At the northwest edge of Windham County, the village of Londonderry is just minutes from major ski areas, elegant country inns and Zagat-rated restaurants. It’s no surprise that the quaint little town can also lay claim to a couple of the state’s finest craftsmen.
Guild member Joe Breznick has a workshop in the town center. His renovated 1800s barn sits pleasantly above the intersection of Routes 11 and 100. With VPR streaming quietly in the background and four-legged shop ambassador Attila sprawled in the doorway, it feels like a vintage New England day. The woodshop connects to a sunny showroom with workspace for clients, walls of sample woods and thought-provoking finished pieces getting ready to ship.
In pursuit of the finest detail. Joe tells us that he started out building houses, then dialed in to kitchens, custom cabinets and finally, furniture. For nearly twenty years, he’s been handcrafting meticulous, heirloom pieces in Shaker, Mission, traditional and contemporary styles. When we visited, there were a couple of dining room tables in process…a reclaimed project and large, live edge walnut slab.
Also a pencil post bed so we got a shot at the lathe (above) and of happiness (below). It seems like each of the Guild members will admit, happiness is loving what you do. And despite the challenges of creative life, they do this work with real passion.
Breznick’s favorite style? Well, that’s a hard one because he works in many. Inspiration comes from the grains and figure in the wood. Matching them up, pairing them together, taking advantage of natural contrasts.
“Cherry is a favorite wood. And I love the Birdseye and Tiger Maple, the way they shimmer. [I] source a lot of local woods from the guys at Lathrop’s in Bristol, and Baker Lumber. If it’s cherry, it’s usually coming out of Pennsylvania. Just superior grain and color.” Joe tells us he spends ‘quality time’ in the selection process, choosing woods that have the desired features which he only enhances with a clear finish.
And favorite pieces to make? Always the first. “I love the creative process of building a first piece” whether for a client commission or the start of a production run. “It’s challenging and exciting.” And gratifying too! “There’s never a better feeling than a client’s outright excitement when they see their finished item.” When pressed, Breznick favors his tall chest in Spalted Maple and Cherry. A challenging design, the cabinet incorporates over eighty different pieces of wood.
Joe’s chair designs are easeful and elegant. Pictured above, a piece in cherry with fiber rush seats woven by Sandy Sherman of Brookline. Sherman is one of several Vermont artists collaborating with the furniture maker who’s introduced metal, stone, fiber and glass to his custom work. A current project — free form lamp collection— has the craftsman working with a colleague on hand-painted shades. (Stay in touch with our Facebook page, we’ll post a finished product!)
If you give a mouse a cookie… You know how that works? As we’re standing in the cozy showroom with Attila at our feet and the warm hum from the workshop behind us, Joe says thoughtfully… “Wouldn’t it be nice to do a poster bed with these? Maybe Arts and Crafts style?” I had to laugh. Joe is pretty persuasive, sure but the furniture is a deal-sealer. The craftsman says he’s made great friends with some of his clients, from Colorado to California. “One customer kept me busy for pretty near a year and a half. You should see what we came up with…” Without a chance to peek at that portfolio, we imagine it’s pretty impressive.
A native Vermonter, Breznick is a fantastic resource for info on how and where to hike the Green Mountains. He clearly loves the state and his reverence for the landscape is—at least in part- what distinguishes his fine furniture catalog. The chairs and tables exude warmth, with ultra-smooth contours and beautiful, vibrant patterns. It’s hard to capture in a nutshell, but there’s just something friendly about them… Same as Joe.
You can reach Breznick Woodworking by email or browse Joe’s portfolio at the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. Learn more at his website, finewoodenfurniture, or arrange a time to visit his shop. Don’t be afraid to ask where to eat, drink or stretch your legs!
If you enjoyed this post, connect with us on Facebook where we’re sharing new and favorite furniture pieces and more behind the scenes snapshots. Take a tour of other member studios here: https://www.vermontfurnituremakers.com/category/in-the-studio