September 2nd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Today we’re celebrating this 1000th blog at Vermont Woods Studios! And that’s only back as far as August of 2007. I started blogging in 2006 but on a different platform and at a time when I didn’t know how to transfer stories from Typepad to WordPress.
Haha… a lot has happened since then. We’ve gone from a 1 woman operation in the corner of a bedroom to a dozen of us firmly ensconced inside Vermont’s newest fine furniture showroom, at Stonehurst. And now instead of just reading my daily drivel, you get the inside scoop from other quirky VWS personalities like Dennis Shanoff, Loryn Dion, Liz Francese, Kelsey Eaton, Michelle Rooks and Sean Henry.
We’re always brainstorming ways to make our blog more interesting and useful for you. The hidden agenda is to get you excited about Vermont’s sustainable way of life and peak your interest enough to persuade you to join us in our mission. We report on green festivals and events in VT as well as the vibrant (not to mention affordable) arts and crafts scene. We take you inside the workshops of Vermont’s finest furniture makers and showcase the benefits of buying American made products that support local economies.
What else would you like to see on our blog? Let us know on Facebook and we’ll serve it up!
August 15th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
It’s been almost a year now since we purchased Stonehurst, the 200+ year old farmhouse we’ve grown to know and love. From the beginning when we first conceptualized this showcase of Vermont’s best handmade furniture, fine art and home decor accessories we decided to renovate with local products. We worked with Brattleboro architect Jeremy Coleman and Spofford builder, Bob Furlone (American Construction) to reuse and re-purpose everything we could in an effort to keep Stonehurst authentic. And when we needed to purchase building materials new, we sourced Vermont made products where possible.
Dennis, Heather B, Kelsey and I have written many Stonehurst blog posts describing the details of how we renovated and where materials came from. But I wanted to do a final run-down to recognize and thank the Vermont companies that made Stonehurst the authentic showcase it is today. Here’s the list:
A million thanks to all of you for making Stonehurst the special place it is! I must also thank Vermont taxpayers and the people who worked on the Vermont Working Lands Grant Initiative. Earlier this year they awarded Vermont Woods Studios a $100,000 grant to help complete the Stonehurst project.
To follow through on our “all things Vermont” theme, we are now working with local artisans to adorn the inside of Stonehurst with Vermont made fine furniture, artwork and home decor items. Soon you will be able to see that, plus lighting by Hubbardton Forge, glassware and pottery by Simon Pearce and pewter by Danforth Pewter all under one roof. Come visit and enjoy!
February 7th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Does this seem excessive? President Obama was presented with 500 personalized, limited edition limousines on his inauguration day, January 21, 2013. Each handmade automobile was carefully crafted in Vermont by our friend (and leader of Vermont’s Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA) Mike Rainville and his staff at Maple Landmark Toys.
Dennis and I were lucky enough to see the limos last week at the annual VWMA meeting which was held in Middlebury, Vermont at the headquarters for Maple Landmark. Actually, the toys were purchased by President Obama’s Inauguration Committee for resale as part of a fundraising activity to defray the cost of inauguration activities. The cool thing is that there are still a couple of these keepsakes left and you can buy a limo online for $20. Obama fans: hurry and scoop up this Vermont made souvenir before the secret gets out!
On another note, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Mike Rainville for his leadership and dedication to our Vermont made furniture and woodworking industry. As president of our industry group he’s been volunteering huge amounts of his time (for many years!) to promoting our craft and building synergy amongst our members. As owner and founder of Maple Landmark he acts as an ambassador showing customers all across American and around the world the beauty and quality of Vermont made wood products.
Last week Mike told us the story of how President Obama’s inauguration staff phoned him on December 28 to ask if he could design, produce and deliver the limos to Washington for the January 21 event. Less than a month’s time and during the holidays (a toy makers busiest season) too! But Mike and his staff were happy for the opportunity and pulled out all the stops to get the job done. He said the biggest challenge was getting timely government safety ratings and approvals but I guess the mention of his client might have greased the skids a bit on that. Great job, guys.
December 4th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Custom bookcases might not be on the top of your Christmas list, but think about it. Whether you have a home office or you’re trying to tidy up and organize your books and media, custom bookcases could make your life easier and more efficient in 2013. Not to mention more beautiful.
At Vermont Woods Studios our biggest month for crafting bookcases and other organizers is January. Could it have to do with New Year’s resolutions? Must be, but we’re getting inquiries almost every day lately. I think customers are realizing that there is a 1-3 month lead time for ordering custom bookcases. So if you’re one of those people I thought I’d offer up some tips and advice about how to choose the right set of bookshelves for your home or office.
Are you really going to use those books or movies or vases? Or will they just sit in the bookcase and collect dust? Are they beautiful? Part of your decor? Or just obligatory (someone gave them to you and you can’t seem to throw them away) and you don’t necessarily want to see them? Do you put things back neatly? Or are you always in a hurry? These are the kinds of weighty issues you’ll need to unravel before you decide whether or not to add doors to your custom bookcases. Oh… and should the doors be glass to show off your chotskies or wooden to hide the mess?
Once you’ve decided what kind of doors are best for your bookshelves, you’ll want to measure your space and get the cabinets to fit perfectly into it. Some people love the integrated design of one big bookcase unit like the Modern Shaker Home Office Center Cabinet above (make sure you can fit something this big up the stairs and into your room!). Other people like the versatility of combining several small bookcases in different ways. One thing we always mention to customers is: if you’re getting a series of bookcases that you may want to place flush up next to each other, be sure you specify “no overhang”. That means any molding along the top will be eliminated either on one or both sides, depending on how you want to configure the bookcases.
We try to make it easy to customize your bookcase online, but it really is a good idea to give us a call or stop by the showroom to order custom bookcases, especially if they’re over-sized or designed to sit flush against each other. We’ll help you get all the measurements right for your space so they’ll be no surprises when your furniture arrives.
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 27th, 2012 by Kelsey Eaton
Recently Dennis and I had the opportunity to contribute to a blog dedicated to promoting products made in America: USA Love List. This blog has a segment called “The Top 10 Things Made in My Home State” and we represented Vermont. The guidelines were simple: the list had to be exclusively Vermont made products, and our list couldn’t contain more than half food items. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. Vermont has always made high quality products. There are hundreds of companies that as Vermonters we are well aware of and use their products on a daily basis. Our audience narrowed our list down a bit, because we wanted to choose products that are nationally known. However, it was still extremely difficult to limit our list to just 10 products made in Vermont. In the future, we will continue to post on the Vermont Woods Studios blog about products made in Vermont, because there are too many good ones that we don’t want to leave out! For now, here is the original list of Vermont made products that was published on the USA Love List blog on October 24.
Vermont’s quaint landscape and travel are what typically give our Green Mountain State some national attention, but our products are pretty buzz-worthy too! Vermont has always been industrious and innovative, which is why it was so hard to narrow down our list to just 10 items. Here are some of our best Vermont made products that we simply could not leave out.
1. Wood Furniture- Vermont’s history of furniture making spans over 200 years. This handed-down tradition of crafting solid, functional, and lasting furniture pieces has continued into the present day, and has made Vermont the fine furniture capital of the United States. There are over 2,500 furniture makers in the state, and including the large household names like Copeland Furniture and Lyndon Furniture.
2. Maple Syrup- For many, Vermont is synonymous with maple syrup. Vermont is the largest producer of pure maple syrup in the United States, and Vermonters use maple syrup in just about everything we cook. We put it in our coffee, glaze our meats with it, and use it as a substitute for white sugar. You won’t find any of the fake stuff (with ingredients you can’t pronounce) in our refrigerators — we like nature’s recipe better!
3. Ben & Jerry’s- Ever head of them? This ice cream company started in Burlington, Vermont in 1978. Ben & Jerry’s is known for their quirky flavors like Chubby Hubby, Phish Food, and Americone Dream. Today you can get Ben & Jerry’s ice cream all over the world, but the ice cream factory is located in Waterbury, Vermont. Come visit the factory, and pay your respect to ice cream flavors of the past in the flavor graveyard.
4. Cheese- With over 150 varieties to choose from, deciding on a type of cheese seems like an impossible task, but somehow we manage. Vermont is the premium cheese state with the highest number of cheesemakers per capita: over 30 of them! You can find some of our cheeses in your local super market. Keep an eye out for Cabot Cheese and Grafton Village Cheese!
5. Darn Tough- With drastic weather changes in Vermont, the importance of good socks is apparent. Darn Tough has been keeping feet happy for three generations. Their quality socks, made in Northfield, are so darn tough that if they aren’t the most comfortable and durable socks you’ve ever owned, they’ll give you your money back!
6. Vermont Flannel Company- This family owned business has been making apparel in Vermont for over 20 years. In 2010 they were given the Made in the USA Foundation’s Hall of Fame Award for their dedication and commitment to manufacturing in the United States.
7. King Arthur Flour- King Arthur Flour has been making top-quality flour for over 200 years. Not only can you find their flour, baking mixes, and other ingredients in your local super market, but you can also visit their headquarters in Norwich, Vermont. The King Arthur Flour campus is a baker’s paradise!
8. Vermont Teddy Bear- The finest handmade teddy bears are designed, cut, sewn, stuffed, and stitched in Vermont. They make cuddly creatures for all occasions, and even have a Bear-Gram option where they ship a special teddy bear gift to a lucky recipient. If you find yourself in northern Vermont, visit their factory in Burlington.
9. Simon Pearce- This glassblowing, pottery, and home accent company is a great representation of the high-quality artistry of Vermont. You can observe these fine pieces being created in two Vermont locations: Quechee and Windsor.
10. Hubbardton Forge- Although this name may not immediately ring a bell, you’ve probably seen their gorgeous hand-forged lighting in showrooms, magazines, and even on film (like the popular TV show Glee). A team of over 200 people hand-forge these lighting fixtures in Castleton, Vermont.
Did we leave out your favorite product that’s made in Vermont? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page! Hopefully we’ll cover them in a future blog post.
October 23rd, 2012 by Loryn Dion
I have a small confession to make. I, Loryn Dion, am a Pinterest addict. Every time I have a spare minute, I find myself flipping through DIY projects and cooking recipes on my laptop, Kindle, cell phone and even on my TV. It’s a very big problem. One of my favorite ideas that I’ve seen pop up on Pinterest in the last few weeks, and you’ve probably seen it too if you’re an avid Pinterest user like me, is the DIY closet office.
Basically, the closet office is exactly what it sounds like. For modest homes that do not have the luxury of having a separate room for an office, you take a large closet or nook space, outfit it with a desk, chair, filing cabinet and a plethora of shelves and organizers, a little paint and voila! A secret office space that can be closed up when you’re done.
There are a few versions of the office that link to pages telling you about chairs and desks from Ikea or Pottery Barn that would fit perfectly in your spare closet. While it may be true that these pieces will fit in your closet now, in 5-10 years you’re going to be tossing out that “disposable” desk to replace it with a new “disposable” desk that will just fall apart in another 5 years. Plus, these pieces are no friends to the environment. So I’m here to tell you that you can get that dream closet office space with our lifetime guaranteed, eco-friendly, office furniture.
First, I suggest starting with our Cherry Moon Writing Desk. I think it has a nice mission-flair that works well with many styles and has a unique, two-toned drawer pull option. This desk also comes in 5 different sizes to fit whatever shape your closet space is. Also check out our Vermont-Made Shaker Writing Desk if you like these options but prefer a more traditional shaker style.
Next, pick up our Cherry Moon 2-Drawer Vertical File Cabinet for additional, under-desk storage (Or our Vermont Shaker 2 Drawer File Cabinet, if you like the shaker option). If you have the room, browse our customizable book shelves to find a bookcase that will fit in nicely with the style of your closet office.
Now, you can decorate how you’d like (If you’re choosing cherry wood, I would suggest earth tone colors. They look great with cherry wood no matter what age it is) and fill up your space with supplies and appliances (I love thegreenoffice.com. They have some great deals on office supplies that are green and energy efficient).
There you have it! A quick guide to an environmentally-friendly closet office. If you have a closet office or have some great ideas for one, tell us about it in the comments or show us your pictures on our facebook page!
October 18th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Last week we received an enthusiastic email from a family in California thanking us for the great job our moving company (Clark and Reid) did with the delivery of their Vermont made Shaker bedroom set:
“I wanted to let you know what a wonderful experience I had with your movers. I had one of your beds shipped to my vacation home in the Sierras. Because the road is very steep and winding, Clark and Reid needed to bring the bed in a special shuttle, the cost of which they covered. Also, I wasn’t able to be present at the house at the time a driver was available to make the delivery, and was able to arrange to have a concierge service meet the driver and let him into the house to assemble the bed. Clark and Reid offered to reimburse me for the cost of the service (up to $75).
I was told by the concierge that the driver was very professional and efficient. He arrived on time and handled all the details of moving and assembly. It was a pleasure to purchase furniture from you and to work with such an excellent shipper. Thank you so much! Best Regards, Debbie D
We love hearing your Vermont made furniture stories and reviews, whether they’re about the delivery experience or the good times you share around the dining table with family and friends. Keep ‘em coming! You’re helping us make our systems better. In this case, the comments went to straight to Clark and Reid where the driver and his manager reviewed them together (maybe someone will even get a well-deserved raise). Other comments have helped us improve the quality of our Shaker furniture and the logistics needed to get it from the forest to your living room.
So help us Movers and Shakers by sending in feedback about your new Vermont handmade furniture. Use the comments section below, email us or connect using our Facebook. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
October 16th, 2012 by Loryn Dion
This week in our green interior design column, we’re talking about nesting tables. Earlier this year, House and Home magazine listed nesting tables and other small accent tables as a “must-have” in their 2012 Decorating Trends issue. Not only are nesting tables trendy and unique, but they’re also great for homes with limited space. Nesting tables allow you the versatility of having three separate tables while only taking up the space of one. These tables would be great to bring out during parties as floating tables for drinks or even as a tray for food. The possibilities are endless with these magic tables.
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, you can find nesting tables that do their job as convenient space-savers and, as an added bonus, they are environmentally friendly and made right here in Vermont.
Our New England Shaker Nesting Tables are traditional and simple, designed to match any home decor. With clean lines and dovetail joinery, these tables are meant to be displayed. With your purchase, you’ll receive 3 nesting tables in your choice of cherry. maple, oak or walnut woods. I’ll also point out that with our current sale (ending today!), you’ll be able to save up to 20%*.
If you’re looking for more of a modern twist on nesting tables, check out our Copeland Coonley Nesting End Tables. With two sleek nesting tables crafted in natural cherry wood, you’ll add twice the luxury and class to any room. Part of Copelands Frank Lloyd Wright Collection, these tables embody the styling of the modern architect.