From ashes to dishes: Artist creates innovative ceramics made from human remains

By Litaletu Zidepa
15 December 2016

PHOTO: Wenn PHOTO: Wenn

“I wanted to create a dinnerware set that infuses a sense of mortality into everyday life.”

The sudden death of a loved one is always the hardest thing to accept. While some turn to spiritual healing and religion, others horde items that once belonged to their dearly departed.

But now pottery maker Justin Crowe wants you to drink and eat out of ceramics made from the ashes of your dead loved ones!

The 28-year old founder of the ‘Chronicle Cremation Designs’ found success after an art project -- “Nourish” -- that made use of 200 peoples ashes collected from bone dealers to create a dinnerware ceramic collection, which was later used to serve people at a dinner party.

“I wanted to create a dinnerware set that infuses a sense of mortality into everyday life,” he told TheGuardian.

The New Mexico based artist explained that he buys human remains and turns them into ash “before grinding them up with a mortar and pestle”. He then mixes the powder into glaze to make the ceramic items.

“Remembering a person through observing a picture or a cremation urn seemed distant and lonely,” he explained his thinking to Metro.

After experiencing a personal loss himself, Justin said he wanted to come up with a new and innovative way to keep the spirit of a loved one alive.

“I wanted to create memorial objects that could be interacted with on a daily basis, integrating their memory back into the home and into daily life.”

The artist mixes the cremated human ash with a glaze which is then used to cover vases, candle holders, cups and bowls.

Justin added that his company also provides a collection kit in which people can put 100g of ash so that he can create the custom crockery.

“It costs $399 (R5 456) to create the ashy glaze, and that can be used on up to 25 products – ranging from $159 (R2 174) for jewellery to $549 (R7 506) for centerpiece bowls," he said.

PHOTO: Wenn PHOTO: Wenn

A humble coffee mug costs just $199 (R2 721).

While Justin’s rare innovation have received “overwhelming interest”, he admits that some reactions to the idea have not been so good with people threatening to ‘investigate’ him.

“The biggest challenge was navigating how to talk about a highly sensitive topic without overshadowing the conversation with a product that was at risk of seeming unnecessarily sensational,” he adds.

To show support for his business, he reveals that he also drinks his morning coffee from the mugs.

Justin adds that he hopes his designs will help open a new perspective on the subject of mortality.

“We understand that our process might come across as surprising or unconventional, but our products provide a unique opportunity for people to surround themselves with the memory of someone they loved.

“We are reminded of the value of what we do every day by the individual people who are moved by the objects we’ve created.”

Read more:

Heartbroken widow has ring made from husband’s ashes to give to daughter on her wedding day

Sources: TheGuardian.com, HuffingtonPost.co.uk, Cremationdesigns.com, Youtube 

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