Posts Tagged ‘Shaker history’

Made in the USA – Shaker Boxes and Tote

Monday, August 5th, 2013

In the true Shaker tradition, craftsman Keith Griffith has designed and created these beautiful pieces to join the Sturbridge Yankee Workshop collection of Shaker items.  Continue reading below for more reasons why these items are such unique treasures.


Works of Art Meets Elegance and Function

Using the same construction the Shakers did in the 1700s, wood worker Keith Griffith takes pride in creating these unique pieces of art.

The wood is cut into thin bands which are then drilled and hand carved to tapered swallowtail joints.  The swallowtail joint, as seen to the left around the band of our Made in the USA Cherry Shaker Tote, is crafted to expand in heat and contract in cold.

In the Shaker tradition, the swallowtail joint ensures that the wood does not split during temperature changes while maintaining the overall simplicity and elegance of the piece.


Traditional Craftsmanship

After finely sanding, each piece of wood is soaked in boiling water.  Now more pliable, the bands are bent to shape and fastened with copper tacks.  The bottom is then attached with wood pegs.

The wood is sanded again then painted in a deep country red and rubbed to let the beauty of the cherry wood show through.  If you look closely, you can see the gorgeous detail in the wood grain of our Shaker Banded Box.


Finely Crafted From Start to Finish

To create a beautiful and durable finish, layers of seal coat, urethane oil and paste wax are applied to the wood.  Extra time is spent on the finishing process to ensure that these works of art look great and last a long time.

In the picture to the left, you can easily see the finished product of this fine craftsmanship in our Shaker Banded Box collection.


Simplicity and Elegance in Every Room

Wherever you choose to display our Shaker Tote and Banded Boxes, we can assure you that they will enhance your country, primitive, or Shaker inspired decor.

Interested in more Shaker information? Read more about the history of SYW’s Shaker furniture by clicking here, or the history of Shaker craftsmanship by clicking this link here.

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New Shaker Furniture Designs at Sturbridge; made in the USA

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Simplicity, purity and utility have been the founding cornerstones of Shaker furniture, design and living for nearly as long as America has been a nation. In 1774, Ann Lee arrived in New York with nine followers of a religious sect known as the Wardleys. They settled near Albany, where they developed into a community completely dedicated to spiritual living. Because their rituals included shouting and trembling, the religion’s followers became known as Shakers; thought to have been derived through combining the words ‘Shaking’ and ‘Quakers.’ Over the next 106 years, the Shaker movement grew to include nineteen religious communities scattered from Maine to Ohio to Florida, with a following of around 6,000 members. This included the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine, founded in 1783 – the last active Shaker community, located just a few towns over from us at Sturbridge.


The Shakers sought to apply harmony and order to every aspect of life. As they put it, “Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.” Simple, honest style and fine craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Shaker design. Here at Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, we have a large selection of furniture that features the clean, simple lines this style is known for. With all shaker furniture, it is important that the piece have a functional benefit as well. Style and practicality is what you’ll find with our existing customer favorite and new shaker products.

Pictured here to the left is our Shaker Desk. The desk’s tapered legs highlight the smooth table surface for work and computer use. A single front drawer easily pulls out to store important paperwork or crafting materials. Our Shaker Desk is great because with the choice of either a chestnut or golden oak stain, it will coordinate with all home decor styles. If you need more space, we have a Large Shaker Desk, which offers two drawers instead.

Another new Shaker option at SYW is our Shaker Side Cabinet, seen here to the left. This side cabinet is great because it doubles as both a storage cabinet and an accent or end table. Designed to fit into smaller spaces, a front cabinet door opens to a spacious interior, while a bottom shelf and top table surface offer additional display space. This distinctive piece is also available in the chestnut (shown) or golden oak stain.

All of the new product mentioned here is proudly made in the USA of American hardwood that complies with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative of Northeast forests. A five step finishing process protects the furniture from moisture or stains; ensuring its durability and longevity for years to come in your home.


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A word on Shaker furniture

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Shaker Ladderback ChairsThe United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (aka Shakers), was a religious sect founded by Jane and James Wardley. They came to America from Manchester, England in 1774 and settled along the Hudson River on New York. Shakers made furniture for their own use, as well as for sale to the general public. Today, it is considered the only true American furniture style.

Shaker furniture is widely admired for its simplicity, innovative joinery, quality, and practicality. Many examples of Shaker furniture survive and are preserved today, including such popular forms as Shaker tables, chairs, rocking chairs (made in several sizes), and cabinets. Collections of Shaker furniture are maintained by many art and historical museums in the United States and England, as well as in numerous private collections. The underlying principles of Shaker design have given inspiration to some of the finest designers of modern furniture. With an emphasis on straight lines and symmetry, Shaker furniture is as contemporary in the modern world as it was two hundred years ago.

Shaker Peg ShelfThe furniture of the Shakers of old was designed to match their lifestyle. They valued functionality, durability, and purity. Original Shakers’ designs reflected their beliefs that good craftsmanship was an act of prayer and that form should follow function. Each item was fashioned solely to serve its intended use and was devoid of decoration. Shaker pieces are known for their simple elegance and solid construction that emphasize the natural beauty of custom made real wood furniture. Shaker furniture of today is made from the same traditional woods that the craftsmen of old used – Maple and Cherry – and the same glorious colors those woods provide are a mark of quality shaker furniture. The simplicity of the furniture is the key, with tables featuring few adornments, chairs made in a practical but stylish manner, and tables built simply and beautifully to last.

Shaker furniture’s hallmark clean lines and lack of adornments give it a simple aesthetic quality. Although the handcrafted furniture is now less common, and indeed with only four remaining Shakers, certainly dying out, it is a style that is very much in demand for its minimalism and simple quality.

Like the Shaker way of life, Shaker furniture history has been shaped by hard work and dedication. Additionally, it is heralded as design significantly ahead of its time. As far as Shaker original furniture goes, you aren’t likely to come across any unless you visit a museum, but furniture which takes inspiration from Shaker furniture history is founded on the same principles of design, and can allow an affordable alternative for modern design. Shaker furniture has a long and detailed history, and it is sure to live in on the memories of those who appreciate their furniture as essentially a work of art.

Shaker Wall ShelvesShaker Storage bench

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