In case you don’t know about the Shakers, their primary belief was “Maintaining that everybody could find God within him or herself, rather than through clergy or rituals, the Shakers dedicated their lives to pursuing perfection and continuously confessing their sins. A good example of this is this motto: “Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.” Thus, objects were made to be perfect in their eyes while plain in style, durable and highly functional.”
The Shakers had some interesting practices – separate staircases, doors, and furniture for men & women, no marriage or procreation- not exactly the best way to carry on your legacy and religious beliefs, but geez, they sure could make furniture! The Shakers were also very devoted to cleanliness. The rooms in Shaker villages and homes have pegs surrounding the room and at the end of the day, or when things were not being used, they would hang everything up, including the chairs, to thoroughly sweep. Their founder, Mother Ann, was quoted saying “There is no dirt in heaven” so they designed rooms that were easy to keep clean. “A Shaker room usually contained walls of recessed doors and drawers for storage. The less freestanding furniture- the easier it was to sweep the floors. Their cabinetry was beautifully joined and finished with very little ornament. Although Shakers believed that items with utility could also be beautiful, they did not believe in adding beauty for beauty’s sake alone. Typically, drawers were simple slab fronts with small wooden pulls and cupboard doors had simple styles and rails with a recessed center panel. The beauty was in the details; the way the cupboard doors fit precisely into their frame, the dovetailed joints of the drawers, the careful mitering of the styles and rails.
I think the the Shaker ideals closely align with how I’m feeling about my new work right now.. I want everything to be just perfect before I “debut” it all… BUT, it’s all so simple and functional. A few months ago Thom and I were at a book sale and I found a book of Shaker furniture plans that I’ve been reading at night. I’m just so smitten with it all right now. I wonder what life is like for the 3 remaining Shakers at Sabbathday Lake. I often daydream about leading a simpler life, without all of the television, internet, and connected-ness, but I sure do like all of our modern conveniences.
And I do find a bit of irony in my obsession with the Shakers and the fact that I blog about it on the day I’m picking up my new iphone. Maybe I should get this case for it by Miniot, a Dutch designed & made case.