By Kevin Williams
HANDMADE WOODEN AMISH FIRKIN: Okay, call me stupid...I am a journalist, I work with words, but I had not heard the the term "firkin" before....sounds like a word you'd use as a substitute when you want to say something you shouldn't....So, here's a firkin bucket for you all to admire...hand-made, wooden and apparently Amish in origin. Apparently this was a "sugar bucket" once used on an Amish farmstead. I love the wooden nails and the bentwood handle. Amazing craftsmanship. Click here to take a look.
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH-AMISH PLACE MAT: I love this. Yes, the Pennsylvania Dutch sayings on the place mat are kitschy, but this is classic American folk art. If I lived in an old farmhouse and had a big wooden picnic table to put these on, I would...does that make my tacky?:) Maybe, but I like these...click here to see these place mats.
LANCASTER COUNTY COFFEE MUG: Again, this is kitschy folk art, but I love it because it tells a story....I don't drink much coffee (the Etsy listing calls this a milkglass), but if I did, I'd definitely have this on my wish list. Click here to see.
HEX SIGN TIN: I love this item and I'm so tempted to order it. This item and the above ones (excluding the firkin) all share a common thread: they are Pennsylvania Dutch folk art of the 1950s - 1970s that capture the evolution with and fusion of Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish cultures. I've written repeatedly over the years how the two were - and still are - very different, but the public often lumps the two together and these artifacts illustrate how and when that "lumping" began to occur. Hex signs were c0-opted as Amish, for instance, when really they were a PA Dutch tradition. The Amish never infused any meaning into hex signs. But as tourists began to "discover" the Amish in the mid-20th century, tourism type businesses needed to have things to sell to visitors. The Amish offered little in the way of symbolism to sell,but the PA Dutch did through their art, etc. So the two were fused together by the tourism business. Click here to see this beautiful hex sign tin.