For Who? For What?
A brief history of the tradition.
Historically, the majority of workshop customers are bereaved families hoping to bury a relative in a unique coffin. Originally popular among the Ga (people of the region of Accra), the tradition of building fantasy coffins has spread across the region and is now practiced in Ashanti land (region of Kumasi, north of Accra), in Ewé land (the East of the country), and in parts of Togo. Typically, a member of the family visits the workshop to discuss their model of choice and a price. After a down payment is made, the coffin is typically manufactured within one to two weeks.
The Choice of Coffin
The choice of coffin model is most often determined by the occupation of the deceased. A fisher will be buried in a coffin in the form of fish or in a fishing boat, a professor in a fountain pen balk, etc.
Sometimes the aspirations of the deceased is reflected by the coffin: the plane, for instance, was has typically not been used to bury a pilot, but is most often used instead as a symbol of dreams of social success. Same for luxury cars.
Coffins destined for burial are fabricated with inexpensive light wood such as wawa or Nyame Dua (Alstonia boonei).
Because coffins destined for export are often used as artwork for display in colder climates where they might be exposed to the elements, harder woods such as ofram (Terminalia superba) or African mahogany (Khaya ivorensis) are used.
Building and Assembly
Over fifth years, technology of building of the most popular coffins has been honed to a science. For new models, Eric and his team rely on photographs or miniature replicas of the model.
Once the basic form is created, the coffin is sanded until the defects of wood are corrected to create a clean, uniform surface for painting.
Painting and Decoration
Two coats of painting are sprayed before the coffin is re-sanded. The object is now ready to be decorated by an artist specializing in coffin decoration. These artists are located across Teshie, and work with various coffin workshops upon request.