Thursday, May 3, 2018


The first known labels showed up around 1700 as seen on small medical containers and wine bottles. Wooden presses were used to make the paper labels that were then glued to products. In 1798 the process changed with onset of lithography. From 1850 to 1860 color printing improved to make creative labels selling products better. In 1935 the self adhesive labels changed the industry even more. In the 1960's new adhesives did even more advancement in the industry. In the 70's electronic labels made it possible to hold lots of information on the labels with the bar code.
Amana labels and logos have changed with the times and over the years while symbolizing " core Amana values, growth, and longevity" and dedication to the craft. Many early products from calico fabric to refrigerators proudly donned the Amana label.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Tin Colander

The colander was a very important tool handmade  by the  local  Amana tinsmith.  It was used extensively  in the old Amana communal kitchens to handle large quanties of food that needed to be drained. The large, bowl shaped  utensil had holes on the bottom, usually in a star or flower pattern, a base, and handles, all hand applied. The perforated bottom  allowed  liquid  to  drain through while retaining the solids as vegetables and fruits inside. This was one tool that made all the difference  in old Amana communal kitchens while prepping  food. The large size made it very useful and appealing.  The Colanders were sometimes called sieves from the Latin word colum meaning sieve.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Brick Walls with Stories

The architecture of Amana is quite unique as you look at the brick,
sandstone walls, foundations, chimneys and rabbats. Early masters of the methods and materials used in Amana looked to local resources especially in these rural areas. The quality and texture of the clay, sands, limestone and fires in the kilns all factored in for a better construction. The look, feel and location of a good clay made a difference in the bricks. Shrinkage and closeness to the heat determined the size of the bricks. Size and weight of bricks were important in construction of exterior and interior walls and chimneys. Often soft bricks were used on interior walls. Color was also an important factor in design to keep architecture color consistent in the Amanas. Before 1760, American  brickmakers tended to use  salmon colored bricks for interiors. The exterior walls were a darker, harder brick and held up well to the elements. Other great characteristics of the brick were the finger or animal paw prints, straw marks, and brick layering marks left behind while bricks were drying in the open drying beds. The mortar, the glue that held the bricks together, was also carefully thought out. Mortar production also occurred near its construction site. Great skill and knowledge of mortar materials and recipes was required for the process of the brick laying. A modified Three-to-One bond pattern method was often used in Amana. Three-six rows the side if the brick, one row of the front of the brick shows, and pattern repeats. Mortar had to be laid evenly to compensate for the irregularly of handmade bricks in order for these buildings to withstand time. These Amana structures are a lasting legacy to the artistry of our early brickmakers.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spent Grain Bread

In old Amana communal days very little was wasted. A use was found for almost every kind of scrap. That tradition carries over today in a local, oldest in Iowa, brewery where they make bread from grain leftover from making beer, called spent grain.  Spent grains have nutrients and flavors after their sugars have coverted to beer.  The grain is added to regular dough to add protien and texture. It makes  a hearty, somewhat sweet, healthy loaf of bread.  In Germany, Monks used to work with fermented grains for certain types of religeous atonement.  Their bread was called Biertreberbrot.  A wonderful, creative,  local bread you must try!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Archives

A stately building, the Archives sits by itself, against a beautiful sky, holding special words of its founders. These words were to be read and spread as the word of God.  The original founders of the Community of True Inspiration were quite prolific printers, even bringing printing presses and books with them from Germany, across the Atlantic to Enenezer, N.Y. and finally Amana. They printed their own books used for worship and religious study as they contained thoughts and ideas of early church leaders. Also, childrens books, ledgers, Sunday School books, and business operation documents were  printed. Many of these artifacts survived the orginal journey or were donated and stored in the church archives as some  pre date 1714, the founding date of the Community of True Inspiration. Many are printed with the old German script so had to be transcribed and translated. Lots of these papers coordinate with and inspired the historical and digital archives, with its at least eight different geneology research subjects, at the Amana Heritage Museum today.

The Radarange

The Radarange (RR1) was first released in 1967 by Amana Refrigeration, a division of Raytheon then, owned by Whirlpool now. In 1947 Raytheon Co. came up with the name of this new microwave oven  "Radarange"
through an employee contest.  The concept of quick microowave cooking had arrived! It set the bar for the competition for years to come. It was very stylish with lots of chrome, class, and workmanship.  It was the first popular home microwave oven even though sales at first were slow due to size, weight, and cost but by 1967 iit was smaller, safer and more reliable than some on market. By 1971 prices lowered due to competition.  Dr. Perry Spencer, a self-taught engineer with the Raytheon Corporation, discovered the microwave by accident while testing magnetron tubes and eventually invented this revolutionary, multimillion dollar industry of microwave ovens. At one time they outsold gas ranges with about 90% of homes having a microwave of some brand. The vintage Radarange was very popular in Amana and around the world with the production plant being in Middle Amana. The newer, electronic models are still valued  today for quick cooking and reheating.

Stone Quarries

Many of the old stone and brick buildings in The Amana Colonies were built to last  for years and years. The good materials, many of which came from the local area and Iowa City, lended homes made for strength and durability. The  builders were proud that the brick, stone, and wood were formed, quarried or cut in the Amana area. The sandstone quarry was only a half block from where the church stands today. It was located  along Price Creek near the Meat Shop. It yielded  a very hard stone.
The  West Amana quarry was about a quarter mile west of town. High Amana's quarry was located a quarter mile east of High while Middle Amana had a quarry on the  north side near the creek. There were two brickyards in South Amana  due to the good quality of its clay. The great architecture today showcases these sturdy stones and bricks of past local quarries.