Swans Island photographer and printmaker Dale Joyce creates memorial prints of deceased loved ones using their ashes in his new business, Ashes to Ashes Memorial Prints. ISLANDER PHOTO BY NINAH REIN 

From ashes to art

SWAN’S ISLAND — What if you could memorialize a loved one IN art? That is exactly what local print maker and photographer Dale Joyce is doing with his new business called Ashes to Ashes Memorial Prints. 

Joyce’s Harbor View Studio opened five years ago and specializes in three distinct types of art: fine art, commercial photography and now memorial prints. The prints recreate an existing photo of a loved one, or pet, using their ashes. 

“I’ve been into photography all my life. I particularly like the historic techniques, the different ways that people were using to make photographs 150-180 years ago, when photography was actually becoming a science and art form,” Joyce said. 

After his father, who Joyce said was his biggest supporter, died in 2016, the artist learned a specific printing technique in which he could use ashes. For his first print, the artist used his father’s ashes as a tribute. 

“That’s where the idea came from and it’s taken me a couple of years to actually perfect it,” Joyce said. 

A negative of a photo of Joyce’s father (above) is turned into a textured final product.

Memorial prints are handcrafted, three-dimensional paper printed photographs that incorporate cremated remains. The process involves creating a negative of a photograph, and through a photographic process using a scoop of cremains, a textured print is cast onto photographic paper.  

“Our product is created using a complicated, historic technique that gives it depth using ashes; if a person in the photo is wearing a striped shirt, you can actually feel the stripes,” said Joyce.  

Joyce and his fiancé Jennifer Helman, who helps to run the business, have plans to patent part of the printing process. 

According to Joyce, there are only 30 or 40 others in the world who are considered master printers using this technique. “There’s also nobody else anywhere making this type of product using the cremated remains in the print,” he said. 

For now, Joyce’s memorial prints are black and white, but when products gain more traction, he will upgrade to colored print options too. The color will take triple the labor, so the pricing will be higher, he said, adding, “we wanted to start with an entry point that people would be willing to pay for.” 

As long as someone has a photo and a small sample of ashes, Joyce said the memorial print can be made. 

Harbor View Studio is on Swan’s Island and Joyce also has a workshop in Ellsworth. To learn more about Ashes to Ashes Memorial Prints, visit www.ashestoashesprints.com. More information about Joyce can be found at www.harborviewstudio.com. 


Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.

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