September 28, 2022
USPS is the ONLY service that will ship cremation ashes.
They have 3 main requirements:
USPS does supply kits now for this shipping, and they do not charge anything for them. They're available at the USPS Postal Store.
They offer 3 options:
Again, please note that there is NO CHARGE for any of these items, and there is NO CHARGE for them to ship these to you.
ALSO, be aware that you can ONLY get them ONLINE from the USPS Postal Store - they state they DO NOT handle them at local Post Offices.
Of course, they DO handle the shipping of them at the local Post Office. There will be a Tracking # assigned to your package.
We always include any leftover ashes when we ship the completed Memorial Orb(s) to you, and will label and ship the box the same way. We also add the "Signature Required" service for all Orbs.
Please call us if you still have any questions.
September 26, 2021
Sometimes it seems like folly trying to sell blown glass pieces on the internet. Not only is it a substantial challenge to try to convey the look and feel of the glass via mere photos, it's simply impossible to fully re-create pieces that we show here. Of course, if you've been to our shop, seen the variation of pieces, and watched the glassblowing - you'll fully understand this. If not, it may require a leap of faith to order something here.
As far as the photos here, I do my best to make sure that they are accurate representations of the pieces in them. Glass is not something you can simply take snapshots of. For instance, the "color temperatures" are influenced not only by what kind of light bulb is illuminating a lamp shade, but what kind of lighting in the gallery (including indirect sunlight) is reflecting off the glass - and whether or not some degree of flash is being used.
Another aspect that you may not realize is the variation in colors that your computer monitor or phone will be giving you. I have one specific monitor that I keep calibrated (there's a sensor that you hang over the monitor to do this), and am often disappointed at how the colors appear on other monitors.
Also, keep in mind that ALL photos you see here are of pieces we've had in the past, and NOT items that we have on hand to send you. If you think about the logistics, there's just no way to take pictures of every single item, upload each specific picture to the website for each item you might get, and then delete it from the website once the item is sold - that would involve far more time than it takes to make the items!
Also, since blown glass is 3-dimensional, I'd need to have either multiple images or those fancy rotating images to accurately display them. I am trying to include multiple images, but they'll all be from different pieces.
Beyond the photos, there are a number of other variables. The colors I use will always be in some degree of different proportions, have varying degrees of overlap, and varying degrees of density - depending on the current color mix I'm using, how hot the glass is when I add the color, and how long I allow the color to contact the clear glass as I'm adding it. And beyond that, the colors themselves change over time, batch by batch - just like paint, yarn, and most anything else involving color.
Then, there's the shape of the piece. Where there's one goal for the Floats (round), there's some degree of variation with any other item. Keep in mind that NO MOLDS are used for shaping anything (other than the Orbs), which means that they're shaped totally free-hand. Think of it as whittling wood rather than using a table saw with guides - there is going to be some variation.
The degree of variation varies by item. I don't include Bowls on the website, or most Vases, since there's no common look to any of them (again, it's not practical to sell most pieces one by one on a website). I feel confident having Floats on the website, as well as Shades - though I may need to make 4-5 Shades to get a set of 3, for instance, to get them reasonably similar.
The bottom line is that the one thing we CAN guarantee is that each blown piece I make will look different to some degree. Fortunately, most people embrace that variation, seeing it as one of the qualities that makes blown glass special.
Of course, there are also people that have a specific image of what they want, and really need to know that what they get will fit that image. If that's you, you'd certainly be better off coming in and seeing the items "live", if at all possible.
August 22, 2021
When we first put together our website about 8 years ago, we had to determine whether we should offer only the items we had on hand in the gallery. It was quickly apparent that I could spend far more time doing that than I spent actually making those things! Just imagine, every time we sold an item in the gallery, we'd have to remove it from the website - and every day I made things (which was every day at that point), I'd have to also enter them into the website.
Don't get me wrong - I very much enjoy trying software that might be able to do that sort of thing. Just ask our staff how many options we've tried! The sad reality, though, is that the process is never as simple (or accurate) as promised. I act as our IT guy as well as glassblower, and the incredible time commitment required to get it to work was well beyond me.
On top of that, we'd have to have storage space many times larger than our current gallery to house multiple copies of all the items offered here - AND a TEAM of glassblowers working around the clock to keep it stocked. But no, it's just me, and I have to be realistic. For my first 15 years or so of blowing glass, I worked very nearly every single day, and have come to understand my limits.
So, it became clear that we needed to pursue a model of offering whatever I could make, as long as I can make it reasonably consistently and in a reasonable amount of time. That way, we can offer nearly all possible options, making them as the orders come in. And that's why we offer mainly Floats and Shades on the website - though challenging to make uniformly, they're the items I usually able to be most consistent with. Bowls and Vases are a different story.
In today's internet, people are getting awfully used to ordering something and getting it the very next day. Well, that's not us. We're more like the "slow food" movement - creating something by hand, doing it one at a time, and doing it specifically for the person ordering it. There are times when we have the item on hand and we send it - when I know I won't be able to get to it for a while. When possible, though, I prefer to make the item for the person.
Lastly, we realize that some people may have a specific time frame for receiving an item. IF SO, we encourage you to include a note with the order - or even call the gallery and let us know. We do everything we can to accommodate time-sensitive orders.
Thanks for your interest!
April 27, 2021
If you are not aware, I have been making Memorial Orbs from cremation ashes for about 16 years now. In this past year, I've encounter a few sets of "ashes" that have reacted quite differently to the process, and we started investigating it. There is apparently a somewhat new process for cremation that eliminates the burning - instead, a strong Lye solution is used to dissolve the tissue. It's called "Aquamation". I'm trying to learn all I can about it, but DO know from personal experience that the process is NOT compatible with making Memorial Orbs with the resulting product.
With Aquamation, there is no burning of anything. It's touted as a "gentle process that uses water rather than flame" - which sound benign. But it's not just plain water - it's a strong aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide (i.e., lye) that does the work by simply dissolving all the non-bone parts. Also, I've seen mention of a follow-up addition of acid to neutralize the resulting product if necessary. There do seem to be some potential advantages to the approach, and it sounds like this process is growing in popularity. Obviously, I can offer no opinion on Aquamation vs flame cremation vs burial or anything else - that choice is up to you and your families. I'm not even sure yet which method I'd prefer for myself. However...
I CAN tell you from personal, extremely unpleasant, experience that Aquamation "ashes" are HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, and RELEASE A HORRIBLE-SMELLING and POTENTIALLY NOXIOUS SMOKE. Being created using strong acids and bases, I hate to think of what might be in that smoke! But these "ashes" are NOT SUITED for our Memorial Orbs, and I will not be making any more Orbs with them.
I've done 4-5 of them now, and I could tell that something was vastly different about these "ashes". The "ash" bursts into flame as soon as contacted with molten glass, and a huge plume of incredibly foul-smelling smoke bellows out of it. In addition, there are burn marks that remain on the aluminum scoop.
1. We will be asking everyone about the process used for their cremains.
2. If you have "ashes" from the Aquamation process, please don't ask us to make a Memorial Orb with them.
3. If you have brought in or sent us "ashes" from the Aquamation process, it will be evident as soon as the molten glass touches it. I will stop the process immediately, and pack your ashes back up for return to you. We will refund 50% of the Orb cost - the other 50% will be considered a handling/exposure charge. The shipping charge will be applied to returning your "ashes"). .
I can't emphasize enough how much of a "game-changer" this is in my world. I've always felt the Orbs were something special, having started doing them with a family member of my own. But I think it's apparent that dealing with these "ashes" actually constitutes significant health risks for me and anyone else nearby. I want to make it clear that I do NOT feel that the "ashes" themselves are toxic - I simply don't know. But I do know that when you heat anything to 2,000 degrees, you change it in ways you can't immediately predict.
If there is someone out there that can fill me in on some of these details, I'd welcome it. What does the "ash" actually consist of? What is it that burns so readily in the "ash"? What exactly is released in the smoke when the "ashes" burn? Is the process regulated in any way, and are there any specific standards in how the process is to be performed? I'd like to see some scientific, detailed, non-biased information.
Anyway, I have to even consider the possibility of not making Memorial Orbs anymore. Of the half-dozen or so sets of these "ashes" I've handled, not once has it been mentioned that these are NOT standard cremation ashes! My impression is that the Aquamation people focus on the "green" and "gentle" aspects of the process, and not on any of the concerns I have to consider. I feel that if they were really being as altruistic as they try to sound, they'd also be warning clients of things that SHOULD NOT be done with the "ashes".
Lastly, if you DO have "ashes" from the Aquamation process, you might want to consider our Memorial Floats as an alternative to the Orbs. The "ashes" are not subjected to higher temperatures at all with the Floats.