If your loved one wants to be buried, you need to select the casket, cemetery, and headstone. Even if you know that your loved one wants to be cremated, you also need to figure out what to do with the cremation ashes.
You may be surprised to learn that you can do several things with your loved one’s cremains. You could:
- Keep the cremains in an urn inside your home.
- Bury the urn in a cemetery.
- Scatter your loved one’s cremains in a beautiful or significant location.
- Hire an artist to create a glass keepsake using a bit of the ash from your loved one’s cremation.
While there’s almost an endless list of glass keepsakes you can create, this article will focus on cremation orbs or glass balls. We’ll tell you what they are and tell you how they are made. We’ll also provide some of the details behind purchasing a cremation orb.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are Cremation Orbs?
- How Do Artists Make Cremation Orbs?
- How Much Do Cremation Orbs Usually Cost?
- Where Can You Buy Cremation Orbs?
What Are Cremation Orbs?
A cremation orb is a spherical piece of cremation art made with a small amount of cremated remains. By definition, an orb should be completely spherical but cremation orbs come in several different shapes.
You can choose to commission a cremation orb made in the shape of a Christmas tree ornament, with the built-in protrusion at the top with a hole that allows you to insert a ribbon to hang the ball on a tree or a hook.
You can also purchase a cremation orb with a flat bottom. You could use cremation orbs of this shape like a paperweight.
Cremation orbs come in a wide variety of sizes. You could choose to have one made that could be used as a pendant for a necklace.
Finally, you can also get a cremation orb made out of your loved one’s cremains that is entirely spherical. To display this type of artwork, you will also need to buy an accompanying stand so that the cremation orb doesn’t roll away and get damaged.
Cremation orbs can come in a wide variety of styles and designs. You can choose several colors to swirl through the glass, along with the white swirl caused by the cremation ashes. You could also choose to have a specific shape within the glass layers, such as a butterfly or flower.
It’s important to remember that when you choose a particular design from a cremation art website, your specific piece may not look the same as the photo on the website. Most artists do not offer refunds for their work based on artistic variances. If you are purchasing three cremation orbs to be made with the same person’s cremains, the three spheres will not be identical.
How Do Artists Make Cremation Orbs?
The cremation artist’s website will give you information on how to safely package your loved one’s cremated remains so that a portion can be mailed. Only ½ teaspoon of cremains is required for most-sized orbs. If you purchase several spheres to give to your siblings or children, you’ll need to mail ½ teaspoon per orb ordered.
Cremation orbs (and any other glass piece of artwork) can be made from the cremated remains of animals as well. This is important to know since many people don’t know what to do with pet ashes.
You can also choose to mix the ashes of two different humans or a human and a pet when you have your cremation orb made. Look for specific instructions from the artist, but you may need to premix the ashes before you mail them instead of having them complete the process at the company.
If you choose to purchase a cremation orb made of your pet’s ashes, look for companies that will decorate the piece with pet-related images, such as a dog print.
Once the company receives the cremains, it can complete the orb. Cremation orbs are usually hand-blown. During part of this process, the molten glass raises to over 2,000 degrees. When the glass is in this liquid state, the cremated remains are added. Since the glass is even hotter than the temperatures used during the cremation process, the ashes’ chemical makeup changes once again. As the carbon burns off, the cremains turn a bright white. Once the orb is made, it must cool for at least twelve hours.
Some artists’ websites say that they will return the unused portions of cremains when they ship the cremation orb.
Before you send the portion of cremains to an artist, you may ask what method they use to cremate the custom art piece. Different artists may have varying techniques on how they incorporate the cremains in the glass.
How Much Do Cremation Orbs Usually Cost?
Cremation orbs cost about $150 to $250. While this may seem pricey to you, consider the cost of any type of custom-made piece of art. Some websites also offer family discounts if several family members purchase the same commemorative item.
Cremation orbs may be more expensive if additional artwork is created to support the sphere. Look for examples online for cremation orbs that become a part of a larger piece of art. Some photos show the cremation orb displayed with a decorative metal tree.
Where Can You Buy Cremation Orbs?
An entire cremation art industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last several years. As more Americans choose cremation over burial, more people may decide to do something creative with the cremains instead of purchasing an urn for ashes.
Where do you find artists who create cremation glass? Of course, you can find these artists online, but we have other ideas on finding someone who offers this unique service.
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Online cremation art businesses
Several different cremation art companies appear when you Google the phrase. Most of these companies offer an extensive assortment of cremation glassware, including pieces shaped like suncatchers, birds, flowers, and other shapes.
Search for online reviews of each company and read the fine print on the website. Even if each orb takes only a half teaspoon of your loved one’s cremains, it is a portion of the person you loved. You don’t want to trust the cremains with just anyone.
Online marketplace for artisans
Instead of hiring a cremation art company to make a cremation orb, you could also hire a specific artist from an online marketplace utilized by craftsmen. Sometimes you can obtain more customized pieces when you work directly with an artist instead of picking one cremation orb out of the specific styles advertised on a company’s website.
Visit local galleries or look online for artists living in your local community. Support local artists by commissioning them to create a piece of cremation glass out of your loved one’s cremains. Make sure that the artist has worked with cremains in the past. You don’t want him or her to practice using the precious cremains of your loved one.
Having a local glassblower complete the project could come with other advantages. Ask if you can observe the creation of the project. This way, you can be sure that only your loved one’s remains were used to complete the design in the glass orb.
Funeral home or crematory
The staff at the funeral home or crematory that you used for your loved one’s services may be able to assist you with finding a source to create a cremation orb. People who work in the funeral industry are excellent resources for all such matters. They may assist you in finding an individual or company that you couldn’t find yourself from a simple internet search.
Funeral home and crematorium workers may also sell urns of different sizes so that you can store the remaining cremains of your loved one. If you make several cremation orbs, you may only have a need for a smaller urn.
For something very unique to hold the rest of your loved one's ashes (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.
Other Things to Do With Cremains
The cremation art industry is growing. Besides having a cremation orb created out of your loved one's ashes, you can choose many other projects.
You can have the ashes of your loved one made into a record album. You provide the ashes and a recording of your loved one singing or speaking, and the company will make a record with the ashes interspersed throughout the vinyl.
You could also grow a diamond out of your loved one’s ashes. This project is expensive and time-consuming, but the result could be a cherished family heirloom. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
You can also solidify your loved one's cremains into 40 to 60 cremation stones, which you can divvy up however you'd like, with Parting Stone.
You might consider scattering your loved one’s cremains at sea. Look for a company along the coast that will take you and your family members three nautical miles off the shore, where you can scatter your loved one’s ashes as you say goodbye.
You can also place a small portion of your loved one’s ashes in cremation jewelry. Purchase pendants or rings that have little compartments specifically made to hold cremains.
Take time to think about this project before committing to the purchase of a cremation orb. Think about the urn’s eternal resting spot before you package the cremains to be mailed to a cremation art company.