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.

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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.

Rising From The Debris

Last updated on August 8th, 2013 at 10:46 am

 

Vermont Furniture Showroom
We built an addition to bridge the two existing buildings, creating an “L” shape showroom.

The last time we updated you on the progress of our showroom remodel, we were still in a demolition phase. In our post Digging Up The Future, we shared that a large hole had been excavated to make space for the new addition’s foundation. When we purchased Stonehurst, there were two buildings: the main house and the detached accessory building. In order to create our planned “L” shape showroom, we needed to build an addition to bridge the existing buildings.

It’s been an unusual winter with the grounds going back and forth between mud and frozen. Through snow, rain, and heavy winds our construction team managed to join the old with the new. The addition has been framed and roofed. It fits perfect, and we expect it to look like it has always been a part of the building. Some other exciting progress is that some floor boards have been reclaimed to become the ceiling surface in one of the rooms of the showroom.

In the next few weeks we will see windows and doors going in, siding being put up, and roofing. Once the building is weather-tight, the construction team will begin the interior work. After six weeks, we’re all excited about the progress and seeing it take shape!

Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the this Vermont Furniture Showroom– Stonehurst.

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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.

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!

 

 

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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.

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.

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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.

Vermont Furniture Artisans Displays Exquisite Craftsmanship at Stowe Expo

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 01:48 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!

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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.

Brent Karner and ClearLake Furniture

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Vermont Woodworker of the Year: Brent Karner
Congratulations to Vermont Woodworker of the Year, Brent Karner of Clear Lake Furniture for his innovative design of high end stacking chairs for the University of Vermont’s Memorial Lounge.

Congratulations to Brent Karner of ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow for being selected Vermont Woodworker of the Year.  The award was presented to Brent last Friday by Mike Rainville, President of the Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association, VWMA. It was in recognition of his work in designing and crafting 150 eco-friendly, stackable cherry wood chairs for the University of Vermont’s Memorial Lounge on UVM’s Burlington campus.

Have you ever noticed that chairs in auditoriums are rarely handcrafted of solid wood and rarely comfortable?  Well it seems that Richard Cate, UVM Vice president for finance and administration decided to change that.  He insisted on finding a competitive bid for beautiful, comfy, high quality, Vermont made STACKABLE chairs and Brent Karner’s proposal fit the bill.

Brent, his brother and two of their craftsmen at Clear Lake Furniture spent 3 months designing and building the chairs.  Each chair contains 41 separate pieces.  Sheahan and Sons Lumber in Weatherfield transformed 400 local, sustainably harvested logs from Bethel, VT into 6,150 pieces of wood designed to Brent’s specs.  The seats were crafted by Don Heaton Upholstery in Chester, VT.  Everything from A to Z was locally made in Vermont!

Isn’t it great to see another example of Vermonters leading the way in the American Made manufacturing movement?

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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.

Pine Top: Signs of a Lost Ski Area

Last updated on November 10th, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Pine Top Ski Area
Our future fine furniture showroom has many previous lives, incuding that of a Southern Vermont ski area called Pine Top. We found these old Pine Top signs in the rafters of the workshop. When was the last time you got to ski for $1.25?

Winter has come to Vermont! The air at Stonehurst is… well let’s say “crisp”. OK, it was -3F this morning. Ken and I were huddling in the workshop next to the wood stove and we spied these old Pine Top Ski Area signs in the rafters. All day skiing for $1.25? Count me in!

We decided to clean up these great artifacts and display them once renovations are complete and our new fine furniture showroom is open. By any chance, did you ever ski at Pine Top during it’s heyday (the 1940s-1960s)? If so I hope you’ll stop by our shop or connect with us on Facebook to share your memories of back in the day.

For example, how is it that the skier in this old Pine Top Ski Area sign isn’t bundled up in a Michelin Man suit? We didn’t have high tech outdoor clothing back then so did people just suck it up and freeze out there on the slopes? I was looking at old photos of Pine Top skiers yesterday and the people do indeed look just like the guy in the sign’s silhouette. No down parkas, no Gore Tex. Just your basic wool sweaters and coats.

I started skiing in the late 60s and I remember being pretty well bundled myself. Maybe in the decades preceding that people only skied on nice days? Or maybe they were tougher and more determined than we are? Got any answers or theories? Share them below or on Facebook. And if you’re wanting to stop by and do a little skiing yourself, let me know. There’s presently nowhere to park because construction vehicles are everywhere but hopefully renovations will be complete before the end of the season. I’ll keep you updated here on the blog.

 

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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.

High Quality Wood Furniture: Tips For Finding the Best Craftsmanship

Last updated on August 3rd, 2018 at 01:27 pm

High Quality WoHardwood Furnitureod Bedroom Furniture | Cherry Moon Bed
This high quality wood furniture is part of our Cherry Moon Bedroom Collection.  It’s handmade with real, solid cherry wood and topped with a hand-rubbed natural oil finish.

If you’re shopping for high quality wood furniture, you’re seeking craftsmanship that will be beautiful, remarkable and make your investment last a lifetime, right?  It isn’t necessarily hard to find quality craftsmanship, but you’ll have to veer off the beaten big box path and steer over to the local furniture makers in your neighborhood.

Now before you get nervous about price, know that with high quality wood furniture (and most other things, I suppose), you truly do get what you pay for.  A good craftsman will save you money in the long run because quality wood furniture lasts a lifetime.  It’s something you can hand down to your children and grandchildren.

As you’re shopping for this investment, here are a few things to look for:

Real Solid HardWood Throughout

Top quality hardwoods that are grown in America and suitable for high end furniture include black cherry wood, black walnut wood, oak, maple, ash and birch.  These wood species have high densities and tight, non-resinous grains.  Plus they sand well and polish to a silky smooth and supple finish.

Hand Made in America

Furniture that’s hand made in America gets an immediate gold star for integrity, just for the fact that the wood is legally and sustainably harvested (this is often not the case with imported furniture).  You  can also feel good that USA made furniture is creating American jobs and sustainable economies.  Another benefit: no worries about toxic finishes and glues (common in imported furniture) that might offgas in your home or be ingested by small children.

Drawers Made of Solid Wood with Dovetail Joinery and Robust Drawer Slides

Drawers and Doors provide perhaps the quickest and easiest quality check on  craftsmanship.  Make sure they are well fitted and adjusted properly.  Drawers and doors should close easily and be flush with the cabinet front.  The hardware should be substantial and adjustable in case of jostling during shipping and moving processes be sure to have your delivery crew make any necessary adjustments before they leave your home).

Smooth and Supple Furniture Finish

When you run your hand over a piece of high quality wood furniture, it should be as soft and smooth as a person’s skin.  Fine wood furniture is sanded many times and eventually with a very fine grit sandpaper.  The finish is typically a traditional hand-rubbed oil finish or a lacquer.

High Quality Wood Furniture Deserves A Lifetime Guarantee

I can’t imaging getting a lifetime guarantee in a big box store but most local craftsmen are happy to give a lifetime guarantee on their handmade wood 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.

Stonehurst: Building A Strong Foundation

Stonehurst: Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom Takes Shape
Stonehurst: Vermont’s new Fine Furniture Showroom is Taking Shape.  Heather Barrett snaps a photo of Scott Strong and his crew from American Construction as they pour concrete footings for this 200 year old section of Stonehurst.

It seems like we’ve been talking and planning renovations at Stonehurst (our circa 1800 Vermont farmhouse and future fine furniture showroom) for a very long time.  But now that Bob Furlone’s American Construction and Karey Tyler’s Excavation crews have arrived on site, things are beginning to move and shake (literally).

Digging out for a Foundation at Stonehurst
Digging out for a Foundation at Stonehurst.  Karey Tyler is making Ken and the other guys very jealous, with all his fancy Tonka trucks.  We decided Karey is the answer to every little boy’s dream of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

The past few weeks have been filled with activity.  The middle section of the Stonehurst buildings (what we call the barn) has been unfinished for many years.  In order to renovate, the guys had to dig underneath it and create a stable  foundation where formerly there was just dirt and rocks.  Then Carroll Concrete came in and poured a cement foundation.

This is why they've called it Stonehurst for 200 years
I guess this is why the name Stonehurst had lasted at the property for some 200 years.  But huge as they are, these boulders were no match for Karey and his excavators.

In order to connect the middle section to the apartment building, we had to dig some more because the apartment floor was 2 feet higher that the barn floor.  Since we want to make the property wheelchair accessible, we need to make all the floors the same height.

Digging the View at Stonehurst
Digging the View at Stonehurst.  From left:  Martha Ratcliffe of American Construction, Scott Strong of American Construction, Ken, Jeremy Coleman of J Coleman Architects and Bob Furlone of American construction.

So progress is going well at Stonehurst, even though we’re up against winter’s elements.  Today we had a snowstorm but still the crews from Tyler Excavation and American Construction were onsite and working in a tent they built for the occasion.  Follow their work and the evolution of Stonehurst on our Facebook.  Once it’s complete we hope you’ll join us for an open house!

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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.

Neville Brings a Bit of Australia to Vermont

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 03:35 pm

Neville Kerr, Website Developer at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture Store
We welcome Neville Kerr, Website Developer Extraordinaire to Vermont Woods Studios (shown here relaxing in Jaco, Costa Rica).  Can one develop a website for a fine furniture store in Vermont, while on vacation in the rainforest?

Please help us welcome our newest staff member, Neville Kerr to the Vermont Woods Studios family.  Neville answered our call for a webmaster/developer/programmer/jack of all tech trades last December.  We didn’t know he would also be bringing additional skills we hadn’t even asked for (like cooking and travel advice) but we’re glad he did.

Neville comes to us from Down Under.  His background includes ecommerce consulting, extensive service in the Royal Australian Air Force and many interesting experiences in between.  One of his passions appears to be travel.  And oddly enough rainforest countries have been high on his list of destinations.  How interesting since Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of rainforest conservation.

The photo above was taken in Jaco, Costa Rica, a place Ken and I and the boys passed through two years ago on a trip to Manuel Antonio, while volunteering for the Eco Preservation Society.   I discovered yesterday that Neville and his wife Carol also visited another of my favorite rainforest countries in their travels, Belize.

I don’t remember mentioning anything about the rainforest in our ad for a web developer so maybe it’s just good karma that brought this world traveler and his talents to our doorstep in tiny Vernon, Vermont.  At any rate, we’re grateful for his help and looking forward to the many improvements he has in mind for our fine furniture website.  Follow Neville’s work on our Facebook and let us know how  you like our website improvements as they evolve over the next couple months.

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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.