Cremation ashes turned into a glass memorial sculpture

Dealing with death is a very personal experience, handled in an infinite variety of ways. People thinking about dying, and those dealing with the death of a loved one, have their own ideas about what to do with the body. Some choose burial, most of the others choose cremation.

When cremation is the choice, the decision about what to do with the ashes of a loved one also takes many forms. Cathy and I have a “memorial garden” on our property where we spread the ashes of the 4-legged members of our family who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. For some reason, we haven’t yet been able to spread the ashes of our husky Monty, who died last March. They’ve been in a box in my office, and on the dash of the motorhome when I travelled last summer. An article on CBC North on Tuesday, however, about putting ashes into glass, sent me down to Lumel Studios in downtown Whitehorse the next day.

I’d been into the studio before, and Cathy has been to one of their workshops, so we knew the shop fairly well. Luann “Lu” Baker-Johnson and her husband Mel Johnson bought the downtown lot that the studio sits on in 2013, and then it took a year and a half to get the studio designed in a way that would serve a wide variety of functions. Community engagement was a big part of Lu’s dream for the studio, and the community is embracing it in a big way.

A glass and cremation-ashes memorial from Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
I looked at the small dogs and cats that Lumel has in stock. Custom ones with ash could be created, but I asked if they could create a glass sculpture of Monty from a photo I showed them. They could, and I set an appointment for Thursday to watch the process of creating it.

A glass and cremation-ashes memorial from Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
The studio is a very comfortable, welcoming place, especially in the winter.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse

The cost for the hour I booked at Lumel was $120. There are many places doing glass pieces with cremation ashes, but I’ve seen nothing close to this sort of price – the norm seems to be much higher. My impression is that some places are taking advantage of the emotions of the buyers.

Jason Murphy was the artist chosen to work with me, and I when I saw that he was wearing a Yukon Quest shirt, I knew that it was a good fit 🙂 I showed him this photo of Monty.

Monty, my beloved husky, in his prime
Jason hadn’t done a dog laying down before, so wanted to do a test piece to make sure that his ideas would work.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
He and I were both happy with the test piece, seen below as it neared completion, so work began on the real one.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
First, a test of the required colours was made. Only a couple of tablespoons of the ashes, seen in the box on the right side of the table, are required. They make the white in the glass. Artist Mark Steudle, in the middle, assisted at several points in the process of creating my piece.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
The sales area is in a wing off the workshop. The “Created in the Yukon” bags contain pieces that have cooled and are ready for pickup. I really appreciate that the bags say “the Yukon” rather than “Yukon” as the government wants us to use – little things count.

'Created in the Yukon' bags at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
The process of creating a glass Monty begins with a blob of glass picked up in one of the three furnaces. Hot glass fascinates me.

Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
While Jason was working on my piece, Tyson Isted was finishing the first of a new line of glass ravens.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
The legs take form. Lu initially said that the legs would be formed together so they were less fragile, but the test piece showed that they could be apart.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
Some of the tools of the trade.

The tools used in creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
Adding the head was a tricky part of the process that required two people. Mark formed the glass for the head while Jason kept the body at the right temperature by placing it into the oven occasionally.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
Tweaking the shape of the head.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
Forming Monty’s ears, which were added as blobs of glass with black colouring.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
Some detail-firing with a torch to get the form just right.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
The piece is about ready to receive its tail. At this point, Jason had been working with me for about 90 minutes. Once the tail was on, the piece went into a cupboard to cool for a day. On Friday evening, Cathy picked the sculpture up.

Creating a glass and cremation-ashes memorial at Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
A few minutes ago, I took Glass Monty out into the yard that Monty loved so much, and the sun lit him up beautifully.

A glass and cremation-ashes memorial from Lumel Studios in Whitehorse
A little extra that was added in is this little teardrop, which also has ashes in it. This will very likely hang in the window of the motorhome.

A glass and cremation-ashes memorial from Lumel Studios in Whitehorse



Comments

Cremation ashes turned into a glass memorial sculpture — 5 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful tribute to Monty. Thanks for posting Murray. I’m having at least 6 personal creations being done with my late husband’s ashes. Each family member has chosen their own design to remember Bryan. So glad we have Lumel Studios.

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