Ashes to glass: a Yukon studio's colourful way with cremated remains

Whitehorse's Lumel Studios has been working ashes from people's loved ones and pets into unique glass objects and figurines. 'The ashes can just sit in a box someplace. This, I’ll have out, I’ll see it all the time.'

'We've got lots of people interested in what we can do with ashes'

Tyson Isted with glass beads and Marilyn Stebner with her aunt's ashes. 'Just amazing,' Stebner said. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

A Whitehorse glass-blowing studio is finding a lively business in ... death.

Lumel Studios, which opened a year ago, has been working the cremated remains of people's loved ones and pets into unique glass figurines.

"The ashes can just sit in a box someplace. This, I'll have out, I'll see it all the time," said Marilyn Stebner, who recently brought in her aunt's ashes to be worked into a bird figurine.

A glass paperweight made with cremated remains, at Whitehorse's Lumel Studios. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

"I read on their website they use ashes, so I thought what a wonderful way to keep ashes. And she loved birds," Stebner said.

"She'll be hanging, and flying, and free." 

The ashes are actually encased in the melted glass. Tyson Isted, who works at the studio, said that's important "or else it doesn't really stick very well.

"We've got lots of people interested in what we can do with ashes," he said. "If it can be drawn, we can pretty much make it out of glass."

A pet's likeness, in glass

Paperweights are a common choice, Isted said. Blown glass objects sometimes turn out "a little funny" because off-gases from the ashes can create bubbles in the glass.

The studio will even try to make a glass figurine resemble a beloved pet. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

Animal figurines are also popular, especially for the ashes of a beloved pet.

"We'll actually even try to match what the dog looks like, as a glass figure with the ashes on the inside. Endless possibilities," he said.

Stebner couldn't be happier with Isted's work.

"Just amazing," she said.

The bird is just one piece — Stebner also asked for a glass finger to be made from her aunt's ashes.

"She had a crooked finger, so we did a crooked finger ... She said when she died, I could have the ashes from the crooked finger. So what better place to put them — into a finger.

"That'll just be for me."

Marilyn Stebner's bird and crooked finger, in the cooling-down box. (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

With files from Sandi Coleman


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