January 9th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Shaker Furniture conjures up images of traditional New England style tables, chairs and bedroom furniture designed way back in the late 1700s by members of the The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, otherwise known as the Shakers. It's really the only style of furniture that's widely agreed upon as quintessentially American and it's changed only in subtle ways over the last few hundred years.
Vermont furniture makers are perhaps the world's most diverse group of Shaker furniture makers. Most furniture coming out of Vermont reflects Shaker values in one way or another (highest quality craftsmanship, simple functional design, elegant straight lines, finely crafted joinery such as mortise and tenon and dovetails) but each furniture maker has a unique signature on their furniture.
We've been working with Copeland Furniture recently, as we've added their bedroom furniture, TV-Entertainment furniture and home office furniture to our website. It's interesting to see how they've evolved from building traditional Shaker Furniture (Sarah Collection) 30 years ago to ever increasingly modern furniture today. Copeland's Lily collection blends a modern Scandinavian style with Shaker furniture design. Their Berkeley collection is a fusion of Arts and Crafts, modern Japanese and Shaker style.
Check out these and other new collections and see how you like this modernization of Shaker style furniture. As far as I can see, the addition of Copeland furniture to our website gives Vermont Woods Studios the most expansive and diverse selection of high end Shaker style furniture on the Internet.
December 19th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
So far, in an effort to define "fine furniture" we've discussed craftsmanship and the type of wood used, so now let's talk about finish. One thing most people are surprised to learn is that even though a piece of fine furniture is crafted and assembled it's a long way from being finished.
I like the way Vermont furniture maker, Bob Gasperetti of Mount Tabor puts it: "The saying that it takes 90% of the time to accomplish the last 10% of the work couldn't be more true than in handmade furniture."
He is right! I wish you could run your hand across one of Bob's table tops right now. After a piece is built, Bob sands the surface to 320 grit (this requires multiple sandings with increasingly fine sandpaper). That takes forever but there is no substitute if you're looking for the kind of smooth, supple feeling you get when touching Bob's furniture.
After sanding, Bob applies multiple coats of a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly oil until the surface of his furniture feels as smooth and soft as a baby's skin.
Some people would opine that an oil finish is the only option for "fine furniture" but as someone who doesn't like to take the time to maintain (aka re-oil and it's really no big deal, but I'm lazy) an oil finish I'll say oil is not the only option. Vermont furniture makers offer dozens of other choices, including a blend of oil and beeswax, non-toxic lacquers and even an eco-friendly clear finish made out of whey (a byproduct of our Vermont dairy industry). Copeland Furniture is once again leading the green furniture industry in the research and application of eco-friendly water=based lacquer finishes. I'll write about them next time when we wrap up this disucssion of fine furniture definitions with the topic of sustainability and karma.
Anyway, no study of fine furniture finishes would be complete without a visit to the workshops of a few fine furniture makers where you can run your hands over the furniture and compare the sensations from different finishes. Information and driving directions to the shops I've talked about (and many more) are available in the Vermont Forest Heritage brochure. If you're coming in from Boston or New York to go skiing, you'll pass by a number of them. So if there's no snow, or it's too cold to ski or if you're just too tired… take a day off and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world's best fine furniture workshops.
December 10th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
Vermont woodworkers are among the best in the world, so the furniture making part of our online business at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture is the easy part. It's the shipping and delivery that's our biggest challenge.
All of our furniture is made to order in small and medium-sized woodworking shops around our state. Furniture makers work with great care and precision to make sure their pieces leave the workshop in tip-top condition. The last thing we want is to have to ask them to make something over again because it got broken by a shipper. Not to mention that receiving damaged furniture is a huge let down to our customers and totally unacceptable by any measure.
So over the years we developed a policy where (unless it was something small or a customer absolutely needed a RUSH delivery) we ship furniture via a white glove delivery service. With white glove delivery, furniture is handled by only one company from the time it is picked up in Vermont until the time it's set up in a customer's kitchen, home office, dining room or bedroom.
The delivery crew arranges a convenient time for delivery several days in advance. They arrive at a customer's home in uniform, bring the furniture inside, unpackage it, help inspect it and set it up (including assembly, if any). For fine furniture I've always felt this is the only acceptable shipping solution.
Our new partner, Copeland Furniture, however is beginning to persuade me that it's possible to engineer a successful DIY (do-it-yourself) furniture delivery system that will save customers money. Copeland has made significant advances in the art, science and technology of fine furniture packaging and shipping over the last couple years. They are now the world leader in safe, efficient, economical fine furniture shipping.
So, for Copeland furniture only we now offer free shipping and do-it-yourself (DIY) delivery as a more affordable option for customers who are willing and able to handle their own delivery. With DIY delivery, your furniture is brought to your doorstep where you must unpackage and inspect it yourself, then sign for it. You are responsible to bring your furniture into your home and assemble it, if needed. For chests, dressers and desks, there is typically no assembly required, with the exception of drawer and door knobs. With beds and tables, you must assemble them yourself– and easy directions are provided.
Customers can save an average of $300 with a DIY delivery. If you're interested, just give us a call or specify DIY as your choice in the pull-down menu for shipping when you're making an online purchase. Of course, Copeland furniture can also be purchased with white glove delivery for an additional fee. You can specify that on the pull-down menu as well. Either way, if you're purchasing furniture online be sure to review the applicable Furniture Delivery and Inspection procedures to protect yourself in case of any possible problems down the road.
We are eager to get your feedback on this new method of shipping.
December 3rd, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
I have to share some of these beautiful photos of our New Copeland Furniture Collection as we're adding them to our online furniture store.
Tim Copeland started his company over 30 years ago, and has built a reputation for world class, handmade, high end furniture in a variety of styles and designs. His modern mid-century Astrid, Catalina and SoHo collections are entirely different from anything we’ve ever carried before. We've already seen interest in these sophisticated, retro designs especially from customers in urban, metropolitan areas who are looking for dramatic flair for their lofts and luxury apartment homes.
In addition to having a fabulous sense of style, the Copeland family is committed to making quality American made furniture by skilled American craftsmen. And they're serious about environmental conservation and stewardship. No greenwashing here.
I'll be highlighting more of their collections as we work on getting pieces up on our website. We plan to have our online store ready to roll by the end of the month, but in the meantime if you need additional information just give us a call. Full color catalogs and prices lists are posted on the Copeland Furniture section of our website.
November 30th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the ‘atmosphere’ of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil in which is planted.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Showcasing the grandeur of America's best prairie-style architecture, Copeland's Frank Lloyd Wright® Furniture reflects Wright's love of nature and the timeless beauty of his artistry.
Each piece of this high end collection is based on an original that was (and still is) seen in Wright’s Prairie Houses. Copeland starts with Wright’s designs, solid hardwoods, and superior upholstery; then employs traditional craftsmanship and state-of the-art technology to create these authentic, signed and numbered, heirloom- quality pieces for your home.
If you're all about natural, organic purity in your luxury home furniture, you can't help but fall in love with this classic collection. The pieces have a certain gravitas that's compelling in even the most posh, luxurious setting. Or as Wright put it,
“It opens, we enter, and an atmosphere of quiet strength and well-ordered repose envelops us, refreshes us, and gives us confidence in the personality of the “owners,” assures us of depth, warmth, and simplicity.”
October 27th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
In the furniture world, High Point, North Carolina is the place to be in October. All the big, multi-national furniture wholesalers are there at the Annual Furniture Market selling to retailers from across America.
For the past 30-40 years these companies have been manufacturing their furniture in China, Vietnam and other third world countries. They moved there from places like North Carolina and Virginia in the 70s and 80s to take advantage of cheap labor, illegally harvested wood and lax safety and health regulations.
Well, now that wages and safety are both on the rise in China, the furniture companies are moving back to the USA. This year they are pushing two new over-arching sales themes at the High Point Market: American Made Furniture and Eco-Friendly, Green Furniture.
Hmmm. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? In Vermont our furniture makers have embodied these themes throughout our history. Vermont furniture has always been true to its American heritage, American quality and American jobs. And our states' furniture craftspeople have consistently used eco-friendly, sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic finishes for their work.
From the small custom shops that make one of a kind studio furniture to our medium and large scale furniture makers like Lyndon Furniture, Copeland Furniture, Pompanoosuc Mills, New England Woodcraft, Vermont Furniture Designs and Maple Corner Woodworks, Vermont craftsmen have been authentically American and eco-friendly throughout our history. It's not just a passing fad in Vermont and you can rest assured that we will be providing heirloom quality, natural, handmade furniture for generations to come.