Justine Crowe is a Mexico-based artist who designed a unique dinnerware set using the cremated human ashes. Crowe designed the dinnerware as a part of his art project, however; soon he was approached by his friends and acquaintances to create one for them.
Following the high-demand for the bespoke dinnerware, Crowe launched a company called the Chronicle Cremation Design. The patrons of the business are mostly the people who want to keep their dead ones close to them as a coffee cup, candle holders, etc.
Crowe explained his inspiration for the design:
“I wanted to create a dinnerware set that infuses a sense of mortality into everyday life.”
In 2015, Crowe bought around 200 human bones from a dealer and crushed them to a fine powder. The bones were then mixed into a coating glaze. Crowe used the glaze to coat a set of cups, bowls, and plates. Crowe then conducted a dinner party where the guests ate off the utensils fashioned from the human remains.
While searching for the human bones, Crowe put up an ad on the Craigslist for nearly two cups of ashes for $35. His ad received three responses on the first day including one from a woman who threatened him with legal action and quoted Bible saying he would wound up in Hell. Crowe admits that the idea is quite radical:
“It’s a really polarizing idea!”
Although Crowe envisioned “Nourish” as a one-time project, he was prompted by his friends and colleagues to do bespoke orders for them, and the business was born:
“People asked, ‘If I gave you my father’s ashes, could you make a coffee cup, urn or bowl?’ So this business came out of the art project. Integrating someone’s ashes into ceramics is a way of infusing their memory into everyday life. So you can have coffee every morning with the memories of your grandmother, or have a bowl on the table to spark stories at family dinners.”
The cremation of an adult human body can generate about 1.8 to 2.7 kilogrammes of ash. However, the unique glazing used by Crowe requires only 100 grammes. The ceramics are fired in the kiln to make them water and heat-proof.
Crowe explained that the human ash has the same chemical composition as a typical ceramic glaze:
“These just happen to originate from a previously living person. It really puts into perspective that we are all just made of the same dust we walk on. It’s pretty beautiful.”
When an order is placed, the Chronicle Cremation Design send out a customised ‘ash-collection kit.’ The company creates a customised glazed cup for $399 while the pottery object ranges between the $159 to $649.