May 27, 2006

The ceramicist uses human ashes.

Ash, such as tree ash, is a normal ingredient in the glaze. Why not use human ashes? Have you ever had some ashes -- were you gauche enough to call them cremains? -- and wondered what to do with them? Was it awkward or properly solemn or did you screw it up like the Dude in "The Big Lebowski"? How would you feel about your loved one being reformed into pottery?

21 comments:

bearbee said...

How would you feel about your loved one being reformed into pottery?

Reincarnation? Claymation?

But seriously........we all have feet of clay......

Hoots said...

One of the Alfred Hitchcock TV plots involved exactly that. The murderer had a kiln in which he (or she, I can't recall) creamated the victim, after which the remains were mixed with clay and made into an ornamental pot for the entry hall!

In the afterward, Hitch said it looked like the perfect crime until a careless maid accidentally broke the pot while dusting, and noticed an odd-looking piece of something among the broken pieces. Turns out it was a tooth which survived the creamation and was the forensic link leading to the potter/killer's downfall.

mango said...

The link is broken, by the way. It's currently pointing to the Dylan article.

As far as the ashes go, it seems better to spend eternity being beautiful on the outside of a pot and to sit around being dusty on the inside.

Ann Althouse said...

Fixed.

Karl said...
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Karl said...

Actually, Walter screwed up scattering the ashes. As with most events in that movie, the Dude was just a bystander.

-kd

Baronger said...

Since there is already life gem, where your ashes can be made into a diamond.

*shrug*

If your ashes can be baked into a ceramic urn, it will lessen the chance of someone accidently spilling them. Or using them as an ashtray.

Better yet bake them into a replica clay statuette of the person. That way it can be used in all sorts of B grade horror movies.

SippicanCottage said...
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Marghlar said...

For me, the problem is that it would be awkward to use that pot for anything, and pottery should be useful.

I prefer the idea of my ashes getting back into the environment, with my carbon getting fixed into the next life cycle. The whole pottery thing just prolongs the inevitable, rather like embalming.

chuck b. said...

You can also have the ashes of your loved one/s pressed in to a diamond. Puts a whole new spin on "the family jewels".

Ron said...

One, I would like a chamberpot made from the ashes of certain people I loathe... it seems so obvious!

Two, I read there were making diamonds with hairs from Beethoven in them...

Wickedpinto said...

I want my remains to be disposed of in one of two ways.

My first choice, unlikely to ever occur, but it would just be the coolest damn thing on the planet, is to be the secret ingrediant on Iron Chef. Not likely but I just wanna see what Morimoto would do with my head.

Second, is to be composted, too many good golf courses ruined with all that granite.

Dave said...

Penn & Teller recently did an episode of their show Bullshit which featured people's absurd attractions to their pets, and one of the guys they showed was a glass blower who incorporated clients' pets' ashes into bowls and vases.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Professor A: Why is it gauche to call them "cremains"?

Catholics require interment and not scattering. We have little shelves, with little urn markers, called a columbarium [come and bury 'em]. That, or a grave, are appropriate places for Catholic ashes.

Hey! Wouldn't it be funny if my ashes were used the next year on Ash Wednesday??

amba said...

Nobody in my family wanted to deal with my grandmother's ashes. They were going to be thrown out, so I asked to have them sent to me. I picked them up at the post office. They weighed about as much as a newborn baby. When I got them home I discovered they were in a plastic bag, which seemed undignified. I wondered if they were really hers, or whether they just stuck a scoop in the general supply.

We decided to take them to Palm Springs, where my grandparents used to spend winters, and scatter them on Mt. San Jacinto, which loomed so beautifully over their house, and recite the psalm "I lift mine eyes unto the hills" which was a favorite of my grandfather's. On the way, though, we stopped in Chicago, where my grandmother, who was born above a stable in Chicago's Maxwell Street immigrant Jewish ghetto, had lived for many years in the Drake Hotel.

By now the whole family was getting into it, and we conceived of the hairbrained idea of sneaking some of Bah's ashes into a potted palm in the lobby of the Drake, which would have struck her as both fitting and hilarious. A little group of us -- my brother, my sister, my niece, my husband and me -- approached the Drake in tight formation, like the gang from "The Mod Squad." One look and anyone would have known we were up to something.

Once in the intimidating lobby, my husband then yielded to an irresistible urge: he walked straight up to the concierge and said in a loud voice, "WHERE'S YOUR MAIN FLOWERPOT?" while the rest of us died a thousand deaths.

Even funnier than that, though was the concierge's reaction: he didn't bat an eye or miss a beat! He just waved a hand jadedly in the direction of a large floral display and said nasally, "It's that one over there," like some seen-it-all character in a Bemelmans book.

The rest was anticlimactic. We did leave some of my grandmother's ashes in a potted palm in the Palm Court bar, and we took the rest of them, still in their plastic bag, up Mt. San Jacinto, where I scattered them to the wind. The ashes were so light, they hovered in the air for a moment and caught the sunlight, making a golden apparition. It's a good way to go.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: I know the ashes come in a plastic bag. The problem I had in that situation was what do you do with the bag? You can do something you count as beautiful with the ashes themselves, but what do you do with the bag? Don't get left holding the bag. You'll have to put it in the trash, and that won't have golden glow or whatever... I guess you could burn it... and then scatter those ashes.

Marghlar said...

Ah but Ann -- what do you do with the plastic bag you put the plastic bag's ashes in? Catch-22.

amba said...

That's what's called an infinite regress.

I don't remember what I did with the plastic bag! I think I just threw it in the trash . . . plastic bags invite that kind of irreverence. If there were some ashes clinging to the inside of the plastic bag, as there would have been, well then!

I remember reading that the Anasazi people who built cliff dwellings in canyons in the Southwest buried their dead in the trash middens below the villages.

Wickedpinto said...

I hate the fact that I liked the movie, and I will continually punish myself like "silas" or "dobby" every day that I recall the fact that I enjoyed the movie, but. . . .

In Elizabethtown, while the beautiful boy Orlando Bloom is delivering his fathers ashes to california, He decides to spread them across all of the beautiful places in America, only because he fell in love with not that beautiful, but cute and huge jugged broad from the Spiderman series chose to show him.

that really is kinda gut wrenching, not cuz the son is showing his father (in death) the beauty of the world around him, but that the father shows the son (at the time of the sons greatest professional failure) how beautiful the world around him is. Well, yeah, and motivated by a not beautiful, but cute chick with awesome juggs, who kinda loves him for no good reason.

Speaking of cute chicks and Juggs, when is Kelly Pickler gonna start acting in porn? I'm adamant about that. Kelly? PORN! PORN PORN, repitition works I hear. Kelly? PORN! Porn now, porn hard, and dirty, and a lot of spanking, but go easy on the guy.

Anne-Mieke Herrera said...
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Anne-Mieke Herrera said...

I make urns using ashes, I think people want to be immortalized in a way by their Urns or their tomb stones. For me, this is just a way to make an eternal tribute and I find a lot of people agree.