After last weekend’s Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event and the book release party for “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” my head was vapor-locked. I’m not built for that much social interaction. While it was great to meet and talk to everyone who came, I woke up Sunday morning somewhat zombified.
So after a big brunch, a group of us trekked down to the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, a quick 90-minute drive from my house. The stated reason for the visit: show furniture maker David Savage the place (his impressions of the place are here). But my motives were selfish. I needed to get my head on straight.
I’ve been visiting Pleasant Hill ever since we moved to Kentucky in 1993. And while I don’t build a lot of Shaker furniture, the furniture and architecture are like food for me as a designer and builder. Making simple things that last was a key part of Shaker life.
Western Shakers don’t get as much attention as the East Coast colonies. The furniture is bulkier and, to some eyes, less refined. I think the Western Shaker design aesthetic simply reflects the landscape and is flavored by the frontier furniture that was more common on the edge of the civilized world.
In any case, I love it. This trip I spent some time focusing on two of the workbenches at Pleasant Hill, which are unlike the benches at the East Coast colonies. You can read about those benches here and here.
I also focused on some of the scratched details around doors and on rails and stiles.
The attached gallery shows the things that caught my eye this time. But every visit is different.
— Christopher Schwarz