Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wiscasset Memories Casket

Kate and Jack Hewitt's Collaborative Double Casket chronicling their hometown Wiscasset. Maine.
Kate Hewitt and her husband Jack have made a wonderful double casket together and are the subject of today's blog on casket finished and designs by students in Cabinet of Curiosities.  Their casket is also a collaboration of a husband talented in woodworking and the stitcher.  I love all these joint projects as they create wonderful heirlooms!

The frieze is populated by famous New England buildings
Their casket used the exterior dimensions from the templates I provide and the pictures of the interiors of antiques in the course.  Kate and Jack asked me many questions to help them with the interior.  The biggest hint is to leave extra slop space to accommodate the paper and silk that is adhered to the wood.

One amazing extra that Kate and Jack added was a custom made book that would fit in the interior with the story of the casket design and making.  They have added dates and other data that would be of great help to their heirs and future curators!  What a fantastic idea!  I am continually blown away by not only the execution and design but the
The Customs House built in 1870
creativity of the students!

I will let their words describe the casket - this is the text from the booklet:

Kate’s and Jack’s Sewing Casket
I always admired sewing caskets made by young ladies in the 16OO’s.  However, the scope of the project seemed daunting.  The opportunity to make a casket came along when Tricia Nguyen presented The Cabinet of Curiosities class. I joined the class in December of 2012. Jack decided that he would like to make the casket, rather than purchasing one from Trisha.
The process began.  So many decisions had to be made.  After much thought the theme, fabric, style, stitches, threads and edging were decided.  Making the casket seemed to be a daunting project. Tricia provided paper patterns which included the dimensions for the various components of the casket. These were mounted on foam board to make a mockup of the exterior panels that were to be
The pineapple motif on the top of the lid
covered with stitching. While this provided the exterior dimensions for the casket, the actual construction details of the interior of the casket were a mystery.
Reproduction locks, hinges, escutcheonsdrawer pulls, sterling silver woven tape, silver edging paper and keys were purchased from Tricia.  Stitching began in January of 2013 and was completed by the end of the year. Casket construction began in  the fall of 2013 and was completed in November 2014. 
Marbled paper was then applied to all drawer interiors.  Silk lining was applied to drawer fronts, interior panels, components of the large tray and the
small tray in the top section.  Paper edging, stamped with a silver design was used to cover all raw edges on the various components.  Finally, the stitching and the silver woven tape were applied to the casket as edging for all stitched panels and drawer fronts. The addition of drawer pulls and hinges completed the project.
Stitching Motifs
The pineapple design on the top panel of the casket was taken from an antique sampler which Pat Houghton charted for me. The two bargello designs were adapted from a stitching book. The slanted panels depict houses from Newport, RI which were designed by Virginia Creekman, of Tidewater Originals.  The doors are New England scenes adapted from Old Nantucket chart by Little House Needleworks.
Doors open
The Customs House (red building on left side of casket) located across the street from Le Garage restaurant was built in 1870 to accommodate all the commerce generated from the shipbuilding in Wiscasset at that time.  At present, it is a private residence.
The Nickels-Sortwell House (white building on the back of casket) is located on the Main Street of Wiscasset (2 blocks up from Red’s Eats).  It was built by successful ship owner Captain William Nickels in 1807 when shipbuilding and maritime trade were so important to Wiscasset.  It is a museum and a national historic landmark at the present time.

The Israel Crane House (gray building on right side of casket) was built in 1796 in Montclair, New Jersey by
A look into the small lid and the pull out tray
Israel Crane a descendant of the founding family of
 Cranetown (now Montclair). It belongs to the Montclair Historical Society and is a museum. I was born and raised in Montclair and liked the house.

Kate gave me lovely pictures of the interior and I just have to publish them all since their finishing was so expertly done.  It is comforting to everyone that students can and do finish their pieces and turn them into such wonderfully complicated pieces!  I also think it is great to hear how Kate expertly took charted motifs she liked and adapted them to cover her cabinet as well as working on elements of her
Large lid open
own.  It can be daunting to think about designing your own piece and I think that she shows how you can work with elements you love to complete a highly personal piece.

Jack also made a traveling case for the casket as well.  I find it quite charming that the husband's who make pieces all make traveling cases.  It is a subtle point of pride to insure that the casket can be taken to places to show!  Quite wonderful!!  We might have to make some traveling cases ourselves.  


Interior of case, some of the panels and secret drawers are pulled out

pincushion and its secret drawer
Interior showing drawers after the panel is pulled out

Drawers pulled out
Interior set of drawers showing secret place for rings
Embroidered cover of the booklet
Interior of the booklet explaining the casket
Carrying case for Casket
Interior of casket carrying case


  1. Oh, this is absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for the photographs and the story of this lovely thing! I do love to see all of the inside details and finishing - - and the Travel case - - WOW!

  2. I have seen this casket in person and it is phenomenal! Exquisitely beautiful! Kate and her husband Jack deserve this recognition!