Amish Spirit Helps Old Order Amish Community Survive in a Modern World

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Amish Spirit and an Old Order Amish Community have found a great partnership, honoring the heritage and quality of traditional Amish Quilt making.

...the Amish, in turn, demonstrate that same trust and respect for us. That’s the most special and exhilarating part of our job. - Karen Vasconi

This past Columbus Day weekend, Amish Spirit made another visit to a secluded old order Amish community in Pennsylvania to restock their inventory of handmade Amish quilts. During this visit, which lasted two full days, Amish Spirit principals Ted Milton and Karen Vasconi purchased over twenty quilts, but more importantly, they continued to build a relationship with a group of people who remain enigmatic to the rest of a very large world.

Amish Spirit, which was founded in 1996, purchases these quilts from the Amish and offers them to the general public, bridging the gap between two very different cultures. This allows the Amish to reach a broader market for their handmade goods without sacrificing the private and humble nature they are culturally accustomed to. Because of this, each quilt is sold for a fair price, and in turn, makes a very delicate and sacred art a viable way to make a living wage.

On a typical visit to the small town, home to nearly 40 families, Ted and Karen will not only purchase finished quilts, but will have the opportunity to view many quilt tops (quilts in progress) to begin planning their purchases for the next visit. “On one hand, it makes curating the inventory a little easier, but at the same time you realize there are many intangibles to consider,” says Ted.

Amish Quilts are an important part of American History, and are featured in the permanent collections of most American Museums. While there are quite a few traditional patterns used in Amish quilt making, many of which have evolved over the last 150 years, this particular visit focused on quilts featuring the Amish Star - a symbol in Amish culture that represents good fortune, love, hope, harmony, energy and fertility. Variations of the Amish Star purchased on this trip include the Broken Star, the Radiant Star and quilts with multiple stars, such as Stars over the Georgetown Path.

Typically, it can take 500-700 hours to make a quilt, however, time invested does not guarantee a great quilt. Many quilts are under-designed, stiff and limited. Others can be over-designed, appearing garish, glitzy, and superficial. The same is true for colors: some quilts are muddy and tired, while others are overdone. However, when patterns, fabrics and color are properly married via the justly well-known Amish piecing and brilliant hand-quilting, the results are startling; always evocative and more than the sum of the parts. Ted and Karen credit the women of this community with creating the highest quality handmade quilts, and Amish Spirit is proud to present these quilts to the public.

Due to the very private nature of the Amish, it took time to build a working relationship with this community. However, by showing much trust and respect for the community, Karen explains that “...the Amish, in turn, demonstrate that same trust and respect for us. That’s the most special and exhilarating part of our job.”

Other than the struggle to make a living, the most noticeable hardship currently facing this community is the danger from the natural gas companies. Fracking companies are in pursuit of Amish farmland for the gas buried beneath it. It’s a credit to the people of this community that none of them have sold to the fracking companies, and by providing the Amish with another source of income, Amish Spirit is aiding in the fight.

By building a relationship with this community and by providing a sales outlet for their beautiful quilts, Ted and Karen intend to continue to support the Amish folk so that they can continue to live as a traditional old order community.

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Amish Spirit is a company that purchases new, handmade quilts from world class Amish quilt makers. Amish Spirit hand picks only the most beautiful Amish quilts. Quilts can be viewed and purchased at http://www.amishspirit.com.

Bright Blue Global is a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm located in Westchester, New York. Founded in 2007, BBG provides a wide range of marketing services to Small and Medium Businesses in the New York region.

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John VanDekker
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