EPISODE 6 - WILLOW COFFINS

It takes three days to weave a willow coffin and then it only has a few days after that before it's buried or cremated. It has a short life which makes willow perfect because it grows very very fast".

Jake started as a coppice worker who got interested in using excess material for small basketry but loves the scale of coffins. His next challenge he said would be a hot air balloon basket! Jake is planting out willow in fields around Sussex to create more coffin material for local supply and simultaneously creating better meadow habitat where there previously was just grass. Life and death supporting each other. Jake's is working to create more biodiversity and habitat in the woodlands he works in and in doing so gets to harvest the different pieces of wood he needs to build his woven coffins.

Willow coffins start with ash splints as a structural component for strength. The ash is coppiced by Jake during the winter at a local ancient woodland he manages.

 

 

"I invite the families to join me in weaving their loved ones Coffins. It's been amazing. It seems to help in the grieving process to be part of the weave, part of the ceremony". 

Jake winds his way to the top of this beautiful coffin while telling me about the experiences he's had with bringing people into the process. 

"More and more I'm seeing people want to celebrate life at the end of a life rather than a black quiet funeral". 

Another finished woodland coffin ready to be delivered for a natural burial the following week. It's been a fascinating journey with Jake seeing the process of forest stewardship to woven coffin. By weaving together the wood from this landscape this type of work offers a full circle of ceremony for celebrating the life of the person and the place.