The Art of Grieving ~ Cremation Ashes InFused Glass Art Blog
From dust we arise and to dust we must eventually return
What Exactly Are Ashes, And why can it be used in Kiln formed glass?
Although cremated remains are commonly called “ashes”, in truth they are comprised of bone fragments. The cremation process destroys all traces of organic matter. The extreme heat of cremation (around 1400 to 1800 degrees) means that no traces of anything remains (regardless of the material) with your loved one’s ashes. There may however be some minor traces of materials that were with the body during cremation such as fillings, implants, but these will most likely be detected and removed after processing. The only thing remaining of the human body after cremation is part bone and occasionally small amounts of salts and minerals.
Because of peoples diets and other factors each sample of cremated remains is entirely unique. Although all that remains of a loved one after the cremation process are bone fragments processed into ashes, these ashes have a very special signature that identifies them as belonging to your loved one and no one else. All of the unique habits and environments experienced by your loved one during their lifetime leave a elemental fingerprint present in their ashes after cremation.
All of These elements give bone its extraordinary strength and durability and allow it to survive the intense heat required for cremation. These temperatures are what make it possible to put the ashes in glass. it is very common to find trace elements, particularly metals, in bone fragments. These metals are absorbed by the bones throughout an individual’s lifetime and remain in the ashes. These metals will also sometimes show up in the cremation ashes after being infused into glass. Because the temperatures of cremation are the same as kiln formed glass this means that the bone or ashes will not disappear inside the glass. If you were to place organic matter inside glass (like a leaf) it would leave a fingerprint but would disappear all together. Because the bone fragments can withstand such high temperatures this is how the ashes are then trapped into the glass while the glass is at a liquid honey like viscosity.
Cremation ashes are not easy to work with. I have spent over 3 years learning the effects of cremation ashes in glass and how to control it. I have created a special technique that takes days and multiple firings in the kiln to create my cremation memorial keepsakes. Harnessing Carbon Energy at it’s essence. We are all made from this.
Energy never dies, it simply transforms.
Why would a woman in the middle of her life seek out death on a daily basis? Well, I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. My work has deep roots of empathy, connection and stories of life and love. This connection to people and creativity has been my healing. Far out weighing any sort of “Creepy” or depressing aspect. People are so fearful of death. Cremation Art actually gives us the chance to hold on to something more than a jar or urn. Why not take the ashes out of the urn and turn ashes into Art.
Cremation is becoming a popular alternative to traditional burials. Leaving many people with urns containing cremated remains. A jar of ashes on the mantle, or a box in the attic. Most people don’t know what to do with the ashes. You may have a scattering ceremony in a place that is meaningful to you. Many people may find it hard to simply pour the ashes of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. That requires letting go. Letting go is the hard part. Cremation actually just gives us the chance to hold on to something. Helping people through the journey of grief.
So how does someone become a“cremation artist”. Well, lets just say it came looking for me. I began working with cremation ash about 4 years ago when a friends father passed and he asked if I could make him something with ashes in my glass art. I felt a calling to make him some cremation jewelry for his sisters. I was amazed at what a challenge it was to work with the ashes and spent over 3 years studying cremation ash and it’s effects inside kiln formed glass by offering my service for free to family and friends.
Soon after my Mom passed away I stopped working with the ashes all together and felt unable to even look at hers. The grief I was going through was unexplainable. I had no interest in anything that had anything to do with cremation ashes. I was beginning my own journey through grief. In time I felt my mother calling me to make this cremation art with her ashes. After about a year I finally had the strength to make art with my mothers ashes. And through that process I finally understood how healing this craft I do can be for people. I knew then that not only could I do what I love, but maybe what I love doing could bring comfort and healing to others who have found grief from the passing of a loved one. I have always wanted to help people and what better way then to do it with art
The people who have come to me, they’re such amazing people, and as I weep for them, I also learn so much from them all the time, and their stories, No one has a cure for grief. Sharing my own experiences might be helpful and comforting, but mostly, it’s that someone is there for you in a non-judgmental, caring way. Helping you to memorialize their loved one through Art and the human connection.
The idea of using human remains to create art can be super creepy to some people. Most people don’t even want to view the body, fearful of death . This is the very reason why I don’t usually mention that I am a Cremation Artist. People don’t want to think about death. The look on peoples face when you tell them that you make art from cremains is one of discomfort and confusion. I really want to change that.
I want people to rethink what they can do with the ashes. They don’t have to hide inside the urn or in the closet anymore. Cremains are just breathtaking when trapped inside glass. People feel good knowing they honored their loved one in a beautiful way. This is the reason that I became a Cremation Artist. Not everyone can turn human remains into a work of art. Not everyone can be a spirit guide or “Capture the Last Breath”. I want to encourage people to look at the urn in a new way. Lets take the ashes out of the urn and shine the light through them. They are beautiful. This is the“Art”of grieving.
In the 8 years I have been a professional artist I have always thought that I was following the right path. And now I know.