The New New England Heirlooms
Both design and quality of building set his furniture apart from mass-produced pieces. “They’re designed to be comfortable–you can’t get that in a factory chair,” Clark explains. “And the strength is better; the finishing is better. That takes time and attention to detail.” Once he’s given a piece that time and attention, though, he’s confident it will endure for a long, long time. “My chairs are guaranteed,” he says. “They’ll last, or they’ll be replaced. No questions asked.”
Prized heirloom: “Most important to me is probably my workbench, which consists of just a plank of maple with a vise attached. The bench belonged to my great-grandfather on my dad’s side, and I remember it from my grandfather’s little workshop, which was off the kitchen in their house. He was always fixing things like clocks or repairing one of their chairs.”
Favorite Timothy Clark piece: “I have a lot of favorites. My ‘Cod Rib’ rocker, my benches–especially my painted Waltham bench.”
Famous fan: Terry McAuliffe, former head of the Democratic National Committee and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign
Timothy Clark Cabinetmaker/Chairwright, Waltham, Vermont. 802-877-1058; timothyclark.com
Simon Pearce finds inspiration in Vermont’s hills and mountains, countryside, and changing seasons–but what this Irish native loves most about his adopted home state are the people. “From the beginning, I just had a sense that these people do what they say they’re going to do, and that they’re totally trustworthy,” he says. “And I love doing business in a straightforward manner.”
Pearce moved his glassblowing business here in 1981 after finding an abandoned mill building on the Ottauquechee River that met his three key criteria: “somewhere beautiful to live and work, somewhere we could have a retail business, and somewhere we could make our own electricity.” Thirty years later, he says, “It’s the best decision I ever made in my life.”
Aside from where they’re made, what sets Simon Pearce glass pieces apart from mass-produced glassware, and most other hand-blown glass, too, is the quality of the raw materials. “We use the highest-quality sand available so our glass is perfectly clear–any impurity in sand will change the color,” Pearce explains. (He notes that that’s one reason why he doesn’t produce any colored glass. “You can cover up a multitude of sins with color,” he adds.) And of course, every single piece is hand-blown by a highly skilled craftsperson, often Pearce himself.
Prized heirlooms: “We have wonderful pottery made by some of the well-known English potters,” says Pearce, who was a potter himself before becoming a glassblower. “I especially love Richard Batterham’s work and have collected quite a lot. And we have some paintings that we love, especially by my godfather, Patrick Scott, who is a well-known Irish artist.”
Favorite Simon Pearce piece: “It’s easier to ask me what I don’t like. I think the most unusual is the Woodbury bowl. It’s almost impossible to come up with an original design. You may think it’s original, but chances are it’s not. But the Woodbury bowl, our square bowl, is very unusual.”
Famous fans: Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Michael J. Fox, Sandra Bullock, producer Lorne Michaels (who gives a Simon Pearce bowl to every current and former Saturday Night Live cast member who has a baby)
Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont. 800-774-5277; simonpearce.com
Quilting, in many ways, is a simple and humble craft. But when Connecticut quilter Denyse Schmidt does it, it’s also an art form. When she makes one of her celebrated couture quilts, Schmidt might work from an existing design or create a new one. When it’s a custom job, she’ll first work with her client to choose colors; then she cuts fabrics and composes the piece.