Jun 07, 2016
The origin of funeral directing in America began with artistry. Furniture builders, woodworkers and other craftsmen were called upon to build coffins for our nation’s fallen after the Civil War. As the death toll began to rise, skilled tradesmen, who often worked under the title, “Furniture Maker and Undertaker,” were often needed to measure the deceased, prepare the body for viewing and assist with the burial. It was these artisans that laid the foundation for the funeral profession.
The artistic spirit of our nation’s first undertakers lives on in the creative pursuits of funeral directors today. In the past, we have interviewed many funeral director artisans about their artistic talents. This month, we are pleased to share this spotlight interview with Miranda Benge Robinson about restorative art and embalming.
Miranda is an Apprentice Embalmer and Funeral Director at Milward Funeral Directors in Lexington, KY who enjoys working on restorative art whenever possible. This crucial embalming skill requires focus, excellent eye-hand coordination and attention to detail.
“Restorative art is an important part of the embalming process, and can help families have better memory pictures of their loved ones,” Miranda says.
When did you first become interested in restorative art?
Restorative art and embalming go hand in hand. When I first became interested in mortuary science it was because of the science aspect, especially anatomy, but also the art that is involved. Restorative art can be as simple as applying cosmetics, and as complex as recreating a face or even a hand.
Can you tell me a little more about the purpose of restorative art and how it can help families?
Restorative art is such an important part of am embalmers duty, not only for respect of the deceased, but to help families have a final memory picture of their loved one. Families are able to grieve better if they are able to see their loved one in a more peaceful state, and restorative art is what does this. Embalming treats the body, such as sanitizing and temporary preservation, restorative art is responsible for restoring the decedent to a more natural look. For a family to be able to see a loved one after something tragic has happened to their appearance, and for them to look ‘normal’ again, is such a rewarding experience for me.
Can you share any projects you have been working on recently?
I recently completed a project called Portraying Bettie Page. Here are some photos:
How long did this project take you from inception to completion?
This project took a total of 10-12 hours to complete. A complete restoration of a human head/face is much more time consuming than an individual part of the face. Even a small part, such as an ear, can take an hour or two to complete to perfection.
Do you have any tips you could share with others who are interested in this type of work?
Patience in learning this art is key, because you’re not going to make a perfect ear the first time trying, trust me. Having an art background helps, but it is not impossible to practice restorative art if you don’t. My advice to doing good restorative art is to put on your favorite music, take your time, and don’t get frustrated if you mess up a few times before getting it right.
A big thank you to Miranda for sharing her artistic talent, personal experiences and knowledge of restorative art with us!
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com