A graduation memento to remember - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A graduation memento to remember

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In this old converted barn in Ludlow, pieces of wood get transformed into art.

ClearLake Furniture makes custom wood furniture, but it's spied a new side project -- making ornamental wood spy glass telescopes for graduates of Champlain College.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Who came up with the spyglass idea?

Brent Karner/Clearlake Furniture: They did. They have a bronze of Samuel D. Champlain on a knee with the spyglass and they said they wanted that to be our thing as a keep sake for the kids.

The class of 2013 -- and now 2014 -- will receive the cherry wood spyglasses complete with a stand, laser engraved with their alma mater. "My goal was to make it look as real as possible," Karner said.

But taking a block of wood and making it into a spyglass fit for an explorer is not an easy task. Each one takes almost an hour to make -- with lots of hand work. "People sometimes say, 'What's with the bat?' And I don't want that to happen," Karner said.

That's why ClearLake Furniture made the faux glass dome rounded, and pays extra attention to the eye of the scope. "I wanted the end to look real and black inside there," Karner said.

The spyglasses are given out on graduation day -- 700 students got them last year and another 700 this year.  Karner says it's proud of its pieces and hopes students find a special place for them in their homes or offices. "It's definitely a piece of memorabilia -- something to remember," he said.

At a time when students are looking to the future, they leave for new adventures with spyglasses that are Made in Vermont.

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