When you think of colourful coffins your first thought probably isn’t one made from willow. Now that’s perfectly understandable.
While there are an extraordinary number of different willow varieties grown in the UK, (we grow over 60 different types on our Somerset farm) the colour palette of the willow rods is limited. Yes, there are varieties that produce beautiful coloured rods, but as the willow dries the colours become more muted.
So, just how do you produce beautiful colourful coffins with willow? Well, it takes a great deal of time, effort and skill. The Musgrove family has been involved in growing willow for nearly 100 years and has spent the past decade perfecting the art of the coloured willow coffin. To produce a single colourful coffin takes hundreds of hours of labour.
Colourful coffins – How it all begins
First, you have to grow the willow and this isn’t particularly easy. Cuttings take around 3 years to become established. During the growing season, a willow grower will be at the mercy of the weather and wildlife. (We work alongside nature and keep the use of pesticides to a minimum.) Once you’re up and running, willow rods can be harvested every year for around 60 years. Willow is an incredible sustainable and eco-friendly crop.
Brightening things up
Once the willow harvest is in, most of our willow is dried and then sorted by hand. A machine is yet to be invented that can sort willow rods by length and weed out grass and those rods with major blemishes.
That being said, we use a different process to that described above to produce coloured willow rods to make our coloured coffins. Our process is probably very different to the vast majority of coloured coffin manufacturers. We only use natural dyes to colour our finest white willow rods. White willow is highly sort after. It’s the crème de la crème in the willow world.
To produce white willow, our highest quality green willow is freshly cut in winter and then left to stand in water until the sap rises in the spring. The willow is then stripped of its bark (without boiling) to leave a white colour rod. The stripping and drying of the rods takes place on the same day. The willow is then stored in a dry, dark area to ensure it retains its ‘whiteness’.
Only now, can the dyeing commence.
An extensive colour palette
Dyeing willow by hand also takes skill and experience. The willow rods need to be dyed for just the right amount of time. As we mentioned earlier, only natural dyes are used but this doesn’t restrict our colour palette. We produce red, orange, yellow, dark green, light green, dark blue, light blue, lilac, purple, light pink, fuschia pink, dark grey, light grey, burgundy, black and turquoise willow rods. However, leave a batch of willow in too long and your light grey rods may well turn out too dark. We only dye willow in small batches as coloured rods left in sunlight will soon start to fade.
It is only after all these processes have been completed that our highly skilled weavers can set to work on making a beautiful, colourful coffin. The coffin itself will take a skilled weaver many hours to complete.
Demand for colourful coffins
Our coloured coffins are becoming a popular choice. We are weaving more block colour, full colour and rainbow coffins than ever before. A greater number of families are also choosing to customise a coffin in our range. This may entail a loved one’s favourite colour being used as a decorative band or liner. The resulting coffin is unique, personal and beautiful to look at.
Colourful coffins & ashes caskets
Some families ask us to weave an ashes casket to match their chosen coffin. Our handmade caskets are available in different shapes and bespoke work is undertaken. Each coffin and casket is made with a great deal of skill and care.
If a colourful coffin isn’t your thing, our extensive range of coffins and caskets includes those with natural willow finishes. Buff willow, antique buff, steamed, natural barked and white willow are all beautiful in their own right
Colourful coffins – A final thought
Lots of us lead colourful lives, are deemed to be colourful characters or have colourful careers, so why not embark on our final journey in a colourful coffin?