Vermont Custom Furniture Showcased in Stowe
Vermont custom furniture takes center stage this month at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe. Members of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers are showcasing examples of their work, which (in my humble opinion) is among the finest custom furniture you’ll find anywhere.
The Stowe expo, Source focuses on the origin of all elements that collaborate to make the final exquisite and creative piece. “The exhibit maps the source of materials, the relationships between forester, mill and craftsperson, as well as the path that the artists took (who influenced them, and where they learned their craft) to become furniture makers”.
Many of our favorite Vermont custom furniture makers are represented in Stowe, including: George Ainley, Erin Hanley, James Becker, Steve Holman, Hugo Belton, David Hurwitz, Richard Bissell, Bill Laberge, Dave Boynton, Mario Messina, Tim Clark, Dan Morsheim, Doug Clarner, Pete Novick, Johns Congdon, Walt Stanley and Bob Gasparetti.
Where Does Your Furniture Come From?
At Vermont Woods Studios our focus has always been on “where does your furniture come from” particularly from an environmental perspective (where is the wood from and was it sustainably harvested).
What I love about this expo is that it takes a broader look into the origin of these works of art, focusing on the artists, their inspirations and the chain of partners involved in getting their wood from the forest to their studios.
If you’re heading up to Stowe to ski and you love woodworking, be sure to make time to stop at the Helen Day Center for a relaxing and inspiring visit. Hours are Wednesday – Sunday 12pm-5pm and by appointment. Admission is by donation. It’s well worth the trip!
Speaking of organic, did you know that Vermont is also famous for it's organic furniture? Last count there were some 2000 small wood furniture makers scattered across Vermont. Although the styles and methods of craftsmanship are quite varied, these furniture makers have in common a deep respect for the forest where their wood furniture originates.
I haven't been able to find a definition for organic furniture yet but I do think Vermont would logically be the place to start. Vermont woodworkers have a long history of sustainable woodworking, sourcing their wood from our local forests abundant in native hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, cherry and birch. And we avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in Vermont's sustainable forests, relying instead on Mother Nature to regenerate after careful selective harvesting.
When it comes to applying a finish to Vermont's furniture, you'll be hard-pressed to find harsh chemicals with high levels of VOCs or formaldehyde. Instead furniture makers use natural linseed oil finishes, clear non-toxic lacquers and even a natural coating made from whey (a recycled byproduct of our dairy industry).
Yesterday I wrote about organic food in terms of where it comes from and how it's grown. The organic food movement has been around for over a century but has picked up more steam in the last 20 years as people become more aware of where their food comes from. I think the next step for the organic movement is into the world of organic furniture. And Vermont will lead the way.
The other day, Dennis mentioned that our Vermont Sustainable Furniture website has been visited by people in almost ever country in the world. How cool is that? I couldn't resist having a look at our analytics program to see which countries have yet to discover Vermont's Fine Furniture.
So… of the planet's 196 countries, it appears there are 7 that we've yet to reach: Turkmenistan, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, Mauritiana, Papua New Guinea.
I'm not sure what to do with this information but it was fun to see how far the Internet has spread the word about a tiny group of fine furniture makers nestled in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountain Forest.
If you're reading this from abroad and wondering how to bring Vermont made, fine wood furniture to your country, contact us. Exporting our eco-friendly furniture is part of our 10 year plan. We're open to new ideas from established interior design, fine furniture and home decor professionals around the world.
The Vermont Crafts Council 19th Annual Open Studio Weekend is only a week away on May 28th & 29th 2011.
If you've never been, I can promise that touring around to Vermont's artisan studios will be a unique and fun way to spend a weekend.
In addition to Vermont's amazing furniture makers, you'll be able to visit glass blowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers.
I posted Bob Gasperetti's picture here because Bob is on of the best of the best Vermont Furniture Makers and he has the coolest studio. It looks like a quintessential Vermont barn and is set in the heart of the Green Mountains in Mt Tabor, VT just off Route 7, a bit north of Manchester Center. On the first floor of Bob's place he has a treasure trove of beautiful wooden planks, burls and slabs– from all types of different tree species that he's been collecting over the years. Pick the ones you like and head upstairs.
Bob's workshop is on the second floor, where he'll show you all the hand tools and machinery he uses to work his magic. Fascinating! Then up on the third floor is his showroom which houses his latest handcrafted furniture creations… perhaps:
- a Shaker style four poster bed and matching dressers, mirrors and chests
- a Vermont style, solid cherry dining table, chairs, buffet and hutch
- a home office set up with an executive desk, file credenza and bookcases
The craftsmanship you'll see in Bob's studio is like nothing you've ever seen before (unless you're already familiar with the tradition of Vermont furniture making, of course). Check out the precision of his dovetail joints and run your hand back and forth over his smooth finishes. You might have a hard time leaving empty handed… but the good thing is that he always has a great selection of pieces on sale and available to take home during Open Studio Weekend. Or you can work with Bob on a unique custom piece made especially for you.
Reaching for your calendar and map? The Council publishes a free tour guide featuring a map of all the participating studios, including Bob's. You can pick it up at any Vermont Welcome Center or print one online. Vermont is actually bigger than you think and there are so many artisans now that maps are available for each county. Enjoy the weekend and let's hope the sun participates too!
Everyone wants to have handcrafted, American made wood furniture in their home. Why not? It's beautiful, lasts for generations and adds warmth and richness to your space. But at Vermont Woods Studios we do understand that not everyone is able to wait 8-10 weeks to have their furniture custom crafted. Often customers come to us as they are preparing for guests for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, a birthday celebration or other holiday and they need their furniture fast.
Well lucky for us, Vermont furniture makers are working hard to meet those needs. We are currently able to offer many dining tables and dining chairs with a lead time of just 2-3 weeks. Give us a call or email us regarding lead times for the furniture pieces you're interested in. Believe it or not, it's still possible to have a dining room furniture set crafted just for you with delivery in time for Thanksgiving dinner!
At Vermont Woods Studios we're privileged to work with some of the world's finest craftsmen. Some of these furniture makers have had a tradition of fine craftsmanship handed down to them through many generations of Vermonters while others have emigrated to our state, attracted by the natural beauty and the close community of artisans living here.
One of the passions we all share is a love of the outdoors and a connection to the forest: the source of our wood. Vermont furniture makers care immensely about where their wood comes from as this affects not only the look and quality of a piece but also the sense of "karma" that every handmade piece has. The sustainability of our forests is an important issue to us.
I read this note about forest conservation from friend and sustainable furniture maker Dave Allard recently and wanted to share it:
In 2008, the US Forest Service reported that the volume of American
hardwoods is 90 percent larger than it was just 50 years ago and nearly
twice as much hardwood grows as is harvested every year. When managed
responsibly hardwood forests are at the least carbon neutral.
American hardwoods are abundant and self-regenerating. For centuries
they have been providing beauty, warmth and functional value for floors,
furniture, moldings, millwork and cabinetry.
Conservation weighs heavily on our minds. We
have always purchased the finest hardwoods from local, and reputable
sustainable resources. This allows us to virtually hand pick our lumber,
save on the use of large trucks that emit pollutants, thus limiting our
carbon footprint and waste factor overall. We were ‘Green’ before it
I agree. Vermont is not only the fine furniture capitol of America it is also the sustainable furniture capitol of our country.
Ken managed to get me on his Harley this weekend and we drove up to Woodstock to see our friends and colleagues at the Vermont Fine Furniture Festival. If you haven't been yet, you are missing out! It's well worth the trip, especially on a beautiful day like we had this year. Here are some pictures of the festival and our trip.
Here's Bruce Wilkie of On Vermont Time – Beautiful handcrafted clocks and custom furniture.
Vermont's beautiful Fall produce and flowers are available at farm stands everywhere. Sadly we had no room to carry any home
Many of the finest furniture makers in the state and indeed the country
were at the Festival showing their latest works of art, demonstrating
their craft and offering fabulous deals on handcrafted, Vermont made
solid wood furniture.
Scott Duffy of Rockledge Farm was showing this beautiful walnut table. It has a soft live edge you can barely see, but it's absolutely gorgeous.
Jim Becker makes incredible windsor chairs, barstools and lots of other beautiful furniture as well.
This is a new Craftsman bed we're just beginning to carry at Vermont Woods Studios.
Neal Albert of Shelburne Fine Woodworking makes high end custom kitchen cabinets and a line of custom tables with secret compartments.
A wooden guitar case from the Vermont Woodworking school.
If you were unlucky enough to miss the Vermont Furniture Festival this year, put it on your calendar for next year. It's always around the last weekend in September. It's a great destination and the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy Vermont's colorful Autumn scenery.
It's hard to believe September is here already. The kids are back in school and even though it's a beautiful sunny 90F day here at Vermont Woods Studios, our minds are turning to Vermont's Autumn season and our many Fall fairs and festivals.
My favorite is the Vermont Fine Furniture Festival in Woodstock, VT. This year the dates are September 25-56, 2010 and it's in the Union Arena in Woodstock, VT. Many of Vermont's finest furniture makers will be displaying their work and giving you an insider's view of how authentic handmade wood furniture is crafted. You'll be able to meet the furniture makers and purchase handmade wood furniture off the floor or order affordable custom furniture to be crafted just for you and delivered directly to your home.
If you've ever been inclined to visit Vermont to enjoy the Fall weather and take in some leaf peeping, consider combining your trip with a visit to the Furniture Festival. While you're there, let the craftspeople know if you believe as I do, that Vermont is truly the Fine Furniture Capitol of America.
Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture is proud to be featured in the very well respected woodworking industry journal, Cabinet Maker. We want to thank Will Sampson for his insightful article about our furniture business and how it fits into the dynamic and challenging world of fine furniture retailing in the USA.
Besides being a writer and editor at Cabinet Maker, Will is also the author of SawdustSoup, a blog for professional woodworkers seeking to continuously improve their craft. We salute Will for his fine work at Cabinet Maker.
Congratulations to some of our favorite Vermont furniture makers who are going to be featured at the Southern Vermont Arts Center's Yester House Gallery show titled, Out of the Woods: Works by Northern New England Furniture Makers. The show is in Manchester, Vermont and runs from May 8- June 15, 2010.
To kick off the show, there will be a free opening party on Friday May 8, from 4-6pm with live music, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar and conversations with the exhibiting artists. Go and enjoy! The following Vermont artisans will be there: