Ophelia, The Doll That Dies, is a product that stirs up a diverse array of opinions and questions, but ultimately has the power to change perspectives on death. The doll is made out of biodegradable and compostable materials that degrade over time with play. As Ophelia degrades she shows signs of age, like a human would. Ophelia serves as a tool for starting a conversation between parents and their children about the end of life. Children who own Ophelia will have the opportunity to develop a belief that talking about death is normal. When a person talks about death, they begin to understand the impermanence of life, and become inspired to be prepared for their own end of life, setting the stage for a less stressful and positive ending, as well as a more appreciated and fulfilled life.
Ophelia begins life like any other doll on shelves. The child loves her, plays with her, and Ophelia becomes a part of the family life as many dolls inevitably do.Ophelia travels to school, gets worried at the doctor's office, and gets fed at the dinner table alongside the owner and her parents. But Ophelia, unlike other dolls,begins to show signs of age. One day Ophelia will die, but until that time comes the parents have time to prepare their child and educate them on the inevitability of death. They teach their child to focus on the good in life, and to enjoy the time that they have with Ophelia before she is gone. When Ophelia does pass away, although the child may be grief stricken, they had time to accept the inevitability of Ophelia's ending. There was no sudden announcement, but a process that the child now understands. Buried in the garden, Ophelia nurtures the soil, and the child watches as the flowers grow taller and bloom larger. Even in death Ophelia teaches the child that death is beneficial to the world, and not something that should be feared. The child can get another Ophelia, or another doll, but they will continue to hold the memories of their first doll close. These memories will last for the rest of their life, and will prepare them for experiences with death that we all must face. Find delight in life, through death, with Ophelia. Death is the central concept of Ophelia, but the processes and methods that go into her lifecycle also are unique to this category of product. Manufacturing is completed with only biodegradable materials, and at the end of her life Ophelia creates no permanent waste. In fact, parents can choose to bury her in gardens and planters where their children can watch their doll change through the process of life and nurture the environment around them to become more beautiful. Ophelia has a height of 11 inches, a width of 3.5 inches, and a depth of 1.5 inches. In theory, Ophelia has a skeleton made of mycelium, which is grown in a mold. The next layer on top of the mycelium skeleton is jackfruit fibers, which are representative of muscles. The third layer of red algae jelly is added on top of the jackfruit fibers to represent the skin layer. Lastly, she has a protective wax outer-coating with human hair, which would be added on by perforating the wax with a hot needle. Her eyes, eyebrows, lips, and other coloring which is painted on with a biodegradable paint. In principle, the wax outer layer will wear off with play, exposing the materials underneath and the hair will begin to fall out. As the red algae is exposed it will lose it's moisture, dry up, and begin to peel off, leaving the jackfruit muscles exposed. Lastly, as the jackfruit falls away, the mycelium skeleton is revealed. At the end ofOphelia's "life", she can be placed in the ground and will turn into soil, due to her biodegradable and compostable materials. Today, most toys are made of plastic,typically from oil based materials, a nonrenewable resource, and are made to be broken easily and are sent straight to the landfill. Children's toys can also be made with a mixture and/or fusion of materials, which can make those toys very difficult to recycle. Sustainable toys for children are rare and the toy industry is a market that is making a significant impact on our landfills that most do not think about. Ophelia provides a solution to this problem by showing an example of how a toy can be made from renewable, biodegradable, and compostable materials. Ophelia also encourages conversations about alternative sustainable solutions to taking care of someone after their end of life, and the impact certain burial practices can have on the environment. Ophelia is culturally ambiguous and therefore can be usedby parents of any background to teach their children how their culture takes care of someone after they have passed. Ophelia succeeds in producing a positive impact on the collective realm by normalizing death and helping people have a more fulfilled life. An entire population of people who appreciate and value theirown lives, might then see the value in the lives of others, creating a world where everyone is valued and people come together to make life better for the collective realm.