Naturally Useful offers willow coffins, either off-the-shelf or custom made. Although Karen works to a standard coffin design, willow coffins, whether commissioned or self-made, can be personalised - for example, through the choice of willow colour or by the addition of rods, cones, berries or flowers from plants, trees or bushes.
Willow is an easy, fast growing and highly sustainable crop. Full of vitality, willow yields an abundance of long slender rods in a variety of colours, year after year, even in the north of Scotland. "¨Karen's business and her craft spring from a deeply felt appreciation of the abundance of nature and its ability to help us heal and to feel whole. Her studio in the Pole Barn at Marcassie is a quiet space, close to the elements, warmed by her no-nonsense practical presence and a wood-burning stove. Here she is able to provide a safe, caring space in which people can laugh, cry, share, weave and drink tea.
Naturally Useful has chosen to support Trees for Life to showcase our green credentials and promote sustainability. We will plant one tree to restore the Caledonian Forest for every willow coffin sold.
People can come to the studio to felt their own shroud or weave their own willow coffin because they want to be active participants in the planning of their own funeral. For some, death is just another threshold within the long journey of being, an event to celebrate, not to fear. The combination of being engaged in a creative project, connecting and working with natural raw materials and being in a safe environment where stories and feelings can be shared as the work goes on can help people meet and come to terms with their own story, with their feelings about life and death. The act of making something helps to ground this process and the finished product then incorporates and represents the integration, peace and wholeness which the woven storyline of this journey can bring.
"¨In her businesses Karen uses and works predominantly with wool, willow and animal skins, all natural raw materials which are readily available from her local environment.