They wear plain dress. They limit the use of electricity or telephones.
They seldom drive and their schooling stops at eighth grade.
They make excellent furniture.
They have Anabaptist origins and even into this modern age rely on few electronic devices. They have an affinity for manual labor and have increased in population four times the rate of overall America.
They are the Amish of Pennsylvania.
With origins dating back to the schism in Switzerland between a group of Swiss and a group called the Anabaptists, the Amish settled into Western Pennsylvania and started their small but prevalent communities. While to the outside, they may seem strange, Amish have a particular set of values that guide their life.
That’s where the furniture comes in.
In the 1920s, Americans began a new appreciation for early American folk art. Dealers and historians placed great value on the pieces. The Amish furniture was part of this “revival.” While Amish furniture comes with a variance of styles (there are at least three major schools where furniture design is taught), they share some general characteristics:
- 100% of Amish furniture is hand-crafted.
- Most of Amish furniture is made from one of five types of wood: Oak, cherry, hickory, walnut, or maple.
- It takes approximately eight weeks to build new or custom Amish furniture.
It is remarkable in today’s day and age that the Amish rely on a difficult and time-consuming way of designing and crafting furniture. It, however, is a testament to the quality of the pieces. Here are the high points of their method.
The Amish mostly do not use electricity for their crafting of furniture. Electricity in general is frowned upon for use, as it goes against their culture. While some electricity is used when crafting furniture (but only for communities that need the income it brings in), most rely on a diesel powered system that uses a system of belts and pulleys.
Many styles have developed when undergoing the carving part of the process. Different ornamental symbols will be hand carved into the wood. These symbols will often be flowery designs that have a beautiful and timeless look.
In fact, no Amish piece will look the same as another. This is because different craftsmen work on different pieces–some for the living room, some for the bedroom, and so forth. In addition, the craftsmen all take care to select their wood. Each comes with a different grain and the craftsmen bring out the patterns of the grain to make carvings.
The Amish are bringing a new type of furniture into their product selection as well: the shed. Sheds have a useful purpose. They are outdoors, can store a great deal of tools and supplies, have easy access to withdraw said tools. Wooden sheds provide particular value. It can last between 15 and 20 years.
A garden shed is useful for storing any kind of equipment used for gardening: spades, shovels, bags of fertilizer or soil, pots for plants, and more. A garden shed can be wooden and designed well, as the Amish do, and even paid for month to month, as some places are now doing.
The Amish are now crafting by hand the Amish garden shed as well as outdoor furniture, Amish barns, and Amish dog houses. Branching out will bring them additional revenue.