Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Movers and Shakers

On our journey to Pete Galbert's to make a chair, we took a trip further West to the Hancock Shaker Village in West Massachusetts. I had been there a few years prior, but the visit had been fleeting and I had not had the chance to look around as much as I would have liked. Lisa had never been, so it was great for her to see a place that had inspired my furniture making direction.

I won't go into great detail about the Shakers, as there are enough books and information about them to fill a library, but again I was taken aback at just how advanced, ingenious and inspiring this community of people were. It all seemed to be a great system with the exception of that one small detail..... those who know of the Shakers, know what I mean.

But although it appeared they didn't think that one through quite enough, it certainly did not mean that they were backward in any way, shape or means. In fact they embraced innovation and technology and were usually the first to incorporate new machinery into their lifestyles, like the motor vehicle. They also created their fair share of inventions to, like the circular saw blade and the flat broom. It's claimed they even came up with the first modern washing machine of sorts!

Just like the inventions that would go on to be everyday modern fixtures in our lives today, Shaker furniture was also advanced for it's age. A lack of unnecessary adornment, clean fine lines and precision workmanship have seen it labeled as the precursor to modern furniture. The beautiful furniture and built-ins above are in one of the many rooms in the meeting house on the second floor.

The Shaker credo of 'Hands to work and hearts to God,' which inspired them to do the very best in all aspects of their lives didn't end with their furniture either. It was carried through into everything they did, the tools they made and buildings that housed them. This workbench in the woodworking shop for example.

I left that day feeling as enthusiastic as I had 3 years ago. Now all I need to do is get home and start transferring that energy into all of the products we are intending on stocking in our shop. That's also why I'm excited to see the plans for the shop in just two days.

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