French-German design student Geraldine Spilker has developed a process of binding ashes with resin, creating a tactile object from cremated remains (+ slideshow).
In response to a recent increase in the number of cremations, Geraldine Spilker's project, Memento – After Time Elapsed, provides an alternative way to keep ashes that could replace the traditional urn.
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"The choice of what to do with ashes is very limited," said Spilker. "They are put in the ground, scattered or preserved. In the latter case, they will be put in an urn – an alien object, most commonly made from synthetic material."
She proposes creating a small tactile object that can be held and interacted with, made from the ashes of the deceased bound with resin.
The object is completely biodegradable, so the remains can be returned to the earth when the family is ready.
"Memento makes it possible to hold, caress and carry around the ashes," Spilker said. "It moves away from the static existence of an urn, to a gentle dynamic of picking up, touching, playing and observing."
"The abstract shape permits the grieving ones space for interpretation and imagination," she added. "It provides more options in the processing of loss."
Spilker developed the idea and prototypes while studying at Design Academy Eindhoven.
So far she has worked with the ashes of animals, and believes the project helps children who have lost pets cope with grief for the first time.
Spilker intends to develop the project to offer a solution for human remains too.