About the Artist

Hayley Bangham

I am a potter residing with my family in the beautiful small town of Dunsborough, Western Australia. I am the founder, creator and sole operative of Conscious Clay. I produce a custom design range of high fired ceramics, glazed with the cremated ashes of deceased loved ones, humans and pets alike.

Conscious Clay was born from the death of my grandfather Owen.  I believed there must be an alternative to the generic plastic box we are all poured into at the end of our life.  I find it a little sad that we keep our family members hidden away in the back of a cupboard somewhere, eventually forgotten. I also find displaying traditional metal urns on a mantel piece day after day slightly morbid, yet it wasn’t that long ago that these were the only options available. After Owens passing I created a new type of urn for my parents which is not only made from a portion of his ashes, but now also supports the growth of new life in the form of a beautiful peace lily.

My mother gifted me the remaining amount of Owens ashes so I could begin developing a new genre of ceramic glaze created from cremated human ash.  After two years of research, testing and design, I am honoured to have the opportunity to offer a completely new service to those that want to remember their loved ones in a different kind of way.  This service is the very first of its kind in Australia and is available worldwide.

Handmade products are literally just that, made by the “hands” of the artisan.  Each piece is thrown, shaped, turned and then carved without the use of mass-produced manufacturing machinery.  One vessel will generally take between 30 – 60 days to create.  I have a very intimate relationship with each piece I create.  Every curve and line is put there with intention. As a potter, my hands are constantly touching my work  throughout the whole process, so a lot of energy goes into each and every piece.  I am extremely proud of my work and nothing leaves my studio unless I know it is the best I can produce.  Along with the extra value inherent in handmade pieces, I hope that people also understand that they are buying a truly unique, one-of-a-kind product, and that they are all created with love.

My Vision

This is an innovative concept that turns a simple daily ritual of watering a plant or lighting a candle into a moment of connection. It is revolutionising our traditional machined urns into a beautiful piece of art, and at the same time creating family heirlooms which can be passed down through generations.

Although Conscious Clay vessels may initially offer a sense of healing and comfort to grieving families by giving them an opportunity to care for and interact with something tangible after loss, it is my hope that this develops into a calm and peaceful moment of connection, a most beautiful way to remember them.

Knowing that these vessels can help ease some of the pain that comes with loss has made my journey an honour, it really is the reason I do what I do.

The Process

I create wheel-thrown vases, planters, candle holders, and large decorative plates in several different types of clay ranging from fine white porcelain to iron rich dark stoneware.  Once thrown and turned and stamped with the ‘spiral of life’ which represents life, death and rebirth, all pieces go through their first (bisque) firing in the gas kiln up to 1000°C.

The cremated ashes are then hand washed and any impurities such as metals or coffin wood ash remanence are removed.   Once their preparation is complete, they are ready to be incorporated into the glaze of choice.  These glazes have been specifically developed for this purpose.

Each vessel is coated with the now custom glaze and then fired a second time to 1300°C.  The result is the ashes and glaze melting into each other to form a stunning and durable glass coating that fuses with the vitrified clay body underneath.  Each piece now has the structural integrity and strength which can last centuries, a kind of immortality.

“There is no death, daughter.  People die only when we forget them.  If you can remember me, I will be with you always”

– Isabel Allende, Eva Luna

 

A typical adult human will generate between 1.8kg (4lb) and 2.7kg (6lb) of ash. A single vessel will require around 100g to create the custom glaze, however if this amount is unavailable, I can adjust the glaze to suit the amount of ash offered.
Families may choose the main colour of their vessel, and even though the ash particles do melt down and are generally not visible in the final product, their expression within the glaze does determine the final result by producing varied colours and surfaces. Through the years of creating different ash-glazes I have found this part of my work so very profound. Every vessel is as unique as the life it represents as no two glaze results are exactly the same, reminding us that we are all beautifully unique

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will”.

 

  – Chuck Palahniuk

The First Step

Selection

Choose your vessel and glaze colour from our selection of candle holders, planters and display vessels.

Collection

We then send you an ash collection kit to attain approximately 100 grams of your loved ones ashes.

Creation

We carefully entwine your loved ones ashes into your chosen glaze which has been specially formulated to coat your hand crafted vessel.

Destination

Your unique ash-ware vessel is then hand delivered to your door.

Connect with Hayley to order an

Ash collection kit