News and Reviews
Congratulations to Brent Karner of ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow for being selected Vermont Woodworker of the Year. The award was presented to Brent last Friday by Mike Rainville, President of the Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association, VWMA. It was in recognition of his work in designing and crafting 150 eco-friendly, stackable cherry wood chairs for the University of Vermont’s Memorial Lounge on UVM’s Burlington campus.
Have you ever noticed that chairs in auditoriums are rarely handcrafted of solid wood and rarely comfortable? Well it seems that Richard Cate, UVM Vice president for finance and administration decided to change that. He insisted on finding a competitive bid for beautiful, comfy, high quality, Vermont made STACKABLE chairs and Brent Karner’s proposal fit the bill.
Brent, his brother and two of their craftsmen at Clear Lake Furniture spent 3 months designing and building the chairs. Each chair contains 41 separate pieces. Sheahan and Sons Lumber in Weatherfield transformed 400 local, sustainably harvested logs from Bethel, VT into 6,150 pieces of wood designed to Brent’s specs. The seats were crafted by Don Heaton Upholstery in Chester, VT. Everything from A to Z was locally made in Vermont!
Isn’t it great to see another example of Vermonters leading the way in the American Made manufacturing movement?
Please help us welcome our newest staff member, Neville Kerr to the Vermont Woods Studios family. Neville answered our call for a webmaster/developer/programmer/jack of all tech trades last December. We didn’t know he would also be bringing additional skills we hadn’t even asked for (like cooking and travel advice) but we’re glad he did.
Neville comes to us from Down Under. His background includes ecommerce consulting, extensive service in the Royal Australian Air Force and many interesting experiences in between. One of his passions appears to be travel. And oddly enough rainforest countries have been high on his list of destinations. How interesting since Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of rainforest conservation.
The photo above was taken in Jaco, Costa Rica, a place Ken and I and the boys passed through two years ago on a trip to Manuel Antonio, while volunteering for the Eco Preservation Society. I discovered yesterday that Neville and his wife Carol also visited another of my favorite rainforest countries in their travels, Belize.
I don’t remember mentioning anything about the rainforest in our ad for a web developer so maybe it’s just good karma that brought this world traveler and his talents to our doorstep in tiny Vernon, Vermont. At any rate, we’re grateful for his help and looking forward to the many improvements he has in mind for our fine furniture website. Follow Neville’s work on our Facebook and let us know how you like our website improvements as they evolve over the next couple months.
We were happy to get a note from GreenPeople.org today, awarding our green furniture with their Seal of approval for the 7th year in a row. GreenPeople.org is a credible (not to mention the world’s largest) online directory of green, eco-friendly, and holistic goods, services, non-profit organizations and eco-events. They have been helping people locate authentically green products since 1998 by evaluating businesses with meaningful and consistent standards for environmental protection and social justice.
To learn more about our green furniture and why it’s eco friendly have a look at the green mission pages of our blog, browse through the environmental section of our website or give us a call to chat about wooden furniture and sustainable forestry today. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to call or read through all that, just remember this: The most important thing you can do to be sustainable and earth-friendly when you’re buying furniture is to buy 100% American made. Learn why here.
Happy 2013! We hope this year brings you all the best of good health, happiness and success. And we hope you’ll come share some of that with us in our new home at Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont. 2013 will be a year of renovations at this 200 year old Vermont farmhouse as we work with J Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction to transform the property into a fine furniture showroom and nature center.
Our goal this year is to provide the destination shopping experience our customers (from Boston, New York and beyond) have been longing for. Stonehurst will become a place where eco-conscious homeowners can experience all aspects of Vermont handcrafted furniture, including the natural forests where it originates.
Check our blog and Facebook now and then as 2013 unfolds a new life for this iconic Vermont property. We’re planning to complete construction by June, just in time for a mid-summer Grand Opening. In the meantime, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by with your toboggan this winter. We’ve got about a foot of snow now with more in the forecast. Either way, don’t let 2013 go by without a trip to Vermont!
Happy New Year
Green New Years Resolutions
Another year has gone by and we’re already looking at 2013! Did you keep your New Years resolutions? I’ll admit it. I never stepped foot into a gym and I still spend too much time on the computer. Rather than making the same New Years resolutions again this year, why not try out some Green New Years Resolutions and create a healthier you and a healthier universe.
Kick Your Bottled Water Habit
Plastic bottles are well-known pollutants, leaking chemicals into our water and polluting our environment. Invest in a reusable water bottle this year and vow to not purchase any bottled water in 2013!
Use Public Transportation One Day A Month
While using public transportation may not be a convenient solution for your everyday commute, committing to using public transportation once a month can help lessen your carbon footprint and save money on fuel. If you don’t have a reasonable means of public transportation in your area, try carpooling!
Invest in Reusable Bags for Grocery Shopping
Plastic shopping bags are filling up our landfills by the gallon. Many shops are starting to hop on the reusable bag bandwagon and offer discounts for bringing your own bags. This is just one of the reasons that taking earth-friendly shopping bags with you on shopping trips would make a great green new years resolutions.
Try One New Organic Food Every Time You Shop
Many foods are now being offered as organic, including popcorn and ice cream. This year, try committing to buying one organic product every time you shop. Organic foods are healthier for you, healthier for the environment and healthier for your local economy.
Buy American Made
I’m sure by now you’ve read all about our successful American Made shopping challenge this holiday season. If you haven’t, we were part of a nationwide movement to generate thousands of American jobs buy purchasing American-made gifts this year. Keep the spirit going and support American jobs all year long by making a conscious decision to purchase American-made goods this year.
Recycle and Compost
If you don’t have a recycling program implemented at your home or office, what are you waiting for?! Make a New Years resolution to start a recycling program in your home, office or town. If you’re already an avid recycler, try composting this year.
Line Dry Your Clothes
Dryers use a very large amount of energy and could cost you up to 10% more on your home electric bill. Line drying your clothes saves time, energy and your clothes will have that fresh outdoor scent without the use of artificially scented dryer sheets.
Buy Less and Simplify Your Life
This green New Years Resolution is simple. Buy less junk you don’t need and get rid of last years junk that you don’t use. On January 1st, go through all of your closets and cabinets and; if you haven’t touched it in over a year, donate it; if it’s broken or threadbare, toss it; or if you think you can breathe new life into it, repurpose or recycle it. Then, all year long be mindful of the things you want to buy. If it’s not a necessity, be strong and say “no”!
What are your green New Years resolutions this year? Let us know here in the comments or on our Facebook page.
Made in America Makes Jobs
Stephen Spielberg called, and we’re off to Hollywood! Okay, that’s not true, but we were on the news! Not just any news station either, we were on ABC World News.
Have you been watching the ABC News made in America nightly segment? ABC News had a month long campaign with Diane Sawyer and David Muir urging people to pledge $64 towards Christmas gifts this season. The reason? To create American jobs–about 200,000 of them. Last night David Muir had the wrap up of their challenge and discussed some companies positively affected by the Made in America movement.
Last year the ABC News Made in America team came to Vernon, Vermont to visit Vermont Woods Studios and discuss our very own Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge. Our first shot at fame went on air few days before Christmas in 2011. After a year of growth, ABC News circled back to Vermont Woods Studios once again. This year we hired five new people, proving that buying American made creates jobs. Our town, our company, and our new hires were all mentioned on last night’s segment. Thank you ABC World News for including us in your segment!
Diane & David- if you are reading this, you have an open invitation to come and visit our new, expanded furniture showroom this spring!
Well, we finally got a dusting of snow in Vernon, Vermont today so it’s a White Christmas after all. Maybe I’m just getting old but it seems like we used to have a lot more snow when I was a kid. I dug out this photo of a White Christmas 16 years ago. That’s my Dad (Uncle Bob to most everyone) driving his beloved team of Percherons, Prince and Tony. Every Christmas we would pile into the sled with the kids bundled up so much they could hardly hang to our hay bale seats. When Dad took the reins and got the horses moving we all hung onto each other for dear life. But after the first initial whiplash we huddled together laughing hysterically. And the flasks of Baileys came out to keep the adults (who may not have been adequately bundled) warm.
Those were fun times and the moments Dad lived for. We take time to reminisce about Dad’s sleigh rides and hay rides every Christmas. How about you? What are your favorite Christmas memories? Share a photo or comment on our Facebook.
And speaking of a White Christmas… I just saw a most appropriate post on Cindy Flora’s Facebook (courtesy of Gypsy’s Melting Pot):
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
But when the white’s gone
We’ll drink the red
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Meet the Fab Five
In recruiting for six Vermont furniture sales and marketing positions this year, we reviewed over 400 resumes and interviewed dozens of excellent candidates. It’s been a challenging task to find the combination of skills and talent needed to run our online fine furniture gallery. So we feel extremely fortunate to have been able to hire the following superstars for our team: Heather Gantt, Loryn Dion, Heather Barrett, Liz Francese and Sean Henry.
Made in America Holiday Shopping in Brattleboro, Vermont
This photo was taken last week when we tasked the freshmen with providing photographic inspiration at the request of Diane Sawyer and the ABC World News crew. If you followed our activities at this time last year, you’ll remember that national news team spent a day filming our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge at our office and all around Vernon, Vermont. This year they were curious about our progress and wanted to learn about any new people we had hired to help grow this American made furniture business.
The Fab Five were most gracious in accommodating ABC’s request for photos and videos so I thought I’d share a few of them here on the blog.
Visit our Facebook to see more photos and our picks for 2012′s best Made in America Christmas gifts.
Act 250, Water and Building Permits Good to Go
Woohoo! After 5 months of working through engineering and architectural plans for our sustainable Vermont furniture showplace, we have finally been approved by the state of Vermont to begin renovations at Stonehurst. YAY! It’s really not so easy renovating an historic property for commercial use in Vermont but we think it’s worth the trouble.
Vermont requires three permits for this kind of endeavor: a detailed environmental assessment called the Act 250 permit, a water and wastewater permit and a building permit. Together with supporting documentation, the three permits create a stack of paper about a foot high, requiring an army of expert consultants to complete them. And we’re not done. There are many caveats and contingencies that will have to be satisfied as we progress. Ken and I never imagined this extreme when we purchased the building. It was our architect, Jeremy Coleman who walked us through the maze of bureaucracy and red tape and patiently explained the codes and our compliance options.
Vermont’s Complex Building Regulations
At first we were in disbelief at the overwhelming extent of requirements and expense to comply with Vermont’s complex codes. There are several government agencies to deal with and get approval from. Sometimes they are at odds with each other. But as we finally get to a point where our plans have been approved and renovations can begin I guess we are beginning to see some method to the madness.
Stonehurst is Worth the Trouble
After all Vermont is a very special place for nature lovers and we want it to always stay that way. Detailed environmental and building regulations help to ensure that. Like many Vermont businesses, Vermont Woods Studios is built on a green mission. Ours is forest conservation and environmental preservation, so (in spite of the high cost of regulations) I can’t imagine finding a more suitable home for it than Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont.
Stay tuned for more updates on our sustainable furniture showroom over the next couple months and plan to visit us for an open house in the early summer. Till then keep updated by subscribing to this blog or visiting our Facebook.
See you at the Grand Opening (TBA)!