Video: Ashes to Ashes

Dust to design holds precious memories.The token remains of the dearly departed, clearly visible like a constellation of stars, are embedded forever in a nugget of glass. Some people recoil; others are brought to tears at the thought.Vangie Collins of Nashua had been creating flame-worked beads for a few years when a customer asked if ashes from her dog could be added to a bead. After studying the process and using her own dog's ash for initial designs, she started on a new journey creating "cremation beads." Her first projects were beloved pets, but she has recently accepted human "cremains," as the ash is called by funeral directors. "It is a difficult situation, but when the finished bead is received, spirits are lifted," she claims.Working in her home studio, Collins holds a mandrel over a torch that melts rods of glass on contact. The design develops as layers of colored glass are added.When she is satisfied with the look, she rolls the molten bead into a bit of ash. The metal tool is turned continually and finally a bit more clear glass is melted on top to seal the surface.Beads can be created for pendants, earrings or slipped onto Pandora chains. Her most recent adaptions are key chains and sun catchers that glimmer in the sunshine. Looking at the beauty of the beads and the memories they contain, it certainly is a unique way to keep your loved one's light shining, if only in your hand.Vangie Collins By appointment only (603) 321- 2260,
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