The Mystery of the Big Tree Elf

Last updated on October 12th, 2022 at 09:51 pm

Vermont Tree Society | Conserving Champion Trees in the Green Mountain State
 In doing some research, trying to figure out where this anonymous gift came from, I discovered a couple articles about Loona Brogan.  Loona’s a naturalist in Plainfield, responsible for starting the Vermont Big Tree Society.

Who put this Vermont Big Tree Society 2004 calendar on my desk over the weekend? What a pleasant surprise to see while un-bundling (that’s winter outerwear not cable TV or software programs) on this icy cold Monday morning.  Whoever the Big Tree Elf is, he or she left the calendar open to the August 2004 month where a beautiful photo of our Stonehurst champion Sassafras tree was featured in all it’s glory.

Well we happen to think it’s glorious, anyway.  To others it might look a little nerdy and decrepit but it’s still a beloved old tree and the largest of it’s species in all of Vermont.  I learned from the calendar that the Sassafras is an intolerant (of shade) tree which is common as a pioneer (a hardy species that’s the first to colonize previously disrupted or damaged ecosystems, beginning a chain of ecological succession that ultimately leads to a more biodiverse steady-state ecosystem, ref: wikipedia).    It’s one of only a few tree species whose leaves come in 3 different shapes.  Plus it’s fragrant and the roots can be used to make sassafras tea!

Sassafras Tree | Vernon Vermont | Big Tree Champion
Last summer, our Windham County Forester Bill Guenther led the 20th Annual Big Tree Tour and stopped by to show his group of treehuggers our sassafras at Stonehurst.

Are you surprised to see how much Vermonters love their trees?  As furniture makers, working with sustainably harvested wood we are especially interested in Vermont’s big trees and the issue of sustainable forestry throughout the Green Mountain State (and beyond).  Vermont Woods Studios was founded on the principles of forest conservation.  Last year we received a $100,000 grant from the states Working Lands Initiative to further our efforts in promoting sustainable forests and the eco-friendly Vermont made furniture produced from them.

Fellow treehuggers– stop by Stonehurst to see Vermont’s biggest sassafras tree.  Then come in and enjoy a cup of tea or hot cider as you browse through the gallery of fine furniture that Vermonter’s are making out of sustainably harvested New England wood.

And whoever the Big Tree elf is, I am sending a million thanks out to you.  Please reveal your identity on our Facebook!

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, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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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.

All I Ever Wanted Was To Be Marlin Perkins

Last updated on November 10th, 2017 at 02:27 pm

Marlin Perkins, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom
Marlin Perkins, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

If you’re under 50 you probably don’t know who Marlin Perkins was.  When I was a kid, my whole family would sit in front of the TV on Sunday nights and watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom*.  Marlin Perkins was the host— kind of a 1960s version of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

Marlin was always venturing into exotic places like the African savannah or the Amazon rainforest, filming wild animals in their natural habitats.  Orangutans, gorillas, kangaroos, pythons, lions, tigers, bears… the whole shebang. He would be holding a chimp and talking about conservation and… oh how I wanted to be him!  Cuddling up with a tiger cub, rescuing a couple orphaned bear cubs — what could be better?

Although I didn’t end up majoring in zoology or doing research for Jane Goodall, my passion for wildlife conservation has stayed with me.  Like most people I went for a “more practical career” and decided to pursue my passion as a hobby.  I visited zoos and natural history museums whenever I could.  I studied wildlife news in National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and other green publications. I poured my support into wildlife conservation non-profits.

But the real fun didn’t start along until Kendall and Riley came along.  How convenient?  It seems little boys love wildlife!  We camped out in local beaver ponds and vernal pools getting to know the resident turtles, frogs, salamanders, snakes and such.  We made trips to the rainforest, adopted snakes and started a non-profit called Kids Saving the Planet.  Our adventures in Vermont’s forests and in the Central American rainforests eventually led to the creation of Vermont Woods Studios Sustainable Furniture.   More about that in my next post.

 

* and the Wonderful World of Disney and Ed Sullivan Show, of course

The Vermont Furniture 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, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

 

 

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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.

Maintaining the Hand Rubbed Finish on Your Furniture

Last updated on January 19th, 2018 at 02:23 pm

How to Maintain the Hand Rubbed Finish on Your Cherry Wood Furniture
The Vermont Shaker Moon bedroom set above is finished with hand rubbed linseed oil.  The craftsman recommends a few special care instructions to keep the wood soft and supple.

One of the hallmarks of Vermont furniture is the finely sanded wood and hand rubbed finish.  When you run your hands along the top of these chests or the foot board of this shaker bed, it almost feels like skin– very soft and smooth.  So we spend a lot of time talking with customers about how to maintain that beautiful finish after your furniture arrives at home.  Like a fine wine, a hand rubbed finish will improve with age.  Here are a few tips to care for it.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions for Re-oiling

First check with the furniture maker to see what oil was initially applied and what is recommended for maintenance.  For example, the Vermont Shaker Moon bedroom set above is finished with hand rubbed linseed oil.  The furniture maker recommends these special care instructions:

When you receive your furniture it may be tacky from the oil finish we have applied in the studio.  The entire piece should be wiped with a clean, soft, lint-free cotton cloth.  Do not use commercially available polishes or waxes.  Wood remains a live medium and can tend to dry out over time.  For maintenance– pure, non-toxic linseed oil (such as this Tried and True finish) or any high quality furniture oil (without petroleum dryers or thinners) should be applied immediately after delivery and again every 3-12 months*.  Regular oiling will deepen the hand rubbed finish while enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.  It will also restore the finish over scratches.  Good quality oil products are widely available in better hardware stores.  With minor care, this furniture will be enjoyed for years and likely generations to come. More furniture care instructions here.

Routine Cleaning

Whether your wood furniture has a hand rubbed oil finish, a lacquer or poly, routine cleaning will keep it looking good.  With an oil finish, it’s especially important to clean up spills quickly before the liquid penetrates into the fibers of the wood.  Learn more about dusting (damp cloth or dry?), polishing and cleaning up spills on our furniture care website.

Humidity and Lighting

Wood is sensitive to changes in relative humidity. As the weather changes, so does the relative humidity in your home and in the moisture content of the wood in your furniture.  This means that furniture is constantly expanding and contracting.  Most furniture makers recommend conditions of around 70°F-72°F and a relative humidity of about 50-55% to keep your furniture looking good and lasting a long time.

Many woods, especially cherry are sensitive to light and will change colors when exposed to high intensity light or even sunlight for long periods of time.  Here are some tips for controlling light exposure and humidity on the furniture care page of our website.

* How often should you re-apply an oil finish?  The furniture aficionado’s rule of thumb is: once upon arrival into your home, then once/week for a month, then once/month for a year, then once per year thereafter.  Sounds like a lot of oiling but you’ll end up with the most beautiful patina you can imagine!

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.

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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.

My Boss is a Cat

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 02:09 pm

My Boss is a Cat
She’s fat, bossy and demanding but when it comes to tough decisions –nobody puts Pepper in a corner.   Article originally posted on medium.com

Editors note: OK, this is really me (Peggy) but I found this old photo of our Marketing Manager Dennis Shanoff and it got me wondering how we ever survived the early days of start-up.

Eight years ago I started this online furniture store. I had no experience with ecommerce— or any sort of business for that matter. I am a chemist by education and a teacher by trade. I had recently lost my job, I was approaching my 50th birthday and I decided my next career was going to be my last. Thirty years after graduating from high school I would finally take the advice my guidance counselor offered: “follow your passion”.

Fast forward a few years after (a slow) start-up. I’ve just hired a “Marketing Manager”, Dennis Shanoff. It’s his first day on the job. I’m imagining this conversation he’s texting to his wife:

Dennis Shanoff: My boss is a cat

Susan: huh?

Dennis: sends selfie (above)

Susan: lol

Dennis: I’m sitting at a desk in this lady’s spare bedroom trying to figure out how I’m going to build a furniture brand around her passion

Susan: which is?

Dennis: saving the rainforest

Susan: from Vermont?

Dennis: most furniture is made from rainforest woods. Peggy’s trying to raise awareness about that and promote sustainable Vermont made furniture instead

Susan: OK so it’s a stretch. Don’t panic

Susan: Yet

Luckily Dennis didn’t panic. Four years after what must have been an unnerving first day at work, Dennis Shanoff has helped transform a fledgling start-up that no one believed would ever get off the ground, into a small business with a reasonable chance of long-term survival.

I don’t think our story is that atypical for small businesses in Vermont or throughout America for that matter. It’s full of hopes and dreams and absurdity. Luck, misfortune and determination. But more than anything it’s a story of how a small group of disparate entrepreneurs managed to leverage their differences in an effort to change the world.

My friend Annette thinks I should start reflecting on this unorthodox journey with Vermont Woods Studios and share my memories here and on Medium.com. Maybe others with a passion to make the world a better place will find or offer encouragement. Think?  Let me know (on Facebook or in the comments section below) if you’d be interested to read more start-up stories about Dennis, Douglas, Ken and the gang.

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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.

Wintry Scenes from Stonehurst

Winter in Vermont | Stonehurst is Warm and Toasty on the Inside

This is for Sally, Pam, Ellen, Annette, Mo and all our friends from the South and West who have escaped this year’s good old fashioned Vermont winter.  Today’s storm took a break this morning just in time for me to snap this photo of the furniture showroom and art gallery we call Stonehurst.  It was 5F when I got to work today but warm and toasty inside.

The sleds are ready.  But where are the riders?  Snug and warm with no intention of going outside in the 5F weather today.

Plenty of toboggans and sleds are out on the back porch, ready for action.  But where are our young, hearty, adventurous riders?  No need for a membership to Outer Limits this winter, Sean.  Just bring your boots to work and trade your lunch for a couple good runs down the ski slopes.  I’ll go too and we’ll share the prize for biggest loser in the 2014 weight loss challenge.  Any teasing from Liz, Michelle and Loryn will surely cease and desist when we walk in all strong and fit.

The outdoor wood boiler that keeps us warm in the winter

Here’s Ken’s baby.  This Central Boiler Outdoor Wood Furnace from Temple Plumbing and Heating in Putney keeps us warm and toasty all winter long.   A green source of energy, it’s fed by wood from around the grounds at Stonehurst.  The furnace supplies a radiant heating system under the floorboards throughout the furniture showroom.

Shoes are not required at this furniture showroom

So that’s what Stonehurst looks like today.  Stop by and see for yourself.  Sean has hot chocolate and his own homemade cookies waiting for you.  Shoes are not required inside the showroom.

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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.

Looking Back at 2013

Last updated on January 2nd, 2014 at 09:31 am

2013 Year in Reivew for Vermont Furniture Store
2013 went by faster than Michelle’s girls sledding down the hill at Pine Top (now the Stonehurst fine furniture showroom and art gallery).

Much has happened to our little Vermont furniture store in 2013.  Most notably, we’re no longer housed at George’s Mill,  adjacent to the Vernon post office.  2013 brought continued growth that gave us enough confidence to expand into a permanent location.

Stonehurst is our new home– a 200 year old farmhouse sited on Pine Top, a former ski area in Southeastern Vermont.  Citing our furniture showroom on a scenic 100 acre forested lot helps us raise awareness about our mission of forest conservation and show customers where their furniture comes from.  It was this concept that the state of Vermont supported through a $100,000 competitively awarded 2013 Working Lands grant that helped us complete Stonehurst renovations 2 years ahead of schedule.

Other progress in 2013 included adding a fine art gallery to our offerings.  In addition to expanding our Vermont made furniture selection, we’re proud to offer original artwork by many important Vermont artists including Susan Osgood, Linda Marcille, Georgie Runkle, Donna Scully and Janet Picard.

Another 2013 showroom (and website) addition was Vermont made home decor.  We now carry handcrafted ceramics by Brattleboro artist Laura Zindel and Vernon potter Bronna Zlochiver, kitchen accessories by JK Adams of Dorset, textiles by Donna Tosi of Vernon and Cricket Radio of Shelburne and hand-turned pens by Micah Ranquist of West Brattleboro.  New artisans are joining us frequently to increase the variety of Vermont made home decor accessories we can make available at Stonehurst.

2013 also brought many important upgrades to our website, thanks to Neville and Martin up in our genius room.  As a new employee in 2013 Martin, was joined by Michelle (in Sales and Customer Service) and Kelsey and Nina (in Marketing).  We feel very lucky to have them join the Vermont Woods Studios family!

After 8 years of building this sustainable furniture business– in 2013 we are finally in a space that’s truly worthy of the beautiful handcrafted furniture Vermont is so famous for.   With customers journeying here from all across the country, we can finally say “Come to Stonehurst.  It’s worth the trip”.

We are immensely grateful to our creative and hard-working staff for making this 2013 progress possible.  Although we’ve come a long way, we know that in many ways our efforts have just begun.  In 2013 we built it.  In 2014 we have to make sure they come.  Please help us spread the word!  Join us on Facebook or in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on Vermont’s sustainable furniture and/or the Stonehurst experience.

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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.

I’m Dreaming of a Homemade Christmas Cookie

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 04:50 pm

Carol's Christmas Cookies
Carol’s Christmas Cookies

We are so lucky at Vermont Woods StudiosNeville’s wife Carol surprises us with delicious treats every now and then.  This week:  Christmas cookies and a loaf of stollen.  Which is your favorite?  Sugar cookies, nut cups, chocolate chips, brownies, gingerbread?

If this is making you hungry and you’re not on Carol’s “Nice List,” not to worry.  Check out Vermont Cookie Love.  They offer “fresh-baked cookies that we ship the same day they come out of the oven. Or if you want the optimum hot-out-of-the-oven experience, you can buy our frozen cookie dough and bake the cookies yourself. Our cookie dough is all natural, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. We source ingredients that are non-GMO, we use no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and cookies baked from our dough contain 0 grams trans fat.”

Christmas Cookie Love from Vermont
Vermont Cookie Love ships fresh cookies straight from the oven to your kitchen table.  

Could be the next best thing to Carol’s cookies.  What do you think?  Let us know on Facebook or stop by Stonehurst, our new fine furniture showroom and art gallery in Vernon, Vermont.  Better be quick though– I’m not sure how long these irresistible Christmas cookies are going to be around.

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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.

American Made Furniture: Top 3 Styles in 2019

Last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 07:59 pm

2013, our first year at Stonehurst gave us another reason to study and analyze what our customers’ favorite American made furniture styles are.  With limited space in our showroom, we wanted to display the very best selection of Vermont furniture, as defined by customer purchases.  After looking through the sales statistics, we found these Top 3 American Furniture styles, which we’ll be featuring often at Stonehurst:

Shaker Furniture was the top selling style in 2013

Shaker Style Furniture

This Vermont Shaker bed, nightstand and chest are pretty accurate reproductions of the original Shaker style furniture crafted by communities of the United Society of Believers starting in the late 1700’s.  Born here in the Northeast, this American furniture style is a simple, utilitarian design characterized by straight tapered legs and mushroom-shaped wooden knobs.  Vermont furniture makers have become today’s authority on Shaker furniture and customers seeking a simple elegant, solid wood design have grown to love their work.  It’s our top seller and customers are customizing it in their choice of cherry, walnut, maple and oak woods (preference is in that order).  Sometimes customers will choose two contrasting wood colors like cherry and walnut or maple and walnut to trick it out– if there is such a thing for “Shaker furniture”.

Craftsman style furniture, handmade in Vermont | Stonehurst Fine Furniture Gallery

Craftsman Style Furniture

This Contemporary Craftsman Bedroom Furniture collection is a modern rendition of the American craftsman and “arts and crafts” furniture that became popular in the late 19th century and remained prevalent through the 1930s.  It’s handmade of real solid cherry wood with contrasting drawer pulls in solid walnut wood and reflects the true craftsmanship of this period.  The finish on this collection is a traditional hand-rubbed oil and wax.  If you like this contemporary craftsman style furniture, learn more about the details and craftsmanship here.

Mission Style Furniture | American Made in Vermont | Real Solid Wood | Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Maple

Mission Style Furniture

This mission sofa table and mission dining chair have the rectilinear design and heavy proportion characteristic of Mission style furniture which became popular in the late 19 century. At Vermont Woods Studios we have a traditional American Mission Furniture collection and a Modern Mission Furniture collection, both constructed of real solid woods in your choice of traditional oak or cherry, walnut or maple woods.

Stop by our new fine furniture showroom at Stonehurst anytime to see what we’ve got on hand in our customers’ favorite furniture styles: Shaker, Craftsman and Mission furniture.

 

 

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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.

The Ultimate Cherry Storage Bed

Last updated on December 3rd, 2013 at 03:46 pm

The biggest, best cherry storage bed you'll ever find
This beautiful cherry storage bed* is  a customized version of our Modern Incline Bed and our Cherry Moon Dressers.  It’s handcrafted in a small workshop in Montpelier, VT using solid cherry wood with black walnut accents, all coated with a hand-rubbed, natural linseed oil finish.  Stop by our new fine furniture showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst to see it! 

Customized Furniture

The large Cherry Moon Storage Bed you’re looking at is a one-of-a-kind custom creation*.  As with much of our furniture, this bed is a customized version of other pieces.  In this case our Modern Incline Bed has been combined with our 8 Drawer Cherry Moon Dresser.  The resulting storage bed was handcrafted in a small workshop just north of here in Montpelier, VT.  Robin and his craftspeople used all solid cherry wood with black walnut accents, and coated it with a hand-rubbed, natural linseed oil finish.  The bed headboard has a nice, gentle incline which makes reading or watching TV in bed super comfy.

Storage Solutions for Small Spaces

Large storage beds have become popular with our Manhattan, Boston and Washington DC based clientele.  They are a real space saver in urban apartments and townhomes.  Worried about getting it up the elevator?  No problem!  Free shipping and white glove delivery is included in the price.  And of course, Robin built this storage bed so it’s easily disassembled and reassembled when moving is necessary.

Merry Christmas, Here’s Your New Bed!

I think this is the Ultimate Cherry Storage Bed– it has 8 large drawers for storage!  And unlike most of our furniture that is made to order, this bed is currently in our showroom and ready to be shipped to your home immediately.  I daresay if you’re in New England, you could be sleeping on it for Christmas.  You’d better hurry though because there’s only one of these babies and it’s on sale for 30% off.  Here’s an idea: if you want it and think you might get in trouble for indulging, you could do what Ken always does to me… give it to your partner as a gift, right?  Something to think about…

* Post Script – Sorry This Custom Storage Bed Did Indeed Sell Today

But we could make another one just like it, if you’re willing to wait for the customization.  Give us a call to get things started!

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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.

Susan Osgood: Brattleboro Artist’s Egyptian Show

EGYPT IN THE ART OF SUSAN OSGOOD
Brattleboro based artist Susan Osgood prepares for gallery opening at the University of Porto’s exhibition gallery in Porto, Portugal along with fellow artist Eberhard Dziobek.  You can also see a nice selection of Susan’s original artwork at Stonehurst, Vermont’s newest Fine Furniture and Art Gallery.

Tomb KV 63, is the first Egyptian tomb to be discovered in Luxor, since King Tut’s tomb in 1922.  A major event in history and it was recorded by Brattlboro’s own, artist Susan Osgood.  We’ve highlighted Susan’s work before but now we wanted to let you know that she’s currently being celebrated at the University of Porto’s exhibition galleries, in Porto, Portugal through December 20, 2013.  Here’s your excuse for a holiday trip to Europe!

Susan Osgood | Brattleboro Vermont Artist | Egyptian Art | KV 63
It’s exciting to see Susan’s name on the marquis at the University of Porto’s exhibition gallery in Porto, Portugal.  Her exhibition runs from now until Dec 20. 

First jump on over to Susan’s new Facebook page to see behind the scenes details of the exhibition.  Susan has been working in Luxor at the KV 63 tomb site on and off for several years, drawing the coffins “under remains of workmen’s huts, down a 20-foot shaft, in a rock cut chamber along with two gilded coffinettes and 28 large sealed ceramic storage jars”.  Her drawing process begins at the temple wall, penciling over hieroglyphs and figures on a large black and white photograph of the scene.  Often the work is completed in Vermont at Susan’s Brattleboro studio which, fortunately for us, is quite close to our fine furniture and art gallery in Vernon, VT.  So if you can’t make the trip to Portugal, come see Susan Osgood’s original artwork at Stonehurst It’s a great opportunity to see (and purchase) world class art in your own backyard.

 

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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.