Is there bone in bone china? Yes, there’s bone in bone china, made largely of incinerated cow bones, crushed, milled, and ground to the fine powder that imparts the wonderfully white translucent look to the finest of fine dinnerware that we call bone china.
Curious minds want to know whether there’s human bone in bone china. The answer is no, not if the bone china was made by major manufacturers. But, let me explain. There’s more.
British bone china was created by a man named Josiah Spode. Spode is brand name of the major bone china manufacturer of bone china in Britain. Other manufacturers include Lenox, the only bone china maker in the U.S., Wedgwood, U.P. Ceramics & Potteries Ltd., and Walpole. Be sure, none of them use human bone in their bone china.
Up to 45% of the dry powdery mixture that makes bone china is cow bone ash. The rest is feldspar, quartz, kaolin, and ball clay. Bringing special relevance to the art of bone china making, Charles Krafft, a modern-day, somewhat macabre, self-taught Seattle artist, swapped the cow bone ash in Spode’s production recipe, using instead the ash remaining from human cremation.
Krafft calls his product line “SPONE,” a trademarked name conceived from the combination of Josiah Spode’s last name and the word, bone. Krafft’s production method substitutes Spode’s percentage of calcinated cow bone in his clay body with ball milled human crematory ash.
Krafft takes commissions to create SPONE reliquary, or special bone china mementos, made from the bone ash of deceased loved ones. Upon requests from family or friends of the deceased, Krafft crafts unique funerary art in human bone ash porcelain. He receives or retrieves the cremated remains of the deceased and finely mills the ash. The finished human bone china takes whatever form is requested by family or friends commissioning the piece. The result is a custom made trademarked SPONE™ creation.
Many such commissioned human bone china pieces are urns, designed to hold the remaining ash of the deceased. Mike Hickey, who lives in Seattle, commissioned Krafft to create an urn for his friend, David McCann, who died of alcoholism in 2002. The urn took the shape of a bottle of Absolut vodka. Such a shape seemed fitting. Krafft is capable of making a wide array of forms from his human bone china methods.
In 2003, Krafft launched his human bone china reliquary idea at the “Ring of Spone” exhibition at the Arthur A. Wright Chapel, Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Seattle. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! featured Krafft’s SPONE creations in two special editions.
Krafft’s human bone china line might seem macabre to some, as judged by his phone not ringing off the hook for new orders. But, some might find comfort in their grief by Krafft’s creations recasting the remains of deceased loved ones into meaningful form to be appreciated in porcelain forever.