Fantasy Coffin Construction at Iowa State University

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AMES, Iowa- Students at ISU's Integrated Studio Arts Department got an international lesson from Eric Adjetey Anang, who is a builder of elaborate coffins in the country of Ghana. One lesson students learned is that some hand tools are getting harder to find, due to more and more power tools being sold.

The hand tools are important to Anang who learned the woodworking skills in a shop started by his grandfather. "What I am doing is building pieces of coffins that are used for burial in Ghana," said Anang.  He started wood working while he was in high school. When working at home "I have at least 3-4 coffins that leave the shop," said Anang.

The African wood worker is on a tour of US universities to give workshops of this type of wood working. "I am not just teaching, I am also learning from the students," said Anang.

Chris Martin runs the integrated studio arts program in the ISU Design College. The class is introduction to studio furniture. Anang is  "basically a master coffin maker from Ghana," said Martin. He is " teaching the students different techniques on how to make things,"said Martin "Not only are the students learning new  techniques, but also an international perspective," he added.

The coffin, which looks like a big ear of corn will be painted by another class, and completed by next Wendesday.  The painted coffin will then be on display at the ISU Design Center. The coffin will be auctioned off for a benefit for the group Engineers Without Borders.

Teresa Ward, a senior from Ryan, Iowa said "this is kind of crazy, not like designing furniture, which is what we do here, its kind of like, in the moment," she said. The students all were sanding and using a few power tools to get the final design completed on the coffin.

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