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A friend of mine and I were having a discussion about my horsehair raku pottery and how much he liked my work. He told me he had his folks' ashes in cardboard boxes on a shelf in his garage and was wondering if I'd be interested in making a couple of horsehair Raku urns for him...incorporating some of the ashes in or on the finished piece. I can't see where or how I'd be able to put the ashes ON the finished piece but thought that it might be possible to incorporate the ashes into the clay body itself, either wedging the ash into the clay or possibly pressing the ashes into the surface of the wet jars before drying and firing the pieces. 

On another tack, he was wondering if it would be possible to mix some of the ashes into a glaze and firing the pieces that way. Since ash glazes tend to run when fired, he suggested glazing the bottom of the pots and firing them upside down so the drips would run UP the pot when sitting right side up. (This suggestion is something I plan to experiment with in my regular pottery work...)

I don't have enough experience with clay and glaze chemistry to even have an idea of how to go about this and would appreciate any suggestions that might help with this project. 

In the research that I've started I found that the basic composition of human ash is as follows with the percentages of the primary components. Anything below .01% is not included:

  • Phosphate 47.5%
  • Calcium 25.3%
  • Sulfate (Sulphate) 11.00%
  • Potassium 3.69%
  • Sodium 1.12%
  • Chloride 1.00%
  • Silica 0.9%
  • Aluminum Oxide 0.72%
  • Magnesium 0.418%  

Thanks,

JohnnyK

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Human ash is not fine and powdery like wood ash. You'll probably need to ball mill it.

Using the information you posted above, you could put that info into your glaze formulation software as an ingredient, and work it into a recipe. If you don't want to have leftover glaze with the ashes in it, just mix up a small batch and brush it on.

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Jeff Zamek made a glaze using some cremains from his black Labrador Retriever named Friday.

Black Friday Glaze ^6 from Jeff Zamek

Bone ash (Friday)  10

Whiting   15

Ferro frit 3124   20

Nepheline Syenite  20

EPK  18

Silica (325 mesh)  17

total 100

plus Mason stain 6600   12

CMC   1

Re firing upside down, if you try this put the rim of the pot (no glaze on it obviously) on a thin waster slab made from the same clay so the rim doesn't distort while firing. I think if I was doing this I would run the tests with some bone ash from a gardening place or from a ceramic supply shop not your friends parents cremains. 

 

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Just brerak it down with a mortar and pestal.The bones are still a bit big and need to be smashed more.

Use it in glaze as you would any ash

Have been around all aspects of this-you can just add a small amount to just about any glaze or do a full on ash /runny glaze with more ash content.

You can do the glaze on an urn or any form for that matter

Edited by Mark C.

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Along the same lines, this summer I am going with xxx to the Woodstock Artists Cemetary in NY, to inter the cremains of the American Surrealist painter, Donald Nield, who was her companion for many years. I would like to take some of the ashes and add them to a commercial glaze, like Palladium (silvery/mirror-like), or Crystal Forest (light ivory/greenish crystaline-like) , to make her a small burial box...any suggestions as to what quantity to add to maybe 2 cups of  glaze? 

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Well it's an opacifier too, so it'll change the appearance of a glaze, try with synthetic bone ash first.  I was thinking like a teaspoon or less to a quart to keep a similar appearance.  More for a bigger change. It also can turn normally browner irons red 

 

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I've helped a classmate with her mothers ashes. 

^6 electric - using school glaze. Thus a community area.  

Her urn had shoulders. What we found is if we dusted some of the ash on wet glaze right after dipping everything went well. Used a fine small kitchen sieve.  If we dusted the ash on dry glaze the ash did not melt and left a rough area.  

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9 hours ago, preeta said:

I've helped a classmate with her mothers ashes. 

^6 electric - using school glaze. Thus a community area.  

Her urn had shoulders. What we found is if we dusted some of the ash on wet glaze right after dipping everything went well. Used a fine small kitchen sieve.  If we dusted the ash on dry glaze the ash did not melt and left a rough area.  

Welcome back, Preeta...

What I did for the first go-around was sprinkle some ashes on the wet jar right after throwing, then lightly patted them into the clay. I sent a photo to my friend and he said he was pleased with the piece. Then I asked him what colors he would like for the glaze, sending him a pic of a small bud vase I had made. He said that both he and his sister loved the shape and color of the vase and could I make it in a bigger version to use as the urn.  He also wants the ashes embedded as in the original jar. Talk about a change in direction! Since the diameter of the original bud vase was about 1.25" and the height was about 8", I'll have to make a new extruder die for the larger size and go to about 2.5"D and 12"H. I'll have to make a prototype to make sure I can attach the larger tubes to each other and have it hold together when fired. I tried that with hex shaped tubes but the attachment process was inadequate and they came apart in the bisque firing...

I think that at this point I will continue with the plan for the original jar and give him options so he can decide what he wants to do with his Dad's ashes...

1290450830_Momsjar1.jpg.a97885d225e34728c629ddea56dc36d2.jpg732027105_Momscolor.jpg.b973d6cf60dbf1713d616c17f94fd286.jpg

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Well, the final outcome went well with the finished glazed pieces. I made the tri-tube urns with 2" tubes after calculating the volume needed to accommodate the ashes, and fired the jar and tubes with the same glazes. We were trying to get the glaze on the jar to run upwards, so I fired it upside down. The imbedded ashes apparently reacted with the glaze and kept solid runs from forming. My friend was happy with the final products. The jar had a lid and he planned on sealing the filled tubes with paraffin or beeswax.1569207382_TrumansUrn2sm.jpg.936dc3a3effe60a098d556c469a0ab36.jpg1196125913_TrumansUrn1sm.jpg.b0566247136b24de153b60b4a65062f3.jpg

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