Woodworker Chuck Lakin makes caskets that double as furniture, before their final use
By Taryn Plumb GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
OCTOBER 26, 2011
If you happen to visit Gini Landry’s home in Waterville, Maine, you’ll meet a vivacious, almost-octogenarian with an acute wit and a decades-long dedication to quilting.
And if you’re curious, she’ll show you some of her needle-and-thread creations, 20 or 30 of them, folded up and displayed in a roughly 5-foot-tall rack in her guest bedroom.
And if you’re even more curious, she’ll point out that that very case has a double purpose: When the final hour comes, it will convert into her coffin.
“I’m 4-foot-11-inches tall, and shrinking,’’ the 79-year-old said with a wry grin. “It’s made to fit me.’’
That’s right: Every day, Landry is confronted, quite explicitly, with her own mortality, with a custom-made coffin now serving as a quilt rack and situated conveniently in her home for that fateful day that comes for all of us.
Coffins don’t have to be lined with velvet and propped open vacantly and ominously on funeral parlor sales floors - they can have life before death, at least when crafted by Waterville-based woodworker Chuck Lakin.
The 65-year-old builds simple wood caskets for the not-quite-dearly departed that easily modify into bookcases, entertainment centers, storage chests, wine racks, even coffee tables.
“I don’t think coffins have to be serious, formal things,’’ said Lakin, a retired Colby College librarian.
His morbidly multipurpose creations (www.lastthings.net), starting at a base price of $800 to $900, arose out of his dedication to home funerals, a growing movement in which family members prepare a loved one’s body for burial, rather than having the process handled by a funeral parlor.
Having a coffin available simplifies that process, and also, in a time of grieving, makes decisions easier for the family.
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