MiVT: Walking sticks by William Peck

DERBY, Vt. (WCAX) His sticks are made for walking -- a retired doctor has had a grip on his Made in Vermont hobby for more than 15 years.

"We're heading into my a backyard here," said Dr. William Peck, guiding a visitor around his Derby property.

Peck is a stickler, when it comes to finding the right sapling "What I look for, of course, is a tree that at its base has a circumference that will make a comfortable grip," he said.

And that will eventually become one of his wonderful walking sticks. They're so nice, your first thought might be to keep it on display instead of in your hand. "I'd be disappointed if people hung them up on the wall and never used them. A walking stick that doesn't get walked hasn't fulfilled its purpose," Peck said.

A retired OB-GYN, Dr. Peck, made his first walking sticks in the late 90s as a Merritt badge project for his sons. He really got into it in 2002. "Many of the walking sticks have these two grooves which define the grip area," he said.

After cutting down the sapling -- most coming from his backyard -- Peck removes much of the bark before he straps them to steel girders and lets them dry out for several months. Then he files down the rough spots, files in grooves, sands and paints them. He'll finish them off by gluing a stone or medallion into the top. "There are no two that look exactly alike, and I do number them, and I think that sort of underlines the fact that they are indeed individuals," he said.

Peck would give away his walking sticks, which he very much enjoys, but about three years ago he started selling them at the Memphramagog Arts Collaborative in Newport for $35 to 40. "Money is not important. It's just being able to come down here and be creative," he said

Peck's walking sticks are awarded to the winners of the Kingdom Swim in Newport.

"They're beautiful, just beautiful. I think every year they get a little better. They're coveted in the swimming world and people, swimmers are just very proud when they wear those sticks," said Phil White, the swim's director.

With over 300 made and many more to come, you can lean on Dr. William Peck to make the perfect walking stick.