Sacred Heart – The Beginning
A client recently reached out to see if I was able to do a fluid piece for her Mother’s upcoming birthday….but there was something very unique about the piece that the family wanted added into it. The Father had passed away and the family would like to have his ashes incorporated into the piece. They asked if I would be comfortable and able to put the ashes into the piece?
My Most Honored Commission!
My first reaction was “Wow, what an amazing opportunity!” I said, “YES, this an incredible honor.”
The client and I chatted further about specific colors and size. I decided to blend both a favorite color of the Father and Mother for the base color of the piece. I immediately knew I wanted a heart shape for the overall piece, representing love for family and Father. I would also embellish this piece with specific gemstones to symbolize love, adding the rose quartz and 24 Karat gold leafing.
We’ve all been touched by death in some way and it’s very uncomfortable for most, left with only cherished memories. Death can affect us for lifetimes. I still think almost daily about my family and friends who have passed away, a pain in my heart that will never be erased or forgotten. The pain lessens over the years, but it’s always there.
I had heard of people designing jewelry with crematory ashes, but never in artwork. I decided to do some research about using ash with fluid-paint and resin! I reached out to my painting groups, but no one had done this before. O.K, deep breathe here, I’ve learned this much about painting on my own I’d continue on and trust.
I used the next couple weeks to conduct my tests. My test pieces came out great, especially with the second phase of using resin. I awaited the arrival of the ashes. Once I received them, I made sure they were stored in a special container until I was ready to use them.
I set up my studio space to create a specific atmosphere for this piece. I asked the daughter what her Fathers favorite music was. I set my intentions for my piece as I prepared my paints, lit a candle, burned sage and let the process flow and played the Fathers favorite music.
I wanted to be incredibly conscious of not wasting any paint in the process, to ensure no paint was thrown out or wasted I decided to make four small complimentary hearts. These were for his children. I did not tell my client I was doing these additional pieces (as they were my complimentary gift to them) I wanted it to be a surprise! I wanted each of the children to share in this special creation and have something beautiful to look at!
Doing this piece was an incredible honor, a beautiful way to remember a loved one. I cherish this experience and I’m so grateful the opportunity to share it.
It had been a little over a year since I had lost my most beloved and precious daddy, when my sisters and I began to discuss a meaningful birthday gift for our sweet mama, who was grieving the love of her life and who was about to celebrate her 80th birthday without him by her side.
I noticed that a couple of my favorite artists had begun to do liquid pours and an idea formed in my mind. What if some of my father‘s ashes could be mixed in with some paint? What if we could take his favorite color and my mama‘s favorite color and incorporate those onto a piece that she would be able to have near her wherever she was in the house?
I approached Jen with a bit of hesitation because I wasn’t certain how she would feel about working with human ashes. But I should’ve known from our previous interactions that she would treat the entire project from message to finished piece as if it were a lovely and sacred opportunity, always showing the greatest respect to us as a family and to my father as well.
Jen was very intentional about the entire process, researching first how (wood) ash would incorporate into paint and trying to find the best paint combinations possible for this treasured piece. She stored my father’s ashes in a sterling silver bowl, saged her work area, and played his favorite music (jazz) while working on this project. Every step of the way I was updated and Jen’s excitement made it less of a grief piece and more of a celebration piece, every time she and I would connect.
She even spent quite a bit of time researching the surface that she would do the pour upon and settled upon a beautiful wooden heart about 7 inches across. I wanted my mama to have something that was easily portable, as her mobility challenges sometimes put her in her favorite recliner for a long period of time, or in bed resting as well.
Finally the piece was done! When the package arrived it was with a mixture of excitement (and if I’m being honest, a little bit of grief) and a reverent joy that I opened it. We were going to be able to gift our precious mama with a tangible memento of her Love!
Jen had sent me some pictures, but as she said, pictures could not do the final piece justice. It was simply breathtaking! And to our great surprise, Jen had included a small gift for each of us daughters. This gift once again reflects how respectful she was about my father’s remains. Not wanting to waste any of the paint into which the ash was mixed, she proceeded to do 4 miniature poures on these sweet little hearts. She said there was no way she was throwing away Daddy’s remains and with that respect comes a wonderful token that each of us girls has.
Mama was so delighted with this gift that she insisted we take it to her birthday party so that the rest of her family and friends could see it! Jen also very thoughtfully included a plate holder along with the art piece so that it was perfectly cradled and safely displayed. I can tell you, that day it was handled by several people it was taken out into the sunlight to see the awesome color shifting paints and it looks exactly like the day it arrived. I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of this process, and I do hope that more people will consider a memorial like this. I personally don’t wish to wear a necklace with some of my dad‘s ashes in it. It’s completely fine if you do; I have one sister who does just that. But to have this piece of art is so lovely and such a reflection of what my parents built together. Thank you so much Jen! You are a blessing!