California artist Merry Coor is using her skills to help people preserve the memory of their loved ones in the form of breathtaking pieces of jewellery. She uses cremated ashes of the deceased to create stunning beads that are lovingly crafted by hand.
The process begins with Coor mailing an envelope and a tin box to clients who display interest in her work. They use these to send her ashes, along with any photos or stories relating to their loved one. Once she receives the materials, she begins the process of creating the bead, keeping the individual in mind the whole time. Merry said that she tries her best to imbibe each piece with good intentions and respect.
Coor’s special glass beads are made of colored glass, with the ashes incorporated into delicate spiral designs and then sealed in a clear layer of glass. The resultant beads appear to mimic the beauty of the cosmos, while also preserving the memories of the departed. She later adds bead caps, head pins, and silver or gold chains to convert the beads into gorgeous pendants that people can wear and keep close to themselves.
Coor revealed that she first got into making these beads when a young couple approached her, asking her to incorporate the ashes of a friend into a bead. She honored their request, and during the process, felt like her craft had finally found a purpose. “The experience was amazing for me,” she recalled. “As I made this special glass bead, I meditated, pondered, and let my mind 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 keepsake, and I had found a new dimension to my art.”
The beads come in varying sizes, ranging from small silver ($120) to large gold ($150). For more information about Coor’s work, check out her website, ashbeads.com.
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