Preparations with Salt

This weekend we drove over to Newport, Or to have a memorial at the beach for my mom. It turned out great and was wonderful to see everyone. I decided I would make something for her. I was challenged by what to make. I didn’t really want to make a painting that would end up so charged with emotion that I would have to figure out what to do with afterward. I thought about a sculpture, but laws about not erecting permanent monuments wherever you go being what they are…. Besides, my mom felt that art should be impermanent. She would often use chalk on cardboard.


Then I remembered someone in my art class mentioning carving yard art out of salt blocks. So, I got one (or three).

these things are heavy

I thought that I would just use my Dremel, but these things are really a lot harder than you would expect. So, I got to borrow a bunch of my husband’s tools. First I tried to cut it in half. We thought we would drill holes in it and then use a hammer and chisel to crack it along those holes.

It was taking entirely too long. I’m sure it would have eventually gotten done, but we looked for a better way. We ended up using a saws-all to cut it in half. Once it was cut the going was a little easier. But not a lot.

Lots of tools 🙂

The salt got everywhere as it was chipped, chiseled, cut, whizzed, whirred, and ground off. I had one idea for the sculpture, but, as is often the way, the salt had other ideas. It decided that it was going to be a heart.

I gave the other pieces to the kid and he made one, too.

He had to go old school. Just like Michelangelo.

Later I let him use the Dremel. My mom gave me that, by the way.

I used it as well for the carving at the end. It’s great for smaller work like engraving words.

I liked this but it was really difficult to read. So I decided to dye it. My mom would have been very upset if I had used anything unnatural. I decided on food coloring.

and here is the one that the kid made.

So we loaded up the truck with mom’s ashes, the sculpture, us and our gear to head west toward the beach.


Locked in my Heart

When I was a kid I used to always want to style my mom’s hair. I went through a (very long) phase where I was going to be a hair stylist. Even when I was in high school, I would braid my mom’s hair for her. I would either do a french braid for keeping it out of her face or I would do a bunch of smaller braids while it was wet to give her some extra curl.

In later years we talked about when you go to the salon, you don’t want just a haircut, you want the whole treatment. You want the shampooing and all of it. It makes it more of a pampering. She would joke and say how when I was little and wanted to brush and style her hair, she would feign reluctance. “Okay, I guess I’ll let you.”

So a lot of my memories of my childhood have my mom’s hair braided into them.

We had a request when mom died for a lock or two of her hair. I’m glad we did because I would probably not have thought of it. Today I finally had a few hours to myself and since school is out I didn’t have to fill them with homework. I decided that I would use that time to get mom’s hair ready.

I wrapped one end of each lock with embroidery floss and then braided it and tied the other end off with small bow. While I was doing it I was remembering all those other times and thinking how strange it is that this will be the last time that I do this. It began to feel like a ritual, like a ceremony.  I can see why there are so many rituals and ceremonies that involve preparing a loved one for burial. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do all of it. But I am grateful for this small thing.

I’m honored to be able to do it one last time.

I’m also tying a Celtic Heart Knot to go with each of the locks of hair.

I learned this knot here. I think it’s beautiful.

This is the project mostly done: