FAQs


What is ICONS IN ASH?

ICONS IN ASH is an art project created by the artist Heide Hatry. ICONS IN ASH are memorial portraits made using a proprietary technique by means of which the cremated ashes of your beloved become a poignant, dignified, and enduring portrait. The art-work, IS our beloved.

Who is Heide Hatry?
Heide Hatry is a practicing fine artist, represented by Ubu Gallery in New York City. Her work is known for its subtlety and depth and is often described as neo-conceptual, though unlike much art that is so described, it is equally concerned with aesthetic beauty. 
Heide Hatry grew up in the south of Germany, studied art at various German art schools and art history at the University of Heidelberg. She taught at a private art school for 15 years while simultaneously conducting an international business as an antiquarian bookseller. Since moving to New York in 2003 she has curated numerous exhibitions in the United States, Germany, and Spain and has shown her own work at museums and galleries all over the world. She has edited more than two dozen books and art catalogues, and her own books Skin, Heads and Tales, Not a Rose, and Icons in Ash were published between 2005 and 2017.

How did Heide Hatry come up with the idea of making portraits out of cremated ashes?
When her father died unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances more than twenty years ago, she was disconsolate, and she lived with a gnawing grief for many years. In 2008 one of her closest friends chose to end his life. Not only was she shocked and devastated, but she found that the still unresolved feelings of loss in her father's death had resurfaced all the more powerfully. With a sudden inspiration, she determined that she would make portraits of her friend and her father out of cremated ashes. She has described the access of calm and tranquility that she felt upon completing the works and abiding with them in silent communion as life-altering. And she realized that she could offer the same deep solace to others as well. During her lengthy experimentation, she discovered a way of creating an actual relic that both honors the dead and inspires the living with a rich sense of presence, continuity, and connection.

What is an ICONS IN ASH Mosaic Portrait (MP)?
Mosaic Portraits are completely hand-made realistic portraits in a black, white, and grey palette, made out of the cremated ashes of your beloved. The unique process Hatry has developed, involves the individual placement of individual ash particles upon a surface of wax on which they rest gently, until, through several delicate layers of application, a rich and textured likeness is achieved.

What is an ICONS IN ASH Transfer Portrait ATP)?
Ash Transfer Portraits are realistic portraits made from the cremated ashes of your beloved. Again uniquely developed by the artist, and now patent pending, this process makes it possible to transfer the ink of a photographic image directly onto a pure and slightly irregular surface of cremated ashes.

What is the difference between a Mosaic Portrait and an Ash Transfer Portrait?
Mosaic Portraits are mosaics, meaning that the cremated ash particles are affixed one by one onto a substrate. The choice of different shades of gray creates the diversity of hue that results in a portrait, similar to the way that individual pixels contribute to complex images on a computer. Depending on the size, this technique requires up to 6 weeks. 
For the patent pending process of making As Transfer Portraits a larger number of ash particles are affixed in a different way and afterwards the ink of a photo is transferred onto that surface. Depending on the size this takes up to three weeks.

How much cremated ashes do I need for an ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait?
The amount of cremated ashes needed, depends on the technique and size:
Ash Transfer Portraits of 5 x 7" require 2.5 ounces of cremated ashes, which is about 5 tablespoons of ashes
Ash Transfer Portraits of 11 x 14" require 4.5 ounces of cremated ashes, which is about 9 tablespoons of ashes
Mosaic Portraits of 5 x 7" require 1 ounce of cremated ashes, which is about 2 tablespoons of ashes
Mosaic Portraits of 11 x 14" require 2 ounces of cremated ashes, which is about 4 tablespoons of ashes
If you don't have enough ashes, if you don't want to handle the remains, or if you are interested in a different format please get in contact with us and we will find a solution.

How many ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portraits could be made from a single person’s cremated ashes?
It depends on how much cremated ash is available and on the size of the portrait, but given the modest amount necessary for a portrait, a Memorial Portrait could easily be made for every family member and even friends.

What can I do with the rest of the cremated ashes?
In deciding to commission an ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait, you don’t lose any options! A quite sufficient quantity would still remain for scattering, preservation in an urn, making jewelry objects (please see madelynco.com) or whatever other means you might choose to honor and remember your loved one. We do also offer a framing option that includes a secure compartment for the preservation of the remaining cremated ashes.

Do I need an urn in addition to the ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait?
No, the wooden shadow-box can be equipped to contain the remainder of the cremated ashes, but you can, of course, contain those in a separate urn of your choice.

Why should I consider an ICONS IN ASH portrait for my beloved ones?
Everyone who owns a Memorial Portrait by Heide Hatry has described a profound effect of presence that is “calming,” “soothing,” “consoling” or just “wonderful.” Many, especially when they had been suffering powerful grief, have described it as life-changing, as a way of coming to terms with the fact of death, especially when it came upon them unexpectedly. 
Grave-yards and mausoleums stay where they are, while we do not. Especially in a time of global movement, it seems more appropriate to be able to take our beloved with us when we have to move.

Why are ICONS IN ASH portraits different from all other ways of memorializing our beloved ones?
An ICONS IN ASH portrait look as realistic as a photograph of your loved one, even more so, as it has depth and a texture that photographs cannot achieve, and at the same time, it is your loved one. The effect of that reality is truly indescribable, and will always be true. You are seeing the person you loved in her or his image, and this knowledge never diminishes, effortlessly enriching your relationship to the image and to memory.

How do I go about commissioning an ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait?
Please ask your local funeral home or crematory, or get in touch with us by email (info@iconsinash.com) or by phone (917 932 4999) and we will send you a list of funeral homes and crematories we work with. We also can send you a mailing kit directly. There are also mailing kits available in the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston as well as at the Merchant's House Museum and at Ubu Gallery in NYC

How do I know what to do when I have received my mailing kit?
The mailing kit contains very simple, detailed, step-by-step instructions. Nothing else is required but a stamp to send it back to New York. Or ask your local funeral home, or crematory to deal with this for you.

How do I know that I will get back the cremated ashes of my loved one?
We use the same careful and conscientious system as crematories: the cremated ashes are marked at any given time with a name tag, from the moment they arrive at our facilities until they are sent back to you. Every precaution has been taken, and every care exerted to insure that no errors are possible.

How much does an ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait cost?
The price depends on you! We want to make sure that everybody, who would like to have an Icons in Ash memorial portrait, can afford it, so we decided that you can pay what it is worth it to YOU.
Most people pay for an Ash Transfer Portrait in the size of 
5 x 7" between $1.000 and $2.000 and for
11 x 14" (about life size) between $2.000 and $3.500
In the price included is a wooden shadow-box, equipped with regular glass or plexi glass. This patent pending technique allows a much faster way to connect the ash particles, and to transfer the likeness of your beloved one onto that surface. The turnaround for this technique doesn't depend on the size and takes up to three weeks from ordering to receiving the portrait. 
The ICONS IN ASH Mosaic Portraits technique is very painstaking: every single particle of the cremated ashes is individually placed on a bed of wax substrate that connects with the ashes. Each portrait consists of thousands of particles, and it takes about six weeks to create a single portrait.
Most people pay for a Mosaic Portrait in the size of 
5 x 7" between $6.000 and $9.000 and for 
11 x 14" (about life size) between $12.000 and $25.000
A high quality deep wooden shadow-box, equipped with museum-quality glass is included in the price.
If you don't have enough ashes or if you are interested in a different format please get in contact with us and we will find a solution. 

When and how do I have to pay?
Please ask your local funeral home, crematory, or Ubu Gallery for their preferred payment method. If you buy your Memorial Portrait directly from us, please send us a check or get in touch with us. Soon you will be able to choose and purchase all options directly from our website.

What are the shipping options?  
The portrait will be shipped by USPS. Hand-delivery is free in Manhattan; delivery to any other location will be priced individually, and if hand delivery by plane is required, we will charge air fare, cab or rental car costs, hotel fare if necessary, plus $15/hour for the time needed to deliver it, from the point of origin.
The Mosaic Portrait, museum glass and frame are wrapped separately and shipped in a custom made crate, with very simple step-by-step instructions regarding how to put the artwork into the shadowbox without damaging anything, the Ash Transfer Portraits are carefully packed in a box and ready to be hung on the wall.

How do I decide which photograph I should choose for my ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait?
Please look through the photographs of your loved one and send your favorite photo to info@iconsinash.com. The photo can be an image at any age in her or his life – that is completely up to you. We have three requests though: the photograph should be in the highest resolution you have (300dpi would be great), the face needs to be fairly prominent, and if possible the mouth should be closed. If you are insecure which photo to choose send us a few and we are happy to discuss which might produce the optimal result. You can also number the photographs in the order of your preference. Heide Hatry is a very experienced portrait artist and can readily assess the perfect image for your chosen size and technique.

How long will an ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portrait last?
Heide Hatry invented the Mosaic Portrait technique in 2008/2009, so it is impossible to say with absolute certainty, but if you imagine a candle that has collected dust when it was burning, those particles never come off, so we assume that the portraits, too, will last forever. Egypt Fayum mummy portraits for example (naturalistic painted portraits on wooden boards, using a wax-based encaustic technique of integrating pigment) have survived 3000 years (you can see them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), assuming that reasonable care is taken.
The technique of the new patent pending Ash Transfer Portraits was invented in 2018. So there has not much time passed, but we have done extended research and are sure that they will last as long as a regular artwork, like an acrylic painting for example, assuming that reasonable care is taken.

How are ICONS IN ASH Memorial Portraits displayed?
The Memorial Portraits are displayed in deep wooden shadow-boxes, equipped with museum-quality glass. They can be hung on a wall like a painting, rest upright on a table, pedestal, or mantle-piece, in a glass display niche in a cemetery, or basically whatever method you prefer.

How do I care for my Memorial Portrait? How often should I dust it?
Your Memorial Portrait is an art work and should be treated like an art work: never hang it in direct sunlight, don’t expose it to moisture, maintain it at normal room temperature, and never remove it from the shadow-box.
It is not terribly fragile or susceptible to damage, but it can collect dust very easily, so it should never be removed from its frame. Naturally, in the event of an accident, it could be restored, though that would involve a lengthy process and additional expense. If the frame should be damaged, please contact us and we will assist you in best protecting and restoring the structure as needed.
If you need to transport the Mosaic Portrait, we suggest to always keep it laying face up, or remove it from the frame and transport it in the way you received it.

Where can I see original Icons in Ash portraits?
There are a few locations where Icons in Ash portraits are exhibited permanently:
- National Museum of Funeral History in Houston.
https://www.nmfh.org/exhibits/permanent-exhibits/the-history-of-cremation
Mon - Fri: 10am - 4pm, Sat: 10am - 5pm, Sunday: 12pm - 5pm (362 days a year) at 415 Barren Springs Drive, Houston, TX 77090. +1 281 876 306. contact@nmfh.org 
- 
The Merchant's House Museum in NYC.
Merchantshouse.org
Thu - Mon 12-5pm at 29 E 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. +1 212 777 108. nyc1832@merchantshouse.org
- Ubu Gallery in NYC
https://www.ubugallery.com/exhibitions/heide-hatry-icons-in-ash
Mon, Wed, and Fri 11am - 6pm (please ask for opening hours before your visit) at 416 E 59th Street, New York, NY 10022. +1 212 753 4444.
You can also email us at info@iconsinash.com for more locations in your neigbourhood or call us at 917-932-4999.

How do I find out which funeral home or crematory is offering your portraits?
Please email us at info@iconsinash.com or call at 917-932-4999, and we will send you a list of funeral homes we are working with, or ask your local funeral home or crematory to get in touch with us.

How do I request a media interview?
Please email us at info@iconsinash.com or call at 917-932-4999.

Does Icons in Ash have any internship or volunteer opportunities?
Please email us at info@iconsinash.com or call at 917-932-4999.

I have a question that is not answered here, what should I do?
Again, please email us at info@iconsinash.com or call at 917-932-4999.