Drawing the dead with a pencil of ashes

CALGARY - It's not just ashes to ashes, dust to dust any more.

A Canadian artist has come up with a new way to memorialise cremated loved ones: a portrait, drawn with a pencil created from their ashes.

Lucas Seaward, an Edmonton, Alberta, portrait artist, says he has developed a process for incorporating about a tablespoon of ashes into a type of pencil that can be used for drawing a memorial portrait in shades of grey.

He has formed a company, Honor Industries, to market the concept to funeral homes and applied to patent the pencil-making process.

Seaward isn't first to the plate with the concept of transforming human ashes. One US company offers to convert a loved-one's remains into a diamond.

But Seaward believes there is a growing market for ways to replace the traditional urn as the final repose for ashes.

"There are limited options for leaving a memorialised essence of an individual," he said.

"I personally don't think an urn does justice."

A portrait of the deceased is not cheap. Producing a drawing can take anywhere between 30 and 200 hours and costs start at $C5000 ($6209) depending on the size and complexity of the work.

"There are only so many high-quality professional artists that can do the work that's necessary," Seaward said. "It definitely isn't something we'll be able to do on a 24-hour turnaround."


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