November 12th, 2013 by Michelle Rooks
A couple of weeks ago I was walking with my family when I observed the little fellow in the above image making his way across our path. I had heard that Woolly Bears are prominent in folklore as predictors of winter. I thought I’d poke around and see what other indicators we have. Here’s what I found.
Woolly Bears (the larvae of Isabella Tiger Moths): the longer the middle brown band, the milder and shorter the coming winter; the shorter the brown band, the longer and more severe winter will be. The woolly has 13 segments to the length of his body–the same number of weeks there are of winter. From what I can tell of this picture, my little friend only has four solid-brown segments with a couple that are both black and white. Uh, oh.
Black Walnut trees: The thicker the green husk on the Black Walnuts the snowier the winter, because nature knows when the walnut needs more protection from the elements.
Onion skins: If thin, a mild winter is coming.
Corn: Husks are thick and tight and the silks are heavy — these are indicators of a bad winter.
Apple skins: If tough, winter may be as well.
Oak trees: If the ground of your yard, driveway, or porch is covered with acorns, folklore predicts that these same surfaces may be blanketed by snow this winter. This one makes me feel a little bit better about what my Woolly Bear friend told me. Some years we can hear the acorns pinging off the metal roof of our storage shed. This year I haven’t heard any.
The Month of August: For every fog there will be a snowfall. If the first week is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long. If a cold August follows a hot July, it foretells a winter hard and dry. We’re not far from the Connecticut River and a small area of beaver-created wetlands so fog is not unusual.
Spiders: Spinning larger than usual webs
Honey Bees: will store honey in mass in preparation for a severe winter
Yellow Jackets: build nests either high in trees or in the ground depending on what the coming winter has in store.
Squirrels: If tails are very bushy and/or if they’re more active than usual, a severe winter is on its way. Hmmm, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an INactive squirrel.
Ant Hills: If they are unusually high in July, it will be cold and snowy. Darn, forgot to measure them last summer.
Thanksgiving Goose: If the breast bone of the Thanksgiving goose is red or has many spots, expect a cold and stormy winter; but if only a few spots are visible, expect a mild winter.
If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, the winter will be mild.
Final assessment: I have no idea what the winter will bring us in Southern Vermont. I’m just grateful I’m only a short walk from Stonehurst!
October 29th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
High quality, real solid hardwood furniture is expensive, no doubt about it. It’s not for everyone. College students are more likely to find suitable furniture at IKEA- that’s for sure. But if you landed on this blog post, you’re probably a homeowner looking to feather your nest for the long term, right? Well we talk to people like you everyday and so we’ve learned a few things about why our customers are looking to buy hardwood furniture.
Check out our cherry and walnut hardwood bedroom furniture set. You just don’t get this kind of smooth, refined patina on pine, spruce or other soft wood furniture. When hardwoods are sanded properly and finished with a clear, non-toxic lacquer or hand-rubbed natural oil, you can run your hands over the wood and it almost feels like skin. No softwood, metal or plastic furniture can give the same tactile sensation that high quality, handmade hardwood furniture does.
Hardwoods like cherry, walnut, maple and oak wood are from deciduous trees that grow slower than coniferous softwood trees like pine, spruce, larch and fir. Thus hardwoods are typically more dense, heavy, durable and, well… hard. They also are fairly non – resinous and close grained so they don’t leak sap and split like pine does. If you take care of your hardwood furniture it will hold up beautifully for many years, even many generations. We are confident enough in our hardwood furniture to back it with a lifetime guarantee.
Many people, especially those with young children are looking for natural, organic furniture to be a part of their healthy homes. They often talk to us about where their furniture comes from too. Hardwood furniture that’s made in America is typically built with wood that’s sustainably harvested from well-managed American forests. Families enjoy breaking bread over a dinner table that’s made in harmony with nature.
OK, I said Top 3 Reasons, but here’s a fourth that I just can’t walk away from. In the long run, high quality hardwood furniture is cheaper to buy than other types of furniture– even IKEA’s. Consider how many times you’ll have to buy a bedroom set or dining furniture over your lifetime if you’re always buying something cheap. We’ve had lots of customers who tell us they’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for a few years while they save up to buy a high quality hardwood bed. I can relate to that.
What are your reasons for searching for hardwood furniture? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook!
October 12th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
If you’re looking for hardwood furniture, there’s a good chance you’re narrowing your wood choices down to the most popular and plentiful species grown here in America such as cherry, maple, oak and walnut. These prized hardwoods are grown sustainably here in the USA with Vermont and New England being a favorite source for many woods.
We like these species because they are well suited to fine furniture making by virtue of their color, strength, hardness, grain patterns and workability. They are also readily obtainable in our local and regional area, making them a sustainable choice. Often our furniture makers will offer two-tone combinations of these hardwoods creating a custom, artisan look and feel to your furniture.
The photo above shows Copeland Furniture’s SoHo Bedroom Set in solid maple and walnut hardwoods. This striking two-tone wood combination has become a best seller in our metropolitan markets, particularly Manhattan, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Homeowners appreciate the modern, contemporary sensibilities of the SoHo solid hardwood design as well as the fine detail and craftsmanship that goes into every custom, made to order piece.
SoHo furniture is also offered in a two-tone walnut and cherry design. Which of these hardwood combinations would look best for your bedroom furniture?
September 10th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Lyndon Furniture has been crafting beautiful fine furniture from real, solid hardwoods for over 30 years and it's become one of our "best value" lines at Vermont Woods Studios. Customers looking for honest, hand crafted furniture that's made of all real, solid wood (without veneers) are drawn to Lyndon.
Their craftspeople are committed to preserving the heritage of American furniture making by combining the best of old world construction techniques and new world precision. What they achieve is an authentic product that's stylish, affordable and designed to last a lifetime.
Lyndon works with local and regional hardwoods, primarily cherrywood, maple, walnut and oak. In addition to making their tables, chairs and beds with all solid wood, Lyndon also constructs their case goods (china cabinets, bookcases, dressers, chests, nightstands and armoires) with solid wood, whereas most manufacturers use veneers on case sides. The only place you'll find veneer on Lyndon pieces is on the backs of case goods and bottoms of drawers– that's to provide for wood movement during changing humidity.
If all solid wood construction is important to you when shopping for handmade furniture, check out Lyndon Furniture on our website. We carry the full line of their products, including customizations and complete custom design. We welcome your questions and specialty orders.
December 13th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh
Similar to the term American Made Furniture, there's no standard definition for "fine furniture". But a customer brought this up yesterday so I thought I'd take a shot at it. At Vermont Woods Studios we specialize in fine wood furniture, rather than upholstered furniture so I'll keep the discussion confined to that.
This may seem odd, but I'm going to put style aside for another subject because I think each creative woodworker has his or her own ideas about style. Naturally there has to be a strategic blending of form and function, but making a judgement about that is personal and subjective– you could write a library of books about it and still not reach a conclusion. I'm not sure style belongs in a definition for fine furniture.
So for now I'll stick to tangible perameters like craftsmanship, uniqueness, joinery, type of wood, type of finish, sustainability and durability– plus one intangible which I'll call karma. Today let's look at the type of wood a piece of furniture is made with first– then we can consider the other characteristics in the next few posts.
Fine wood furniture starts with hardwood (like cherry, maple, walnut and oak) as opposed to soft wood (like pine and other coniferous woods). Furthermore, in today's world (by my definition anyway) those hardwoods are grown sustainably in America as opposed to imported woods that are clear cut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests (like ipe, rubberwood, mahogany, jatoba and teak–this ties into a karma discussion). You can learn more about American hardwood species here: cherry wood, maple wood, walnut wood, oak wood.
It's not just the wood species that sets fine wood furniture apart. Once a species is selected, fine woodworkers go to greath lengths to carefully select each board that goes into a piece of furniture, depending on where the board is being placed (like in a drawer front, part of a table top, an accent piece or part of the frame).
Woodworkers select boards based on things like grain, color, texture, shape, character and whether it's part of the tree's heartwood (inner circles of the tree and dark in color) or sapwood (outer circles of the tree and light in color). There are different levels of attention to detail in wood selection and they are reflected in the price of a piece of furniture. Many of our woodworkers in Vermont are aligned with the philosophy of George Nakishima who felt that wood selection is an almost sacred art that honors The Soul of a Tree. Others are more practical but both philosophies on wood selection can be the foundation of a great piece of "fine furniture" depending on what the customer is looking for.
August 25th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh
Wondering how to select the right hardwood for your furniture? For most of our customers, wood color is the first priority when selecting a hardwood, followed by strength and durability. At Vermont Woods Studios we offer exclusively American hardwoods that are harvested responsibly from well managed forests.
One of the characteristics that customers are often surprised about is that some woods change colors over time, as they are exposed to light. Black cherry is the most notable of these woods. It can start out almost as light as maple wood, but over time it will mature and ripen to a deep, rich reddish brown color.
Have any questions about furniture hardwoods? Give us a call! We'll look forward to hearing from you.