December 23rd, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Vermont furniture seems to be getting famous these days. During a down economy when housing sales (traditionally the driver for furniture sales) are in the ditch, Vermont made furniture continues to increase in popularity. As a company that sells exclusively Vermont made furniture, we chat daily with customers who inquire about all the details of our state’s signature craft.
So I’ve begun to compile the essence of these conversations into what we’re loosely calling a Vermont Furniture Encyclopedia. It’s posted on our website and includes topics like the History of Vermont Made Furniture, Vermont Furniture Makers, Vermont Furniture Styles, Sustainability and Vermont Made Furniture, Woods Used in Vermont Furniture Making, Education and Training, Vermont Furniture Quality and Craftsmanship, and How to Find and Purchase Vermont Made Furniture.
Check it out. You may be surprised to learn that Vermonters have been crafting wood furniture for over 250 years. Back in the 18th century, wood furniture, cutting boards, bowls, bowling pins, baskets, drumsticks, toys, musical instruments, golf tees, cheese boxes, dolls, gun racks, Scrabble tiles, snowshoes, clothes pins, and wooden shipping boxes were (and continue to be) all products of a thriving Vermont woodworking industry.
And in modern times, during the last half century, when furniture companies from across America began outsourcing top American brands (including Ethan Allen, Bassett, Broyhill, Thomasville, La-Z-Boy and Lane) to Asia, Vermont companies stayed home, remaining true to their values of quality, community and local economies. You’ll find a list of notable contemporary Vermont furniture makers, sorted by size and specialty in the encyclopedia. Plus learn fun facts like which state ranks #1 in furniture makers per capita.
We’ll consider the encyclopedia a work in progress and I invite others in the Vermont Furniture World to contribute. Send comments in the section below, on our Facebook or by emailing me at peggy@VermontWoodsStudios.com.
November 8th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
I was researching Vermont wood products today and discovered these custom made wood hats, handcrafted by Johannes Michelsen of Manchester Center, Vermont. Incredible! Although they are found in museums around the world (including the Smithsonian) you can wear them and they’re very comfy. Johannes customizes wood hats to exactly fit your head. He also offers classes, workshops and videos to people interested in crafting their own wooden hats. It turns out Johannes is a leading authority on wood sculpture and has written many articles and books about the art of wood turning. His work has been celebrated in dozens of prestigious public and private collections around the world. Here’s a quick look at Johannes’ hand-turned wooden hats.
Johannes’ turned wood hats can be created in many styles including classic cowboy hat, old fashioned top hats, crusher hats that look like you could fold them and stuff them in a pocket, sun hats with an extra wide, down swooping brim, bowler hats and a number of other styles. Although they’re intended as sculpture, when custom fitted they’re light weight and comfortable to wear.
Johannes outlines the basic process for handcrafting wooden hats on his website, starting with wood selection. Sustainably harvested burls and blocks of wood are carefully chosen and prepped with a chainsaw and band saw. From there, rough and fine turning techniques and equipment are used to generate the basic shape of the hat, followed by precise bending and finishing.
Johannes welcomes students of all levels and abilities to his woodworking classes and I’m happy to report there are four more classes scheduled in Manchester Center between now and the end of the year. Tuition is $650 and it includes wood for your hats, breakfast and lunch all three days.
Christmas is coming! If you’re looking for a special gift, how could you possibly come up with anything more unique, personal and customized than a wooden hat?
October 26th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Lucky me. I stopped by the Interstate 91 N Guilford Welcome Center (a mile south of Brattleboro on I91) the other day to drop off some brochures and stumbled upon a beautiful collection of oil paintings by nationally acclaimed Vermont artist, Paul Stone. You never know what amazing stuff you’re going to find at Vermont’s Welcome Centers (it’s not unusual for Paul Stone’s painting to sell for over $10,000 each)!
Paul Stone is a master at capturing quintessential Vermont rural scenes like the barns and farmhouses in my snapshot above. He’s known for his use of light, shadows and a vibrant palette to create scenes that are realistic and abstract at the same time. Maybe it’s because I live in Vermont but when I look at Paul’s work I feel like I’m inside his scenes, enjoying the view and the moment.
Apparently many others around the world feel a similar connection to Paul’s work because it hangs in numerous corporate and private collections around the world. Paul Stone’s shows are relatively rare events so if you love art and you’re coming to Vermont to enjoy the last few days of leaf peeping season be sure to stop at the Guilford Welcome center and take this one in.
A little bit of background about the artist: Paul is a native Vermonter who grew up in Westminster and has been painting since he was a young boy. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Tufts University. While I was admiring Paul’s paintings, I happened to see my neighbors from Earth’s Supergrains who told me Paul used to be their dentist. What? Like this post if you think it’s unfair for one person to have such an abundance of talent. Haha!
October 13th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
We’re right at the height of leaf-peeping season in Vermont. If you’re planning a trip you might want to check out Vermont’s Foliage report or our friend Rachel Carter’s article, “Best Fall Drives in Vermont” to gather travel tips about the fine art of leaf-peeping.
This year leaf peepers have had some rain but don’t let that dampen your spirits. Escape the weather by ducking into Vermont’s many fine art galleries! Last weekend I visited one of the best, The Edgewater Gallery in the heart of downtown Middlebury, VT. Edgewater is elegant both inside and out. The setting overlooks lovely Middlebury Falls on Otter Creek. If you haven’t strolled along the river’s banks and wound your way in and out of Middlebury’s charming downtown area, you’re missing out! I promise, it’s worth the trip.
Inside Edgewater Gallery you’ll enjoy the creative works of some of Vermont and New England’s most talented artists and artisans. You’ll find something for everyone: many diverse paintings, sketchings, ceramics, pottery, glass works, jewelery, fabric, wooden furniture and more. The prices range from affordable to expensive. But even the priciest pieces are far less than you would find in Manhattan– and of no smaller stature either!
You can find the inside scoop on Edgewater’s collections on the current shows section of their website or on their Facebook. And speaking of Facebook, let us know about your favorite Vermont Fine Art Galleries on our Vermont Fine Furniture Facebook. Thanks and happy travels.
September 28th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
The weather isn’t looking so great for leaf peeping in Vermont this weekend. So if you’re traveling around the Green Mountain State and looking for indoor activities, try heading to Woodstock, VT for the Ninth Annual Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival.
This year’s theme is “From Forest to Furniture: Take Home a Piece of Vermont”. It dovetails with our plans at Vermont Woods Studios for a showroom at Stonehurst in that the focus is to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from.
Much like the organic food movement, the organic furniture movement is catching on. Customers are realizing both the economic and health benefits to buying locally crafted furniture, handmade from real, solid, sustainably harvested wood.
Come visit with some of the regions (and world’s) most respected fine furniture makers in Woodstock this weekend. You’ll be able to see and feel their furniture creations and also learn about the well-managed forests where their wood is harvested. Free tours are available of the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Here customers can experience the forest and learn about each of the many links in the chain from forest to trees to furniture.
Shown above: Brent Karner of ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow VT won first place for production furniture in the 2011 Vermont Fine Furniture Festival. Who is going to win this year?
September 27th, 2012 by Kelsey Eaton
By Heather Barrett
full of artists and artisans, and this weekend is a perfect opportunity to discover
their products and visit their studios.
There are two events, one in Manchester,
and the other in Brattleboro, for
you to explore this weekend.
Craftproducers Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival
September 28-30, 10am-5pm
starting their foliage season with an outdoor event celebrating the local art
community. Over 180 artisans will have their craftwork on display and for
purchase. Art work ranges from photography to paintings to clothing to maple
distilled vodka. In addition to the beautiful array of art on display, the
festival offers food and drink. There will be a food area serving a variety of
localvore items, and a Vermont Beer, Cheese and Sausage tent. Spend the day
meeting artists, purchasing gifts for the upcoming holidays, and eating
delicious food. For more information about this event, visit the
Brattleboro-West Arts' 4th Annual Open Studio Tour
September 29-30, 10am-5pm
The town of Brattleboro
is Vermont Woods Studios' neighbor, located in the southeast corner of Vermont.
Brattleboro is known for it's
thriving arts community, and this weekend you will have the opportunity to meet
some of the artists. Artists are opening up their studios this weekend to the
public. There will be 13 different locations with 16 artists showing off their
crafts. The tour is mapped out on a brochure that you can print from their
website, pick up at any of the studio locations, or get from the Brattleboro
Chamber of Commerce. At the studio locations you will see where artists make
violins, blow glass, paint, and create many more items in different mediums. In
addition, to conclude the first night of the weekend event, the Chelsea Royal
Diner will be hosting a special dinner on Saturday. The dinner will feature a
selection of locally produced foods.
This is another opportunity to meet artists and learn about their crafts.
The Brattleboro-West Open Studio Tour has been recognized by the Boston
Globe. For more information about the
event, please visit the Brattleboro-West Arts website.
Heather Barrett is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios, an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont's finest wood furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture, Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
August 24th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
I stopped into the Blue Moose Cafe on High Street in Brattleboro the other day to grab a panini and use their free WiFi. On my way in I realized they have a new boutique in the store.
It's Lark's Fine Women's Accessories and it's beautiful! Like many places in Brattleboro, Lark's is small and intimate with a warm, inviting personality. The owner, Lark Eustace was tending shop and we chatted for awhile about her unique selection of clothing and accessories.
Before you head off to the mall for Back to School shopping, stop by and see Lark! Her store is elegant, but surprisingly affordable.
Some of the lines Lark is carrying include: Pine Cone Hill (bathrobes and pajamas), Charlie Leather (cross body bags, custom designed in many colors), Hemptress (eco-conscious hemp handbags that won the 2010 Independent Handbag Designer Awards), Brattleboro resident Kori Leary (velvet scarves), local artisan Donna Wilson (hand knit hats made with wool and finished with added mohair from her Vermont farm’s sheep and lambs) and Brattleboro resident Allen McCarty (Dichroic jewelry). You won't believe the variety of little luxuries that are tucked into this trendy boutique.
Lark's an Interior Designer and Fashion Merchandiser trained in Phoenix, AZ, but she grew up in Vermont. Maybe that's why her sophisticated, high end boutique has managed to fit perfectly into Brattleboro's funky scene.
Peggy Farabaugh owns Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. She travels around the Green Mountain State collaborating with other small business owners and feeling very lucky to live and work in a place where creativity is flourishing.
August 15th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
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.
July 5th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
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:
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.
July 3rd, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
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