Cheryl Pedley holds a glass ball

Ashes to ashes, dust to glasses

Parksville glass blower Robert Held turns crematory ashes into memorial keepsakes

When Cheryl Pedley got her late husband’s ashes back they came “in a plastic container inside a recyclable bag,” she recalled.

Less than impressed, Pedley was determined to honour her husband’s life.

That’s when she came across local glass blower, Robert Held, and together they came up with a plan to blow her husband’s ashes into beautiful pieces of glass art.

“We blew him into (glass) balls,” Pedley said. “One hangs in a window and one sits on my coffee table and my husband is lovely and present and it’s a joy.”

Peddly also had smaller glass balls made that she sent to his children who live all across North America.

“My husband deserved something different,” she said. “And this was different and beautiful.”

Held explains he takes human or pet ashes from people, re-processes the ash into a fine dust, then mixes it with a colour (otherwise ash alone turns out grey) and blows the ash into some form of glass art such as hanging ornaments, paperweights, hearts, vases or urns.

He only uses about one tablespoon of ash for each piece, so there’s leftover ash to either put inside an urn or spread outside.

Held said he can also seal his glass pieces and often people will fill them with a person’s memorabilia as a keepsake.

“Many people have ashes in their house,” he said, noting his studio is exploring ways to honour late loved ones.

Held said it’s “emotional” work.

Last Saturday, Held hosted the first Memories Held event at his glass art studio along Island Highway. He did a glass-blowing demonstration using human ashes and had three celebrants, including Pedley, on hand for help.

The Celebrant Foundation and Institution defines celebrants as “highly-trained ceremony professionals who are richly schooled in the art of ritual and ceremony.”

“Rituals have gone out of style as many people have left the churches,” said Pedley.

“We (celebrants) believe rituals are an important part of life… We offer non-traditional, non-religious points of view in conducting rituals.”

On Saturday, Pedley was joined by fellow celebrants Ceri Peacey and Jane Good providing emotional support for those looking at options for honouring loved one’s remains.

“We’re taking people through the process of finding a way through transitions,” said Pedley. “We’re to relieve people a little bit and ease the burden.”

For more on Robert Held Art Glass contact 250-586-4353 or visit www.robertheld.com.

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