Vermont’s Working Lands Initiative: Our Proposal

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Vermont Working Landscape Grant
This is the “backyard” of Stonehurst, our future Vermont made furniture gallery and nature center.  We’ve applied for a grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to close the final funding gap so we can complete Stonehurst renovations by mid-summer.

What do you love best about Vermont?  Our maple syrup?  Organic cheese?  Skiing or snowboarding?  Mountain climbing?  Our farm to plate restaurants?  Chances are whatever your favorites are in Planet Vermont, they are here for you because of Vermont’s working landscape.  That’s the term Vermonters are using to refer to the Green Mountain state’s pastoral forests and fields– and there’s a concerted effort afoot to ensure they will remain sustainable.

Last year our Legislature passed the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative which  allocated $1Million to “stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”  A request for proposals to carry out the WL initiative was issued last year and yesterday was the deadline for submittals.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs from all across the state have offered ideas and projects that will eventually add up to a wave of renewed commitment and progress in sustaining our working lands.  We at Vermont Woods Studios are among the group.

Our proposal seeks to use WL grant monies to close the final funding phase of renovating our Stonehurst Furniture Gallery and Nature Center.  From a Working Lands perspective, one of the advantages of Stonehurst is that it tells the story of where Vermont made furniture comes from and how it’s made– sustainably.

Putting our Working Lands proposal together has been quite a process and regardless of whether we win an award, I think it’s been time well spent.  I know the grant is highly competitive.  It’s my understanding that the WL Board received some 268 proposals  for a total request of over $12 million.  They are working with only $1Million in funding, so the odds aren’t good.

But I feel our proposal answers an important need in providing a market for Vermont’s wood furniture and a destination that will attract customers from beyond our borders.  We’ve been able to forge many new partnerships and collaborations as a result of the grant application process and that alone makes the effort worthwhile.

Decisions on grant awards are expected in April and we’ll keep you posted.  Best of luck to everyone who has invested their time into this important project!

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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 Road Trip: Dorset Custom Furniture

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 04:28 pm

Custom Furniture Makers | Dorset Vermont
Meet the master craftsmen of Dorset Vermont.  From left:  Bill Laberge, Bob Gasperetti, Steve Holman and Dan Mosheim.  These guys are world class expert furniture designers and woodworkers.  Their beautiful creations grace the Green Mountain State as well as public and private homes, businesses and galleries the world over.  

Dorset is one of the prettiest hamlets in all of Vermont, so Dennis and I were happy to make the trek to Dorset Custom Furniture last Friday.  For us, the main attraction wasn’t the quaint New England Village architecture or the view of the Green Mountain Forest.  It was to meet with Dan Mosheim and three more of Dorset’s famous custom furniture makers.  I guess it’s no coincidence that four of the country’s finest craftsmen have set up shop in this idyllic spot.  Dorset is quintessential Vermont at it’s finest and it’s natural beauty inspires artists and craftspeople from all walks of life.

Once we found our way to the slice of paradise that’s home to Dorset Custom Furniture we caught up with Dan, his wife Kit, and their sons Will and Sam.  The whole family is involved in the arts, creating not only furniture but also jewelry, musical instruments and sculpture.

Dan had invited three other powerhouses in custom furniture to meet with us:  Steve Holman of Holman Studios, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge.  We were brainstorming ways to collaborate in shining a light on Vermont’s long legacy of creating sustainable, high end, custom furniture.  Dennis and I extended an invitation to the Dorset crowd to show their furniture at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture gallery so we will be working with them to make that happen before our grand opening this summer.

If you’re wandering around the world of Vermont arts and crafts before that, be sure to drop by Dorset and visit these fine furniture craftsmen in their studios.  I think you’ll find that in commissioning a piece of their custom furniture, you are acquiring much more that a functional piece of art.  I’m not sure how to describe but it has to do with getting in touch with a level of authenticity that is often missing in our lives.  I think you’ll just have to go to Dorset and check it out for yourself.  Then tell us about your experience on Facebook.  Happy travels!

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.

Extension Tables

Solid Wood Extension Tables
This eco-friendly Solid Wood Extension Table is handmade in Vermont using sustainably harvested wood.  Have you ever wondered who thought up extension tables in the first place?   “Let’s saw this table top in two.  Then we can stick a couple boards in between the 2 halves and extend the table when company comes.”  Just saying…  it might have sounded a little crazy at first.

January is a popular month to shop for dining tables.  I guess every year, around the holidays people decide “this is going to be my last year entertaining around this old table!  It’s too small, it’s too old, it’s not the right shape…”  So we build a lot of dining tables in January and this year, they are almost all extension tables.

Who ever thought up the idea of extension tables in the first place?  I mean… “let’s saw this table top in two.  Then we can stick a couple boards in between the 2 halves and extend the table when company comes.”  Pretty innovative, but it must have sounded a little crazy at first– don’t you think?

Extension tables have come a long way since some creative person designed the first one.  Now you can get extension tables with 1, 2, 3 or more leaves (our furniture makers have been known to build custom tables with as many as 5 leaves).  The leaves can be self-storing, with butterfly mechanisms or little cubbies under the table for convenient storage.  With 3 or more leaves there is usually an extra leg tucked under the table top for extra support.

At Vermont Woods Studios, our extension tables are handcrafted of real solid wood and 100% American made by Vermont craftspeople.  They can be customized in Cherry, Maple, Black Walnut, or Oak wood.  And you can choose from different designs to suit the shape and style of your dining room: drop leaf, trestle, split pedestal, single pedestal and double pedestal.

Looking for a particular style or shape?  Browse through Shaker, modern, mission, French country, traditional, craftsman and mid-century modern styles in round to oval and square to rectangular shapes.

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.

Finding a Beautiful Vermont View After Nemo

Finding a Beautiful Vermont View After Nemo
We found a beautiful Vermont view after Nemo blew through Vernon yesterday.  The storm made for great skiing and sledding on Vernon’s lost ski area, Pine Top and throughout the state.

Like most Vermonters we were lucky to find Nemo pretty tolerable– for a winter storm, that is.  Vernon got about a foot of fluffy white snow and our dedicated road crew was out pushing it around in no time.  Finally it’s winter in Vermont!

When I was a kid, storms like this were routine throughout the winter.  We grabbed our skis and happily headed towards the slopes.  So today I thought it fitting to give the snowy slopes of Pine Top, aka Stonehurst a try.  I found the old toboggan my parents gave my siblings and me for Christmas many years ago and pulled it up to the top of the hill (fortunately Ken had re-conditioned it when Kendall and Riley were little and it’s still in great shape).

I found a spectacular Vermont view on the knob where the old Pine Top warming shed used to be!  Today was a beautiful day for sledding and the snow was dry and fast.  I made a few trips up and down the slope before I started pining away for the ancient rope tow that used to be installed at Vernon’s former ski area.  Or even the old horse tow that preceded that.

Ken Enjoying the View at Pine Top | A Lost Ski Area in Vernon, VT
Ken’s version of sledding.

Then I saw that Ken had finished plowing and had found an alternative way to enjoy the view, so I wrapped up my sledding and joined him for a drink.  After all the winter weather watches and warnings, it turns out Nemo wasn’t so bad after all.

If you’re in the area, stop by Pine Top, take a sleigh ride and enjoy the view before the snow melts!  We’ll supply the drinks.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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 Pottery Gifts by Mountaine Meadows

Last updated on November 18th, 2018 at 09:33 pm

I got a mysterious brown paper package in the mail yesterday.  The return address label said Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery, South Ryegate, Vermont.  I thought it was going to be a sample from one of our craftspeople in the Northeast Kingdom but instead it was an unexpected gift from my old pal, Doctor Blakley. I used to work for Sally at Tulane University in the distance learning section of the Center for Applied Environmental Public Health.  She was my champion during a pretty difficult time in my life.

But anyway… inside the package was a personal note from Sally and a beautiful handmade wall plaque with the traditional Irish Blessing my mother’s had hanging on the wall of her home for over 50 years:

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again, my friend

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

What a perfect gift!

If you’re ever looking for something special for a friend or relative, check out Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery.   They have tons of plaques, dishes and magnets with messages of all types:  funny, inspirational, religious, irreverent, sentimental… you name it.  All made in America, handcrafted in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

And thanks, Sally for your kind and thoughtful support throughout the years.  Did you notice that Mountaine Meadow let’s customers submit sayings for new pottery pieces?  I think I’ll submit one:  “old friends are the best friends”.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.

Alaska Delivery Puts Vermont Made Furniture In All 50 States

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Vermont Made Furniture is in Alaska, Hawaii and Across America
Vermont Made Furniture is now in Alaska, Hawaii and 48 other states across America.  We are thankful to Douglas Fletcher (VWS Sales and Customer Service manager), Dennis Shanoff (Marketing Manager) and the rest of our creative and hard-working staff for making that happen.

When Ken, Kendall, Riley and I started Vermont Woods Studios 7 years ago we had just a vague notion of what this company could be.  First and foremost we wanted a green company with a mission of forest conservation.  That grew out of the boys’ attachment to Vermont’s natural world, especially it’s wildlife.  And my interest in saving the rainforest.

I figured since Ken already had a full time job and the boys were in school, it would take 100% of my time for at least the first 5 years (optimistic and naive, it turns out) to get a new business off the ground.  So if I was to have any time with Ken and the boys, it would pretty much have to be within the context of the business.  The new company would have to be engaging for all of us.

One of our first ideas was to build and sell wooden bird houses.  That satisfied Ken’s woodworking interests and the boys connection to the outdoors. But as we brainstormed lots of different ideas and got more involved with the Vermont woodworking community the concept of partnering with local craftspeople and marketing their Vermont made furniture online evolved.

Well, 7 years later, thanks to the help of Douglas Fletcher (Sales and Customer Service Manager), Dennis Shanoff (Marketing Manager) and the rest of our creative and hard-working staff,  Vermont made furniture is now in all 50 states.  We’ve come a long way.  And we’ve got a long way to go.

Many thanks to all our craftspeople, customers, readers, vendors and cheer leaders.  We are grateful for your support.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.

President Obama’s 500 “Made in Vermont” Limos

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:23 pm

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.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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 Road Trips

Vermont Road Trips
Need a day off from skiing?  Take a Vermont road trip using the VT Forest Heritage trail guide.  Meet Vermont’s furniture makers and see how they incorporate nature into the sustainable furniture they design and build.

Some parts of the Green Mountain State may have run out of snow this week, but don’t let that deter you from jumping in the car and taking a couple Vermont road trips.  Our ski areas all make snow and temps have been perfect for doing that lately, so skiers are in the all set club.  But if you’re not a skier or your knees need a break we’ll post a few Vermont road trip suggestions you may not have thought about yet.

First up is the The Vermont Forest Heritage Trail.  It’s a driving tour of Vermont’s woodworking shops, studios and showrooms– large and small.  You can pick up a guide booklet at any Vermont Welcome Center or download it here.  In it you’ll find a Vermont map with dozens of furniture makers and their studios.  You’ll also find information on Vermont’s sustainable forestry industry and an invitation to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, a managed forest in the central region of the state.

Here’s your chance to connect with nature and see how Vermont craftspeople incorporate it into the sustainable furniture they design and build.  This initial Heritage Tour goes through the middle of Vermont and features Clear Lake Furniture in Ludlow, Shackleton Thomas in Bridgewater and Copeland Furniture in Bradford.  Maple Landmark Toys are also included.  The Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association is working on updating the brochure with additional tours throughout the state so stay tuned for more options.  Happy trails to you!

 

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.

Forest Conservation in Vermont

Last updated on May 3rd, 2018 at 04:19 pm

Forest Conservation in Vermont
Vermonters are serious about forest conservation.  It’s not just because the Green Mountain Forest makes a $1 billion contribution to our economy.  Or that the forest industry provides 9% of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales and employment for over 6000 Vermonters.  It’s also that Vermonters love the wildlife and recreation the forest provides.

Vermont is the Green Mountain state and trust me, Vermonters are serious about forest conservation.  If you live in New York or Boston or another metropolitan area you might be surprised though to learn that we have to fight hard every day to keep our forests clean, green and intact.

Dennis and I were at a meeting of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association last week and as always, forest conservation was high on the list of topics for discussion.  Vermont furniture companies are working on creating a chain of custody for their furniture so customers will be able to trace it back from the furniture maker to the forest where it was sustainably harvested.

You may be thinking: “why do Vermonters think forest conservation is so important?”  Well it’s not just because the Green Mountain Forest makes a $1 billion contribution to our economy.  Or that the forest industry provides 9% of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales and employment for over 6000 Vermonters.  It’s also that Vermonters love the wildlife and recreation the forest provides.

We see how forests are being decimated in tropical countries like Brazil, the DR Congo and Indonesia and we’re determined to do what we can to conserve forests (both our temperate forests and rainforests) for future generations.  Here is  just a short list of Vermont organizations working on the mission of forest conservation:

Another forest conservation group– one near to my heart, is the Vermont Center for Eco Studies. Researchers there are working to conserve habitat for our state’s migrating songbirds.  As such their conservation efforts span both our temperate Vermont forests and the rainforest of the Dominican Republic where our state bird the Bicknell’s Thrush winters.

Learn more about forest conservation and  how it fits into our mission at Vermont Woods Studios on our website.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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 Furniture Artisans Displays Exquisite Craftsmanship at Stowe Expo

Last updated on October 12th, 2022 at 09:29 pm

Steve Holman's Sideboard at "Source" expo | Vermont Custom Furniture
Steve Holman’s Curvy Drawer Sideboard is featured at Source, an exhibition of exquisite and creative Vermont custom furniture and craftspeople with a focus on the source of all elements that collaborate to make the final piece.  Source is now playing at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Vermont.

Vermont Custom Furniture Showcased in Stowe

Vermont custom furniture takes center stage this month at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe.   Members of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers are showcasing examples of their work, which (in my humble opinion) is among the finest custom furniture you’ll find anywhere.

The Stowe expo, Source  focuses on the origin of all elements that collaborate to make the final exquisite and creative piece. “The exhibit maps the source of materials, the relationships between forester, mill and craftsperson, as well as the path that the artists took (who influenced them, and where they learned their craft) to become furniture makers”.

Many of our favorite Vermont custom furniture makers are represented in Stowe, including: George Ainley, Erin Hanley, James Becker, Steve Holman, Hugo Belton, David Hurwitz, Richard Bissell, Bill Laberge, Dave Boynton, Mario Messina, Tim Clark, Dan Morsheim, Doug Clarner, Pete Novick, Johns Congdon, Walt Stanley and Bob Gasparetti.

Vermont Custom Furniture Show | Helen Day Center | Stowe
From left:  David Hurwitz’s free-form, wavy chest of drawers, Dave Boynton’s custom acoustic cabinet and Mario Messina’s Trillium chair.  See them up close and personal at Vermont’s Custom Artisan Furniture Show at the Helen Day Center in Stowe.

Where Does Your Furniture Come From?

At Vermont Woods Studios our focus has always been on “where does your furniture come from” particularly from an environmental perspective (where is the wood from and was it sustainably harvested).

What I love about this expo is that it takes a broader look into the origin of these works of art, focusing on the artists, their inspirations and the chain of partners involved in getting their wood from the forest to their studios.

If you’re heading up to Stowe to ski and you love woodworking, be sure to make time to stop at the Helen Day Center for a relaxing and inspiring visit.  Hours are Wednesday – Sunday 12pm-5pm and by appointment.  Admission is by donation.  It’s well worth the trip!

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

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.