Mini Vintage Village

Mini Vintage Village
To order, click on image

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All Winners

Saloma and I just got back home last night after two successful book talks. The first talk in Hanover Pa., not far from Lancaster county, and the second in Avalon New Jersey - on the Jersey shore. I took about thirty "Plain and Simple" wooden book markers along and they were very popular. I ran out of them in Hanover.

I've decided to send each of the five people who commented on my blog a bookmark. All winners this time. Thanks for your comments and I will send your chosen wooden markers tomorrow.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Giveaway of Plain and Simple Bookmarks and New Website

I'm announcing my new website for Vintage Village where all my designs are located as well as how to purchase them:  Or click on the image at the top of my blog.

I've been looking for a way to connect my designs in wood with my wife Saloma's writing interests, and I think I have the solution. I've designed "Plain and Simple" wooden bookmarks featuring the natural grains of wood -- namely oak, black walnut, bird's eye maple to mention a few. Here is a picture of them:

From left to right: mahogany, bird's eye maple, zebra wood,
purple heart, birch, black walnut, and oak

I am doing a giveaway of three of my bookmarks -- one bookmark for three people. To be eligible for a bookmark, you need to be a follower of my blog and leave me a comment letting me know which one you prefer.

I hope you enjoy perusing my website and I hope you buy my Vintage Village Designs!

I'll be doing the drawing this Thursday, July 12 and announcing the winners here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Days as a Peddler and Toymaker, Part 2

In the fall of 1974 I had discovered it was possible to get a license to peddle my toys on Church Street so I appealed to the full board of Alderman of the city of Burlington and this is what happened.

At the point in the meeting when the chairman asked if there was any other business, I raised my hand and asked for the license to peddle my wares. When the chairman asked me what kind of wares, I approached the large meeting table and rolled several of the toys toward them. The alderman were delighted with the toys as reported by the Burlington Free Press the next day.

Alderman OK License To Peddle Toys

Fearing they might open “the proverbial tinkerbox,” Burlington alderman Monday night granted — despite reservations — a license to a toy peddler who plans to market his wares from a paneled truck in downtown Burlington.

Little, hand-carved wooden trucks rolled down the meeting room table into the hands of an evidently bemused and delighted city officials, prompting the president of the board, Mark Kaplan, to ask for audience donations so the aldermen wouldn’t have to relinquish their favorites.

On the more serious side of the issue, Alderman Clarence Meunier told the board he could “visualize 15 or 20 on Church Street … A new industry that would have to be reckoned with,” and passed on a negative recommendation from the Aldermanic License Committee.

Meunier, as well as Alderman Robert Paterson, noted that street peddlers would be in competition with the Church Street merchants, would take up parking space, and would spend the day feeding the meter, “which defeats the purpose of meters.”

“I don’t see how anyone operating out of a paneled truck can compete with the bigger businesses,” said Paul Couture.

“We can say ‘yes’ to this one and ‘no’ to the next one,” suggested Chester Bromley.

“I think you’ve got some nice toys here, but I would prefer you wouldn’t go on Church Street,” said veteran Alderman and legislator Alfred Couture.

The board finally compromised on a license through Feb. 1 and decided to consult with the Downtown Burlington Development Association (the former Merchants Bureau) on future action if the “first of its kind” application for a peddling permit should develop into a burgeoning industry.
Me peddling on Church Street after Dan and I built the display
The fact is a peddling ordinance dating back to the Great Depression was an active ordinance on the books in Burlington and the town had no good reason not to grant it. With a simple appeal to the city alderman, I had opened the door to opportunity for many small business people and the controversy that followed three years down the road. The predictions some alderman made that night did come true the following summer. Over thirty craftspeople and food peddlers applied for licenses and got them.

To my delight, my brother and I sold everything we could make that season. I enjoyed peddling because it was local commerce. We as craftspeople could sell directly to the people of Burlington. It created a local market and demanded a level of self-reliance that I was looking for. Many of the craftspeople built up a bond that lasted for years. I felt like a leading member of the peddling guild offering well-made products to the larger community. This was a simple and profound realization.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Photos of My Vintage Village Designs

I am updating my photos of the Vintage Village Designs. The photo at the top of the page is of my "mini village." Here are the individual pieces that make up the mini village. I will soon have a website where you can order my sculpted miniature village designs, either by paying through PayPal, or by sending me an order by mail. For now, you can order through Saloma's website by clicking the photograph at the top of the page, or by clicking here.

New England Country Church
The mini Country Church, inspired by the many steepled churches that are cradled in the valleys of Vermont and New England.

Vermont Covered Bridge

This design was inspired after the floods in Vermont that destroyed or damaged so many of their unique covered bridges. 

Salt Box Design

The design of my Salt Box is inspired by the Prentis House at the Shelburne Museum. I knew this building intimately when I was the Project Manager there. We upgraded the utilities to make it a safe public space and the museum curators and I reinterpreted the interior spaces.
English Barn

This design is modeled after the early English Barns found all over New England. These early barns were constructed in bays of three. The center bay was used for thrashing grains, with the side doors open so the wind could carry away the chafe. The cupola would have been added in later years.
Cape Cod Style House

The Cape Cod design can be found all over New England and New York. It's a basic timber frame and most likely built by early settlers. This classic design has a full first floor with a smaller space on the second floor.

Village Train Station

This is another design inspired by the train station at the Shelburne Museum. Note the overhang on the roof that was designed to shelter travelers from the weather.

One-Room Schoolhouse

The one-room schoolhouse evokes nostalgia for many of us. It reminds us of a time when school children attended their local country schools and they all knew one another. There were usually a bank of windows in these schoolhouses, designed to allow natural light in. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Days as a Toymaker and a Peddler

            In the summer of 1974 my brother Dan and I started making wooden toys in the basement of our parents’ home in South Burlington, Vermont. We were in between semesters at college at the University of Vermont and looking for a way to make a little money over the summer. My father had a collection of woodworking machinery in the basement of our home. Dan and I were familiar with these tools having helped build the house.
By the end of my first year in college, I was ready to try something completely new. Using the considerable amount of scrap wood we had generated while working on the house, Dan and I designed a little bulldozer and cement truck. Next Dan came up with a train engine, followed by a log car and caboose. We sold the first ones to people we knew and the occasional gift shop. But we needed a market to sustain us.
Timbertoys dominated my life, though working with my hands was satisfying and offered me a chance to follow my muse — designing and selling the toys. At some point I hit on the idea of peddling them on Church Street in Burlington. Starting on Cherry Street on a frosty overcast Saturday in December of 1974, I boldly parked my pickup truck alongside Woolworth’s Department Store. I placed a dozen wooden toys prominently on a pile of logs in the bed of my pickup and waited for customers. To my amazement, within minutes, I sold a wooden train; an engine, a log car, and a caboose. I noticed the foot traffic was much heavier several hundred feet away, directly on Church Street. Now I was curious what would happen. I moved to a parking spot on Church Street in front of Hagar Hardware and again set up the toys. Within half an hour I sold just about everything I had. Then a police officer approached the truck and asked to see my peddler’s license.
            “I can get a license to peddle my toys?” I asked in surprise.
            “Yes, just go to the city clerk’s office on Monday and apply.”
            “Any idea how much it costs?” I asked.
            “Twenty or so at most,” he said.
            I was at the city clerk’s office that Monday and asked for a license. A skeptical city clerk with a bowtie told me the licensing committee would have to review it and that would take a week or two. The Christmas season was underway and I asked if I could get it sooner. Someone in the office said I should apply directly to the city council that was meeting that night. What luck, I thought.
I went to the city council meeting that night and bypassed the licensing committee. I correctly figured the Aldermanic License Committee was made-up of members partial to the desires of the merchants.  At the point in the meeting when the chairman asked if there was any other business, I raised my hand and asked for the license to peddle my wares. When the chairman asked me what kind of wares, I approached the large meeting table and rolled several of the toys toward them.

To be continued...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winner of Giveaway

The winner of the Vintage Village giveaway is Linda Maendel! Congratulations Linda. Your choices are a bridge or church, an ornament or free standing. Please let me know where to send this. My e-mail is dcfurlong(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments on my miniatures. They are fun to design.

Happy Holidays to all.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Introducing Vintage Village Christmas Ornaments

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog, but I think you will agree that it was worth the wait.

Saloma and I just got back from a book tour through the Midwest. This is indeed a big and beautiful country we are blessed with.We enjoyed seeing autumn in many different states. Below is an image of one place we drove through and at the bottom of this post is another.

Near Harmony, Minnesota

Back in Massachusetts at my Vintage Village shop, I'm gearing up for the holidays, which means I'm making Christmas ornaments. These ornaments are basically the same size and designs as my mini village. I have seven basic designs: church, train station, schoolhouse, covered bridge, salt box house, cape cod house, and English barn. Below are photos of each separately. If you want to order, please click on the image of the display on the right.


 Train Station


 Covered Bridge

Salt Box

 Cape Cod

English Barn
If you'd like to place an order, you can click on the display image to the right of this post and download an order form. Simply print it, fill it out, and send it to me, along with a check. My address is:

David Furlong
6 School Street
Sunderland, MA 01375
I hope you all enjoy the rest of autumn. 

Near Kalona, Iowa