I sat out on my porch one night, thinking of articles to write about and mentioned to a friend how the popularity of Amish furniture had seemed to be growing. I thought maybe I should check it out. He scoffed at my mention of Amish retail. “It is an oxymoron!” he said. “Especially if they sell Amish furniture over the internet, ” he added. “The Amish don’t even believe in the internet!”
I admitted that my friend had a point – but “just because furniture is, say Victorian-style” I told him, “does not mean it was made in the Victorian era. ” He admitted that I had a point too. And we concluded that the allure of the Amish simplicity had become quite a modern interior decorating fad of-sorts. Therefore, non-Amish people were studying the design and creation of Amish furniture in order to sell it to contemporary, or non-Amish people as retail merchandise.
“So, you are saying it’s not authentic Amish furniture?” my friend asked me. I wasn’t sure. I suppose it would depend on the seller. If it is a small, independent seller they may trade with actual Amish craftsman on a regular basis for their wares – but certainly not warehouses full of “vast selections at great prices!”
“No, ” I told my friend “authentic Amish furniture would likely be sold on a much smaller scale. “However, there is another possibility . . . ” I considered out loud and trialed off. I wasn’t sure how much more he wanted to draw out a discussion of Amish wares – but surprisingly, he had not grown tired of the subject. “Which is . . . ?” He asked after a long pause. I explained to him that the Amish are educated not only in studies such as mathematics and history, but they are also taught to follow a trade when they are young – often a family trade. “What does that mean?” he pushed. “Well, I told him, they have this tradition of letting their teenagers at a certain time, explore outside the community before they are baptized . . . ” I went on to explain that almost always the youth will return to the safety and sanctuary of his or her own home, family, and community. The other option is banishment. They must sever themselves completely from the flock, so to speak.
THIS, I explained, could account for some actual, traditional Amish furniture available in retail for corporate gain. If the Amish furniture were made by men trained in Amish carpentry, by Amish fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, or other members of the community – it would thus be authentic. There are, as I mentioned, few Amish teens who explore the world outside the haven of all they have ever known and decide to remain there. However, there is still that minority – therefore, there is still that possibility.
This article is all based on a conversation and speculation based on what I know of the Amish people and their traditions. Nonetheless, I thought it would be interesting to write about. It is funny that a culture having as little to do with the outside world as possible would become so much a part (if not spiritually, at least stylistically) of our world. Considering that we are outsiders to their tradition, lifestyle and the nature of their entire society.
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching, gardening, and fashion. For more of her articles on the Amish, please visit amishretail.com, supplier of high quality Amish Baskets and Amish Furniture .