Popular Woodworking 2006-02 № 153, страница 76

Popular Woodworking 2006-02 № 153, страница 76

"Members of the church of God... are forbidden to make anything for Believers that will have a tendency to feed... pride and vanity."

—from Millennial Laws, 1845

the square upper sections measuring 33/8" on a side. True: the table is large, but there are examples of Eastern Shaker tables of similar dimension built with less substantial undercarriages. It's not just the thickness of the part that gives these legs their visual bulk. It's the fact that the legs retain most of this thickness along most of their length. Large tables with heavy legs made in Eastern communities have much of their thickness cut away as the legs descend to the floor, resulting in a leg that appears much lighter.

Puzzling the Past

In the evening of my next-to-last day at Pleasant Hill this past summer, I went alone to the rooms

above the Meetinghouse. These were the room s in which the community's elders and eldresses had lived. They were fitted with a good deal of original Pleasant Hill furniture and probably looked much as they had 150 years ago.

It had been a blistering day, and the rooms were not air-conditioned. Even in the twilight of late evening, the air was hot and close, but spending time in these rooms alone was important to me - so important that I didn't notice the heat until later, after I'd left the Meetinghouse

I didn't touch anything that evening, although I had touched many things during the day as Al Parrish, the magazine's photographer, and I had carried and turned

pieces, moving them into position to be photographed.

Instead, I kept my hands folded behind my back in what I now think was an unconscious attitude of respect for those who had once lived in these rooms.

What they - and the men and women in their charge - had accomplished here in the Kentucky wilderness in the first third of the 19th century, working largely with hand tools, is almost beyond belief.

I looked at lamps, at a ledger, at a marvelous curly cherry secretary. I looked at oval boxes and blanket chests and simple Shaker beds, at rugs, at a mirror, at all the products of Shaker craft on display.

Then in the hallway that connected the rooms, I studied each of the oversized black-and-white photos of 19th-century Pleasant Hill Shakers that hung there, trying to get a sense, via these images, of who these people had been.

The rooms were quiet, the silence broken only by the faint sounds of my feet moving across the wood floors. The only light was the muted late-evening glow coming through the windows.

I like to puzzle over the historical origins of Shaker furniture. I want to know why it is the way it is, but I'm even more interested in the work's emotional origins.

Did the craftsman who made the sponge-painted oval boxes

The legs on this table exhibit the typically abrupt Pleasant Hill transition from square upper section to turned lower section. The legs are atypical in their relatively thin diameter.

The legs on the Leander Gettys work table are massive. While the table is certainly large, there are examples of Eastern Shaker tables of similar size with less substantial undercarriages.

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