Talking Tree Stone Tchotchkes





Office Location: Building 479 (Red Barn/Old Pool)

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Project Description

Initially a late Victorian aristocratic fad, headstones carved to resemble tree stumps proliferated in the early twentieth century as a death benefit for the Woodmen of the World fraternal order. While long out of fashion, these “imperishable botanicals” can be found today sprouting in the Jewish graveyards of Indianapolis, lonely burial grounds in rural New Mexico, and historic garden cemeteries in New England. They are decidedly odd and beautiful objects.
This project focuses on miniature tchotchke versions of these “Tree Stones” that will flash language of warning and distress. Broadcasting headlines, stump speeches, and now-familiar mantras like “STAY HOME/STAY SAFE,” these new miniature memorials are updatable remnants and cautionary souvenirs.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate participants will be assembling and programming miniature LED matrixes and LCDs to embed in these small ceramic sculptures. The electronics will display text and drawings. 

Requirements and/or Application Instructions

Applicants should have an interest in physical computing and coding for Arduinos. A cursory understanding of programming in C and basic soldering, or a desire to learn, is the only requirement for this project.