All of life is a journey. We come, we grow, And we go. In between is what we consider our life. Many feel like when you are done, you are done. This is it, there is no more. Certainly our five sense, if we rely on them alone, would seem to suggest there is nothing more. I am of a different sort because I have been fortunate in some ways to see with more than just my physical eyes. For some of you, this will seem silly, but it is only silly until you have those brushes with something larger, something inexplicable, that your understanding can change. The world was once flat, too!
Several years ago I had a family come to my studio who blew ornaments before Christmas. Husband, wife, and two darling daughters, about ten and five years old. They each blew glass. It was fun. The Dad looked like he wasn’t doing so well, like he had been sick. But the glass, he really loved. He in fact did the one thing many people do who fall in love with glass; they ask if they could come and sweep floors or help in exchange for more instruction and fun with the hot stuff. He explained he wasn’t sure when he would get a ‘good day’ again but if he did, he would like to come again. His daughters had just exclaimed in unison upon his completion of his piece, “that’s beautiful, Daddy!”
Rob never came back, though, and I wondered what happened. His wife contacted me in the early Spring to explain that Rob had succumbed to cancer. She was calling to see if I would be willing to make some pendants for her and her daughters as a way to keep him close during this hard time. She explained that her husband Rob had enjoyed the glass so much and had talked at length about the experience to people afterward that she thought it would be a fitting way for all of them to remember him; doing something he always wanted to do and got to do!
I had never worked with crematory ash and explained I would have to run some tests to make sure I could do it in a way I felt good about. In the end I made an Inscape Geode for each of them that had a river-like form running through the piece which was his ash. I thought this was a fitting way to use the ash since our journey takes many dips and bends while we are here. The pieces really looked great! I made pendants, too, which were a first for me, but being able to provide a way for this family a way through their grieving process was itself an honor.
When the day came for the pieces to be picked up, I handed the pieces to her and her daughters to look at in the gallery and we talked about Rob and his life. Being able to celebrate his life in this way felt so right. The family has pieces of glass art that helped to keep the memory of a loved one close.
More recently, I was approached by two different people I know who me asked if I could make glass beads and if I could create them, using ash. The beads were to be a way to scatter ashes all around the world for their father who had passed. I thought this was so novel that I instantly agreed. Then not long after this, I was approached by an old college friend. The order began with a pretty middle of the road series of colors and ended with a batch of some really cool works that are in the first photo on this post and are sprinkled throughout. They turned out to be some of the coolest pieces of jewelry I have made thus far….cosmic, subtle, nuanced…and beautiful! I was glad that his widow agreed to try a creative route and granted permission for me to use images of her pieces to show here.
I am now practiced at adding ash to glass. Normally glass and ash do not play well together, but there are some instances where it works very well. Using good old observation, testing, and common sense, I have developed a way to make this a good pairing. This makes scattering ashes easy since you can carry the ashes in your neck until you reach that special spot (or spots). It makes creating closure for family easier, a way to pay final respects, in a sense. The beads I have decided to call Journey Beads. It is a fitting name I think, and if you consider how the pendants turned out, perhaps also a cosmic journey for our loved ones. So perhaps Cosmic Journey for the pendants? I am mulling that one still.
I will be straight with you. I felt a little odd having Rob’s ash in the studio, at least initially. This feeling, I realized, was part of our collective fear, even loathing, of death. We feel this way because we are conditioned to think death is the end. It is, I believe, a transition that most do not get to witness…..except when they themselves make their own exit from this earthly stage. I have, however, found that each opportunity to help people in this transition had been in some way also an opportunity for me to help people through a challenging time in their lives.
When ash does come into the studio, it is carefully tracked throughout the entire process to ensure absolutely accuracy When using remains. The amount of ash needed for a piece is very small, less than a teaspoon for a pendant.
So the work continues. I am available for making glass to help memorialize your loved one. I have found this to be an unexpectedly healing process!
For those interested in having pendants made, most pendants are available starting at $85.00 piece And depends on color options and any necklaces that you may want shipped with the pendant. Please contact me for details on these options. Any ash remaining, no matter how small, is always returned to the customer.
This product is backed by a guarantee of your complete pleasure for up to thirty days from purchase. Pendants are made from high quality American made borosilicate, a glass known for its toughness and resilience to scratching, changes in temperature, and chemicals. This glass is so tough it is what lab ware is made from for chemistry laboratories!
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