In his studio in his serene backyard in Deptford, Frank Seder Jr. meticulously shaved a fine layer along a curve of a wooden crook. A chisel in the wrong direction, the artist noted, could cause an unsightly crack in the majestic, exotic purple wood from South America.
"I have to make sure everything is going to fit perfect," Seder, 65, said while wearing a magnifying-lens headpiece.
Perfect, for the pope.
When Pope Francis travels to Philadelphia to cap the church's eighth World Meeting of Families in September, Seder, a lifelong Catholic and respected South Jersey sculptor, plans to offer the church's top leader the pastoral staff that he has been crafting for three months. The "crosier" will mark Seder's third piece of artwork created for a pope: He completed projects for Francis' two predecessors.