The tail of Rutland County bends southeast where the Green Mountain and Taconic ranges come together to form what’s called the ‘Valley of Vermont.’ Historic Routes 7 & 7A run its length from Brandon to Bennington and a handful of our members live and work within its swath.
Two miles south of tiny Mount Tabor, a left turn and one mile takes you to the doorstep of Bob Gasperetti’s furniture shop. His own design, the three story barn houses everything from lumber storage to woodshop to showroom; a showroom filled with heirloom-quality Shaker, Mission and Arts & Crafts-inspired furniture pieces.
Call Bob a collector or connoisseur, the ground floor is a library of distinctive wood. Racks holding common ash and poplar, gorgeous cherry, walnut, shining apple, figured maples and birches and–if you can believe it–red pine planted by Vermont’s own Robert Frost.
The craftsman keeps a mental catalogue of every piece. Where it came from, and when. If it has a story. In addition to a long board shelved collection, there are sections of smaller, odder pieces. ‘Scraps’ that didn’t make the mill cut, sporting tap holes from past sugaring seasons, and interesting pieces that are marked and distinguished with worm holes and bacteria streaking.
Bob showed us a bookmatched piece of ambrosia maple. And with a quick swipe of paint thinner, the wood warms up and glows beneath an interesting pattern. “This,” the furniture maker explained, “is the real character of the wood. The part that’s often cut out by the manufacturing process but is so very distinctive.”
Upstairs from the lumber library is the workshop and finish room, impressive and mysterious, at least to the layman. And then the showroom. Bob told us he often makes two of each piece and that the tables, chairs, desks and benches he duplicates become launch pads for new projects. After visiting the studio, clients ask to combine qualities of one piece with another. So a mission-style headboard may get married with Arts & Crafts detail, and the customer gets something very special and unique to them. How fun!
Open every day, visitors to the studio will be greeted by Bob, Cheryl or Scott. And if you plan to hit the road for Vermont Craft Council’s coming Open Studio Weekend, here’s a link to Bob’s Annual Sample Sale. And don’t forget to visit Epoch Artisan Gallery in Manchester, where Bob’s work is on display, and he is also a founding member.
Thanks for supporting the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers and our time honored tradition of handcrafted excellence.