Ethos

Simple Strength And Beauty

We make strong products that are both fit for purpose and pleasing to the eye. Each piece that we make, be it basket, urn or coffin, felted shroud or teddy bear, hide, necklace or spoon, is robust, beautiful and of the highest quality. This is the foundation stone upon which the rest of Naturally Useful is built. This is also the most direct way we know to honour the natural materials that we work with.

My Patch As Larder and Inspiration

As we work with natural materials, so much of what we make is defined and inspired by where we are. We work with what grows outside the pole barn door, what our soil and weather allows us to grow and what we can source from UK suppliers. The raging peaty rivers, the grey seals on the Culbin sands, the sparrow hawks hunting over the farm land, owls calling in the woods at night; the long snowy winter nights huddled around the fire and the glorious baking summer days, the weather that changes hour by hour; our creativity never is hungry for inspiration around here! You can read more about my patch here (LINK).

Small, Rural, Scottish Business

Naturally Useful is a small rural Scottish business. We are a Community Interest Company that wants to serve and support local individuals and groups in employment, skills training and personal empowerment through the making process.  Our focus will always be on teaching and selling locally. By choosing to train local makers and work with other small businesses and organisations in the area, we are part of nurturing local cultural and economic regeneration.

Environmental Responsibility and Regeneration

From how we heat our workshop and the tea we buy, to how we source our materials and how we tend to our waste; we are conscious of our impact, tread lightly on and actively tend to the ecosystem we are part of. Also for every coffin we sell or help someone to make, Naturally Useful funds one tree to be planted by Trees for Life, a local charity that is restoring the Caledonian forest.

Community Inclusion

Naturally Useful is about connecting to nature and to each other through making. Making encourages peace of body, mind and spirit, and gives confidence and encourages empowerment by creating a unique, useful product that can be admired. We love the biodiversity of folk we work with and enjoy sharing our skills with anyone who wants to learn.

Weaving Old Ways

We are proud that we are be part of the tribe of makers in the UK who are un-earthing the old ways, catching the last threads of traditional skills and weaving them into something new. Often there is a romanticism around ‘old ways’ that somehow ‘old’ automatically means better. We don’t believe this is the case. However, we do believe that when we were less occupied with screens, celebrity and stock exchange and our hands were more often in the earth then we were more able to listen to the things that matter – the land we live on, each other and ourselves. The old ways are a gateway to the lives of those who came before us.

Passing it Forward

The old ways are nothing without new hands to weave them, and as Karen’s hands get older, she finds great joy from passing these ways onto new folk. Karen says it’s been a delight in the last couple of years to train up two new weavers, Kristy and Rob. We offer as many different opportunities to learn with us as we can; regular open days, making at stalls, apprenticeships, tailor-made courses. If you want to learn with us but not sure which course would suit, do get in touch.

Connection To The Unseen

We believe that this Earth of ours and everything on it and in it is one great big organism. Making helps us drop into that place of deep connection.  We find that there is a tangible, and often visible, difference between a product that has been made with hands, heart and head that are in a place of deep connection compared to a product that has been bashed out in a factory. Our intention as makers is always to work from this place of deep connection. There is something of spirit and soul to the things we make.