Saturday, December 4, 2010

swim with me my sister, when I die

How many songs can you think of that explore the mystery of death with beauty and grace? I can think of only one artist, the insanely talented Antony Hegarty.

Antony and the Johnsons' new album, Swanlights, is my new favorite. The lyrics are so sweet and earnest. Neither heaven nor hell, just a hopeful song that kindred spirits will find one another in the next world, and that looking upon one another's faces is all we'll need.

What about you? Have you thought of what song you'd like for your own service?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

new urn cozy!

Here's another gorgeous urn cozy by Pondhopper. This is my third one, and there will be four more unique designs on the way. These cozies are designed to cover the plastic boxes that store ashes, and I think they're a lovely alternative to what's out there. If you choose to scatter the ashes, these cozies can be used to store mementoes.

This one is made from antique upholstery. I love the gently worn fabric. And the details are amazing. It has a vintage feel, and for me reflects the beauty of a life well lived, and a memory well cherished.

Here's the first urn cozy that Pondhopper made for me:
In this Modern Mourner project, these urn cozies truly capture the sentiment of how I feel about mourning. Pondhopper's cozies are handmade, and unlike anything out there. The cozy above contains my mother's ashes, and it sits on my shelf in my living room. I feel as if my mother is nearby, and the beauty of this design captures my sentiments - the affection and love I feel when I think of her. I truly hope this idea catches on. I am so thankful for Lorraine at Pondhopper for making these for me, and understanding the significance of honoring those we've loved and lost. They are still part of our lives, and always will be. They deserve something beautiful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Haunt me, then!

It's November. When the wind howls and the landscape grows forlorn, I turn to my favorite book, Wuthering Heights. All those things we're supposed to fear - chilled isolation, feverish dreams, even loss of a beloved - suddenly become romantic to me. Death cannot stop true love.

Here are a few Wuthering Heights finds ...

Sand Evening Regency Dress by Cream Cake Costumes, perfect for wandering the windy moors.

Wuthering Heights Family Tree by Lizzy Stewart.

For me, ghosts are a measurement of our loss. When we haven't lost anyone, ghosts are scary, something to be feared. But when we've lost someone we truly love, suddenly ghosts become a fantasy, a forlorn hope of one last encounter. The best ghost stories, in my opinion, are love stories.

Monday, November 8, 2010

when vintage attacks!

I'm devoted to sentimental items that can be repurposed. Those small, everyday things we take for granted and ultimately become invisible, yet play a big role in our lives. Don't throw them away, make something meaningful. Monty Monty not only repurposes everyday vintage items, he reinvents them.

I first saw Monty Monty's work at the 2010 Handcar Regatta, and just discovered this new round of amazing assemblages from the show "Dangerous Toys and Other Forgotten Oddities" at the Quicksilver Mining Company in Northern California, on display through November 14th. I love the mix of domestic and the dangerous here - knives become toys, and toys become dangerous objects. An unexpected mix of menace and memory.

Below is Matt's Heartley, one of Monty Monty's memorial sculptures. An assemblage of many unexpected yet meaningful objects, some that belonged to the deceased, including his graduation ring. And of course, there's a "heart of gold" right in the center.

Monty Monty is available for commissioned work, please take a look here if you're interested. Here's the artist at the 2009 Handcar Regatta.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

the beautiful reach

As a child I loved the Ouija board, but mostly for thrills during sleepovers. But as I've grown older I've come to realize the beauty of the board and planchette, and how it was once an earnest oracle to communicate with lost loved ones. I think of the mourning, the grieving, the lovelorn, and suddenly the Ouija is a beautiful symbol of eternal love.

Bloodmilk's plancette pieces (at least for me) convey that sense of loss and love. They are modern mourning jewelry, both symbolic and aesthetic.

I'm also intrigued with this Victorian funerary piece, recast as a dramatic ring. Made of oxidized sterling silver, this "Our Darling" emblem is gorgeously embellished, a stark contrast to the planchette, but just as captivating.

And a final piece - this reliquary locket, created from repurposed rosary beads and a beautiful brass heart locket, connected by a silver seven sorrows rosary connector.

Bloodmilk's jewelry can be worn for its dramatic style. Or these pieces can act as signifiers, letting others know of your longing to reconnect with someone you've lost.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

R.I.P. Don Draper

As I mourn the end of Mad Men Season Four, I ponder what would Don Draper do with his ashes. I think he'd go for something simple yet elegant. Something like this:

Although it looks mid-century, this modernist urn is contemporary, and can be purchased at Portland Natural Caskets. Made from salvaged Oregon grown Walnut and FSC Certified maple, this urn would fit in with any modernist decor. It has all the beauty of a mid century sideboard, but measures only 16"(w) x 6"(h) x 7"(d). Unlike most urns, this one provides space for displaying personal mementos, even a highball (or two). I've never seen anything like it, and I think it's seriously gorgeous.

And Peggy Olson? I hate to even think of her demise. But when her time comes, I think she'd prefer something a little more artistic, like this Rosenthal Netter Italy Pottery urn set (thanks Vintage + Goodness = Happiness).

And Joan? I see her in something like this gorgeous yet bold Raymor Pedestal Vase, offered by Cammoo.
Of course, I'm not here to plot the demise of my favorite television characters. I'm inspired by the Modernist design renaissance ignited by this show, yet surprised there are so few options when it comes to memorials and urns. We think about how we live, but not how we die - why not do it in style? I'm especially thankful to Portland Natural Casket Company for their innovative designs, and plan to post more on them soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

could these be urns?


I'm looking for fabricators to turn items like these into repurposed urns. These pics came from a recent visit to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and are just a small example of items that could possibly be repurposed into urns. I realize some of these items might be impractical, but with a little imagination and ingenuity others could work. I'm personally excited for a punch clock urn : )

Here are the standard urn requirements: 1) must hold 200-250 cubic inches, which comes out to about 6 pounds; 2) must be air and water tight; 3) if it's opened widely, it should be lined and perhaps padded. I'm looking for a fabricator who can work with wood, metal, or both. The item can either retain its original look, or there could be a few artistic flourishes.

Please contact me if you're interested in working with me on this at Although I don't have these exact items, these pics should give you an idea of how wide the concept of an urn can be. Thanks to all!

Lunch boxes could easily work, especially the larger sizes.

A jewelry box like this could be hollowed out beneath, and the top could be used to keep personal mementos.
For the guys, a sturdy, well-worn tool box.

This globe is kind of beat up, but there might be other sturdier versions.

Awesome ammo boxes!
Going somewhere?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Modern Relics by Alix Bluh

Like a grieving goldilocks, I've been searching for the perfect mourning jewelry. Not too goth, not too sweet. Not too retro, not too trendy. Modern Relics, a line of jewelry created by Alix Bluh, is right on cue - timeless yet modern, and always gorgeous. Her handcrafted necklaces, rings and bracelets feature memorial icons like hearts, anchors and skulls. I'm especially intrigued with her reliquary glass pods, which lend their contents an aura that's both precious and mysterious.

This Eyeris necklace below has a talismanic quality, yet it's also reminiscent of miniature eye portraits that began in the 18th century. Whether it was a deposed king or a forbidden lover, miniature eyes were a way to keep a secret portrait close to one's heart without causing scandal. So romantic and intriguing! (Thanks to Hayden Peters at Art of Mourning for this excellent blog entry on the subject.)

But my favorite piece? This commissioned mourning necklace for a cat who passed away. It's powerful, talismanic, and reminds me of a religious relic.

If you live in San Francisco, reward yourself with a visit to Alix's Modern Relics atelier near the De Young Museum and Academy of Sciences. Her store features lots of beautiful pieces, including the gorgeous work of ceramicist Diana Fayt. In the meantime, please take a look at my interview with Alix!