Giving Thanks: The Spirit of the Season

The fourth quarter is a busy one; year-end project completions, winter workshop preparedness and the joyful commitments to family and friends over the holidays. And while we’re blazing toward 2014, we recognize that it’s an important time to give pause, reflect and say thanks. This fall we’ve written much about the sum experience of our furniture; the landscape and materials, our shared technique and culture. Also too, the principles that guide our business and the colleagues and partners that help make our work great!

Vermont Steambent Hardwoods

Processing Local Lumber at Family-Owned Sawyer Bentwood of Whitingham

As artists, we’re fortunate to work in a medium that is infinitely variable. Vermont’s forests hold nearly sixty tree species, with no two trees are alike. There are some fine lumber yards to work with locally. If a type of wood is needed for a project but not available in state, we’re able to source from independently-owned companies that share our priorities of quality, responsible harvesting and specialty woods.

Lumber Racked at A. Johnson Co. of Bristol
Lumber Racked at A. Johnson Co. of Bristol

Family owned and operated since 1906, A Johnson Company in Bristol is a steadfast supplier of locally harvested hardwood. Committed to sustainable land management and exceptional products, the Johnson Company also works with private landowners, foresters and loggers to improve their ability to meet and stay current with sustainability criteria. Tom Lathrop’s Exclusively Vermont Wood Products is also out of Bristol. His independently-owned business provides woodworkers with beautiful hard and soft woods that are 100% Vermont grown and of exceptional quality.

Windham County’s Sawyer Bentwood is a certified ‘green’ company producing steam bent hardwood components. They join G.H. Evarts and Baker Lumber as supporting members of the Guild, all operating at top-notch quality with practice we can endorse!

When a projects requires wood of a type or size that’s not available locally, we’re lucky to know some folks down in PA. Visit Aldferer Lumber and check out their gorgeous slabs of live edge cherry, catalpa, walnut. Inspiration guaranteed

On the ‘finishing’ end, there are the hardware suppliers (supporting members Baer Supply and Ball and Ball) plus a couple of local companies out of Middlebury and Manchester. And the essential, reliable delivery companies, making sure our pieces get to our clients with ease, timeliness and good installation. Visit Clark & Reid or Handcrafted Delivery to find out more about what makes a great fit.

Guild Members Teach at Vermont Woodworking School

Guild Member Mario Messina Instructs a Student, Image Courtesy of Vermont Woodworking School

Two of our members, Mario Messina and Dave Hurwitz, share their expertise with Vermont Woodworking School where they’re adjunct faculty in the immersion program. VWS teaches traditional practices and technique of woodworking with instruction in effective building, with time and cost in mind. The school’s mission is to provide a complete and real world approach to those who are interested in making a career in furniture making. It’s also been designated a State Craft Center and you can visit the gallery on site.

Needless to say, its an interesting time to be working wood in Vermont. We’re indebted to the folks at Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association for the great professionalism and energy they commit to supporting the forest economy. Beyond their everyday outreach and public relations, they’re responsible for the annual Woodstock Fine Furniture, Woodworking and Forest Festival. A celebrated event more than ten years in the running, visitors experience how Vermonters ‘care for their woods’ while celebrating the work and work products of craftsmen and producers.

Celebrating Vermont's Forests with VWMA

Earlier in the year, our Guild was awarded a Working Lands Enterprise Initiative Grant. The legislature passed an initiative in 2012 for the management and investment of $1 million into agriculture and forest based business. You can read more about the project on our blog or on the Working Lands website. The initiative is now in its second round of grant considerations and awards, shoring up and strengthening support for Vermont’s working lands economy. It’s been supported by the efforts of Vermont’s Council on Rural Development and Executive Director Paul Costello and his crew. We are grateful for their vision, leadership and facilitation. In August, we attended a Forest Economy conference in Grafton sponsored by VCRD and the Windham Foundation. You can peruse the conference topics and discussion and if you’re interested, register and ‘save the date’ for December’s Summit on the Future of Vermont’s Working Landscape in Randolph. This is quite an exciting time!

2013 Future of Vermont's Working Landscape Summit -- December 17th

We’re certain there is no place better than Vermont to be a furniture maker. We’re lucky to be reminded by our neighbors and fellow artists that our contribution is valued. And our clients and customers…without their commitment and dedication to quality and craft, the world would be much less inspiring.

From each of our members, we wish all of you the very best for a healthy, happy holiday season!

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