Issue 07 T.O.C. – A Shaker’s Perspective on His Community’s Craft

This is last installment in a blog series which reveals the table of contents of upcoming Issue Seven

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As Part of a Life Lived

A Shaker’s Perspective on His Community’s Craft 

Brother Arnold Hadd

The Shaker furniture form defines perfection for many woodworkers. Bearing gracefully understated lines, smooth curves, and idealized simplicity, the style is an embodiment of otherworldly finesse in pre-industrial workmanship. The fact that this furniture was made within communal settings, steeped in piety and the pursuit of perfection, has deepened public fascination ever since collectors began eagerly buying and selling these objects in the early 20th century.

But, how different is Shaker furniture, truly? Are these pieces a cut above typical period craftsmanship, inside and out, made “for angels to sit upon?” Or do they reflect the efficiency and pragmatism commonly practiced in pre-industrial work, with coarse secondary surfaces and tool marks remaining? 

For the first time, the Shaker perspective on these questions will be made known. Brother Arnold Hadd, one of the three remaining Shaker Believers in the world, weighs in on this discussion and explains how it relates to the history and principles of Shakerism. He discusses the narrative of his own Sabbathday Lake Community, and alludes to the trend of furniture sellers and antiques dealers exploiting the Shaker name for financial benefit. 


Accompanying Brother Arnold’s thoughts are many close-up photographs of period Shaker furniture, along with commentary by Joshua Klein and Michael Updegraff regarding their observations of these pieces. The undeniable and classic Shaker elegance married to practical, efficient construction creates a more complete, accurate, and beautiful picture of what Shaker craftsmanship was and is all about. We are excited about this one, folks – it will forever change the way you look at and appreciate Shaker furniture.

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