture.
So I hope this helps to better define "custom wood furniture" and draw a distinction between: made to order wood furniture, customized wood furniture, true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Customers often ask why the price of one of our pieces may be drastically different from another, when the two pieces look similar at first glance. The answer lies in the amount of time and expertise involved as well as the quality of the wood and hardware. At Vermont Woods Studios we're always happy to discuss these details and refer customers directly to our furniture makers when we've reached the limit of our own expertise. Learn more about commissioning custom wood furniture here.