Cherryville artisan creates jewellery with loved one's ashes

Helen Kovacs works with glass in her Cherryville studio.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Helen Kovacs

CHERRYVILLE - It may appear somewhat morbid to some, but artisan Helen Kovacs makes about 100 pieces of jewellery a year containing someone's ashes.

After almost 30 years of working with glass, the owner of the Red Dog Glass Studio and the Cherryville Artisans Shop started making memorial beads about a decade ago.

"It's a way to keep a loved one close to you," she said. "I wear a string of beads that's got my mum's ashes in it... it gives me comfort."

The Cherryville-based artisan produces a wide variety of glassware from jewellery to furniture, and everything in between, but says working with cremated ashes is different from producing her other work. Her regular work is a reflection of herself and her relationship with her environment.

"It's a way of telling my story," she said. "Whereas when I'm working with ashes I'm telling a story which nine out of 10 times is a person I don't even know... I'm in the zone when I'm doing it. I'm not thinking about anything else except that. I want to do it with honour and dignity and love and care, its something that's really special."

Kovacs said the most popular piece she makes with ashes is a crooked heart, using coloured transparent glass to show the specks of ash melted into the glass. She doesn't think it's morbid to wear beads containing the ashes of a loved one but said it took her time before she was ready to make a piece using her own mother's ashes.

"She sat in my studio for about a year before I decided to use her ashes."

Now she wears her in a string of beads containing the cremated ashes.

"I went to Hungary to visit my family last summer, I felt like I took my mum with me because she was around my neck," Kovacs said.

Kovacs doesn't advertise this aspect of her business but said word of mouth keeps her memorial beads popular.

"It gives [people] comfort. They can stop and feel the bead and think about their loved one."

Helen Kovacs' memorial hearts are glass jewellery beads which contain cremated ashes.
Helen Kovacs' memorial hearts are glass jewellery beads which contain cremated ashes.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Helen Kovacs

— This story was corrected at 8:31 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28. 2019. An early version of this story incorrectly said the artisan's name was Karen Kovacs. Her name is Helen Kovacs.

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