Eureka, California-based artist Merry Coor honors the deceased and comforts their loved ones by using cremated ashes to create stunning, heartfelt jewelry. Each memorial ash bead is lovingly crafted by hand. Special, colored glass forms the round bead, while ashes are incorporated into ethereal spiral designs and then sealed in a clear layer of glass. The result is a unique work of art that captures the beauty of the cosmos and meaningful memories of the dearly departed.
Once she receives an order, Coor sends an envelope and tin to customers so that they can mail her the ashes of their loved one, along with any photos or stories that will provide the artist with a clearer image of the subject. Once she receives the materials, Coor lovingly hand-makes the bead with the individual in mind, doing her best to imbibe each piece with good intentions and respect. Bead caps, head pins, and silver or gold chains turn the beads into gorgeous pendants that people can keep close to them forever.
According to Coor, she got started making her special beads when a young couple asked her if she could incorporate the ashes of their beloved friend into a bead as a keepsake. Touched, the artist honored their request and soon found new purpose for craft-making through the process. She says, “The experience was amazing for me. As I made this special glass bead, I meditated, pondered, and let my mind free. I felt it was one of the most important beads I had ever made in my life, and I've made thousands of beads over the years. When the couple returned to pick up their beads, we felt we had connected, we cried, and we hugged each other. They had a tangible touchstone, housing the ashes of their loved one as a keep sake, and I had found a new dimension to my art.”