Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village
The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing are a religious sect more commonly known as The Shakers, given for the dancing they partake in during services. They live communally and are amazing at invention, music, egalitarianism. The only remaining members live in a Maine commune. Since we had seen Borrowed Light at Jacob's Pillow on Sunday, we wanted to visit the Shaker Village in Hancock, MA.  It is a beautiful setting in which most of the buildings still stand in pristine condition.  The Shakers have not lived in the village since the 1960's.  We heard nice talks in the round barn and the dormitory about the structures and life in general.  The dormitory dining room had 2 interior windows, borrowed light.  
All Shaker design begins with function.  Once the function is perfected, the form follows. While their inventiveness in utilitarian architecture, tool design, and manufacturing is impressive, it is their woodworking that most appeals to me.  It is a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing form of clean, smooth lines. A table foot does not need a ball and claw to assure it's stability.  A simple, angled leg ends on a point with the minimum area needed to do the job. Each piece holds the maker's hand in its appearance.  I can literally see the man at work, sanding, oiling, joining.   The warm, smooth wood of the furniture, built in cabinets, etc shimmers with a depth of color and screams to be lovingly rubbed.  
Hancock Shaker Village Common Dining Room

 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
                                                And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
                                                         When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
                                                       To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right. 
by Elder Johnson