MISSION CASKET BOOK & PLANS AVAILABLE:
After Posting my Casket Stories and Photos on Lumberjocks, I have been overwhelmed by the response from readers. There is quite a thread of folks wanting to assist in their funeral planning by building their own casket, or building one for a close friend or family member. There are many reasons a person would build their own casket, including saving money, assisting someone with a need they have, doing something custom made because it is special, just because you want to, keeping your hands busy at something during the grieving process, a conversation piece, etc.
All of this email traffic about caskets has relayed to me some really sad stories, and stories of great courage, and exposed a real desire by some do-it-yourself folks to build a casket. And, there isn’t much on the internet or in Print Form to help you get started.
So, All of this internet attention lead me to a teaching invitation at the John Campbell Folk School in the summer of 2011 on the art of casket making.
To assist the students in that class I wrote a step-by-step instruction book and drew some drawings, making the Book a total of 78 pages. There isn’t much help in book form, or the internet, for making your own casket, so I tried to use my Book as a way to teach the project, but also teach woodworking skills in the process.
If you would like a copy of my Book/Plans, visit my Etsy.com store to purchase a copy for yourself
Back to the Original Posting:
I’ve been pretty BLOG quiet lately. I have used about all of the computer time I could get responding to personal emails the past couple of weeks, so I haven’t had the chance to Blog lately. I am thrilled to see such growth in the site over the past couple of weeks. Martin has his hands full, and he tells me that there are new exciting things coming. Thanks for this vision of yours Martin, we are all enjoying your hard work.
I thought I would break the BLOG silence by telling you about a phone call that I received tonight laying out the plans for my next project. It will be a Mission Casket for my Uncle John. He is fighting liver cancer, and his time is coming to an end without a miracle. I offered to build his casket late last week, a project I have tackled one time before (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/47), and he responded that he would appreciate having me do it for him. He gave his life to Christ many years ago, so he is encouraged that his promotion is coming soon, although he is sad, as we all are, to see him be so sick and with such a dire diagnosis.
My Uncle John has been a fan of Mission style furniture since his mother (my grandma) bought some old pieces at a garage sale in the 1950’s and restored them for the family home. I have her Dining Room Buffet now, and Uncle John has the round eating table. The Dining Chairs have been split up and are cherished by others in the family.
I was laying in bed thinking about his situation last week, and it dawned on me that I ought to offer to build him a Mission Style Casket. Something special that you won’t see in a funeral home selection room. I hope it turns out as nice as I picture it in my mind. Sort of a cross between Stickley and the Greene Brother’s work. Who said that the Thorsen Table Challenge was only good for tables?
Building a casket is real ministry-type work for me, as I am involved in the process of the funeral and the family, other than just showing up for the family reunion and eating the pot luck dinner. I like it that way, and “working” in the midst of emotion can actually help me focus on the right things. I am a “worker”, and I deal with stress best by working, and drinking diet soda pops, and some M&M’s (that’s another blog). I restored a Corvette over a girlfriend break up one time, and then restored a ‘74 Harley during a marriage crisis (different girl), and I have done many other projects over the years that have helped me deal with the emotions of whatever the situation brought.
My Uncle John has been a good friend and encourager over the years, and it is an honor to build his casket. I will post photos and the story when the I have it finished, so I hope you will stay tuned.
I am nearing the end of the church project I have worked on since the first of the year. It has grown some during the course of the job as I have picked up some more work to do for the church. I want to tell more about that project, but I need to do that another time, I need to get back out to the shop tonight and put in some more hours. I am in the process of putting on the finish, and doing the gold-leaf painting of all of the “Tracry” trim panels (a new word I learned from Roger, the master carver). I have blogged about this project before, in the context of making Crown Molding for the project. I have learned so many things in this project that I can hardly wait to write up the many new challenges I have had to overcome. When the Priest, Father Nick, came to see my progress a few weeks ago, he said, “I have been to Rome, and this work is as good.” Then He reached into his black jacket and pulled out the progress payment check, bowed his head, and handed me the check with both hands, saying, “It is an honor to give you this next progress payment.” I could have floated into the house after that comment, except my big head got caught in the doorway! Try to find something to feel bad about after a compliment like that, despite our “March”.
Until next time,
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com