guest blog

Burlington, VT / Part II : Meet the Makers

by Paige

I’d like you to meet some of my favorite Burlington minds and makers. I’m sure every town has their share of talented citizens. But I’m still holding fast to the Einstein theory, discussed in Part I, that mystery (ie: Champ the lake monster) begets & attracts creativity, because there is an awful lot of talent in this one horse town.

And I discovered that I’m not alone in my monster-ous thinking. Tove Ohlander of Arentzen Ohlander Glass (AO!), based in Burlington, sent me a note yesterday telling me that one of the subtle reasons she agreed to move to Burlington, so far from her native Sweden, was in fact because her childhood vacation area Östersund also had a lake monster, “Storsjö adjuret”. Her husband and business partner Rich Arentzen even makes tiny modern versions of Champ! (see below) So let’s see who else our lake beast friend has fueled the creative fire for…

[Champ, Rich Arentzen]

Jed Crystal of Hepper


I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jed for a few years and often rely on his keen design mind to be a sounding board for my ideas.

His latest business venture Hepper “Modern pet furniture that will make you jealous” is bringing crisp, yet cozy podular comfort to small beasts everywhere. (well at least to the ones whose owners REALLY love them…) And he’s right, I’m jealous. I want a herringbone curl-up cave that’s my size. Not to mention those lucky birds with the Roost birdhouses that get to be the modern neighbor that outshines all the other ‘old school’ (ie: twig style)houses and causes feathers to ruffle. I’m also loving his new UpNom feeders that he just unveiled at the Model Citizens show in NYC this past weekend. Yummy flat pack fun!


[clockwise from top: Minimal Lamps, Jed at his studio, Roost birdhouse, UpNom feeder, Pod bed, & Jed’s studio in hip alley, Lawson Lane]

To check out more of Jed’s work in all sorts of good colors, visit his website here. And to read an earlier d*s post about Hepper, just click here!

David Seaver Photography


[Ice Hotel, David Seaver]

Dave is one of the smartest life livers I know. He works hard all spring/summer taking photos for weddings, commercial products, the local hospital, upscale Vermont Vows Magazine, among others. In the fall /winter he can be found in Cambodia, riding his motorcycle or swinging in a hammock. And when he’s not working hard at relaxing there, he’s busy documenting the life and colors of that beautiful country. He just put out a book of his travels titled, “Cambodia Breaking the Bonds of History” and it’s breathtaking. Dave was also kind enough to be my man on the Burlington scene and take all the shots I needed for this guide, so a BIG thank you goes out to him!


[Cambodia Cow, David Seaver]


[orange orchid, David Seaver + the man himself]

Clark Derbes + Wylie Sophia Garcia

When I moved to Burlington in 2003, one of things that stood out to me the most about my new city was the creative license the town appeared to give to it’s local artists. The big metal power boxes that inhabited a lot of the street corners were skillfully painted up in bright & fun patterns. I really liked that, imagining that someone had commissioned this work done as a way to add color & visual interest to an otherwise ‘blah’ aspect of the urban landscape… Then one day they were all back to what I assume was their original color, gunmetal grey, and I learned that this C.Derbes had gone rouge and painted them all himself without permission or payment. Shame on the town officials who decided that grey was more civilized. Shame. Today Clark continues to create bright, bold, & beautiful work, now represented by Anne Connely Fine Art in Baton Rouge, and does so along side a very lovely & talented friend of mine, who is now his wife, Wylie Sophia Garcia. To see and learn more about Clark’s work click here and for Wylie, here.

[Untitled, 11×13 mixed media on a panel, Clark Derbes]


[clockwise from top: appliance door paintings, Circles painted with paper pulp, skateboard to be auctioned off to raise money for local art mentor program]

*One of Clark’s encaustic paintings was featured in a recent Katie Runnel d*s guest post. Check it out here (reflected?)above the fire place.


[clockwise from top: from her MFA show, The Origin of the World, Hysteria, Your Red Hot Body]

This was of course just a tiny taste of the many amazing Burlington Makers. Thanks so much for taking the time to meet them and I’ll be back tomorrow with Part I of the Kelowna, B.C. guide. xo

Suggested For You


  • Hi Paige! Thank you so much for sharing my monster story! I am so with you on the connection between lake monsters and great inspiration. I does equal Creativity. I’m thrilled as it looks like we can get our little fellow be the mascot for this summers 400 year celebrating the lake!
    I want to add that our shop and gallery is located inside Pine Street Art Works at 404 Pine st.

  • Hi Paige, I think it’s wonderful to see Burlington and its creative people on Design Sponge. My heart is here since my recent move to a downtown office. There are days when I think no one has any idea of what we are creating in our little pink building on the waterfront—we work with many locals, and also with global resources in India and elsewhere. I am proud to be living among these people you’ve already recognized. It’s a great community, which is why I’m here. It’s an inspiring time of year to get our creative juices flowing.

    Please come by and see our offices at 131 Battery Street. You may have seen our store but you haven’t seen our story!

  • Cool! I used to live in Burlington and have always missed that jewel of a city. Now you have officially made me miss it more. Great press on a great city. There are so many talented people living there.

  • I really like the interesting textures in the artist’s work that you posted at the bottom of this blog. Have you seen them in person? Seems like something in which to lose your mind in for awhile…I like it!

  • Thanks for the great words about burlington designers… I found it great to see a link to Winefred Ross Reilley’s work.. she’s a great friend and we love and admire her dearly!

  • Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.