Growing up in the Amana Colonies in Iowa, a religious community often confused with the Amish, my sister and I grew up taking for granted the beautiful Amana furniture, tinware, fabrics, willow baskets, and on and on, that the local craftsmen made for their homes. Today they are treasured antiques, and Amana estate sales and auctions bring collectors and dealers anxious to buy these lovely pieces. We were lucky enough to have our Uncle Jacob, a talented furnituremaker, and would visit him every day in his woodworking shop where in his later years he would make footstools for the tourist trade and do caning and rush seats for the locals who needed repairs. The burl walnut veneer chest above was made by his father. The chest is an exquisite example of the work of the Amana cabinetmakers.
Amana furniture traditionally has Shakerlike simplicity and clean lines.
But there are pieces that are a little more elaborate and yet simple at the same time.
This one-of-a-kind plant stand was created by our Uncle for Tante Lillie, combining his talent of woodworking and caning.
This is a typical Amana one-drawer end table in cherry. Furniture was traditionally either walnut or cherry . . .
Although this antique Amana cupboard is made of light-colored wood, the cherry trimwork and knobs on the drawers make a lovely contrast.
Here is a walnut china cabinet from our Oma. The lines couldn't be simpler!
I suppose "Amana shranks" (cupboards) should have a category of their own as they are furniture but depart from the traditional use of walnut and cherry and are usually found in pine (although there are walnut shranks, and they are coveted). This is a rare grain painted shrank waist high. It's an absolute dream, and the photo doesn't do it justice!
I combine walnut and cherry woods in my kitchen. The plant stand is a massive antique Amana burl walnut piece, and the dropleaf Amana cherry table and chairs with rush seats (a commonly used material for chairs in Amana) were made by my Uncle Jacob for his kitchen in the '40s following a traditional Amana pattern.
Amana walnut and cherry caned rocking chairs can be found in EVERY Amana household. This is a rare walnut child's rocker impressed with the makers name and year, 1881.
The talent of Amana cabinetmakers is truly unbelievable. It is amazing to see the great array of furniture and related items (cutlery trays, clocks, footstools, etc.) that they made . . . and always with great attention to detail and quality!
(Note me posing above right in my birthday photo with a little Amana table!)