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.
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!
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:
Original wood floors were too fragile to reuse, but Bob Furlone’s American Construction crew (Scott Strong Superintendent, Martha Ratcliff, Chuck Johns, Patrick Devens, Howard Bassett, Ketch Greene) were able to salvage, clean and re-purpose them as beautiful rustic ceilings
Interior painting and some exterior painting was done by W R Painting Inc in Ashulot, NH
Exterior painting was also done by Moe Momany Painting in Brattleboro, VT
Slate floors were mined in Poultney, VT and installed by Albert diBiccari of AD Ceramic Tile, Marlborough NH
Local excavator, Carey Tyler of Tyler Excavation did all the site work
A handful of trees had to be taken down because they were leaning over the building. Turner and Renaud Tree Service fell the trees and local sawyer, Vince Johnson brought his portable sawmill over to slice and dice the wood. That wood has been used in construction where possible. The black locust in this post will be used to make a deck behind Stonehurst.
Masonry, stone wall repair and construction of the new stone wall along our ADA accessible ramp out front was artfully performed by Scott Sartoria of SKS Masonry in Keene, NH
A new standing seam metal roof over the renovated sections of Stonehurst was installed by Rohr Cook of Chester, VT. Soon Rohr will be repairing the old slate roof on the other side of Stonehurst
Landscaping is being designed now by Gordon Hayward of Hayward Gardens in Putney, VT. Torben Larsen of Windham Growers in Putney VT will be installing stone pathways, trees, shrubs and gardens. Our fabulous crew of summer interns have been helping with landscaping. They are Jimmy Mills and Douglas’ children– Trenton, Taegen and Tristan Fletcher.
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!
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!
Mike Rainville, Leader of Maple Landmark and VWMA
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.
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, Hanukkah and Holiday Gifts
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?
We introduced our eco-friendly Contemporary Cable Collection just a couple weeks ago but this high end, modern metal and wood furniture is already becoming a best seller. Customers shopping for a unique blend of Vermont style craftsmanship and sophisticated urban design are studying this furniture set. They like the clean look, the inlaid aluminum accent bars and the braided stainless steel drawer pulls.
One of our designer friends found this solid wood furniture to be the perfect answer for clients who are moving into a renovated factory space in Montreal. Their luxury apartment has concrete floors and exposed metal duct work suspended from an 18 foot tall ceiling. The owners wanted high end, natural wood furniture to warm up their space but they also wanted to incorporate some of the post-industrial character of the room. The combination of solid wood, aluminum inlays and stainless steel cable drawer pulls in the furniture set brings the whole design concept together.
Green Design Considerations
The fact that the Contemporary Cable Collection is built with sustainably harvested wood and finished with a natural hand-rubbed oil was also important to these home owners. They had made conscious decisions to go green in their selection of a renovated dwelling that was part of a neighborhood revitalization project. So handmade, natural furniture fits into the green lifestyle they are embracing.
What do you think about this metal and wood furniture? Would it fit into your bedroom design?