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How To Make Sending Kits

How To Make Sending Kits with downloadable instruction templates from Keepsaker Supplies breastmilk jewellery kit

How to make sending kits for your clients to post you their elements such as breastmilk, cremation ashes, locks of hair and fur, umbilical cord and placenta, flowers, petals and leaves, sand and earth, sentimental fabrics, prints such as fingers and feet (2D or 3D).

How To Make Sending Kits

  1. First of all, you will need to make up a set of instructions for each element. You can save the hassle and download our PDF Instruction Templates here. If your client has a breastmilk and umbilical cord necklace, for example, you’ll need to send them instructions for both breastmilk and umbilical cord
  2. We find using a large letter box is the least expensive way to ship here in the UK, but ask others in your country what they find the cheapest way to send.
  3. Include a ring sizer like this if they ordered a ring
  4. Use washi tape to make pots look beautiful and tell them apart
  5. Include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details. They will put their tubes and pots in here

Breastmilk Kits
Include two 5ml Breastmilk Sending Tubes which we sell here, mark each tube with an Ultra Fine Sharpie, one line at 5ml and one just above. If they fill the tube to the brim, just include the extra milk when using our breastmilk preservation powder, it will just take slightly longer to thicken. Write your client’s name and order number on each of the two tubes and initials and order number on the lid. Include one bag for the milk tubes and one bag for other elements like hair or cord.

Cremation Ashes Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot (we sell them here too). We prefer plastic because they’re see-through, and a small 2ml spoon, and ask them to return the spoon. If they fill the pot to the brim, just transfer the extra ashes into a separate container so that it doesn’t spill when you’re working and make your crafting area messy. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details.

Lock of Hair and Fur Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot and a small length of cotton thread to tie the hair or fur. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

Horse Hair Kits
Include two of the labelled bags because the hair won’t bend into a pot – ask for around 5-10 strands but make sure they keep half back. You can work with half a single strand if that’s all they have by doubling it up a few times. Once the hair arrives, wash it in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly then wipe with an alcohol wipe to remove any leftover grease and dirt.

Umbilical Cord and Placenta Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from sending the entire cord and clip, which would be devastating if lost in the post. And orange pip size piece is more than enough for several pieces (although if doing more than one bead or large orb, you may need to add a colour as the ground cord might be a little sparse).

Petal and Leaf Kits
Include two labeled bags. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

2D Fingerprint Kits for Engraving*
For fingerprints, handprints, footprints, pawprints, noseprints, thumbprints etc you can include an Inkless Wipe Kit*. We can laser engrave 2D images onto most of our pieces. Ask the clients to email you photos; if the photos are good quality then they can keep the originals. Some clients struggle with getting a clear photo in daylight which is suitable for engraving, so then you might ask them to post the original and then photograph it yourself. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, they can cut out one of the prints to send.  For handwriting you can ask them to send a photo – we don’t allow them to post the original item (such as a birthday card) because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. In that case, ask the client to get help photographing it.

3D Fingerprint Kits for Metal Clay*
For fingerprints, thumbprints, noseprints etc you can include a 3D Putty Kit. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, ask them to make two but only send one because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. To use the mould they return, fill it with glue from a hot glue gun, epoxy resin or layers of UV resin and that becomes the master to imprint into clay. Buy Precious Metal Clay here and follow tutorials. See our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay

*Please see our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay on taking prints from the recently deceased and using Precious Metal Clay.

More coming soon (sorry, I have covid and I’m exhausted – doing my best!)

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How to Deal With Complaints

how to deal with complaints by Nikki Kamminga at Keepsaker Supplies

You can learn how to deal with complaints easily, effectively and without feeling personally harmed. Making memorial or breastmilk jewellery or DNA keepsakes is quite a unique area, somewhere in between breastfeeding counsillor, funeral director and wedding supplier. The wedding and funeral industries receive the most complaints of all industries because tensions are running high, and I believe that passes over to keepsake jewellery. Customers in this industry can be more hurtful than in any other area I’ve worked (from mobile phones to advertising to coffee shop and retail management) and it’s a combination of it being such an emotive thing we’re working with and the fact I feel closer to it because it’s my own business.

How to Deal With Complaints – The Paths

Whether you’re in the right or they are, or both of you, there are several paths you can take together. Please don’t forget that you have the power to guide a customer down a different path no matter how the conversation starts out. I’ll try to give as many examples below from working in this industry over six years.

The Full Refund and Keep The Jewellery
This is the path the most difficult customers often want to go down. It can be incredibly painful to get this kind of message. They’ve received their item and have found something to complain about. They want you to refund them completely but they will almost always refuse to return the jewellery because “it contains something so irreplaceable”.

Example (customer):
“I received a ring from you today after waiting absolutely ages and I’m very angry. It looks unprofessional and the colour is all wrong, it’s too dark! It doesn’t even fit me; I want a full refund but I’m not sending it back because it’s my gran’s ashes”

This is one of the worst case scenario complaints. They’re complaining about quality of the setting, the competence of the artist, the fact that it doesn’t fit and the time it took to arrive. You can apologise and do what they want by refunding without return, but then you’ll be out the cost of the setting and all of your work, plus shipping and overheads. I almost always* try to steer them away from this because I DON’T DESERVE TO WORK FOR FREE and neither do you! 

What to do – start off with an acknowledgement of their complaint and a genuine apology. Look back through any old messages and find some empathy for a client. They’re probably grieving their breastfeeding journey or their loved one. I would say, for example,

Hi Hannah, thank you so much for taking the time to come to me with this. I know it must be difficult to have received something you’re looking forward to for a long time and it’s not what you were hoping for. After your gran passed in March the crematorium have looked after her really well and the ashes were a lovely naturally dark colour. We usually try to let the natural colour of the ashes come through in the jewellery, which can hide some of the pigment we added in the green you chose. I definitely checked the ring size before setting the ashes, but if you feel like it’s not the right size you can take it to a local jeweller (please send me a photo of it on the sizer) or you can buy one here on Amazon. Please forward me your Amazon receipt and a photo of the ring on the sizing stick and I’ll refund the sizer.

Here’s a resolution I would like to offer. I will remake the ring for you in the size you like, please use a sizer exactly like this one to find your correct size. Please post me back the ashes and this ring, we will remove and return the stone, so the ring can be recycled, and make a new one. We can hide the ashes behind the pigment so you can’t see so much (or any) of your gran’s ashes if you’re not keen on their colour. We’ll send you a photo of the cabochons/stones we make to check you’re happy before setting one in the new ring setting. As a goodwill gesture we’ll even ship the remake to you free of charge by Special Delivery. Please let me know if you’re happy to go ahead
Yours Sincerely
Nikki Kamminga
Owner and Artist
Tree of Opals

The Partial Refund and Replacement
If your customer starts off with asking for a partial refund then don’t feel like you necessarily have to give them money back. When I first started out making memorial and breastmilk jewellery I was in need of every penny to pay for childcare, let alone contribute to bills. If I had an order it would either be spent on stock and consumables like moulds and settings or it would go to my girls’ nursery. I didn’t have business savings and I couldn’t afford to refund, so if it was necessary it would have to come out of our personal account.

This isn’t a situation I’d recommend you be in, with good profit margins you should easily be able to cover your overheads, childcare and some put aside. I lost £100 in my first year in business (I started off with £350 of my own money from a child tax credit) then I made a profit after about six months. If you can, put aside 10% to cover any refunds.

Still, you can avoid a refund at all by offering something of equal value. For example, if they want £50 back why not offer a £50 necklace, that may only cost you £10 to make?

How to Prevent Complaints To Begin With

The best way to prvent complaints in the first place is to try to do everything you can to get them to understand the important points about buying jewellery from you. That could be in the form of a phone call or email before you take payment, or an extra box on your checkout to ask them if they definitely read the product description and the FAQ’s. I make my customers write “I promise” in the box on the checkout on Tree of Opals and it does help cut down on complaints in the first place. Customers often won’t read them anyway, but at least you have them there to back you up in case you do get a complaint.

Always let customers know, regarding lead times 1. your maximum lead time (orders can take up to four months from receipt of payment and the milk/ashes etc) and 2. an estimated lead time (most orders take about a month right now but this will be longer during the school holidays). Also let them know if any of your settings are handmade, such as rings from us which are soldered or cast by hand in small batches and look handmade. I like to include a sizing disclaimer in my terms and conditions, along the lines of, “due to different tolerances in ring sizers the ring provided may be up to one whole UK (one half US) ring size larger or smaller than requested”.

I avoid most complaints in the first place with two important tools:

  1. Proof Photos – Prevent them saying they don’t like the colour by sending a proof photo – just make at least two cabochons (stones), on the back, email the client a photo and ask which they prefer.  Let them know that you’ll always return the unused ones free of charge but you can make extra profit here by offering to set the extra in silver for another £20/$30 (over half will say yes). They feel more involved in the process, fewer complaints about time too
  2. Free Ring Sizers – At Tree of Opals our way to remove ring sizing complaints is letting customers know we prefer to send them a free ring sizer with their kit to borrow. You can find kit supplies here in our country specific buying guides, here’s one from Amazon that’s ideal, we just ask for the letter that fits best so they don’t get confused about which number we need. The letter is the UK ring size and they’re a little more accurate than US sizes


How to Deal With Complaints When You’re In The Right

This one’s carefully phrased, the flip side of “you’re in the right” is “you’re not in the wrong”. Or even the possibility that your customer’s in the wrong. Whether that’s true or not, it’s always best to treat the situation like you’re both in the right. Don’t accuse the customer of being wrong, having misread something, having demanded too much, too soon or being cheap. It’s not going to make you or them happy and it’s going to lead to hurt feelings and bad reviews.

Then again, you don’t have to give in to a customer’s unreasonable demands just because you’re scared of a bad review. I like to try to find a middle ground for each situation so I’ve given as examples above. If you have lots of good reviews then don’t give in to demands of a refund if you’re in the right just because you’re afraid – real customers will see through a bad review if the rest are great!

Do you have any tips for dealing with complaints?

 

*The only situation where I’d give a full refund and allow them to keep the piece is where it’s not too expensive in the first place (perhaps £50 and under) and/or the client has my home address and has threatened me. If I’m worried about the safety of my family, I’ll do anything to get rid of them as fast as possible. I had a situation once where a client I think was mentally ill turned up at my home at 9pm and I honestly wish that I had given her a full refund. Preferably before I’d made the piece, when I knew she was a problem. You do need to put your family first and if a customer gives you any sign of being dangerous then please refund in full and block all contact. If they leave you a 1* review anywhere then you can fight it with any evidence of threats you’ve received from them.

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Making A Hair Ring

Making A Hair Ring from start to finish using UV resin like ours here and one of our custom ring kits. You can use any rubover ring setting, such as these from ZDP on Etsy, or you could fill a bezel setting like this with resin but please see our blog on Filling V’s Rubover settings to find out why we recommend you use a mould!

This vlog is similar to our Making A Cremation Ashes Ring Vlog but I’ll be showing you how to set the hair in an 8mm cabochon. If you’re making a charm bead or a sphere setting then watch our making a hair charm bead tutorial here.

You can read more about working with hair in our How To Make Lock Of Hair Jewellery blog here (click). Remember: every customer’s hair or fur will come a different colour or texture. Let them know before accepting an order that the results will vary and some hair isn’t going to be visible. White and light blonde hair/fur is notorious for going clear, “white” hair is often translucent rather than truly white and is a huge reason for complaints. Include this in your terms and conditions (even if they don’t bother to read them, you’re covered) and make sure to send proof photos.

Making A Lock of Hair Ring

You’ll need the following supplies:
one of our ring settings kits in your client’s size (the kits contain a ring setting, a single 8mm round cabochon mouldlabel backing paper, 25g UV resin3 cocktail sticks and a random sample of resin sparkle mix, vinyl gloves, a dust mask and some sandpaper)

You might also need:
your client’s lock of hair or fur
hairdressing scissors
silver polishing cloth
a ring sizing mandrel
a ring clamp (cruelty-free ones coming soon)
a diamond file (coming soon)
a burnishing tool (coming soon)

I like to use an LED UV lamp to save energy and make sure the pieces don’t get too hot. This one has a 99 second low heat setting

Please note we have specific supplies lists for the UK, USA, Australia and Canada (more countries coming soon). Some of the supplies in this Making a hair ring blog are optional, such as the diamond file and ring clamp.

PREPARING THE MOULD

As usual, inspect the mould any dust, dirt, lines and imperfections
Don’t forget to replace your moulds regularly to prevent your pieces being dull
You could make this ring without a mould, but please see our Filled V’s Rubover Cabochon Setting blog before deciding 

PREPARING THE HAIR

Double check your client’s name and order number against what they’ve ordered
Inspect the hair and decide how much you want to use and how you want to lay it out
Carefully put a very small line of resin along a piece of label backing paper, this is to hold the hair in place and stop it blowing away
This is essential if you’re working with a teeny tiny lock of hair, such as from a baby
Cut the lock a little longer than you’ll need and place it on the resin
I recommend you buy a double mould and make two at once to give your client the choice, so use double the length of hair
Coat the hair in resin and use a cocktail stick to make sure it’s well-soaked and remove any bubbles

PLACING HAIR IN THE MOULD

Cut the hair to the length needed
You need each length of resin-soaked hair to be around a third longer than the width of your mould
For an 8mm mould, you could cut the hair around 11mm wide

for an 8mm mould, you could cut the hair around 11mm wide
for an 8mm mould, you could cut the hair around 11mm wide

If your client sent plenty of hair, you could cut some slightly different length sections and use trial and error to find your ideal length
Each lock of hair and fur will act differently in the resin, cat fur is (in my opinion) the most difficult to work with
Use the cocktail stick to carefully nudge the hair on top of the empty mould
Push the hair down so it sits how you want and be careful not to poke your mould at this stage
Nudge out any air bubbles, which will look like silvery dots or lines
Translucent moulds are vital here because you can check the placement from underneath!

You can place it under your UV lamp for 30 seconds at this stage to set the hair in place
I prefer not to, because sometimes the colour can get underneath the cured hair if you do

COLOUR LAYERS

Check you have the right colours then work in thin layers to build up colour gradually until the cabochon is opaque
That means you need to make sure you can no longer see any light through it from the back
Another good reason to use water-clear moulds!
Today I’m using the Aegean blue resin sparkle mix blend exclusive to Keepsaker Supplies
For a more detailed tutorial on working in layers see my cremation ashes ring video

After you’ve fully cured the cabochons at the end, remove from the UV lamp and leave to cool completely
Remove the cabochons from the mould, trying not to touch the shiny top
Cure for a final 99 seconds and leave to completely cool again

PROOF PHOTO

Use the cooling time to clear up your workstation, put your client’s hair back into their bag and wash your work area
I like to send my client a proof photo of the cabochons to make sure they’re happy with the colour and choose their favourite stone
Please make sure you make it clear to them you will always return the unused cabochon to them free of charge!
It can be heartbreaking for a client to think you’d dispose of their loved one’s hair or ashes, and with hair I even try to cure and return the extra from the label backing paper

SETTING

Check and prepare the cabochon
If it’s still sticky you may not have cured or cooled for long enough, if so, give it a thin coat of clear resin on the top and cure and cool completely

PREPARING THE SETTING

You can use a ring sizing mandrel to check that your ring setting is the correct size
If you like, give it all a quick polish with a silver polishing cloth
Clamp it in a ring mandrel if you have one, and place the stone inside and check it sits nicely

SETTING THE STONE

Use a curved burnishing tool to very gently push down the silver around the edges
Work around as if it’s a clock, 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock
Don’t push too hard or you could end up with ridges in the silver
Once it’s all pushed down you can start to apply a little force
Make a tight seal by rubbing the silver over. That’s why it’s called a rubover setting

hair ring blue bubble, Aegean blue resin sparkle mix and bubble wire band
hair ring blue bubble, Aegean blue resin sparkle mix and bubble wire band

Making a Hair Ring

Now you have finished Making A Hair Ring to send to your client you can photograph it as usual. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the notifications bell because my next series of videos will be breastmilk jewellery tutorials. I’ll be using Milky Mama Magic Dust™ from my friend Amy “The Breastmilk Queen”. I’m also going to be doing some videos with do’s and don’ts for those of you who want to investigate your own breastmilk preservation methods.

Now relax and do some crafting

Please note, this Making a hair ring blog contains affiliate links meaning I receive a small income based on your purchases from Amazon and Etsy etc. This affiliate income is really helpful to me to support my family and if you’d like to know how I set it all up please get in touch (blogs coming soon!)
Nikki x

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Making A Cremation Bead

Tutorial for making a cremation bead for Pandora style bracelets from start to finish using UV resin like ours here and one of our Forever In My Heart ♡ core. I’m working with real cremation ashes in this video so if you find this upsetting please do not watch. The charm bead part of this is very similar to our How to Make a Hair Charm Bead video here but this project is our easiest! You don’t need to glue in the inserts, and everything is done in a single pour!

You can read more about working with ashes in our How To Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery blog here (click) and you might also enjoy the How To Make A Cremation Ashes Heart Necklace here. This technique can be used for working with placenta powder or ground umbilical cord too!

Making A Cremation Bead

You’ll need the following supplies:
a heavy duty safety mask or nail tech masks
vinyl gloves
one of our Forever In My Heart ♡ core sets (A+B)
our medium bead mould*
cremation ashes (you can request some horse ashes here to practice with)
cremation ashes spoon (coming soon)
small pestle and mortar (coming soon)
UV resin
cocktail stick
(optional) your client’s choice in colour of resin sparkle mix

you’ll also need:
mini side cutting pliers 
a carbide burr bit (coming soon) 
a rotary tool (Dremel style) with flexshaft 
4mm doming punch
(optional) wooden doming block 

I like to use an LED UV lamp to save energy and make sure the pieces don’t get too hot. This one has a 99 second low heat setting

PREPARING THE MOULD

Make sure you’ve done a test cast with any new mould to check it’s ok
Inspect your mould and check for any dust or dirt, or lines and imperfections
Bead moulds don’t usually get dirty inside, but you can clean the top with a little rubbing alcohol if needed
It’s always better to replace a mould when it’s starting to get dull than spend hours trying to get a perfect shine back on your finished piece

PREPARING YOUR SUPPLIES

Check you have everything you need before you start
Double check your client’s name and order number against what they’ve ordered!
You can take a tiny spoonful of ashes and grind them a little finer, if you need to, then clean the spoon
I’d recommend making two charm beads at the same time to give your client the choice

FILLING WITH RESIN

Very slowly fill your charm bead mould with resin
Make sure the whole mould is full and you have no air bubbles
Don’t fill the pouring spout, this will need to be removed later
The pouring spout allows space for bubbles to rise
If you end up with lots of bubbles at this stage, it’s easiest to cure it now, then remove and discard the resin, and start again

ADDING CREMATION ASHES

Add a tiny spoonful of your resin sparkle mix, then your cremation ashes
Don’t use too much colour or it won’t cure
Use a cocktail stick to carefully poke them into the centre
Focus on the area around the core
If you have too much excess resin in the spout it will be more work to remove later, so take some out if needed

If you want lots of depth to your bead, then don’t bring the colour to the edges

CURING AND COOLING

Cure for 99 seconds before the ashes have a chance to sink
Allow to cool completely then flip over and cure again for another 99 seconds
Give it time to cool again before you touch it!
A good way to help it cool quickly is by placing the mould on a cold tile
When the top feels cold, carefully remove the bead without touching the shiny part
Allow it to cool completely 

PROOF PHOTO

Send your client a photo of the charm beads to make sure they’re happy with the colour and choose their favourite charm bead 
This removes any complaints of “I don’t like the colour” after you set the core and posted it
Pro tip: if the client doesn’t like the colour and the ashes are dark, remake the piece just using the tiniest bit of ashes
Make sure you tell them you will return any spares free of charge
You can offer to set the other bead with a core for a small extra fee
Around half of our clients at Tree of Opals decide to go for the extra piece and we charge £25, which is about $32 US Dollars

Clear up
Use the cooling time to clear up your workstation, put your client’s ashes back and wash your pestle and mortar

SETTING

Preparing the bead
Make sure you wear a mask doing this part
Use a pair of mini side cutting pliers to remove the excess from the pouring spout
Sometimes this is enough but usually you will then need to use a carbide burr bit to flatten the top
This area will be covered by your charm core
Double check the bead for imperfections
You can wipe it with rubbing alcohol to remove any dust and stickiness

Setting the core
I like to use a wooden doming block as a secure base, but you can place it on a folded rag instead
Put the stamped part A (what I call the mushroom) through the front of the bead
Slot part B over it at the back
If part B won’t fit, use the drill bit to remove a little more resin
Put the 4mm doming punch in the centre of the core at the back and press gently until it flares
I don’t recommend using a bead corer or press here because they can warp the core out of shape
If you don’t have the strength, you can use a hammer but you must be very gentle

Now you have a finished cremation ashes charm bead for your client! Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more videos like this and don’t forget I’ve linked to the blog and all the supplies you need down below

Now relax and do some crafting

**contains sponsored content meaning I may receive a small income based on purchases you make on my recommendations. Some of the products mentioned and linked to are ones my own items for sale

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How To Make A Cremation Ashes Ring

cremtion ashes ring twisted band, 8mm cabochon with ashes stone containing orchid purple resin sparkle mix

This video will show you how to make this resin cremation ashes ring from start to finish using UV resin like ours here and one of our custom ring settings. I’m working with human ashes in this video so if you find this upsetting please do not watch. The resin part of this is very similar to our How to Make a Cremation Ashes Heart Necklace blog, but this setting will take a little more practice

You can read more about working with ashes in our How To Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery blog here (click).

This video is dedicated to Liz Williams, whose granddaughter Courtney has kindly let me use Liz’s ashes in this video, Courtney and is a loyal client of mine over at Tree of Opals. If you would like me to make you something please get in touch on the Tree of Opals website and although I do own both businesses, I try to keep the messages for each business separate.

How To Make A Cremation Ashes Ring

You’ll need the following supplies:
a heavy duty safety mask or nail tech masks
vinyl gloves
one of our ring settings in your client’s size
our 8mm cabochon duo mould (or the our 8mm the faceted version
rubbing alcohol or gel nail cleanser solution
a rag
cremation ashes (you can request some horse ashes here to practice with)
cremation ashes spoon
small pestle and mortar (coming soon)
UV resin
cocktail stick
your client’s choice in colour of resin sparkle mix

you’ll also need:
a ring sizing mandrel
silver polishing cloth (coming soon)
a ring clamp (cruelty-free ones coming soon)
a diamond file (coming soon)
a burnishing tool (coming soon)

I like to use an LED UV lamp to save energy and make sure the pieces don’t get too hot. This one has a 99 second low heat setting

Please note we have specific supplies lists for the UK, USA, Australia (Canada coming very soon). We will soon be adding the option to order each of our ring and necklace settings as a DIY kit. Some of the supplies are optional, such as the pestle and mortar, ring clamp and the polishing cloth.

PREPARING THE MOULD

Firstly, inspect your mould and check for any dust or dirt, or lines and imperfections
You could make this ring without a mould, but I’ll cover the reasons why we don’t recommend this in another video
Prepare the mould if it’s a little dusty by one of two methods

  1. The first is by wiping it with rubbing alcohol or nail cleanser solution with a rag
  2. The second is by applying a thin layer of UV resin, then curing. The dust will come off when you remove the resin

It’s always better to replace a mould when it’s starting to get dull than spend hours trying to get a perfect shine back on your finished piece

CURE FOR 99 SECONDS
Then, you can remove the cleaning layer

Clear Layer
Carefully put a very small dot of resin in the centre of each of the mould depressions
Gently use a cocktail stick to move the resin to the edges and remove any bubbles
Be careful not to poke your mould at this stage
Place it under your UV lamp for 30 seconds
This will give you a clear top layer on your finished piece, make sure you work in very thin layers

ADDING CREMATION ASHES

Check you have the right colours and double check your client’s name and order number against what they’ve ordered
You can take a tiny spoonful of ashes and grind them a little finer
Put them to one side, where you can’t knock them over

Pour another layer of resin in, about half of the way up
Dip a cocktail stick in the resin, then in the colour (today I’m using the orchid purple resin sparkle mix again)
This will pick up a tiny bit of the colour which you then place in the resin in a controlled way
Then dip the same end in the finely ground ashes, and place that in the resin too
Gently swirl everything around to cover the first layer

If you want lots of depth to your piece, then don’t add too much of anything in the first colour layer
Keep it nice and translucent

cure for 30 seconds

Second Colour Layer
Repeat with another thin layer of resin and use the other end of the cocktail stick to avoid dipping ashes in your colour
Keep this second colour layer fairly translucent too

Cure for another 30 seconds

Third Colour Layer
Repeat with another thin layer of resin, and use a new cocktail stick
This layer can be fairly opaque, but if you add too much colour it won’t cure!

Cure for another 30 second

Finally add a thin layer of clear resin to bring it level with the side of the mould
Cure for 99 seconds
Remove from the UV lamp and leave to cool
Remove the cabochons from the mould, trying not to touch the shiny top
Cure for a final 99 seconds and leave to completely cool
A way to help them cool quickly is by placing them on a cold tile
You can send your client a photo of the cabochons to make sure they’re happy with the colour and choose their favourite stone

Clear up
Use the cooling time to clear up your workstation, put your client’s ashes back into their bag and wash your pestle and mortar

SETTING

Preparing the cabochon
Double check the cabochon for imperfections
You might need to remove a little excess resin with a flat diamond file
Don’t forget to wear a mask doing this
Then wipe it with rubbing alcohol to remove any dust and stickiness

Preparing The Setting
Use a ring sizing mandrel to check that your ring setting is the correct size
If you like, give it all a quick polish with a silver polishing cloth
Clamp it in a ring mandrel if you have one
Place the stone inside and check it sits nicely

Setting the stone
Use a curved burnishing tool to very gently push down the silver around the edges
Work around as if it’s a clock, 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock
Don’t push too hard or you could end up with ridges in the silver
Once it’s all pushed down you can start to apply a little force
Make a tight seal by rubbing the silver over. That’s why it’s called a rubover setting

Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more videos like this and don’t forget I’ve linked to the blog and all the supplies you need down below
Now relax and do some crafting

**contains sponsored content meaning I may receive a small income based on purchases you make on my recommendations. Some of the products mentioned and linked to are ones my own items for sale

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Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery: Part 2 of 2

Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A quarter of a teaspoon is the perfect amount for jewellery from Tree of Opals how to make cremation ashes jewellery




Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery: Part 2 of 2. In part one of How to Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery here, we covered health and safety. There is a blog on making this beautiful cremation ashes heart necklace here and if you’d like to purchase cremation ashes jewellery then please see Nikki’s other business Tree of Opals here.

Please see our individual country-specific blogs for shopping supplies: United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Canada, other EU countries (coming soon) and non-EU countries (coming soon).

How To Practice Making Ashes Jewellery

If you would like some horse ashes sent with your order please order this dried leaf from us and put in the comments you’d like a sample of horse ashes to practice with. We’ll send you around a teaspoonful which is enough for dozens of pieces. The owner of the horse, kindly donated the ashes for practice and for me to make pieces for funeral homes, wanting her horse to be able to travel the world for years to come. 

cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A quarter of a teaspoon is the perfect amount for jewellery from Tree of Opals how to make cremation ashes jewellery
cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A quarter of a teaspoon is the perfect amount for jewellery from Tree of Opals

If you’d like to start straight away you can use ashes from the fire but you might find wood or charcoal ashes more lightweight than cremation ashes. They contain a lot of air and will float differently. Craft concrete like this works, but you will find spheres made from it very hard to drill, and it may set in epoxy resin too quickly! Ground black pepper can work too. People on social media are quick to offer ashes for practice but I find there are often caveats; they want to know exactly how you’ll use it and want every piece back, not ideal for practice and samples to show!

Preparing Ashes

There isn’t much you need to do to prepare cremation ashes but often I like to finely grind them if they have big lumps. Not to a fine powder, but small enough to be sieved. Crematoria grind the bones after cremation into ashes, and you can further this process yourself. You aren’t altering them from a natural state, because the natural state is large shards of bone, you are improving their texture. You might want to tell people in your terms and conditions or product descriptions that you are doing it but I don’t think any client would mind.

mini white pestle and mortar (click here)

Make sure that you are wearing a mask for dust particulates (see our UK Supplies List or the USA Supplies List, Australia Supplies List more coming soon). This pestle and mortar is perfect for ashes, umbilical cord and breastmilk and you don’t need an expensive brand, just a white one. I sterilise it in between use with a plastic-free antibacterial wipe and recommend buying a different pestle and mortar for each element (you could paint the outside with nail polish such as blue for breastmilk, green for cremation ashes and pink for umbilical cords). You can use a tiny measuring spoon to transfer some of the powder into your mould or directly into the resin.

Filling Bezel Cups and Glass Orbs


This video by Mona at CraftKlatch (oh my goodness, I love her videos – definitely worth subscribing!) she’s working with ashes from her fireplace, I believe, and two part resin. I’d recommend adding the ashes to the resin after putting it in the setting because adding the ashes to the pot of resin can be wasteful. If you pour only what you need, you can use the leftover resin for another client’s piece or another project. The best place to look for fillable settings is Caverswall Minerals on Etsy (click here)

    • The pros of this method are that it’s very easy, you don’t need a mould, instant results with UV resin, glossy finish, no need to set the finished piece. No worries the mould won’t fit the setting
  • The cons of this method are that if you make a mistake, your piece may be ruined. You may be able to salvage the setting with some work (a milling bit and a hairdryer, dangerous and bad for your health). If the doming layer or the top has a flaw, you will need to sand it back and redome the piece. If the client doesn’t like the colour, you will need to start from scratch. With any filled bezel, there is a chance that the resin can pop out whilst being worn; leading to heartbreak and possible anger from your client if they lose the ashes

Filling a Mould


This is my video for making a cremation ashes heart necklace by filling a mould and putting it in a setting. Here’s the link for the 18mm heart mould (click here) and the full blog with written instructions is here (click)

  • The pros of this method are that you can make several and choose the best to fit in the setting, or even better, let the client choose. You can make a little extra income by offering to set the extra pieces in metal for less than your usual retail price and many clients choose this option as a spare, or (especially for memorial jewellery) to gift to a family member. If you make a mistake, there’s no issue as you can just remake the pieces. If the client doesn’t like the colour, you can easily redo the piece without wasting an expensive setting. The finished pieces can be set professionally without worries they will pop out
  • The cons of this method are that you may worry the mould won’t fit the setting. Our settings and findings recommendations in the mould product descriptions are usually pretty accurate but we can’t guarantee a setting from a third party. We are hoping to sell our own settings soon as guaranteed-fit mould-setting pairs. Also, you need to use a good quality mould or you might not get a nice shiny finish, although some pieces can be domed afterwards with resin for a shiny finish


How Much Ash Should My Client Send?

Once you’ve practiced and put some photos on your personal page or business social media, you will be asked if clients can order. I’d urge you to offer pieces free for review in the beginning or at least only ask them to cover costs unless you make mistakes. I find it’s hard in the beginning to know how much to ask a client to send. If they don’t send enough, you might run out whilst you’re making jewellery and even though you can ask them to send you more, they might expect you to pay the shipping for that. So you need enough, but not too much. If they send too much, it can spill inside the packaging or be expensive or difficult to post back to them, especially if they send cups full. I like to request a quarter of a teaspoon, which is plenty for me for several pieces using my techniques. You can ask for a few teaspoonsful but ask them not to send more than that.

I use this photo on Tree of Opals to tell them how much to send and we post them one of these little 3ml pots. Again, you can go with bigger pots, allow them to fill the pots, or send a couple of little bags. We send a cellophane bag to put the pot in, by the way.

cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A large pinch = ok. 1/4tsp = perfect! Whole tsp = too much
cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A large pinch = ok. 1/4tsp = perfect! Whole tsp = too much

You should always add a disclaimer that their ashes might be lost in the post etc. I like to warn people that I am human and the client may need to send more. 

How To Start Selling Cremation Ashes Jewellery

This could again do with a whole blog by itself but I’m a full time working parent and there aren’t enough hours in the day to blog. I’ll get there eventually! My biggest tip for selling cremation ashes jewellery is be very careful with your terms and conditions, if you tell them in advance all the things that could go wrong, they will have realistic expectations. You can mention natural colour variations and resulting colours (ashes can be pure white, black, brown, grey or even have green, blue and pink flecks!). They vary in texture and size, although I recommend grinding them finely to avoid chunks.

Failure

Common problems with making cremation ashes jewellery are sinking ashes, yellowing resin and customer complaints about colour. Try to use UV resin and cure before the ashes sink, or if you’re using UV resin let it get to the consistency of honey or Marmite before stirring in resin so that the thickness suspends the particles. You can avoid yellowing resin by using a well known brand that’s recommended by others. We recommend Qian Qian UV Resin, which we now sell, or Axson D150 Rigid for epoxy resin.



Finishing and care

Make sure you wear PPE (personal protective equipment) when drilling resin or working with metal. Dust particles can be extremely harmful especially to your respiratory system. We have separate findings and finishings posts here, how to set a resin sphere, how to make a resin charm bead and more being added all the time.

Thank you for reading and please comment below if you have any questions.
Nikki

Continue reading Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery: Part 2 of 2

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How to Make a Cremation Ashes Heart Necklace

New style heart necklace setting with scalloped edge. Vampire black resin sparkle mix, shown with a medium classic chain upgrade

Learn how to make a cremation ashes heart necklace with our video below. I’m working with horse ashes in this video so if you find this upsetting please do not watch. The resin part of this is very similar to our How to Make a Cremation Ashes Ring blog, but this setting is much easier!

You can read more about working with ashes in our How To Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery blog here (click).

Please see our individual country-specific blogs for shopping supplies: United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Canada, other EU countries (coming soon) and non-EU countries (coming soon).

Supplies from Keepsaker Supplies

A cremation ashes heart necklace kit, this includes

You might also need:

supplies needed to make a cremation ashes heart necklace
supplies needed to make a cremation ashes heart necklace

How to Make a Cremation Ashes Heart Necklace

Preparing the Mould
Firstly, inspect your mould and check for any dust or dirt, or lines and imperfections
Prepare the mould if it’s a little dusty by one of two methods

  1. The first is by wiping it with rubbing alcohol and a cotton wool pad
  2. The second is by applying a thin layer of UV resin and then curing. The dust will come off when you remove the resin

It’s better to replace a mould when it’s starting to get dull than spend hours trying to get a perfect shine back on your finished piece

CURE FOR 99 SECONDS
Then, you can remove the cleaning layer

Clear Layer
Pour the first bit of resin on the edge of the mould because it will probably have an air bubble
Carefully put a large dot of resin in the centre of each of the hearts
Tilt the mould around so that the whole surface is covered
Only use a cocktail stick if you have a bubble
Place it under your UV lamp for 30 seconds
This will give you a clear top layer on your finished piece

Add the Ashes and Colours
Check you have the right colours and double check your client’s name and order number against what they’ve ordered
We ask our clients to send no more than half a teaspoon of ashes
Inspect the cremation ashes and consider grinding them a little finer
Cremation ashes are ground in the crematorium and some are ground finer or for longer than others
The grains will suspend more nicely in the resin if they are very fine
Take a small pinch of your client’s ashes, and place them in a pestle and mortar
Gently grind them down until they’re a little finer
Put them to one side. Somewhere where you can’t knock them over

Pour another layer of resin in, about two thirds of the way up
Use the cocktail stick to add a very tiny amount of ashes
Then your colors. I’m using a fairy pink resin sparkle mix here

Then I add a little bit of gold synthetic mica
Add a little bit of precious metal leaf if you like
This one is palladium leaf
Add a very tiny pinch of ashes
Gently swirl everything around to cover the first layer

If you want lots of depth to your piece then don’t add too much of
anything in the first colour layer
Keep it nice and translucent

cure for 30 seconds

Final Colour Layer
Repeat with another layer of resin almost to the top
Add a little bit more ashes this time along with more colour
This will ensure that none of your necklace is patchy or see-through

Cure for another 30 seconds

Finally add a thin layer of resin to dome the back and then cure for a final 30 seconds
Remove from the UV lamp and leave to completely cool

Clear Up
Use this time to clear up your work station, put your client’s ashes back into their bag and wash your pestle and mortar
I like to use rubbing alcohol on a cotton wool pad then use warm soapy water before drying completely

Preparing The Setting
Check that your heart setting has a jump ring
If not, you can solder one on or use a 6mm split ring like this
Make sure you don’t have any tangles in the necklace chain
Give it all a quick polish with a silver polishing cloth

Demoulding the resin heart
Once the piece is completely cooled you can remove it VERY EASILY from the mould

Check for imperfections then put a little rubbing alcohol onto a piece of cotton wool pad
Wipe the heart over to remove any stickiness

You might need to remove a little excess resin with a flat diamond file
Snap off any excess resin around the edges or use a burr on a rotary tool
Don’t forget to wear a mask doing this
Then wipe off any dust

Setting the resin heart
Put the heart into the setting
Use a burnishing tool to push down the crown points
Check that your necklace chain fits through the jump ring
If not, you MIGHT be able to gently squeeze together the last ring on the chain a little
Then it will usually fit through
If you’re using a very large chain like a Pandora style snake chain then you can attach a bail to the heart setting

Photographing the resin heart
You can photograph your cremation ashes jewellery a number of ways
Here’s an example using bogwood

Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more videos like this and don’t forget I’ve linked to the blog and all the supplies you need down below
Now relax and do some crafting

**contains sponsored content meaning I may receive a small income based on purchases you make on my recommendations. Some of the products mentioned and linked to are ones my own items for sale

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Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery: Part 1

Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery cremation ashes quantities for ashes jewellery. A quarter of a teaspoon is the perfect amount for jewellery from Tree of Opals how to make cremation ashes jewellery




Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery is easiest with resin. Cremation ashes are, in my opinion, the easiest element to work with compared to making breastmilk jewellery and making lock of hair and fur jewellery. Working with ashes is similar to working with sand, or dried crushed umbilical cord or placenta so the advice is pretty much the same for those.irectly into a setting or use a silicone mould. There are pros and cons of each method which we’ll cover in another blog! 

You can find part two of our blog here in Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery: Part 2. Our blog on how to make a cremation ashes ring is here (click)

There is a blog on making this beautiful cremation ashes heart necklace here and if you’d like to purchase cremation ashes jewellery then please see Nikki’s other business Tree of Opals here.

Are ashes safe to work with?

Cremation ashes, whether pet or person, are probably the safest element to work with (in my opinion). Because of the heat involved in turning remains into ashes, any BBV’s (blood-borne viruses) are destroyed. You can’t pick up HIV from ashes, for example, but common sense tells us that we should treat every element as if it may contain BBV’s and harmful substances. Cremation ashes are basically the bone/minerals remaining after all of the water and carbon has burnt away. Sometimes the ashes will contain fragments of brown and black, pink and green, pieces of metal etc. For more in-depth reading see The Analysis of Burned Human Remains (Atlas of Surgical Pathology) (hint: it’s not cheap and you don’t need to buy it… it’s on my millionaire wishlist!)

There’s a really interesting article here from Halldor the Viking on working with bone dust and I like to work with disposable masks whilst making my jewellery and a heavy duty mask when drilling. I remember an episode of the TV show Bones where a doctor gets sick after cutting the bones of someone who died from asbestos cancer. I plan on working with ashes for years so I want to be protected. I have young children and I breastfeed, and I’m currently pregnant and plan on breastfeeding for a few years, so it’s very important to keep my body safe for their sakes.



 

 
 
 
 
 
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After a body has been burned inside the retort (also refered to as cremation oven) there are still pieces of bones left. Usually a magnet is ran through these pieces of bones to pick up metal parts left behind, such as fillings, plates and hip replacements, which can interfere with the grinding process. After the metal parts are disposed, the bones and remnants are put into a grinder, or “cremulator” that uses ball bearings or rotating blades, like a blender. The cremulator breaks down the bone pieces into that fine powder like substance we call “cremains” that you see inside the run. _______________________________ #cremains #cremation #bones #crematory #cremationprocess #skeleton #skeletalsystem #death #dying #afterdeath #funeral #funeralhome #funeraldirector #embalmer #mortician

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What to put the ashes in

Some people put ashes into fillable jewellery like wearable urns, lockets and pendants. Some artists create cremation ash jewellery from metal clay or fused and lampwork glass. The most versatile medium and the easiest to learn is resin.

If you’re making a lot of resin jewellery in big batches then it’s cost-effective to use epoxy resin. Lots of people ask me what brand to buy but I always found the unbranded rigid casting epoxy like this one to be best. Sadly EcoResin is a no-go and I nearly lost my business due to dozens of pieces going yellow. Usually, you get epoxy resin in two bottles, part A and part B, which you have to mix perfectly in exact ratios and can take several days to cure. It would be perfect for doing big batches of flower jewellery, such as rose bud pearls.


We mostly use UV resin like the our UV Resin here.  My trick is to buy a 60g bottle and a 200g bottle to refill it with. The little bottles are great to pour directly in your moulds. You’ll also need gel lamp (see the supplies lists below). My hack for the gel lamp is to remove the plastic insert and place the lamp on a sheet of aluminum foil! We want the maximum amount of light to hit the jewellery to cure the resin and you work in layers.

With UV resin it’s easier to keep the resin from getting too thick (which happens with epoxy during its pot life). So long as you keep it away from the gel lamp and the sunshine it will stay liquid and thin enough to work. If your resin is too thick it gets sticky and no longer workable. To prepare a lock of cremation ash I get together what I need so it’s all within reach and make sure I’ve got my protective things on.

Ideally, you will have a small pot with the client’s ash, neatly labeled so you can’t confuse one order with another. I like to work on one ash order at a time so I can’t confuse orders, even if they’re different colours. While the pieces are curing for each stage, you can tidy up your work area, make notes on the order, send the client a photo of your progress etc.

Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery Safely

1. Make sure you’re not working round kids and pets. Even if a resin has low fume it can still cause a reaction. I’ve heard of people not only having reactions from contact with resin (like me) but having trouble breathing. Even for yourself you need to take care. The tools and equipment you have in your studio aren’t suitable for being around children and they tend to want to “help”. Older children could sit on another table if you’re doing something without chemicals and heat (wire wrapping, for example). I appreciate it is hard, and I’m writing this blog today because my son is home poorly so I’m working online while he watches cartoons. Later on we’ll have a nap together so that when his dad has him tonight I’ll have the energy to go in the studio. I’m also planning a blog soon on working with di

2. Wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
I like to wear a thick coating of a barrier spray like the 3M Cavilon or No More Gloves. Then I know if I’m struggling and have to take off my gloves, my skin’s got some protection. I tried Metanium but it made my work marked and I managed to get some on my silverwork which gave it a nasty coating of dull titanium! Then I double up on nitrile gloves and pop on a face mask.


Resin Cremation Jewellery Making

My best selling items on Tree of Opals are our charm beads. They take a bit of practice and a special mould and knowledge of filing, doming and attaching hardware called inserts, also known as grommets and washers or you can even use a full core – we sell them here and they say “FOREVER IN MY HEART ❤️” . Pearls are popular, they are spheres made with 10mm moulds but can be bigger or smaller, and need to be drilled and attached set with a domed headpin. Rings are a little less complicated because you can pour the resin into a ring cup, or make a cabochon (a “stone” with clients’ elements) and fit it into a ring with crown settings. I’ll write more blogs soon on settings and explain the differences between the three main style of setting resin rings, how to drill charm beads and pearls.

I recommend using a water clear mould, like ours here, or at least translucent. You’ll need water-clear to work 3d pieces in UV. You can use an opaque mould for flatbacks but it is more difficult and you can’t re-mould it if you want to add a layer of clear resin afterwards.

If you’re using UV resin, cure this as your first layer then fill the mould with more resin and any colours and additions. Sometimes we leave the resin completely clear and when the piece is cured we add a coloured core or background. You can add colour and shimmer, glitter, precious metal leaf, mica and even natural colourants like beetroot powder (although these tend to fade quickly in the sun). You will find your own style and clients will choose you because they like your work.

In the next blog I’ll explain how to mix the ashes in with the resin and more detail on different kinds of moulds for Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery.

Other Media to Make Lock of Hair Jewellery With

You can fill little glass bottles like these with a lock of hair and dried petals and opalescent flakes, sealed with jewellery glue. You then screw in an eyelet.

How to Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery Part 2 of 2 is here.

I have more tutorials and blogs planned for the future including umbilical cord and placenta jewellery, how to make *trigger* baby loss keepsakes, metal clay jewellery and silversmithing.  Also some blogs on being clean, parenthood, veganism, charity work, travelling and various other interests.  Most of my blogs are written in notes on my phone when I don’t have internet access (the school gates, the car) and I love the chance to share my creativity even more.


Please see our individual country-specific blogs for shopping supplies: United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Canada, other EU countries (coming soon) and non-EU countries (coming soon).

Spellings – this blog is written in the United Kingdom so my spelling is in English. I’ll try to add alternatives after but our spelling of jewellery is correct here.  Mould (UK) mold (US).  

This post contains affiliate links that, meaning when if you buy one of our recommended products I receive a small amount of commission.