Have you ever considered where you or your loved ones will go after you’ve passed away? California glassmaker Merry Coor handcrafts beautiful memorial ash beads. The tangible mementos of the deceased incorporate cremated remains into swirling designs in handmade glass.
Coor has been making glass beads for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year that she began incorporating ashes into their designs. A young couple recently asked her if she could incorporate some of the ashes of a friend into a bead as a keepsake.
“It was 80 degrees in my studio that day, but I had the chills the entire time I was making the beads,” she remembers. “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 keepsake, and I had found a new dimension to my art.”
Since then Coor has a newfound sense of purpose through her custom bead making. By handcrafting every memorial orb in her own studio in Eureka, California using a torch and rods of Italian- and American-made glass, she’s able to honor both the living and dead. Coor makes the process special for her clients by requesting a photo, letter or story, along with the ashes of their loved ones. It helps her gather a mental picture of the loved one to put positive energy into her work.
“I take making beads with ashes very seriously and begin each bead with the utmost respect,” she writes on her website. “When I go into my studio to make a bead, I am centered and my thoughts are clear. I only want good energy, love, and good thoughts incorporated into every bead I make.”
Each handmade bead is crafted by first melting glass into a round bead, then spiraling the design out of ashes on top, and sealing the final design with a clear glass outer layer. The colors are “ethereal, like a planet or a universe, or the infinite heavens.” Whether you wear your bead or keep it tucked away, the ash inside is perfectly preserved inside of high quality glass. She only needs a ½ teaspoon or ashes to create each bead, but any remaining ashes are scattered among the Redwoods or in the ocean, which only furthers the personal connection she makes with her customers and their deceased loved ones while making the jewelry.
“It gives me great purpose and pleasure to make these beads for you,” Coor says. “I hope that the beads give you comfort, and help with your grief.”
The memorial ash beads come in three sizes, and are finished with your choice of either a gold or silver chain. Requests for Merry Coor’s customized beads can be made through her website or Etsy shop.
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