My short bio: I have been working with Artful Ashes since the beginning of 2016 where I create and design memorials. We work together to help those who are mourning a loss, as well as support the artist community locally.

My Proof: it's me!/me shaping glass a heart memorial / video from a client of the process Artful Ashes / Little Things

Comments: 90 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

Bigdaddysativa10 karma

Would you be able to make a glass pipe?

vitalityspeaks3 karma

Also, in theory, that could be done

vitalityspeaks3 karma

Unfortunately I do not make pipes.

FortuitousAdroit5 karma

Because you dont know how, it wont work, or you dont support the idea?

*Interesting, cheers for the response. Neat business - best to you and your customers

vitalityspeaks24 karma

Pipes are typically made with borosilicate glass, which is a very durable, high temp melting glass, generally melted using a torch. I work with a softer glass (soda-lime) which is melted in a furnace and gathered onto a steel blowpipe. I never learned/practiced to work with borosilicate.

However, I have seen some incredible glasswork made by flameworkers and I respect their work, pipe or otherwise.

Invader121007 karma

Is there a favorite piece of yours that you have created?

vitalityspeaks10 karma

My favorite pieces are the pendants called "Angel's Wings," which are the newest addition to our line. I love that they are so intimate and close to your heart. They are simple and elegant. here's a pic of me wearing the pendant necklace

vitalityspeaks4 karma

I am also an artist aside from making memorials.

This is my favorite piece I have made with glass and steel.

Invader121002 karma

These are beautiful!!! Ive always loved glass work and would love to see your process. I always hear people saying that glass blowers "die early" because of the various chemical fumes. What are your thoughts on that?

vitalityspeaks1 karma

Anything in moderation isn't going to kill you right?

Okay, so I'm guilty of indulging in the glass making process. But I will say that we live in the age of knowledge.. The information is out there. There are people who spend lots of time gathering specific information on the safety of the conditions of working with all kinds of materials. There are precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe. It's your right to be informed! I for one read MSDS sheets despite their sometimes daunting statements.

In recent years people have taken it upon themselves to eliminate chemicals and processes in their practices in order for the environment to be safer for their employees. Currently, I see no harm in the use of materials for the business I am with, which makes me feel ten years younger already :)

100101016 karma

you put the..sorry..powder IN the glass directly or?

vitalityspeaks8 karma

Yes it's in the glass. It's more like a layer. The ashes stick to glass when the glass is super hot (about 2,000 degrees F). The ashes are sifted so that we only used the really fine powder. Then once the glass is cooled for a few minutes (with the ash and glass color stuck to it) I completely submerge the "start" into molten glass and let it drizzle off so that it's only a thin layer of glass around the ash and color. The glass furnace I am using holds about 800 lbs. of molten clear glass and is kept at 2,200 degrees F at all times.

100101011 karma

wow! that is insane! can you show some piece?

SinusMonstrum3 karma

Can you make tiny dragons? I think it would be cool to be turned into a tiny dragon after you die.

Kratior2 karma

Quote from OP(she answered with a new comment, not a reply) : How tiny are we talking?

SinusMonstrum1 karma

The size of a small apple?

vitalityspeaks3 karma

I've only made one dragon so far in my career, but that would be possible. As far as using cremated remains, Artful Ashes only makes two shapes: heart - symbol of love / orb - symbol of spirit.

thedrunkdingo3 karma

Your work (and the idea and meaning behind it) is beautiful.

Does it get difficult emotionally constantly hearing stories of grief and pain though?

vitalityspeaks5 karma

Yes, it can be incredibly difficult. Some of the stories I hear are just absolutely unbelievable, (as in "how could this happen to a person?!")

I am constantly putting myself in other people's shoes, which can be dangerous because I'm supposed to be the rock!

thedrunkdingo1 karma

Thanks for answering. And I hope you know how important your work is to people. :)

vitalityspeaks2 karma

I am happy to oblige! Thank you, I appreciate your kind words.

Lunerio2 karma

Is this really how you're supposed to work with extremely hot stuff? No gloves, no anything for this type of work?

vitalityspeaks2 karma

Your skin adapts and once your skill level has become efficient, you know how to keep yourself from getting burned.

Also, since I can't touch the stuff with my hands, it's important that I maintain as much dexterity in my hands as possible (feeling the glass through the tools).

With that said, this pretty small scale for glassblowing. If I were making something much larger, you'd better believe I'd be wearing sleeves and gloves.

jesssea2 karma

Hi, I've heard about you/artful ashes before, I have a terminally ill spouse, and we discussed doing this with his ashes. We both love the idea of a glass sculpture, instead of an urn... 1)Do you use all of them or only some? 2)I'd definitely fly out and wait for the piece to be made( I live in a different country)...is there a long wait list to have one done? 3) Who was your influence in art? like why/when did you start pursuing it? I'm sure I'll think of more...

vitalityspeaks2 karma

The wait list is currently short, but tends to get longer around the holidays. We have flexibility for those traveling long distances and we do everything we can to accommodate with your travel needs. Typically we have our schedule set (in the studio) a few months in advance. Right now, we have the entire year planned. If you'd like to visit, please be aware that it takes two days for the memorials to cool down to room temperature (due to its thickness).

vitalityspeaks2 karma

We ask for a tablespoon of ashes but we only end up using roughly a teaspoon per piece (probably actually less than that but we've never done a true measurement.) All of the remaining ash is returned. This gives people an opportunity to keep some ashes and spread the rest.

vitalityspeaks1 karma

I find my influences change according to the current state of my life. Right now my biggest influences are "couple artists" or couples who collaborate with one another. My life partner and I decided that we wanted our life together to be about teamwork. We do everything together, work (leading an Artful Ashes team and managing the manufacturing), make artwork, travel, play.. Everything. it's very refreshing to see other couples out there who are able to make art together as well. Many artists work very hard to keep their identities separate, but I don't feel as though that mindset would work for me. It is the way of life these artists have chosen that influence me most. -- Boyd Sugiki / Lisa Zerkowitz -- Flora Mace / Joey Kirkpatrick -- Jenny Pohlman / Sabrina Knowles I am also influenced by glass artists who push the boundaries of glass. Many glass artists are "purists" meaning they only work in glass. I love to see people incorporating other mediums with glass and utilizing it's unique characteristics. -- Rik Allen -- Kait Rhoads

jesssea1 karma

Wow! thanks for all your replies, and for sharing such cool artists with me. Your outlook on the whole couples art is incredibly sweet, I'm so glad you've found that kind of happiness in your life :)

vitalityspeaks1 karma

Thank you for your interest and questions! Best wishes to you and yours, I'm happy to share and answer any questions you have in the future. 😊

jibbsplaysgames2 karma

Have you really ever messed up right in front of a family? What was the outcome of that?

Follow on- will you turn me into a tiny baby phoenix when I die, because, duh?

vitalityspeaks2 karma

Yes I've messed up in front of clients. So far, worst case scenario is that I make a heart instead of an orb (or vice versa) and they get an extra memorial on the house. We never throw anything away. I've gotten really good at fixing my mistakes though. They say "it's not about what you can make, but what you can save."

And to answer your second question, (I definitely LOL to your phrasing btw) perhaps that could be arranged when the time has come

workingtimeaccount2 karma

Is it profitable?

I always love stuff like this and would always want to enter but then I typically find the community to be jaded to newcomers and not want to train someone for fear of competition, similar to most other professions out there. Living as an artist that helps remind people of their lost loves seems to be a very rewarding life so it's awesome if you're able to live with this path.

vitalityspeaks5 karma

It's a trade off. I chose a path knowing that it has a very slim chance of high profit margins. But that's okay (I think...). I would die happy so long as I can at least afford to have a roof over my head with belly full of food and make art my entire life. I am fortunate to have found a business that affords those things and makes people so happy. It's very rewarding to see people love glass the way that I do (even if it is for different reasons).

vitalityspeaks9 karma

What's the difference between a large pepperoni pizza and a glassblower?

A pizza can feed a family of four.

BlackdogLao2 karma

Had to laugh at this, My ex is a glass artist, and she got asked to make pipes all the time when people found out. You probably get it all the time too.

So onto my questions, where did you study/who did you train under to become a glass artist?

were you always planning on working with the medium of glass, or did you stumble upon it while pursuing some other art medium?

vitalityspeaks2 karma

You're right! Everyone does ask if I can make a pipe/bong. Probably my #1 question. There are glassblowers in the world who do not make pipes.

I studied at Alfred University, School of Art and Design in upstate NY where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 2010. My concentration was in Glass Sculpture and Metal Casting. At the time, I studied with Stephen Dee Edwards (who founded the national glass casting center) and Angus Powers (head of Glass blowing department). Coral Lambert was the foundry professor who was incredibly influential to me as a female artist (pursuing male dominant mediums such as glass and metal).

I went to college thinking I would be a painter. I'm from a very poor family and the only reason I was able to go was because I received a presidential portfolio scholarship for my high school portfolio (which paid half of tuition). My portfolio consisted of almost only drawings and paintings. Here's some examples of work I did as a teenager: portrait of a friend - dot drawing/stipple - still life

My high school art teacher also went to AU. He's a painter and he made me promise to try glassblowing (as a means to live vicariously through me) since he never had a chance to try it. I didn't think much of it until I tried it. I was blown away. no pun intended it was so freaking difficult... So hot and mysterious. So I kept coming back for more. By the time I was a senior I figured, "well glassblowing couldn't be any riskier than painting right?" So I chose it as my major. Fortunately for me, there's more jobs in the glassblowing field than painting. (At least here in Seattle)

Justinformation2 karma

What are your ambitions?

vitalityspeaks5 karma

My ambitions are to build community. Furnace glass is a quickly dying technique, despite how long it has been around. It hasn't changed much as far as the process goes. I see the danger of this ancient practice fading away and I want to do everything I can to build up this community to keep it strong and alive. Glass is my passion, I love to share the feeling it gives me with others.

Artful Ashes is doing all of this incredible healing for people, giving them a distraction from their grief and a reason to smile. But besides what's on the face, behind the scenes, this business is working on building up the glass art community. We rent from a non-profit studio every week called Pratt Fine Arts Center and bring new faces into the facility, exposing people to the artist community. Also, every week we donate 4hrs of free hotshop glass rental time to random artists in the area. To an artist, it's such a rat race, this small gift is a tremendous help.

I feel that if people work together, than we can keep this art medium (my passion) alive.

AeternumFlame1 karma

How did you find out you like melting glass/shaping glass figures? (Or why did you choose to do it and not something else)

Do you have other hobbies?

What's your favorite TV series?

vitalityspeaks5 karma

I found glass while I was studying for my BFA. At first I took it as just an elective, something for fun, but I immediately was drawn to the material. It's incredibly challenging. It's like trying to play an instrument for the first time, except the instrument is 2000°F. To see molten glass really alters the way that you perceive everyday materials in this world. I had no idea how glass was made and had never been in a glass hotshop at that point. I was 19 years old when glass was introduced to me as an artistic medium. Up until that point, art was just something that I did. It was so natural for me, see something, draw it. Charcoal, pencil, oil paint, acrylic, clay, it was all the same for me, not much of a challenge. (Although I enjoyed it very much) As soon as I discovered glass, suddenly, practically every other material bored me. I loved the challenge. I loved that glass is stubborn, it will burn you, it will cut you, if you do not give it respect. It has this movement to it when it's hot; the way you move with the material is not far from a well choreographed dance.

Besides the material itself, there are other aspects that I love about glass making (also similar to metal casting). Most people do not make glass sculpture alone, it's typically done as a team (unlike painting). There's a certain camaraderie within the community. When you complete a piece, everyone is excited and jubilant. Hugs and high fives all around. It was just one of those things that I knew I would regret for the rest of my life if I didn't at least try to pursue it.

I am notoriously dabbling in a little bit of everything. I've always felt like my hands need to be busy all the time. So when I'm not blowing glass or working on my personal artwork, I am drawing, making jewelry, (as of this summer) mountain biking, and teaching myself Korean.

Currently, my favorite TV series are GOT, Walking Dead and to be completely honest I'm watching True Blood atm... What? I'm in a show hole..

vitalityspeaks2 karma

Oh! And how could I forget "Rick and Morty." Favorite TV series... Such a tricky question for me.

RedRobotCake1 karma

If I was interested in working with glass, do you have any recommendations as to where I could start?

Also, have you ever had any bad injuries from your work?

vitalityspeaks1 karma

I have burned myself many times. I have not ever burned so badly that I felt I needed medical attention. Although the beginner full palm burn is not pleasant. Imagine grabbing something you didn't realize was hot, and every point of contact with that object turned into a blister on the palm of your hand.

There are also risks from repetition, which I have faced in the past. (I.e. Tendinitis, carpel tunnel, the list goes on) However, I have since made changes to my workload and am feeling better than ever.

vitalityspeaks1 karma

Where do you currently live? Are you interested in traveling to learn?

tmoeagles961 karma

How does someone learn to blow glass, and how big of a learning curve is there?

vitalityspeaks3 karma

Glassblowing is traditionally taught with the master and apprentice relationship. You start by sweeping the floor, or charging the furnace with glass at night, then eventually you move onto the simpler glass assistant tasks (like opening glory hold doors and annealing oven doors w/o pay), then maybe you start blowing into the pipe when asked, and so on and so forth. In Seattle, glassblowing is very prominent. You can learn by taking classes in numerous private studios or non-profit art centers until you are proficient enough to rent studio time. Otherwise, you can learn at a university (like I did). If you're really lucky, your high school might have a glassblowing program.

Like anything, practice makes perfect.

I personally struggled immensely when I started. I watched many of my classmates excel with technical processes and just the overall understanding of how the material works (on a scientific level). Those who picked it up the quickest seemed to have numerous years of experience in pottery. There's a lot of similarities in the two processes: working on an axis, finding center, finesse, etc.

The learning never ends. You can always learn something new and increase your skill set no matter how long you have been practicing.

dan_1441 karma

Hey, this a really cool memorial for family members. Just a couple questions about it.

  1. How did you come up with this idea? It's pretty unique.

  2. Have you gotten any negative feedback on the idea? This is a pretty sensitive topic for a lot of people.

  3. How long have you been doing glasswork? How did you get into it?

vitalityspeaks6 karma

  1. This idea has been done in many ways for quite some time, however no one really presented the ash in their memorials quite like this. Artful Ashes was founded by Greg and Christina Dale. Greg had lost his grandparents and wanted to do something unique and special to memorialize them. After lots of research and deliberation he decided to make memorials out of glass. He combined the ashes of his grandparents and worked with an artist, such as myself, to create a glass memorial shaped in a heart, which showcased the ashes in the very front to form a swirl. This is when "together forever" began. The feeling of holding the glass piece was like a hug in your hand and from that moment the Dale's knew they had to share this with the world.

  2. There is always some negativity in any pursuit in life. Often times people are reluctant and weary of the concept of working with cremated remains. From the outside, it seems like the "death business." But that couldn't be farther from the truth. We are here to help those who are still alive, give them a way to find closure with the ones they've lost. We invite people to the glass studio and show them every step of the process. People come crying, but they walk away laughing. Generally people will shed any reservations once they have a chance to speak to anyone affiliated with Artful Ashes, once they see that this is something we do from our hearts.

  3. I have been working with glass since 2007. From the moment that I found hot glass I have not been able to stop. When I was very young, I took to art quickly. Every award I ever received as a young student was for artistic merit. So I applied to Alfred University, School of Art and Design in NY and received a presidential portfolio scholarship. Before I left, my high school art teacher (who is also AU alumni) made me promise to try glassblowing since he never had a chance to try it. Now here I am in Seattle (the mecca of glassblowing) and I have been using my degree professionally since the day I graduated.

rachelandlauralee1 karma

Do you do pet memorial pieces, too? Can people send ashes from afar or does it have to be local?

vitalityspeaks1 karma

Our sister company takes care of pet memorials, Rainbow Bridge Hearts. You can absolutely send us your ashes. Give us a call and we will send you a complimentary collection package with instructions on how to proceed.

skywaterblue1 karma

How do you feel about the manufacturing problems in art glass right now? Is it affecting you?

vitalityspeaks3 karma

Well, I certainly don't feel great about it. Currently, there has not been any change from manufacturing of cullet, however the announcement from Spectrum has been difficult news to hear for everyone in the glass community. As new information unfolds, we will definitely feel the effects from these events.

vitalityspeaks0 karma

How tiny are we talking?

Lilloller0 karma

I can't help but feel people like this are just marketing off of other peoples grief. How much do these cost? They aren't even unique designs?

vitalityspeaks3 karma

Actually these are unique designs, which have been so successful that others have mimicked our business. The cost is $185 ea or $145 for multiples. Considering the amount of resources it takes to create sculpted glass this is very affordable. For many people this is a much more affordable and presentable alternative to the traditional urn, something you can hold and is beautiful to look at.

Here's an example: A young girl, age 6, lost here best friend. She couldn't sleep at night, every night she would lie in bed awake all night tossing and turning, mourning her friend. We brought her into the studio and had her sift the ashes herself and explained the entire process to her. Now she takes her memorial to bed with her, holding it like a doll, or placing it on her night stand on it's lighted base (a night light essentially) and has since slept like a baby every night.