Burlington College student Robert Palmer recently took 2nd Place in the Fresh Wood Competition, a bi-annual fair hosted by the Association of Woodworking & Furniture Suppliers (AWFS). Palmer’s handcrafted cigar box guitar case was showcased in the AWFS Fair from July 20-23, 2011 in Los Vegas, Nevada. As a finalist in the competition Palmer and a Burlington College faculty member was flown to Las Vegas for the event.
AWFS judges reviewed work submitted by students from over 50 colleges in the United States and Canada. They selected student finalists based on design innovation, quality of presentation, the use of materials, methods and processes, the functionality and achievement of design intent and craftsmanship and quality.
Film by Holly Sanders
Palmer’s entry, called Smokin’ Sycamore, is a three string cigar box guitar. The guitar’s case, called Doom Box, is in the styling of an early-American coffin. He started the guitar as part of a simple box project while taking a fine woodcrafting course at Burlington College. It turned into a major undertaking that included inlayed frets, edge banding, veneering, hand-cut dovetails, a turned handle and more. The piece is an “homage to blues music and folk craft,” imparts Palmer, “a fine woodworker’s take on an otherwise simple Delta Blues instrument.”
Palmer was born and raised in Alexandra, Virginia. He has lived in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, for the past ten years and is an avid fan of the blues. A carpenter by trade, he was looking for a creative outlet that was hands-on and could be an extension to his craft. He moved to Vermont and enrolled in Burlington College’s Woodworking School  where he is pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) in Craftsmanship and Design .
“The College is proud of Robert,” shares College President Jane O’Meara Sanders. “His woodworking is a wonderful example of what is possible in our Craftsmanship and Design Program.” Burlington College was recently accredited to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).