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The Body Contribution Project

A participatory project to create a container for your bodily remains that nourishes life through its alignment with earth-honoring values.

Register for the May 4 Show & Share with Katherine and the funerary artisans below.
Send an email if you have questions about this project.

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The Future Will be Fed

Can death feed life? How might your body fuel the future? What possibilities will you manifest with the contribution of your remains?


These questions probe an expansive vision of human life that includes and incorporates death. In contrast to disposing of the human body, our work conceptualizes bodily repayment and repatriation as pathways of connection and regeneration.

Through the Body Contribution Project’s 3-part process, you will dream and envision how your choice of a container for your body’s remains could align with the wisdom of a universe continually renewing itself; co-create a container that embodies your intent to honor the earth with your remains; and integrate new understandings that support consciously walking with death as your life partner.

It is never too early to make a choice, but there is such a thing as "too late."

Together with our supportive community of funerary providers, artisans, and educators, you will consider and make values-aligned choices that serve life after your death. Knowing ourselves and others as seeds, Body Contributors gift a future sown and reaped death by death.

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Part 1: Visioning

Dreaming invites awakening to truths beyond this life. ​This journey begins with a collaboration of five green funerary artisans, who will guide you in dreaming your place in this life and the next. As you see their craft and hear their stories of awakenings to the artistic possibilities of green shrouds, coffins, and urns, your vision of the kind of life-sustaining beauty that could share in your own transformation will expand. Learning how these sojourners collaborate with the earth’s natural processes through a vast array of crafting techniques - weaving, natural dyeing, eco-printing, ceramic artistry, and more - will have you imagining how you too could become a counter-cultural Body Contributor.

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Part 2: Making

From dreaming to doing, the Body Contribution Project walks you through a holistic process of creating a container for your remains. After you have made your container choice of urn, coffin, or shroud, the artisan will engage your hands and visions to mutually tend the craft-making process. They can also show you how to apply crafting techniques that transform your container into a storyteller of what you have valued and experienced on your life’s journey.

The actual making can happen in several ways. You can choose to create your container:

  1. In your own company or in partnership with the artisan;

  2. In a Maker’s Circle with a team of friends and family whose presence you might welcome at your dying time.

 

As those who participate in the creation of your container imprint their energy and intentions on that which will hold you into the next life, they will be woven into this culture-changing, life-giving network of death-awareness.

Part 3: Learning
 

Learning is a life-long proposition that deepens awareness from cradle to the grave. As you begin the life cycle of the container that will hold your body’s remains, it will inspire reflection on where you are in your own process of becoming and returning. Death fears may arise that ask for your attention and integration. 

To help you transform these insights into life-giving understanding and practices, the Body Contribution Project offers individual support in crafting a personal vision statement of “good death” so that conversations with your death team or a Maker’s Circle become opportunities to strengthen your literacy. 

Once created, the container you choose and make will become an ever-present life companion and death teacher, beginning the cycle of learning, dreaming, and doing once more. 

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Part 1: VISIONING

Show & Share with funerary artisans and a death midwife
Meet the funerary artisans, see their craft, and hear their compelling stories of how they came to their particular death offering. Katherine will share her story of how her flax shroud came to be.

 

May 4, 2024

9:00 am-12:00 pm

Warren Wilson College

Boon Hall, Rm. 110

Swannanoa, NC

From 1:00-3:00 pm, you can meet the artisans and Katherine for more in depth conversations to help you vision what your container could be.

Register for that event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/five-funerary-artisans-a-death-midwife-show-share-tickets-868692652107?aff=oddtdtcreator

*Attending this event does not obligate you to working with an artisan.


Part 2, MAKING

If you do want to make an urn, coffin, or shroud to hold your bodily remains, you will enter discussions with the artisan of your choice to mutually decide which parts of the making process you will take on. The final step in your decision-making process is to map out a plan for how and when your container will be made, and with whom. After making financial arrangements with the artisan(s), the life cycle of your container begins!


Pricing Information

MAKING

  • The full cost of creating your container can be determined once you’ve made your choice(s).  Financial arrangements are made directly with the artisans.

  • Container fees below include an introductory learner’s circle, inspiration and support during the crafting process, and materials.

  • You can decide to engage more than 1 artisan. For example, a willow tray and shroud with Sarah, and eco-printing with Lisa.

  • For shrouds and urns, the low end of the price range reflects your expanded engagement.

Shrouds

Organic cotton shroud

Jason, Melanie, Lisa

Step 1: Buy material from Jason - $90

Step 2: Make arrangements with the artisan(s) for 1 or more of the natural fabric art techniques.

  • Eco printing full shroud, Lisa - $550-800; or $150-$350 to print a fabric piece to incorporate onto the shroud

  • Natural dyeing, Melanie - $250

  • Art quilting; embroidery; and/or pigment surface design - Melanie - $250-500

Step 4: Sew up the finished shroud - $160 (if Jason sews)

 

Flax shroud (growing, harvesting, processing, spinning, weaving) Melanie - $2,900-3,800

 

Coffins

Sarah

  • Willow casket - $2500

  • Willow tray - $1250

  • Undyed shroud (cotton, linen, felted wool) & tray - $1500-1600

  • Pine casket - $1100

 

Urns

Bridget

  • Clay urn - $450-600

LEARNING

  • The prices below include 6 hours of direct support from Katherine to integrate what you is arising as you engage in conversations and contemplations about dying.

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Lower income

$150

You are struggling to meet basic needs and have little expendable income.

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Middle income

$225

You’re able to meet basic needs and have expendable income.

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Higher income

$300

You comfortably meet basic needs and have ample expendable income.

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A few years ago, I gathered a group of women to engage in a process of clarifying our beliefs about death, so that we could see more clearly how our values might align with a particular body contribution choice. We called ourselves the Winding Women, as a nod to another term used for shrouds - winding sheets.

Because of these vision-opening conversations, I understood I wanted to be packaged for my return to the earth as a fertile seed, with a shroud grown and nurtured by my very own, dirt-loving hands. The shroud would tell my journey from seed to seed, as I would tell its at my death. Thus began the collaboration with Melanie Wilder, which we called the Field to Shroud project. 

The shroud and I are now housemates. Its daily visibility reminds me of its ultimate function, and keeps me from my old habit of ignoring the time stamp on my forehead. It is also weaving creatures and plant teachers into my life, like Mourning Cloak butterflies and hawthorn, with intent to show me how I can expand my liveliness before I enter that shroud.

 

Nothing I have done so far on my journey of asking death to be my teacher, has been more powerful and transformative than living with this hand-woven winding sheet of flax.

Led by Katherine Savage

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To read more about the Field to Shroud Project:

Melanie Wilder

Melanie Wilder is a weaver, natural dyer, and explorer of material and process. She has spent the past 20+ years dedicated to learning and teaching, living in the Asheville, NC area where she currently runs the fiber program at Warren Wilson College. She is interested in how the yearly rhythm of growing fibers and dyes and making textiles creates ritual and meaning in our daily lives. Fascinated by historical uses and fiber techniques from across the globe, she hopes to inspire those she works with to find their voice within the world of fiber.

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Melanie's Craft

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Sarah Lasswell is a willow casket weaver in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. She weaves each sacred vessel with organic willow rods and a natural pine board base, and creates the interior lining and bedding by hand using natural fabrics. She welcomes clients to contribute special personal materials to incorporate into the casket and bedding, as well as join her in the weaving of the burial vessel, and finds that the opportunity to participate in such a hands-on way offers a beautiful and healing experience.

Sarah Laswell

Sarah's Craft

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The beautiful medium of Eco printing on textiles satisfies Lisa's passion to express the beauty of the tree and plant world. Also a painter, jeweler, photographer, gardener, and herbalist, she co-creates with nature on her porch in the trees in Burnsville, NC. The passing of her brother last fall inspired her to become a green funerary artist. The mystery of that journey with him and her deep grieving connected her to the sacred art of shroud making.       

Lisa Kolk

Lisa's Craft

Bridget Fox

Bridget Fox creates decorative and functional ceramics called Mudventions. Inspired by exotic organisms and the textures and patterns found in nature, she invents a rare undersea garden of unique cerebral concoctions. Her creative skills and unique designs have led her to fulfilling custom urn requests from family, friends, and strangers, including her recent tribute to her own mother. For Bridget, the act of uniting a soul's cremains with a sacred vessel is a divine honor, an intimate ode to transforming grief into a beautiful testament of remembrance.

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Bridget's Craft