People often struggle to know what to do with their loved one’s ashes. If the deceased didn’t leave instructions before death, the mourners might wonder whether to keep, scatter, or entomb the cremains.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Paperweight Made of Ashes?
- How Do People Turn Ashes Into Glass?
- What Does a Paperweight Made of Ashes Cost?
- Types of Paperweights Made From Human or Pet Ashes
- Where Can You Buy a Paperweight Made of Cremains?
What if you could choose a different option? You might consider doing something creative with the cremation ashes. You may not be aware that an entire industry has worked hard to find innovative uses for cremains. One option is to use some of your loved one’s cremated remains to make a decorative paperweight.
Let’s discuss the purpose and original use of a paperweight. We will also give you a quick explanation of how cremains may be used in the creation process. Then we’ll help you figure out where to find an artist who works with cremains and give you an approximate cost for the paperweight.
Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.
What’s a Paperweight Made of Ashes?
Before air conditioning, people had to cool their homes by opening windows and using electric fans. This constant breeze may have been refreshing, but it wreaked havoc on piles of paper and receipts. People used weighted items — often decorative pieces — to hold the documents in place.
Since most homes and offices have air conditioning and open windows and fans are a thing of the past, you may have no use for a paperweight in your home. Instead of thinking of it as a useful object, think of it as a decorative piece that can remind you of your loved one and bring joy as you see it every day.
How Do People Turn Ashes into Glass?
While we can’t explain the chemistry behind glass blowing, we do know that creating glass requires temperatures of over 2,000 degrees. Sometime during the process, a portion of your loved one’s cremains are incorporated into the mixture. During this time, the carbon from the cremains is burned off and the ashes turn bright white in color.
Most of the time, a paperweight can be completed with as little as a tablespoon of ashes. This amount can depend on many factors, but it should reassure you that many paperweights (or other pieces of cremation art) can be created from one person’s cremains.
When you pick an artist, you may want to learn more about the details of his or her process. Having a discussion with the artist may reassure you that your loved one’s cremains will be treated with care and attention.
What Does a Paperweight Made of Ashes Cost?
A glance online reveals that a cremation ashes paperweight costs about $150 to $200 to create. The price depends on the size and style of the piece.
As these are unique pieces of artwork, you may want to take a moment to peruse the customer reviews before picking an artist to complete the work. Some websites claim that they can complete a customized paperweight out of cremains for as little as $49 but you may want to read reviews before shipping your loved one’s cremains to the business.
Types of Paperweights Made from Human or Pet Ashes
Paperweights come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and colors. In fact, it’s hard to describe the differences in design, as the process seems to compare to making marbles. Here are some types of paperweights, as described by online companies.
1. Paperweight that mimics the night sky
If the night sky full of stars makes you think of your loved one, consider using a bit of his cremains in a dark blue paperweight swirled with white. This paperweight may cause you to think of the eternal human spirit.
2. Paperweight with butterfly or dragonfly
You can shape your loved one’s cremains any way you desire. Consider having the white remains shaped in the form of a butterfly or dragonfly.
3. Paw print paperweight
Did you choose to have your four-legged friend cremated? Use some of your pet’s cremains to make a paw print paperweight. Like the previous example, you can use the white cremains in the design of the paw print.
4. Ocean wave paperweight
Paperweights don’t always have to be shaped like a sphere. If your loved one preferred to spend time on the ocean, consider honoring her by creating an ocean wave paperweight out of her cremains.
5. Glass flame
Reminiscent of the idea of an eternal flame, you can customize this glass paperweight using your color preferences.
6. Teardrop paperweight
Just as you can purchase a teardrop-shaped headstone for your loved one, you can have a teardrop paperweight created in memory of the person or animal you lost.
7. Dog bone paperweight
You can make dog bones in a variety of colors and sizes with your dog’s cremains. Display this paperweight next to your dog’s collar, tags, and photographs.
8. Tree of life paperweight
Some artists don’t stop after creating their paperweight. They may add other decorative pieces to accompany the glasswork, such as a metallic tree.
Consider creating this style of paperweight from the cremains of the matriarch and patriarch of your family. They were the ones who started your branch of your family’s tree, so this imagery is entirely appropriate.
9. Bird paperweight
Many people are reminded of their deceased loved ones when seeing a specific bird, usually a cardinal or redbird. If seeing a bird gives you comfort, why not create a glass bird out of your loved one’s cremains?
10. Heart paperweight
Your loved one’s cremains could be used to create a paperweight shaped like a heart. Tell your designer your color preference before ordering the custom-made piece.
11. Cube paperweight
Although we typically think of paperweights having rounded edges, you can also purchase one shaped like a cube or a perfectly-constructed pyramid.
12. Paperweight with dried flowers
Was your loved one known for growing a particular type of flower? Those dried blooms can be used in the creation of a beautiful paperweight. Your loved one’s cremains will be forever next to the flower he or she loved.
13. Star paperweight
You can have a paperweight created that looks like the night sky or you can use a small bit of cremains to have your loved one made into a beautiful star-shaped paperweight.
14. Custom-made pieces
Those who are skilled working with glass may be able to create any shape or style of paperweight you want. Was your loved one a teacher? You may want his or her remains used in a paperweight that looks like an apple. If your loved one played hockey, there would be no better tribute than to create a glass-shaped puck in your loved one’s memory.
Look at the artist’s portfolio to make sure he or she has the necessary skills to create a customized piece. Of course, you also want to find someone who shares your sense of style.
Where Can You Buy a Paperweight Made of Cremains?
Creating pieces of glasswork out of cremains is truly a niche market, but you may be surprised to find the number of artisans who would complete this work for you. Here are some places to consider.
Does your area have a night each week or month set aside for artists to open their studios to display their work? Visit glassmakers in your area and ask whether they are willing to add cremated remains to their work. You don’t want them experimenting with your loved one’s ashes but you may be surprised to know how often they’ve previously received this request.
Online glass studios
Several different online retailers specialize in cremation glass pieces. You mail in a small amount of cremains and they return any unused portions along with your paperweight.
Most of these studios enjoy excellent customer ratings.
Online artisan marketplace
Luckily, artists have a way to sell their products to the global community. Purchasing products from these online marketplaces is a great way to support those attempting to support themselves with their art.
Search for cremation glasswork to find someone to create a customized piece out of your loved one’s cremains.
Other online retailers
You can even purchase a cremation paperweight from America’s largest online retailer. Since you can also buy headstones and caskets through this source, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Other Things to Make from Ashes
You may not have realized it, but you can create a lot of customized pieces of art using a bit of your loved one’s ashes. Prefer to inter the cremains inside a beautiful blown-glass urn or use the ashes to create a separate piece?
You can also use a bit of cremains to make a record album. Use a recording of your loved one singing, speaking, or playing a musical instrument.
If you have patience and a large budget, you can even use some of your loved one’s ashes to create a memorial diamond that you can wear in honor of the one you lost. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
If you're looking for more ways to display ashes, read our guides on inexpensive things to do with ashes and temporary urns.