NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sylvia Hyman was an artist in love with her medium. She kept shaping clay into her nineties, stopping only in the final weeks of her life. When she died in December, Hyman left her friends with instructions designed to physically make her a part of her art form in a way that simply wasn't possible during her life.
A few years ago, Hyman set the wheels in motion on a visit to her friend, colleague, and former studio assistant, Susan DeMay. Hyman explained that she wanted DeMay to make her burial urn, and she wanted her own ashes to be a part of the glaze.
Sylvia Hyman wanted her ashes to be held by pottery. But she also wanted them to become pottery.
Plenty of glaze recipes call for bone or ash, but the norm is cow bones or wood ash; DeMay said making the glaze with the remains of her mentor stirred up a lot of emotion. What's more, the glazing process is messy; usually there are lots of splatters and drips that need cleaning. This time, she tried to make sure as little as possible needed to be washed away and rinsed down the drain.
Of course, glaze is only part of ceramic art. It's the color, the finish.
Tom Turnbull went to Hyman's memorial expecting nothing more than to pay his respects to an old friend. After the service, he was surprised when Hyman's son approached with the news that Turnbull had been mentioned in her will. Minutes later, Turnbull took possession of a portion of Hyman's remains.
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