Try celebrating Valentines Day in Vermont! Your romantic adventures could include anything from a visit to master craftsman Steve Holman’s studio to getting married on the slopes of your favorite ski resort.
Steve’s one of our favorite Vermont artisans, crafting the impossible out of wood and transforming it into beautiful, often whimsical furniture. Every Valentine’s Day I think of Steve’s bright red, heart-shaped chair. Wouldn’t this be a show-stopper gift for your honey on a day like today?
If you’re looking for an outdoorsy agenda for Valentines Day, how about a trip to Mount Snow for the second annual Cloud Nine Nuptials? Last year 20 couples renewed their vows and three couples tied the knot for the first time at the summit of Mt Snow. The event is free, taking place on the Cloud Nine trail where a local justice of the peace conducts a ceremony around a giant heart painted on the snow.
For more Vermont Valentines Day activities, check out Ski Vermont or stop by Vermont Teddy Bear where you can buy the world’s most expensive teddy bear. It’s the Big Hunka Love Bear and he goes for $30,000 including the 6 carat diamond ring he’s wearing.
What are you doing for your sweatheart for Valentine's Day? How about a Vermont Teddy Bear or a romantic weekend getaway in Vermont?
For the ultimate in luxury check out Twin Farms, an "an intimate country hideaway set amid 300 acres of meadows and woodlands in an unspoiled valley, 15 minutes north of Woodstock, VT." Besides all the other superlatives, Twin Farms has one of the best reputations in the Northeast for its natural, local organic cuisine. After dining you can indulge in a luxurious spa treatment before retiring to your own private suite or cottage. Rates are all-inclusive and start at around $1500/night or $43,000 if you'd like to rent the whole place.
If that's a bit over your budget or you're not able to travel out of the city for Valentine's Day, here are a couple other gift suggestions. How about Vermont Teddy Bear's Big Hunka Love Bear? It's made right here in Vermont and the company is involved in many charitable initiatives in the local community and beyond.
In the organic and fair trade department, we have Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Chocolate Truffles, fresh all natural chocolates, made in Burlington, Vermont. And Laughing Moon Chocolates made in Stowe, VT with locally sourced products whenever possible.
Now if you REALLY want to show up on Valentine's Day with a truly unforgettable showstopper of a gift then I think you might have to consider commissioning Vermont's premiere luxury furniture artisan, Steve Holman to craft one of his Valentine's Day Heart Chairs for the love of your life. We'll post the details about this heart-warming conversation piece on Valentine's Day.
Yesterday we were discussing the different types of furniture that people call "custom wood furniture". My last post was about Made To Order Wood Furniture and Customized Wood Furniture. Today I wanted to distinguish these from true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Here are my thoughts:
- True Custom Wood Furniture is unique furniture that's made more deliberately and artfully than customized furniture. Usually, you'll want to work directly with the furniture maker if you're purchasing custom wood furniture because it's born from a collaboration between you, the customer and the furniture maker. Custom furniture is more expensive than customized furniture and for many good reasons. Design of custom furniture can take enormous amounts of time and several iterations before the furniture maker even progresses from the drawing board into the studio. Wood selection is also a time-intensive process with the woodworker hand-selecting each board for the proper grain, color, match, size and shape. Building a custom piece– well, it just takes, time, time, time. It's all about detail and custom pieces haven't been done exactly like this before (they're unique) so every step along the way is a little challenging. But the result with a custom piece is perfection, or near perfection anyway. And each piece is signed by its creator. If you're someone who truly understands and appreciates the fine detail of a custom piece, this is the way to go. It's not unusual for the price of a custom piece to be twice as much or more than a similar "made to order" or customized piece but the cost is a worthy investment for those who understand its enduring value.
- Custom Artisan Wood Furniture– well this is yet another notch up from true custom wood furniture. It's an ultra luxury. It's a piece of functional art. It's museum quality furniture that is a privilege to own. Lucky for us, Vermont is home to some of the world's most talented custom furniture artisans like Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Kit Clark and others, many of whom belong to the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. Check out their websites and their blogs to understand how truly special and unique their furniture is. We work with these master craftspeople on a referral basis. When customers come to us looking to invest substantially and commission custom artisan furniture we help them find the artisan who is best suited to their needs. Usually it's based mainly on their style preference and the specific types of expertise and equipment needed to achieve their vision. But often other factors enter the decision including time constraints, budget, wood species, FSC or LEED criteria and such. We also take into account the personalities involved to make sure the experience is enjoyable, stress-free and enriching for both the customer and the artisan. Lastly, we negotiate a fair price so both parties achieve a win. Vermont Woods Studios was actually started as a company that would focus almost exclusively on marketing this important part of Vermont's heritage and culture.
So I hope this helps to better define "custom wood furniture" and draw a distinction between: made to order wood furniture, customized wood furniture, true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Customers often ask why the price of one of our pieces may be drastically different from another, when the two pieces look similar at first glance. The answer lies in the amount of time and expertise involved as well as the quality of the wood and hardware. At Vermont Woods Studios we're always happy to discuss these details and refer customers directly to our furniture makers when we've reached the limit of our own expertise. Learn more about commissioning custom wood furniture here.
By Dennis Shanoff
Customers and fans of Vermont Woods Studios know us not only for our heirloom quality wood furniture but also for our unique artisan furniture offerings. And while we feel our mainstay traditional craftsman make the very best “everyday” wood furniture, there is also an extremely talented “one of a kind” wood furniture artisan population in Vermont that we also represent and showcase. Here is where art meets function.
So a few weeks ago I took a scenic trip up to Dorset, Vermont to pay a visit to Steve Holman, one of our custom artisans to check in and see first hand what he has been up to lately. And while “business travel” can be a chore or hassle this trip was considered a pleasure! Even though it’s a 2 hour drive, traveling via country roads through farms and forests is much better then having to hop on a major interstate and count exits! And it’s hard to beat the ride up Route 30 from Brattleboro towards Manchester for its scenic beauty and interesting stops. Plus Dorset is just a quick 6 or so miles north of Manchester, VT a worthy destination in itself.
Well Steve’s home and workshop is just a bit down a dirt road right off of Route 30 and when I rolled into Steve’s driveway I was instantly envious of his “workplace”! Steve has a beautiful home and a great detached barn for a workshop. Not to mention the beautiful grounds these structures are sighted on. It’s a tranquil, beautiful setting with a 50 foot walk to work each day for Steve. Hard not to like his “nine to five”!
Steve is ever busy but always gracious with his time. I was able to get the full tour and learn more about his journey to this point. Seems Steve skipped joining the family’s very successful luxury car business and followed the path of his instincts and passion. You have to admire his forgoing the likely ensured success route and braving into the unknown waters of custom and artistic work. And when Steve says he never builds the same piece of furniture twice, he is not kidding. And we are not talking about subtle variations across one style here. His work is eclectic indeed, from traditional to ultra modern. You can put 10 of his furniture pieces in one room and most would think it was made by 10 different craftsmen. But what is consistent across his work however is the uniqueness, beauty, and impeccable craftsmanship.
This day I found Steve working on a custom vanity destined for a high end home. After Steve succinctly chronicled the past 30 years and showed me around his workshop we headed over to the attached gallery. Steve keeps some of his showpieces and built on spec pieces here. And it just so happens that his wife Georgine MacGarvey is a fine artist as well but she works in oils and pastels. Her paintings are on display here as well as in a Dorset Village gallery. Here I got to see and put my hands on some truly unique and beautiful furniture pieces.
Come see for yourself. Steve welcomes visitors and many of his clients like to stop in and see their commissioned work in progress. For those that are unable to make the trek, Steve takes plenty of pictures for them throughout the build process. But if you do make the trek, leave yourself plenty of extra time. There is so much to see and do in this part of Vermont that you don’t want to wish you left more time for exploration.
This is very special furniture indeed. It is your piece alone, no one else will have the same. Perhaps you are the type where it’s important to have a special attachment to or story surrounding some of your possessions. If so and you are in search of a really special furniture piece this is a great place to start
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:
Sorry to interrupt our train of thought on the Manifesto, but this too is very urgent. What have you done for Valentine's Day? It's not just for your one true love, you know. Here's a link to World Wildlife Fund's free Valentine's email cards to help you out in recognizing all the special green people in your life.
Oh and a reminder for those on a more generous budget. You can still surprise the love of your life with the gift of our heart-shaped chair handcrafted by Steve Holman. This figured maple chair with velvety red upholstery can be customized to include your names, date or other creative personal touches. Like your enduring devotion, these heirloom chairs will be around forever – or at least for generations!