Bachelor of Fine Arts

Woodworking and Fine Furniture-Making

The Burlington College B.F.A. in Woodworking and Fine Furniture-Making is designed to help you develop the skills, resourcefulness, and creativity necessary for a career today in this traditional art and craft. Whether you intend to work for or with others, or independently, BC offers a responsive curriculum, the broad expertise of a seasoned faculty, and close support in gaining hold of the essentials of craft:

  • design fluency
  • material consciousness
  • tool and machine proficiency
  • project management
  • critical judgment.

Working with your hands, sharpening your eye, and realizing your ideas in a supportive craft and academic community, your abilities and confidence grow. You make more than beautiful, useful things; you make your way in a living tradition.

Most of the credits for the Woodworking and Fine Furniture-Making B.F.A. are offered at the Vermont Woodworking School, a modern facility in an historic post-and-beam barn in Fairfax, Vermont. You’ll be a resident-student at the school, which spans three floors and includes several machine rooms, bench rooms, classrooms, a finishing space, computer/media room, lunch/library lounge, photo studio, and gallery where student, faculty, and other work is regularly on display and open to the public. The 15,000-sq. ft. workspace accommodates 40 resident-students. Most enjoy housing adjacent to or walking distance from the barn, or they commute from nearby; all have access to the shop throughout the day and week. The faculty, accomplished designer/craftspeople practicing professionally, are regularly available onsite, working with students.

Our program begins with a strong emphasis on the basics: understanding wood, developing skills with hand-tools, becoming comfortable and effective with machines. At the same time we undertake basic design: analyzing historical and current examples, sketching to visualize and convey ideas, drafting useful plans on paper and on screen. Your first project will involve structural, functional, technical, and aesthetic concerns, from concept to critique. Here you’ll own the standards you’ve met.

Mid-level courses go beyond these basics, with closer attention to turning, carving, steam- and laminate-bending, veneering, and complex joinery. Design challenges increase accordingly, encompassing bigger pictures: How might your work be marketed? How might a livelihood be organized to sustain it? Your toolkit grows to include the computer (becoming adept with SolidWorks, for instance, the industry-standard in design software), the camera (using the photo studio to see your work as you want your client to), and the Internet (putting yourself out there). Electives such as green woodworking, artistic expression, and designing/making multiples match your own expanding interests.

Advanced work includes chairs, complex casework, perhaps incorporating materials other than wood or unique custom functions—a conceptual piece would not be out of bounds. You’ll be enjoying your proficiency, designing what you make, making what you design. Work culminates with an action-learning internship, a capstone degree project, and a comprehensive portfolio. Throughout, liberal arts courses offered on the Burlington College campus — writing for college and beyond, studio art, art history, and additional electives — complement your concentration and consolidate your B.F.A. degree.

All students are required to complete an upper-level internship in the major including participation in the Action Learning Seminar for Wood Artisans. Each student also undertakes a 9-credit Degree Project and 3-credit Final Portfolio and Presentation course in the last semester.

Every Bachelor of Fine Arts in Woodworking and Fine Furniture-Making degree candidate must complete Burlington College’s General Education requirements, with the exception of only being required to take one semester of Integration Seminar.  Students must earn 121 credits to achieve a degree. The following course requirements are specific to the Bachelor in Fine Arts in Woodworking and Fine Furniture-Making. Other coursework may be substituted with permission of academic advisor. All courses are 3-credits unless otherwise noted.

Foundation Level: 15 credits
FIN111 Color and Composition
FIN113 Drawing as Communication
FIN201 Art History:Pre-historic-Medieval
FIN202 Art History:Renaissance-Modern
FRN205 3D Design and Sculpting in Wood

Entry Level: 15 credits
FRN102 Fundamentals
FRN103 Beginning Design

Intermediate Level: 18 credits
FRN202 Beyond the Basics
FRN203 Design Studio I
FRN204 Business and Computer Marketing for Artisans

Upper Level: 9 credits
FRN304 Chairs

Upper Level Electives (12 credits)
FRN206 Wood Armature Lamp Design
FRN207 Advanced Turning
FRN302 Designing for Multiples
FRN320 Furniture Elements I
FRN360 Artistic Expression
FRN370 Advanced Furniture Design Project

Internship and Degree Project: 15 credits
FRN303 Action Learning Seminar and Internship for Wood Artisans
FRN389 Final Portfolio and Presentation
FRN450 Craftsmanship Degree Project

Total: 84 credits

View the Woodworking brochure.

Videos by students in the advanced Chairs class at Vermont Woodworking School.