Burlington College students, past and present, distinguished themselves, as did their master-craftsmen instructors, during the 8th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival held at Woodstock, VT, the last weekend of September.
Three of the College’s students walked away with top honors at the festival. Chris Ramos, of South Burlington, VT, took the 18-plus Student/Apprentice Award for his computer desk. Chris is in his final semester of the Associates Degree program in the College’s Craftsmanship and Design program. Rachel Brydolf-Horwitz, of San Diego, CA, and recently from Montreal, Que., Canada, won second prize for her calligraphy cabinet. Tyler Gebhardt’s floating-top hall table won third prize. He is from Albany, NY. Both Brydolf-Horwitz and Gebhardt’s entries were created during their enrollment in the College’s Certificate program. Brydolf-Horwitz is presently enrolled in an additional, non-matriculating course at the College.
Burlington College/VT Woodworking School instructor and master-craftsman Mario Messina took second place in the Custom/Studio Furniture category for his “abacus table.” David Hurwitz, also an instructor, won third place in the same category, with a second place in the Custom Woodenware category for his cherry lamp.
The festival brings Vermont’s finest wood-craftsmen together to exhibit their design entries in the Vermont Woodworking Design Competition. The designs, on public display at Union Arena, were judged by a panel of professionals, including Mark Schofield of Fine Woodworking Magazine, Dan Faia of the North Bennett Street School, and James Murray of Simon Pearce Glass. There were four professional categories: Custom/Studio Furniture, Production Furniture, Custom Woodenware and Carvings or Sculptures, as well as a student/apprentice category for those 18 and over Enrolled in a School for Woodworking. Judging was based on the quality of the craftsmanship and the innovativeness of the design. Entrants were limited to those pieces designed and made in Vermont by Vermont woodworkers and students.
Terre Morrison is Burlington College’s academic coordinator at the VT Woodworking School. “The talent that’s in Vermont is just mind-blowing,” she said; “all these talented woodworkers, and they all have such a pride in what it is to be in Vermont.”
Burlington College has collaborated with the Vermont Woodworking School at their converted three-story barn in Fairfax for the last few years to offer their students a Craftsmanship and Design program in Fine Furniture and Woodworking. With Certificate and Associates Degree programs in place, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree was instituted with the 2011 fall term.
Rob Palmer, another Burlington College student, was recently awarded second place in the national Fresh Wood Competition at Las Vegas, NV.
The students act as support staff at the festival and are given a booth in exchange. “We at the shop see [the festival] as an opportunity for them to see the veterans stepping up with the senior students taking a lead,” Morrison said. “We cheer them on, [guiding] them. It’s a huge learning experience and helps the VT Wood Manufacturers Association promote the education process.”
“This festival is the annual gathering and exhibit for Vermont furniture-makers,” said Carina Driscoll, co-founder of the Vermont Woodworking School with her husband, Blake Ewoldsen, and master artisan Bob Fletcher. “I think it would be fair to say that we’ve worked very hard to bring some of Vermont’s best furniture-makers to the faculty team and our recruiting efforts have paid off, as well. We’re starting to see the high-quality students that will become the next generation of the best furniture-makers.”
“They are the heart and soul of the [school],” Morrison said. “To see them succeed and move forward and come away with a [piece] that they’ve created—it’s indescribable how much pride I have in these people.”