President Obama's Limo | Handmade in Vermont
President Obama’s personalized Presidential Limo handcrafted in Vermont by Maple Landmark of Middlebury.  Congratulations to Mike Rainville and his staff for the impressive feat of producing 500 of these 2013 inauguration souvenirs in record time.

President Obama’s Limos

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.

Mike Rainville of Maple Landmark Toys | President Obama's Limos
Mike Rainville gave us a tour of Maple Landmark Toys.  His traditional wooden toys and trains are handcrafted one by one in Middlebury Vermont by Mike, his family members and a dedicated group of 30 employees.  Mike started the toy factory in his parent’s basement (when he was 14) using scraps from his grandfather’s carpentry projects.

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.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Custom Bookcases, Bookshelves, Glass Doors, Wood Doors, No Doors

Custom bookcases might not be on the top of your Christmas list.  But 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.  Learn more and shop for solid wood bookcases with full length glass doors, half length glass doors, full length wooden doors, half length wooden doors or no doors on our website.

Getting Organized with Custom Bookcases

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.

Glass Doors, Wooden Doors or No Doors

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?

One Big Bookshelf or a Couple Small Ones?

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.

Measure Twice and Cut Once

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.

Learn more and shop for solid wood bookcases with full length glass doors, half length glass doors, full length wooden doors, half length wooden doors or no doors on our website.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Custom Made Wood Hats - Handcrafted in Vermont
Custom Made Wood Hats – Handcrafted in Vermont by Johannes Michelsen

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.

Styles of Wood 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.

Wooden Hats | Handcrafted in Vermont
Johannes Michelsen and his Madrone Crusher Hat.

How To Make Wood Hats

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.

Schedule of Wood Hat Crafting Courses

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?

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture | Wood and Metal Design
With it’s creative combination of wood and metal, the Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture set is a best seller among interior designers looking to furnish renovated industrial spaces that are now upscale apartments and condos.

Metal and Wood Furniture Design

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.

Metal and Wood Furniture | Modern Bedroom Set | American Made in Vermont
This handcrafted Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture Collection features real solid cherry wood construction, aluminum accent bars inlaid into drawer fronts and braided stainless steel drawer pulls.  The combination of wood and metal is a creative solution for interior designers looking to add warmth to renovated industrial spaces and loft apartments.

Warm Wooden Furniture Meets Renovated Industrial Factory Spaces

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.

Contemporary Cable Bed | High End Wood and Metal Furniture | Sustainable | Handmade
The combination of solid cherry wood, a natural hand-rubbed oil finish and braided stainless steel lines across the headboard and foot board of the Contemporary Cable Bed pulls together typical wood and metal design elements of renovated industrial factory spaces.

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?

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Made Products

Here are some of our favorite Vermont Made Products

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.

 10 Things We Love: Made in Vermont

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.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.