Joining the Guild as a Furniture Maker
The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers has two levels of membership for furniture makers: Master Furniture makers and Journeyman Furniture Makers. Both levels require your furniture to be juried. Master Furniture makers are voting members and have full visibility on the Guild’s website. Journeyman Furniture Makers are non-voting members and have limited visibility on the website. The journeyman level is intended for those who may be relatively new to the business of furniture making but whose work and attitude toward the profession shows promise to reach the Master level. Those admitted as journeymen may request to be juried for Masters level membership after 1 year and must jury for Masters level after 3 years. Annual dues for Master Furniture Makers are $300. Journeyman level dues are $150.
If you would like to be considered as a furniture making member of the Guild you will first need to fill out an online application and then bring some examples of your furniture to be juried at one of the Guild’s quarterly meetings which are held in January, April, June and September. Upon receiving your application we will contact you to let you know the date and location of the next quarterly meeting. Below is the Guild’s current evaluation criteria.
The Guild encourages work in a variety of styles, but all work must present both a coherent aesthetic whole and the personal creative goals of its maker. Those goals may include the faithful reproduction of classic work, a reinterpretation of those classics, or a radical departure from them. What is important is that the maker’s intent and vision are clear and consistent. Simple designs might show more concern for well-selected wood and well-executed joinery than more exuberant contemporary work, which might highlight form and color. Technical mastery does not in itself substitute for design sense.
The decisions that guide the structure and craftsmanship of the work must be consistent with its aesthetic concerns. A Shaker bed stand should be well crafted and fitted with traditional drawers rather than metal drawer slides, but a desk’s file drawer might demand such slides. Additionally, workmanship that detracts from the goals of the piece — e.g., poorly applied finish, obvious sanding scratches, careless or inappropriate joinery, ill-fitted doors or drawers — is unacceptable.
Work must function as intended by the maker. A beautiful piece that does not function well — a chair that is uncomfortable, a cabinet with door pulls that are painful or difficult to grasp — might be art or a tour de force of craftsmanship, but it is most likely not successful furniture.