What may seem like forever ago now, handcrafted furniture was quite commonplace. Consumers knew their furniture, be it a bookcase, dresser or complete dining room set, would last their lifetime as well as for generations to come. They passed their cherished pieces down to loved ones for decades of use. Yet today, it often seems as though the art of craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Although not as common, there are still a few master craftsmen who follow timeless traditions of skilled labor and produce remarkable handmade heirloom pieces that will last for generations to come. In fact, each year in the spring, as part of our “Meet the Builder” event, we welcome five of those skilled artisans into our showroom to discuss some of the traditional techniques they’ve held on to for centuries. This event is a great opportunity to speak to these Amish builders face-to-face and hear the history behind their talents and how they create beautiful furniture for you right here at The Amish Craftsman.
Many of our Amish builders come from generations of skilled artisans. Several started their woodworking careers in the RV industry because they not only wanted to be their own boss, but also wanted the opportunity to spend more time close to home and with their families. These amazing craftsmen each have a personal and remarkable story to share and we are thrilled to have had the chance to hear what they have to say. During our most recent opportunity we learned all about woodworking and Amish culture from a couple of our favorite Amish craftsmen. The following are just a few of the reasons why these craftsmen are so special to us.
It’s a Family Affair
With businesses ranging from 4 to 12 people, most of the employees in a craftsman’s woodworking business are family members and most live close to the shop. Wives often help with the bookkeeping and invoicing while the children help out too as they learn the family trade. They typically start out sweeping the floors and then they move onto sanding and finally assembling once they are older. Many Amish craftsmen hope their children learn the trade and find joy in woodworking as their dream is of passing their shop down to their children.
Many of us are aware that the Amish travel by horse and buggy and do not use electricity. In our world of smart phones and constant innovations in technology, we may wonder if the Amish still are able to live like that. The answer is yes! The craftsmen involved with creating the furniture at The Amish Craftsman still travel by horse and buggy and build the furniture using lights fueled by propane and kerosene – not electricity. The use of the internet, TV, and telephone does not appeal to them and they find such things distracting.
While the work day is long, typically beginning before dawn and going long into the afternoon, the builders do take breaks and time off to enjoy life with their families. For example, many Amish builders and their families enjoy meeting up at church and social events. They enjoy attending weddings, horse auctions, and barbecues together. One craftsman in particular mentioned in a recent interview with us that he has a beautiful outdoor grilling area with a fire pit that overlooks a fruit orchard on his property. His kids enjoy jumping on the trampoline on their property and they often spend warm summer nights sitting around the campfire with homemade popcorn.
With their passion and precision, Amish craftsmen truly know how to make one-of-a-kind furniture and pride themselves on their excellent work. Next week we will cover how Amish furniture is designed with such care and why it lasts for generations.