THE VWS IMMERSION PROGRAM
The VWS Immersion Program is a full-time, furniture design and craftsmanship education program. We accept new students throughout the year during the fall, spring or summer semester. Students may enroll for a minimum of four weeks and can stay for up to two two academic years.
In the tradition of the apprenticeship, students spend full days in the wood shop with access to the guidance of professional furniture-makers and woodworkers. Students learn the basics, then take on increasingly challenging woodworking and furniture-making projects of their own design.
Students can enroll directly with Vermont Woodworking School as Immersion Program students and earn continuing education credits and certificates. Or, they may enroll in the AA or BFA in Fine Woodworking and Furniture Design with Northern Vermont University, take the classes in their major at the woodworking school, and receive college credit and access financial aid.
The curriculum at Vermont Woodworking School is unique in comparison to other furniture design schools across the country in that we teach both craftsmanship and design. Other design schools across the country that offer furniture programs, do not offer the in-depth woodworking, joinery, and furniture-making skills that we offer throughout the curriculum. In addition to an extensive in woodworking craftsmanship, our students begin learning about design in the first semester and participate in a peer critique process as they tackle increasingly challenging projects, and work to achieve higher quality, more beautiful work.
Our school is also unique in that students may choose how far they want to take their education while they are here. Students enroll for a full semester and may register for, but are not required, to take up to fifteen credits which is the equivalent number of in-seat hours as required of a full-time college student. Prior to the end of each semester, students choose whether to enroll in the next semester. Each semester builds on the one before.
Finally, we are also unique in that some of our students are receiving college credit for participation in the Immersion Program, enrolled as Northern Vermont University students. These students generally enroll half-time at VWS while taking a complement of classes on the NVU campus as they pursue their Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Woodworking and Furniture Design.
Students who choose to stay and complete the full two academic years (four if pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts) at the conclusion of the final semester of work, present their body of work to the school community and invited guests. Students create an online portfolio in their final semester that serves to showcase their accomplishments and assist with next career steps such as job placement or generating furniture commissions.
The students at Vermont Woodworking School are motivated to design and build. They have experience working with their hands before coming to school. Some have engaged in carpentry or cabinet-making, and others in artistic pursuits, anything from painting and photography to sculpture or welding. Some of our students have some prior fine woodworking experience, often having learned a little from a family member, or having taken a community workshop, and wanting to learn more.
Students enroll at VWS to gain access to skilled craftsmen and women who are prepared to share their knowledge of both fine woodworking skills and techniques, and furniture design. As students, they find themselves immersed in a creative environment with an encouraging community of peers that helps them to bring their best work, and achieve their goals.
Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and from across the country. With each new semester, we see a small number of traditional-aged students who enroll. Younger adults who are mature, creative and motivated do well at Vermont Woodworking School. The majority of our students are between the ages of 23 and 38, are interested in establishing their place as an artist and a life that includes furniture-making. We also have a small number of students that are older than the majority, who do well in the environment and find the community to be rich and welcoming and the content to be exactly what they are looking for.
After leaving Vermont Woodworking School, some of our students stay in Vermont to build lives as furniture-makers, or to work for members of the Guild of Vermont Furniture-Makers, or other Vermont wood products businesses. Some move on to other states where they start businesses, or find jobs in the wood industry. Others go on to Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Masters of Fine Arts programs.
The full-time faculty who teach at Vermont Woodworking School have backgrounds as professional furniture-makers and are masters at their craft. In addition to full time faculty, Vermont Woodworking School also brings in community faculty to round out the curriculum. Community faculty are brought in because they offer a specific area of expertise, from being excellent to supporting beginning woodworkers, to being experts in running a wood products business, or web design. To learn more about the faculty and staff who teach at VWS, visit our faculty page.
VWS is located in a three-story, high drive, late 1800's dairy barn. The barn includes four machine shops, a lathe room, a sanding room, five bench rooms, a 12-seat computer lab, photo studio, gallery, offices, and a large common area. For more information about our education facility, please visit our facility page.
There are twelve bedrooms on site available for rent. The farmhouse apartment and the silo housing unit are furnished with basic necessities, and you bring your bedding, toiletries, food, personal items, etc... Students move in prior to the start of the semester and if you are returning for subsequent semesters, you may stay in your room. To learn more about housing options, visit our housing page.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
Each semester, students are loaned a personal tool-kit for their use. In addition, students have access to many shared hand-tools throughout the shop. Students are also supplied the materials required for their classes. Students are issued a small balance for purchasing lumber for their design projects. Depending on their lumber choices, and charges associated with their courses, students may or may not have enough of a lumber credit for their project and may incur some out-of-pocket expenses. Students may also incur out-of-pocket expenses to purchase additional tools, hardware and materials.
Students are required to bring their own sharpening stones, hearing and eye protection, and orbital palm sander.
NOW ACCEPTING REGISTRATIONS FOR THE FOLLOWING SEMESTERS:
Fall 2020 Semester: August 18 - November 20
4 week - $2,800
6 week - $4,200
9 week - $6,300
14 week - $8,400
start dates: Aug 18; Aug 24; Sept 21;
Spring 2021: January 18
4-week - $2,800
6 week - $4,200
9 week - $6,300
15 week - $8,400
start dates: Jan 18; Mar 2; Apr 13
Students considering enrolling at Vermont Woodworking School are encouraged to contact VWS to discuss your goals and the program options available. If you are able to visit, we are happy to schedule a tour. Please contact our Director Cat Emil, or Programs Assistant H Hamilton.