The Shakers lived in communal, self-sufficient farm communities working the land and tending to animals. Although they preached equality of the sexes, their day to day labor activities were segregated; women partook in domestic jobs such as weaving, cooking, and cleaning while men did manual labor, such as carpentry, farming, and other related work.

The Shaker’s mentality was that of simplicity and efficiency, thus, they incorporated many tools in their everyday life.  Sieves were used to add convenience and ease in the Shaker kitchen and in the Shaker seed industry and production of medicines. Sieves can be made in various sizes and are usually round made with bent wood. Variations of the metal wired bottom allowed for larger or smaller items to seep through.

A sieve is an instrument that we might know of today as a colander. Sieves could be used to separate items of various sizes, clean fruits and vegetables, or to sift flour. This multipurpose tool used by the Shaker women in various aspects of their work and has evolved to assist in many of our modern activities today.

 

-Jessica F.

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