COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) One man's mentor led to this Made in Vermont wood jewelery.
You've never seen anything quite like what Robin Perreault is crafting in his Colchester basement. "It really is a creation I came up with, something very different, very unique," Perreault said.
He is making these rings, earrings and bracelets using a process called steam bent lamination. "It's really just practice and patience for the most part," he said.
He's taking a chance making these products, much like someone took a chance on Perreault nearly 15 years ago. Bruce Simpson hired Perreault at his shop, Simpson Cabinetry, in the early 2000's. They worked side by side for a decade. "We worked really closely together," Perreault said. "I don't know what he saw in me, but apparently he saw some potential, because I was not like him. I would wake up and show up late and it would annoy him... I had so much admiration for him and I knew he put up with a lot from me, and I don't know why that he did that, but I'm glad that he did."
Unfortunately, Bruce Simpson passed away suddenly about five years ago. Perreault didn't take the loss well, but he re-focused and used Bruce's teachings as inspiration. "He always had this measure of faith in who I was, and I knew I felt short of his expectations after he passed away, so just trying to do that now, really showcase what he taught me," Perreault said.
The rings were Perreault's first product. "The best part about them was just how strong they were. It was remarkable that you could get such a small little profile and they could be that durable," he said.
Three and-a-half years later, all of Vermont Bentwood's items can be found at shows, galleries, and on line. "A lot of people don't believe it's wood to begin with. They've never seen a lot of these woods, and a lot of people think it's leather," Perreault said.
A little bend, a lot of precision -- real wood jewelry inspired by a genuine person. "I can always tell myself I'm proud of myself today because of who he helped me become, and I think he knows that the level of pride I have of myself is an extension of pride he had in me and the faith he had in me," Perreault said.