Ryan Higgins is the creative force of Daybreak Dreams. He has been lampworking glass into art for over twenty-five years. In 2016 his career path steered toward the memorial trade while working with clients who’d lost loved ones and pets. Daybreak Dreams was born. Ryan discovered a more meaningful purpose to his work. Infusing cremated remains into glass imbued it with an extraordinary spirit. He says, “the gravity of the connections made between myself (the artist), the deceased, and the survivors is intense. It fuels my drive to deliver the best of myself for each memorial.”
Daybreak Dreams conducts its business from Ryan’s homegrown glass-art studio. He, his wife (Abby), and their toddler son reside in historic Mullica Hill, NJ. They’re a family business working to provide a sense of comfort and joy in peoples’ lives.
“Lampworking is a type of glasswork where a torch or lamp is primarily used to melt the glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements. It is also known as flameworking or torchworking, as the modern practice no longer uses oil-fueled lamps.” – Wikipedia
At Daybreak Dreams we use a propane/oxygen bench-burner torch and several smaller hand held torches. They melt the borosilicate glass rods used to create our memorial pendants and orbs. The rods can vary in thicknesses from 7-38mm. When molten they can be stretched down to 1 millimeter, or gathered up to over 3 inches thick. A variety of steel and graphite tools are used to hold and shape the glass.
One of the first and most important steps in production of a memorial is the infusion of cremated remains into the glass. Infusing cremains involves encapsulating them between two layers of glass. When melted together, the cremains are permanently locked into the matrix. After infusion, the artist’s focus is engaged with controlling the melt in order to shape and size the material into a finished glasswork. To complete the process, the glasswork is placed into a kiln to anneal at 1050 degrees Fahrenheit. Annealing can take several hours. Finally, the glass is cooled slowly at a controlled rate to prevent thermal stress or shock as it returns back to normal room temperatures.