An artist in northern California (need we add, “where else but?”) is making tiny glass beads meant to look like planets or solar systems encapsulated within delicate glass beads. What makes her creations especially otherworldly is the secret ingredient – cremated human remains caught in dramatic and colorful swirls for eternity. So do we now switch the funereal sentiment to “Rest in Beads”?
Merry Coor makes each bead by hand with a small torch and rods of special, colored, silvered glass. She applies human ashes (about half a teaspoonful) in organic patterns that seem to suggest motion and encloses the composition within a protective glass shell. The colors are ethereal, like a clouded planet or infinite universe. Coor says each bead makes for a unique and lasting gift that allows you to keep your loved one close.
This is just another development in the (creepy or creative?) business of modern death. Green Prophet’s brought you plenty of news about environmentally responsible burials. While some offer opportunities to convert human remains into artificial gemstones, most merely allow the deceased to revert to nature in a most benign manner.
Coor has made glass beads for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year that she began adding ashes to her designs. After this development Coor explained, “My bead making now gave me a new purpose, and a way to honor others, both living and passed.”
She requests a picture or story of the deceased so she can develop a personal connection while forming the piece of jewelry.
Coor has been making glass beads from traditional materials for 15 years. Last year, a client asked if she could mix some of the ashes from a deceased friend into a bead as a keepsake. She explains on her website that she undertook the project with a new sense of purpose, “a way to honor others, both living and passed.”
She describes the experience as transformative, “As I made this special glass bead, I meditated, pondered, and let my mind be free. I felt it was one of the most important beads I had ever made in my life, and I’ve made thousands of beads over the years. When the couple returned to pick up their beads, we felt we had connected, we cried, and we hugged each other. They had a tangible touchstone, housing the ashes of their loved one as a keep sake, and I had found a new dimension to my art.”
Coor requests a picture, story, or piece of music that connects to the deceased so she can develop a personal connection while forming the piece of jewelry. She is alone creates them.
Her Memorial Ash Beads come in three sizes, with your choice of either a gold or silver chain and findings. Beads take about 4 weeks to complete and prices range from $120 to $150 USD, plus shipping. Unused ashes are not returned, but instead are scattered in the nearby Redwood forests or in the ocean, “with utmost respect”.
Pretty baubles to be sure, and the artist seems absolutely sincere in her sentiments, but this writer is still shaking her head over jewelry made from breast milk. Am I terminally unhip? If so, I know when my squareness does me in, my family will have options.
All images from Ash Beads website