I had the opportunity last week to journey up to Bradford, Vermont to attend Copeland Camp, a 2-day jam-packed instructional camp, hosted by Copeland Furniture Company. Copeland has been creating sustainably harvested hardwood furniture since the 70’s, and we’ve been working with them for nearly 4 decades.
On deciding to work with Copeland, Peggy describes, “One of the most important things for me is the care they give to the environment and their desire to protect it for future generations. Tim Copeland was also a founding member of the sustainable furnishings council along with Circle, and one of the first winners of the Sage award given by the National Association of Manufacturers back in 2008.”
Copeland Furniture Company
Copeland Furniture has many attributes, they’re known for hardwood furniture, local manufacturing, and an attention to detail that yields incredible results. They also pride themselves on sustainability and strive to protect the beautiful state they live in.
Their mission is to produce high-quality furniture that’s thoughtfully designed, using a combination of classic craftsman techniques and high precision tools and technology. Impressively, they’ve also managed to push the boundaries of modern design while staying true to traditional, quality craftsmanship. This is a rarity in a modern market saturated with imports. And it goes without saying, their pieces are beautiful.
I, along with a group of around 25, was able to meet the owners, have dinner with them, and hear about their history and their mission. After two days spent in their factory, it’s clear that their mission aligns with their practice.
And I have to say, as someone who’s only ever appreciated the finished piece, I was blown away by the process.
Into the woods
On the first day, we started off bright and early touring not the factory, but the forest. More specifically, the logging process. We drove deep into the forest and watched the process of a logging company that Copeland partners with. It was a company of two, the man who journeys into the woods to retrieve the trees and the man who chops them.
We learned about the process and discovered that as opposed to clear cutting, they selectively cut trees. Not only is this better for regrowth and the environment, but it ensures that the wood is of the best quality. We also learned that the area of the woods being logged was a 45 minute round trip from where we stood.
In the midst of this education, we heard a rumbling deep in the woods behind us. Although it was likened to the sound of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, it was, in fact, the monstrous truck rumbling its way towards us, its gargantuan tires wrapped in metal chain, dragging a bundle of trees behind it.
A Factory Tour
After our foray into the forest, we headed to the factory. Splitting up into 4 groups, we took an extensive tour of the factory. To begin, we saw where the wood is stored, deep brown Walnut on the left, Cherry on the right, stacked in neat piles, awaiting their destiny.
The factory was immense, to say the least. We toured the gluing station, the high precision cutting and shaping tools, the hand assembly stations, and the several rounds of finishing and staining.
Impressively, and unbeknownst to me, every process had a human behind it. By the end of the day, I had a newfound appreciation for just how many hands every piece of furniture is touched by. Even the upholstery is done by hand, by a kind woman we met, expertly stapling each upholstered piece to perfection.
We also took a tour of their extensive solar panel field which powers the majority of their factory.
A Lesson in Construction
The second day of camp we returned to the factory, this time to take part in actually building the furniture. We each worked for 35 minutes with 3 different craftsmen in the factory at different stages of construction.
I helped with the gluing machine, down the line from the woman who color matched the wood. She sent it my way and I, along with my assigned employee guiding me, put it through the glue machine which pressed the wood pieces together.
I worked with a woman who packaged completed pieces to be shipped. She covered them in plastic wrap and cut off cardboard edges to protect the furniture. Acting also as quality control, she ensured the staining and sanding were up to standard.
And finally, for my most nerve-wracking task, I helped to assemble a Sarah table. I drilled in nails, sanded it to smoothness, and sent it off to its next station.
Back to Massachusetts
After many hours in the factory, and two filled-to-the-brim days enjoying the company and the scenery, we waved the mountains goodbye and headed home with a new appreciation for the time and craftsmanship that goes into Copeland furniture.
I already had an appreciation for how beautiful the furniture is, but it was fascinating to meet the owners of the company and hear about why they started the company and where their passion lies. The experience overall was enriching, and the craftsmen at the factory were incredibly nice, and happy to let us in on their process.
My favorite pieces?
I love the Wave bed for its minimalistic design and unique, textured headboard.