This page contains information on my view on making urns, product specifics, and frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact me here.

My View on Urn Making

Making urns is a natural adaptation of my sculpture, as proportion and form are the main focus.  The patterning, tones, and colors are all a product of the wood itself.  I wanted to take this approach and create a high quality vessel that is functional, unique, and offers a wide array of shapes, sizes, proportions, and colors.  Each piece is an original, and I strive for people think of it more as sculpture.

Why choose one of my urns?

I started to make urns because I felt that the majority of options on the market lacked an element of uniqueness, and I believe that there is a great interest in having an urn that is of high quality as well as being one of a kind.  I also sought out to create an urn that is more subtle and that would blend into any setting easily.  So I offer a product that is proportioned well, with a simple and beautiful shape.  My urns are sculpture and are unique, no two of which are exactly alike.  They are all completely organic and sourced from Southern domestic hardwoods that have reached the end of their lifecycle.  Lastly, they are all handmade and meant to honor the lives of whom they memorialize.


Sizing

How large of an urn do I need? 

The general rule of thumb is 1 cubic inch of ash is produced per pound.  So for example 180 lbs = 180 cubic inches.

This is an approximation, since the amount of cremated remains are based more on bone size and bone density rather than weight.  The rule of thumb will get you close but it is possible for the actual amount to be slightly over or under.  That being said, I generally like to suggest that a purchaser would err on the conservative side and select an urn that is a bit larger than what the calculation gives.

Why are there so many sizes of urns?

I don’t set out to make an urn with an exact size in mind.  I put a block of wood on the lathe and create what form looks the best to me, and the size of the urn works out however it does.

With that in mind there are a few general categories of urns that I do make.

Keepsake Urns (20-100 cubic inches) : these are smaller sized urns for purposes where a portion of the cremated remains are needed to be contained. Pet Urns (20-150 cubic inches) : also smaller sized urns gauged for capacities usually less than 100 cubic inches
Individual Urns (100-300 cubic inches) : these are standard sized urns intended to hold the total amount of cremated remains. Companion or Double Urns (200 cubic inches and greater) : are urns that are intended to hold two or more individuals.

 


 

Openings and Bases

Does the urn seal and how large is the opening?

All of the urns that I make have finials (that function as the lid) that are hand-threaded into the body of the urn.  Once the finial has been screwed onto the vessel, it is closed and there is no need to use silicon or epoxy to seal the lid.  Currently the finials are made either out of African Blackwood or American Persimmon as those species are dense and fine grained enough cut a quality thread.  I prefer to work exclusively out of American hardwoods.  However, for this purpose there are very few species of American hardwoods that will cut a quality thread, so the blackwood is a nice alternative.

The opening sizes on the urns vary, but they range from 3/4″ to 1-1/4″ in diameter.

How stable is the urn, will it tip over?

It is a pretty complicated question, though in general I view the urns to be stable and I will not list any item for sale that I believe has undue risk of tipping over.

That being said some urn shapes are more naturally stable than others, i.e. having the bulk of their volume in the lower half of the vessel.  So if you the purchaser would like to err on the side of caution, then choose a shape that has the widest points at or below the midheight area of the vessel.


 

Filling

How do you fill the urn?

Ideally you would have your urn ready so that whomever you are dealing with for the cremation services would be able to fill the urn for you.  That, however, is not always the case, and that filling your urn can either be emotionally challenging or a task that you may prefer not to do.

In the advent that you would prefer someone else to handle the filling of the urn, if you are able to, contact the providers of the cremation services and ask if they would handle filling the urn for you.  You may also be able to contact a local funeral home and see if they would provide that service for you as well.

If you are inclined to fill the urn yourself, there are a few videos on YouTube that might give you some good ideas as far as handling the cremated remains in their current containers and how to transfer them to your new vessel.  If you need further help, please feel free to contact me.


 

Ordering

How do I go about ordering an urn?

Ordering information can be found in my resource section here.  Please read through the item selection information as well.


 

Additional Urn Information and Specifications

Opening sizes:  3/4″ – 1-1/4″ in diameter
Bottom sizes:  roughly 25%-33% of urn diameter; usually around 2″ in diameter for most sized urns.
Wall thickness: 1/8″ – 1/4″ (thicker walls generally on larger urns)
**Wall thickness expands slightly closer to give the bottom more weight.

Finial and insert material are made of African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) or American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Each piece is signed on the bottom along with a cooresponding species mark, as well as an urn number (e.g. U.11)

Things to Know about Wood

Color and tone variations – Wood is a natural product, which means that no two trees have exactly the same tone and color.  There are subtle variations; one section of wood can be darker or lighter than another, even in the same tree.  In most cases the variation is too subtle to draw attention to, but it does occur.  Color in wood can also change due to ultraviolet light exposure.  In the extreme cases, black cherry, being an example, you can literally get “tan lines” on the wood if something is covering the wood.  The good news is that this is more of an issue in furniture, rather than turned work.  The thing to note here is that your item may change its color over its lifetime depending on the amount of ultraviolet light exposure (i.e. sunlight).  Most species tend to get slightly darker and deeper in color, with a few having their color lightening up a bit.  In my experience the species that change the most are Red Mulberry, starting off at an almost highlighter yellow and changing to a deep red brown.  Black Cherry also will darken a lot over its lifetime if it gets sun exposure.

Finish – I use all Danish oil as the finish on all of my urns.  I also build up my finishes so this leaves the urns sealed well, in addition, it greatly improves the urns’ tactile quality and the evenness of sheen.

Wood Movement – The wood in my urns will move, the degree of which is subject to species as well as the moisture content in the wood.  Fortunately the vast majority of that takes place in the drying process, before finishing.  The main point here is that some urns will have more uneven surface contours than others.  Since I turn my wood in varying degrees of dryness and I work with wood from various places in the tree, it is possible to get surface distortions during the drying process.  I have found that more interesting figure in wood is created by variations in the growth structure of the tree, which also tends to invite some degree of movement as the wood dries.  My point of view is to turn and urn and let the wood move where it wants to, and that movement contributes to the uniqueness of the item.  Most cases the distortions are subtle, or even unnoticeable, but there are a few that are dramatic and still are attractive.