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The history of Ashes into Glass ®


The story of Ashes into Glass ® starts in 1979, when founders Bill Rhodes and James Watts met at school in London, aged 12. They did everything together. Skating in the park with friends as young teenagers, vacations together in late teens, they lived together in their early twenties until they both got married, Bill to Jane and James to Josephine. Both families have three children who are good friends. This bond forms the foundations for a strong, steady and caring company.


Bill and James were introduced to glassmaking at “The Glasshouse” in Covent Garden, London, where James worked with Ron Wilkinson, head glassmaker at world-renowned Whitefriars Glassworks. Ashes into Glass ® benefits from this rich heritage.

At this time, Bill and James built Britain’s first mobile glassblowing workshop and took it to shows and events to demonstrate their craft. Over the years, they were invited to prestigious venues including The Victoria & Albert Museum and Kew Gardens, London. (Shown in this film)


They founded Barleylands Glassworks in, Essex, England in 1996 and for the next decade, they dedicated themselves to antique glass restoration and the production of one-off commissions for their clients. They gained a fine reputation for producing outstanding work. Notable commissions including the restoration and replacement of the glass street lights outside Buckingham Palace. (Shown in this film).


Ashes into Glass ® was founded in 2006 when a client enquired as to the possibilities of producing a memorial incorporating her mother’s cremation ashes. James and Bill thought it was a wonderful idea and Ashes into Glass ® was born. Their unique service, delivered in such a respectful and quality way was soon recognised and a string of local and national awards followed.

To Date

The Ashes into Glass ® name has spread far and wide by word of mouth, aided by the power of social media. Its Facebook page has more than a million likes and it has a base in New York to serve its clients in the USA. However, the jewelry is still produced at Barleylands by a growing family of skilled craftspeople.