Miles and miles of stone walls lead us to the picket gate.
I am scarcely scratching the surface on all the aspects of Shaker belief, for what I wish to show you, is the legacy they left behind, due to another belief they had...the value of hard work and keeping one's hands busy with it;
"Labor to make the way of God your own; let it be your inheritance, your treasure, your occupation, your daily calling." so said Mother Ann, one of the leaders of this sect.
Shaker dress was simplistic. Women wore solid colored clothing , bib and straw bonnets.
Men wore simple white shirts,vests, breeches and suspenders and straw hats.
Notice how the walls are bare of any ornamentation, no mirrors, paintings, wallpaper or stencils. Although it is not my style, it is quite beautiful in an unpretentious sort of way
There was no gingerbread or fretwork on Shaker
Architecture , it was unadorned and modest...as were the Shakers themselves.
Every thing that the Shakers required was designed , formed and created from their own hands.
They developed a most classic line of items for their own special use.( Although many Shaker communities sold their wares and seeds to the public).
Shaker laws required that everything made, be useful. These were straightforward designs with no frills attached and yet, strangely beautiful in their perfection of line, symmetry and simplicity. Many of these items have become well known to us today as exclusive design of the Shakers..items such as:
Shaker chairs with woven seats.
( the woven rag rugs do provide a welcome splash of color, and the seats on the chairs have nice geometric designs)
Shaker baskets and bonnets.
Shaker boxes, used for just about anything that would fit in an oval box. These are reproduced today by artisans wishing to preserve the craft.
Buckets, barrels and firkins...
All these functional items were created in their workshops.
There were workshops for the "brethren"
and workshops for the "sisters".
My favorite place in all the Village is the wonderful weaving house... just look at all this beautiful equipment!
Do any of these things look familiar to you???
This is where I got my inspiration to create Mother Hopalongs weaving house. My little buns are not shakers, they like ornamentation much too much!
(Note the little bun in the yellow apron with the drop spindle? The inspiration for her came from a photograph of Sarah, as a little drop spindling gal... all grown up now. Sarah and her mother Diane have a marvelous and beautiful blog, the Corgyncombe Courant at:
http://corgyncombecourant.blogspot.com/ They are also my cousins.) You must visit them!
This is a walking wheel in my house, I found it at a barn sale many years ago, less than 4 miles from Shaker Village. I believe it is nearly identical to one in the museum. My spinning skills are abysmal, and I am not nearly as tidy as a Shaker.
Now, back to the Shakers...
Just look at the
the clean "mirror image" of the stairways,
One stairway for the men the other for the women
One doorway for the men, the other for the women.
Though the walls are always white, the trim is usually a wonderful slate blue, barn red or yellow ochre.
Widows and orphans were taken into the fold with regularity, as were runaway slaves, homeless wanderers and those just fed up with life on "the outside". And the Shakers thrived for a time.
Everyone worked."Hands to work, Hearts to God",was the Shaker creed.
But those miles upon miles of fabulous dry stacked stone walls
surrounding the Village, were NOT built by the Shakers.
They were built by the Irish, who were hired at $1000 per mile.
Those Irish are the VERY BEST wall builders, ever!
All fell into disrepair until the 60's when some concerned, wealthy Kentuckians began the restoration process of this marvelous treasure. Thank goodness for them, what a triumph!
Notice the color of the barn is BLACK, There are a lot of black barns in Kentucky.
We took over one hundred photos here the other day, but I don't wish to inundate you. However, Early American Life magazine did a wonderful feature on the Village in their August issue. This is also the issue featuring the 26th Annual Directory of some of Americas best heritage artisans.
And on page 62, you will see a piece created by yours truly...
I am honored to be one of the artists chosen for the:
PS: In case you were wondering, our dear baby donkey IS a girl ( I am so glad!) and her name is Jemima.
That's Miss Jemima, if you please.