Yesterday, I painted and mounted this cross on our barn. I don’t let the fact that I have next to no artistic talent stop me from attempting to make beautiful things with paint. This cross was originally made last year as a temporary marker for Ressom Asfaha’s grave. Memory eternal! Our priests had been given small, hand-carved, wood crosses from Ethiopia by one of the Ethiopians in our church. I photocopied them and chose one for the design of this cross.
I had to guess at the colors, as the wood cross was unpainted. I did some research on-line into Ethiopian art and chose my colors. I did it entirely freehand, as the artwork I saw all seemed to be fairly organic and not absolutely symmetrical. In hindsight, I should have measured and marked some guidelines. This is what I did when I repainted it to coordinate with our barn.
I knew from my research that the five blossoms should be red, as these represent the wounds of Christ: his hands, his feet, his head and his side. Ressom’s family told me that I had chosen the colors well. I made the cross out of a two foot square of 3/4″ plywood. It was one of many that the former owner of our house had used to cover holes in the floor in the second story of the barn. To make the shape, I measured equal distances from the corners and made a mark. Then I traced around a five quart sauce pan (that I use for candle-making) while holding the sides lined up with these marks. Then I cut them out with a sabre saw.
This was the third cemetery cross that I have made. I also made a three bar cross for dedication of ground for a mission. Each one is a little different, as I figure out better ways to do things with each go. They each were fastened to a metal fence post. The kind you can pick up for about $5 at Home Depot’s garden section. That way the wood does not come in contact with the ground, so no rot. Ressom’s brother-in-law wrote his name in his native language. That is what is painted above his name in English.
I made a St. Nina’s Cross out of cherry. The “droop” on the cross bar was limited by the width of my board. The brown twining is stylized grapevine and the black crisscrossing the middle represents the Theotokos’s hair. Ksenia’s name is painted in English and Georgian in green; the dates of her birth and her repose are in red.
The picture of the cross on the barn also captured more of my work. The barn is over 150 years old, as far as we can tell. For many years, it had not been maintained, so the tongue and groove siding had shrunken to expose gaps for the wind to blow through. I added battens out of roughsawn pine to correct this. The first thing I did, however was to replace the old windows with modern, vinyl, insulated glass windows. (I didn’t know about how non-eco-friendly vinyl is at the time.) I fastened the flanges to the outside of the barnboards, then caulked and trimmed over the flanges as shown with roughsawn pine.