Making a Premie Casket

There’s nothing more terrible than the death of a baby.  When I get a call from a family my heart breaks for them; it is a great honor to be called upon to make a casket for their beloved child.  This casket was made for a Montagnard family who lost a child before it had a chance to live.

I wanted to honor their heritage so I made the little casket out of pure cotton rope then covered it in the traditional cloth made and worn by Montagnards.

I started with the base and thought of it as my two hands together cupping this tiny baby.

Next I made the lid and made it nestle down into the bottom piece.

I was given this piece of fabric traditional Jarai fabric when I sang in a wedding for a Montagnard couple.  I made my traditional outfit out of it and had a small piece of fabric left over.  I never considered it would someday become a casket cover.

These fabrics are woven by the Montagnard women on backstrap looms. The colors and patterns are specific to their region.

Finished casket, no bigger than a football.

This story speaks to me about the beginning and the end of life.  Sometimes endings come right in the middle of life, and sometimes right at the beginning.  Life and death are so mixed, it’s part of what makes our earthly existence precious.