By now anyone who reads a newspaper or catches news on radio or
television can't help but know about the farm-to-table movement and
today's emphasis on locally sourced foods.
Perhaps less well known, but also a most significant part of our
state's history and economy is the forestry-to-furnishings
Since Vermont was settled, the forests have provided for homes -
the logs that were used to build houses to the lumber for
furnishings necessary to live in them and heat them. According to
the Vermont Wood Products Marketing Council, "Since the 1870s, wood
products have been the single-most important manufacturing industry
As part of the working landscape, this industry has provided
thousands of jobs, not just for the loggers and sawmills and
homebuilders but also for the hundreds of fine furniture and
furnishings craftsmen working in the state today.
That was no more apparent than at the 10th Annual Vermont Fine
Furniture, Woodworking and Forestry Festival held in Woodstock,
Sept. 28 and 29. The event showcased the sustainable forestry
practices that provide livelihoods at the Marsh-Billings
Rockefeller National Historical Park and the useful and quality end
products that Vermont crafters fashion at the Union Arena next to
the Woodstock High School.
The woodcrafters' demonstrations and displays were amazing, with
every manner of wood product to view; from practical spoons, bowls,
serving trays, cutting boards, and toys to fine furniture and
The experience of viewing their work and speaking with the
crafters was enlightening for their love of not only the wood they
work with but also the creative design aspect to their crafts. This
was evident both with the experienced woodworkers and the student
work of members of the Vermont Woodworking School based in Fairfax.
Creative design and quality craftsmanship is integral to their
passion for what they do.
The central Vermont region was well represented at the show with
both first-time exhibitors like Douglas Martin of Chittenden and
Michael Amsden of West Rutland as well as a host of veteran fine
woodworkers like Bob Gasperetti who was exhibiting for his ninth
Martin, who works with his customers on a range of items from
custom cabinetry to beds, tables and dining sets, noted that he was
pleased to have the opportunity to not only sell items at the show
but to make contacts for future projects and that he had already
connected with an architect among others.
Amsden, who works in all hardwoods and was exhibiting a solid
cherry bed platform bed, cherry desk of Shaker design, lamps,
stools, and serving trays as well as his custom upholstered couch,
was similarly making contacts and was also a great find if one was
looking for someone to re-cane or reweave a chair seat.
Bob Gasperetti, who works in cherry, walnut and figured maples,
displayed a range of his furniture, explaining that he enjoys using
tiger, birdseye, ambrosia, and pecky maples because they are
"interesting and never boring." In addition to his free-standing
household furniture like desks, rockers, tables and more, he crafts
wood boards that resemble fine art because they are so smooth to
the touch and wondrous in appearance.
Walter Stanley of Brookside Woodworking of Castleton also
displayed his dining furniture, tables, and cabinetry with finishes
so beautiful that the craftsmanship and artistry of Vermont's
woodworkers has recognized his work many times.
Woodturner Rich DeTrano of Ludlow offered an assortment of
hollow wooden vessels, from vases to urns and bowls. His work, once
again, made clear that wood workers are indeed artists.
ClearLake Furniture of Ludlow and William Laberge, a
cabinetmaker from Dorset were also in attendance representing our
regional furniture craftsmen along with Jordan Marvin of Vermont
Wooden Spoon Company in Mendon doing a good business in ladles,
spoons, and "forked salad hands" and Tim Pattillo of Patt Chainsaw
carvings in Rutland, who provided a demonstration and display of
his craft with whimsical and fun benches, signs, and animals.
Unique and Fun
Woodworkers from all over Vermont also displayed unique items like
the Vermont Folk Rocker, Birds in Wood, jewelry, and original and
fun designs for everyday objects like clocks, tables, mirrors, and
While demonstrating bowl turning, Joe Laferriere explained that
"form, function, finish and feeling (of the wood product) are key
to the appeal" of wood-crafted products and that those factors will
be experienced differently for each person.
Author's note: My reaction to this show was: "I will take one of
each." If I ever win the lottery that is indeed what I would do!
For more info visit www.vermontwood.com,
www.vermontwoodfestival.org or www.nps.gov/mabi and be sure to put
next year's show on your to-do list.