The Amish People and Culture
Similar to the Puritans and Pilgrims before them, the Amish people migrated to America in search of religious freedom. However, unlike other smaller religious sects, the Amish have largely maintained the culture and customs of their forebears. Striving to keep the "English" world at a safe distance, with its mass urbanization and technological advances, the Amish developed a set of rules, called the Ordnung, which govern the use of machinery, styles of clothing and other areas of daily life including furniture and furnishing styles.
The excellent craftsmanship and simple lines of Amish furniture give it a timeless appeal. The straightforward tables, straight-backed chairs, and sturdy beds created by Amish woodworkers reflect the simple and puritan culture of this hard-working, religious community. The Amish people of north-central Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and central Indiana are known worldwide for their superb handcrafted wooden masterpieces. Because their beliefs and traditions prohibit using electricity, all of the woodworking and finishing on Amish-built furniture is done by hand. Skills handed down from generation to generation keep the old-world designs and attention to detail alive.
Amish Kitchen Hutch.
The handcrafted furniture created by the Amish is identifiable by its unadorned, simple lines and its precise construction. Made predominantly from oak, maple, hickory, and cherry woods using only hand tools, these handsome dining room tables, kitchen tables, and bedroom sets are found in Amish communities throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Excellent construction is a hallmark of Amish furniture. Dovetail joints and hand-mitered corners ensure that these pieces will last a lifetime, if not longer. Because each piece is made to order, it can be custom stained to match individual decors, from light maple to rich pecan to deep mahogany. Staining, too, is done by hand which gives the piece a rich, hand-rubbed finish.
Mission-style furniture with straight slats and angular construction and stoic and simple Shaker designs are frequently offered by Amish furniture workshops as are graceful sloping Windsor chairs and useful, traditional items such as pie safes and quilt racks. Gently curving, Queen Anne style legs also grace many Amish chairs and tables. As befits a community that emphasizes family values, cribs, highchairs, cradles, and other baby furniture items are commonly offered as well as furniture for young children. Rocking horses and other children's toys are common and unique handcrafted dolls are just as popular with adults as with children. The durability of these toys ensures that they'll be handed down to the next generation.
Amish Oak Chairs.
Amish furniture is perfectly suited for any room of the house. Dining rooms are warmed by large, hand-carved hutches, expansive dining room tables, and sturdy, straight-backed chairs. Bedroom sets with impressive, four-poster and canopy beds, matching dressers, armoires, nightstands, and framed, wooden mirrors add a sense of quiet style and permanence to a home. Pie safes and jelly cabinets add a touch of old-world charm to a country kitchen. Rocking chairs, an ideal gift for a new parent, are sturdy, graceful, and well suited to curling up with a good book on a cold winter's night. Offices, too, benefit from Amish furniture. What better investment in a company than to add a sturdy, oak wrap-around desk or a set of Amish cabinets or cherry bookcases?
Amish furniture is surprisingly affordable for such a high degree of craftsmanship. Regional cooperatives and showrooms in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana represent a large number of furniture makers and display samples and take orders for the craftsmen. Buyers can visit in person or visit virtual showrooms online. Often, a discount is offered for picking up the piece yourself. Because each piece is handmade, delivery can take several months, but for a piece that can last a generation, that's not too long. In addition, most Amish furniture dealers offer a lifetime warranty on their pieces.
Holmes County, Ohio
The Amish in Holmes County, Ohio have long been noted for their fine quality wood craftsmanship. Apart from the the large furniture factories and stores in the Holmes County area, there are also to be found along its back roads lots of small Amish wood shops specialising in everything from tables, cabinets, chairs and rockers to toys. In Holmes County alone over 240 licensed retail manufacturers contribute greatly to the local economy, to the tune of $75-95 million per year (2001 data).
Amish patio and lawn furniture, including such items as Adirondack chairs, gliders, garden swings, rockers, and picnic tables complement any home, but are particularly attractive with Midwestern Victorian architecture. Amish-built arbors, lawn ornaments, window boxes, and garden planters also make useful and decorative additions to the outdoor landscape and can withstand even the harshest winters.
Although Amish furniture can adapt to almost any design style, it lends itself to simple, country decor. Useful, yet decorative accessories, such as handmade quilts, wooden or tin candleholders, and hand-painted crockery add to the cozy, farmhouse ambiance. Baskets, flowers, and potted herbs further enhance that look. Wooden Amish handcrafted items, such as jewelry boxes, wall shelves, and coat racks are perfect accompaniments to the sturdy Amish furniture and help lend further warmth and character to a room.
Amish Area Rug.
An Amish piece can add grace and quiet elegance to any home, yard, or office. Amish furniture is an attractive, uniquely American, and stylish investment in the future. Besides, the piece you buy today could, very likely, become the heirloom of future generations.