What is a burial shroud?
A shroud is a piece of cloth used to wrap a dead body before it is buried. A shrouded body can be buried directly into the ground, offered to the sea, cremated or placed into the coffin. Shrouding has been practised for thousands of years and although it was in the last few centuries replaced with coffins, it is now returning as we are becoming more environmentally conscious and aware of choices we have when planning our own or our loved ones’ last rite of passage. Shrouding a body, whether performed by the loved ones or by the end-of-life doula or a funeral director is a part of the tender send off. It is the last swaddling, the last tacking to sleep.
Are your shrouds suitable for Natural Burial Grounds?
Yes. For natural burial/green funerals, all shrouds are made from 100% biodegradable materials. My shrouds are made from vintage and salvaged natural fabrics: linen, hemp, cotton, wool and silk. I make padding using our local unwashed sheep fleece and feathers and use eco printing (also known as botanical printing) and cyanotype processes to embellish surfaces or to introduce personalised imagery.
Vintage textiles tend to be organic by default and usually contain little or no synthetic dye. With contemporary fabrics, this usually is not the case so please check with your Natural Burial Ground if they accept fabric made with natural fibres but with traces of synthetic dye.
Currently, there are 270 Natural Burial Grounds in UK.
How will a shrouded body be transported?
A shrouded body is placed in a willow carrier or a biodegradable stretcher and they are buried together. I don’t provide carriers and stretchers but can recommend excellent local suppliers. Your funeral director and the management of your Natural Burial Ground will also be able to advise. I can also make a shroud with a sleeve for a support board and handles for transporting and lowering the body into the ground which will not require a carrier or a stretcher. Please contact me for details.
Are your shrouds suitable for cremation and traditional funerals?
Yes, but please ask your funeral director or your local crematorium if they accept shrouded bodies. The shroud can be made from most textiles although I tend to use predominantly natural salvaged fabrics. The shroud is designed to be attached to a wooden board specially designed by Arka’s team and as per requirements of our local crematorium. The alternative is to place a shrouded body in a standard coffin. The same stands for traditional burials.
How many shrouds do you have in stock? How do they work? How big are they?
I am currently developing my portfolio and aiming to have a stock of 6-10 ready to buy shrouds. These will be available online. At the moment I have two shrouds available but please check my site for more soon . You are also welcome to arrange a visit to my studio in Brighton and look at them. Some shrouds can be additionally embellished with personal textiles of emotional value and history and with a personalised imagery. I can send a shroud directly to you or the funeral home and will supply easy to use instructions on how to shroud the body and attach it to the carrier or a board.
I have currently two type of design:
Vintage Botanical Shroud consist of a long piece of fabric (roughly three times body length) which contains a decorated overleaf and three wide ties.
Winged Shroud has two parts. Part 1 : inner layer includes a long, unembellished piece of fabric and three wide ties . Part 2: an outer layer: a decorated textile cover which resembles a soft coffin lid. There are thin pieces of card inserted into the lid so that the shape resembles a soft tunnel and the silhouette of the body is no longer visible. The ’lid’ is decorated with padded wing-like forms.
My shrouds are generously sized, suitable for most people however, I can adjust shrouds to suit individual size.
Please contact me for details.
Can I order a bespoke shroud? Can we make it together?
Yes. I love commissions. Integrating family textiles into a shroud makes it a particularly tender and a powerful sendoff. Or we can make it together. I can also facilitate workshops where you may want to make a shroud for yourself or your loved ones.
How much do they cost?
Each shroud is completely unique and takes several days and often weeks to complete. Prices start at £450 and do not include a post or a willow carrier or a stretcher. Using textiles provided by you can significantly help with keeping the costs down. I am currently working on several shrouds and will have them individually priced and available online soon.