Keeping the memory alive

Hygienist soothes the loss of a pet with beautiful jewelry...

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Hygienist soothes the loss of a pet with beautiful jewelry

by Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA

For those of us who are animal lovers, the loss of a special pet is a painful time in our lives. However, an animal-loving hygienist has developed a way to remember a special pet. Her business, called Glassashes, allows people who are grieving over the loss of a beloved pet to retain a tangible part of the animal in a beautiful way. She creates beautiful glass pendants that contain ashes from pets that have been cremated.

Julie Kalin, RDH, has lived in Las Vegas for 29 years. Dental hygiene was a second career for Julie. Originally from England, she graduated from the Community College of Southern Nevada in 1993. A woman of many talents, Julie has developed a unique side business.

Julie first became interested in glass after seeing some pieces at an art gallery a few years ago. She decided to look into how these were made and first signed up for an Introduction to Glass class through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. There, she was introduced to fusing as well as stained glass, etching, and mosaic. Julie most enjoyed fusing and went on to take additional classes in that area.

As her interest grew, Julie decided to purchase a kiln and other supplies to start fusing glass at home. Julie found that the majority of the learning process is through trial and error and experimenting with shapes, colors, and firing schedules. She began making bowls, platters, wall art, and some jewelry.

There were many disappointments along the way when pieces did not turn out as expected. After firing a piece for 12 to 14 hours in the kiln at temperatures of almost 1,500 degrees, Julie would find that the piece had cracked or changed color dramatically. She learned that keeping good notes is a very valuable part of the process. Now, she documents all times and temperatures in a logbook and takes photos before and after firing every piece.

Glass ashes

The idea for glass ashes actually came from Julie's sister, who is an animal trainer in California. She trains animals for movies, TV, and commercials. She was the trainer of the little Chihuahua, Gidget, in the Taco Bell commercials a few years ago. Gidget died last year at 15 years of age, and Julie's sister asked her if it would be possible to try fusing some of Gidget's ashes in a glass piece, such as a pendant. The results were successful, and she was very happy with her Gidget pendant!

Soon, a friend of Julie's sister requested a pendant as a memento of her Doberman who had recently passed. She was also very happy with the results. Both her sister and her friend encouraged her to set up a Web site to sell pet pendants. Thus, www.glassashes.com was born. Julie has made several pendants, mostly dogs and cats, for people who are interested in having a piece of jewelry made as a memento.

Besides making the pet pendants, Julie also makes and sells other forms of glass art at a different Web site, www.julieartglass.com. One of Julie's most requested items is glass hearts used as wedding favors.

Julie says, "I still really enjoy hygiene and hope to be practicing for several more years. Many of my patients have been with me for many years, and some have become friends with whom I socialize outside of work. Eventually, I would like to work part time and have more time to do glass. I find working with glass very relaxing. I go out to my studio, put on some music, and start creating. I am always amazed at how quickly the time passes. However, I very much enjoy the interaction I have with my patients and would miss them (well, most of them!) if I were to give up hygiene. A combination of both seems ideal."

Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. She is CEO of Professional Dental Management, based in Frederick, Md. To contact Glasscoe Watterson for speaking or consulting, call (301) 874-5240 or e-mail dglasscoe@northstate.net. Visit her Web site at www.professionaldentalmgmt.com.

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