Folk Art & Craft Traditions of the Historic Amanas

The Amana Colonies were founded in the 1850’s by a mystical Christian sect (the Community of True Inspiration) which emigrated from Germany to New York in the 1840s. Often confused with the Amish, the inspirationists have distinctive religious beliefs which include following the teaching of “inspired” leaders. Unlike the Amish who live independently as families, the inspirationists shared, until 1932, a communal life which was governed by church elders. Also in contrast with the Amish, the inspirationists have always been technologically progressive.

The arts and crafts of the Amanas were originally German in origin, functional in design, and practiced in order to help maintain the community’s self-sufficiency. Although the church elders frowned upon frivolous activities including art, practical items were often embellished with beautiful designs and color. The 20th century has brought about many changes to this community, yet today many of the traditional arts forms exist. The Amana residents still practice woodworking, willow basketry, needlework of all kinds. quilting, blacksmithing, rug-making and weaving. The culinary arts of cooking, smoking meat, making wine, baking bread and brewing beer are other thriving traditions.

Today, as Amana artisans grow older, every effort is being made to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, so that the future will have a living past.



Amana Arts Traveling Trunk

Hands-on items for children to learn about and folk art projects for them to make. A wonderful resource for school age children, particularly upper elementary students, about Iowa’s treasured Amana Colonies. Produced by the Amana Arts Guild, this educational program provides schools and interested groups with a traveling trunk full of traditional crafts, books, a video along with a curriculum guide. A video “Remaining Faithful” lets you meet Amana’s people. It compares the early colony with what it’s like today. The curriculum guide includes easy step-by-step instructions for folk art projects which can be completed using simple tools and materials.

For more information contact us Here

or call (319) 622-3678, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Trunk Materials Inventory
  • Curricular Materials
  • ” Lesson Plans for Folk Art Projects” binder with reference materials
  • Video: “The Amana Colonies – Remaining Faithful”
  • Folk Art and Craft Samples Made in the Amana Colonies
  • Knitting Basket (willow)
  • Knitting Baskets in several stages of production (willow)
  • Tin Pail
  • Tin “Running Bunny” cookie cutter
  • Tin “Wedding Star” cookie cutter
  • Woven floor rug with traditional stripes and colors
  • Crocheted white doily
  • Knitted mittens with star pattern
  • Quilted calico sample with flower pattern (blue)
  • Quilted calico sample with flower pattern (dark blue)
  • “Klickerbahn”: child’s marble toy with marbles
  • Calico garden bonnet
  • Spinning top: wind up wooden toy

Trunk Rental Price: $40.00 per 2 weeks
Video (20 mins): $15.00

On a limited basis folk artists may also be available: half day $50/ full day $100