Mother Ann Lee founded the Shaker* movement in England. The Shakers desired freedom and religious tolerance. Mother Ann and eight followers came to Albany, NY in 1774 and formed a settlement there. Shaker life was very simple, driven by religious convictions, and hard work.
Their architecture followed their lifestyle. It was almost stark in its simplicity, but served these economically conscious people well. Mother Lee would remind them not to waste a thing. The interior of their homes were simple as well. “Shaker Peg” hooks lined the walls and served as a place to hang coats, hats, as well as chairs, when not in use. Shaker furniture was plain with clean lines. The furniture was often made from pine which was durable, yet lightweight.
Mother Lee , a firm believer in hard work, reminded them to “Put your hands to work and your hearts to God.”
The Shaker box, as I have pictured above, was meticulously built individually so that each lid fit perfectly upon each base.
Craftsmen still make Shaker boxes the same way today, using the tools that the Shakers would have used. The boxes were used to hold everything in a Shaker household from buttons, to dry goods, from shop tools to kitchen items. In addition, they were made in sizes for nesting. When the boxes were empty, they could all be nested together into the largest one. This would fit with the Shaker’s philosophy of keeping things neat, simple and not wasting space.
The Shakers were responsible for the invention of many items including the clothespin, circular saw, flat broom, Babbit metal, a wheel-driven washing machine, and many more.
***Thank you to my friend Tom for making my Shaker boxes. I have a nest of 6; this is the largest. Each box in my set has a Bird’s Eye Maple top. I wish you could see it clearly. They are truly a work of art….
Good evening friends!
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