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Ashes to dishes – ceramics from human remains

How would you feel about home-dining on dinnerware glazed with the cremated remains of strangers?

It’s an art-meets practical design concept that’s been put to the test by Chronicle Cremation Designs.

The Santa Fe studio already specializes in making bespoke home ceramics including cups and bowls for the bereaved, which are decorated with glazes that incorporate the funeral ashes of a loved one.

Now, the workshop’s gone one step further to produce a full dinner service. It's finished with a decorative glaze made up of the combined ‘cremains’ of 200 anonymous people.

Called Nourish, it’s a creative project which has even hosted a dinner party using the plates, cups and bowls the studio has produced.

Chronicle’s founder, designer Justin Crowe, says he was inspired by a personal loss to go ahead with the project, with the aim of “confronting” the idea of death, through the making of everyday things that help sustain the living.

He said: “Experiencing the passing of a loved one at home had a profound impact my outlook.Home is a place that is simultaneously mundane and sacred which helped normalize the idea of death for me.

"The Nourish series was made to recreate this experience of confronting mortality in everyday life.”

The ashes were sourced from bone dealers, he explains, businesses that typically sell to medical professionals and collectors. These were added to a ceramic glaze made up of other natural materials including clay, feldspar, and silica.

If you have $13,499 to invest, the Nourish dinner service includes bowls, plates, wine cups, whiskey cups and coffee mugs for eight, plus a serving plate, and serving bowl.

If you’re drinking to absent friends, a single whiskey cup costs $150 and there’s no denying that these are objects of simple beauty.

Chronicle Cremation Designs also makes ceramic cups, ornamental bowls, urns, jewelry and other keepsakes to order, for everyday people who want something a little more tangible than a photo to remember their loved one by.

Glazed with the ashes of someone dear to you, cradling a morning coffee cup or lighting a candle in a translucent luminary, brings a sensory comfort to those who need it, says Crowe.

Crowe belives that glazing his pottery with the ashes of hundreds of people in his latest project, “abstracts” a physical symbol of death.

He says: “It transforms the typically mundane act of eating or drinking coffee into a moment of introspection, considering our very existence.”

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