Cremation Art - Van Duyn Woodwork

Cremation Art – Cremation Glass Art to Cremation Jewelry and Everything in Between

In Uncategorized by Jason Van Duyn

Cremation Art - Spalted Maple Burl Cremation UrnThis article delves into all the various forms of cremation art.  It really hits at home for me as I have made an adaptation of my turned wooden sculpture, that I refer as urn artistry.  I, however, am not the only artisan that is producing finer quality works of cremation art.

So… what is Cremation Art?

Glass Cremation Art - FireStudioCremation Art – a term describing the various forms of art/sculpture which hold the cremains of a person or pet.  Additionally, some forms of cremation art are created as a memorial or tribute to a loved one or animal.  In this case they may or may not have some physical component of the loved one.  There are works of cremation art in just about every medium.

Cremation Art by Medium

If you are like me, you looked at the dozen or so mass-market online urn brokers and weren’t that impressed with the level of quality.  They, the online sites, have a lot of options to look at and an affordable price point.  However, the styles they offer are limited and they look a bit cheap, in my opinion. 
Cremation Artwork - William Morris Cinerary Urn

William Morris Cinerary Urn

As with all artwork the price ranges on these pieces are all over the place.  Infused glass beads are fairly reasonable price wise.  My turned wooden urns start around $200, and costs go way up from there.  I have seen some cremation glass sculpture for several thousands of dollars. 
I wrote an article regarding urn size selection – where I suggest families consider what their plans are for the cremains before figuring out vessel size.  Cremation art in many cases only requires a small portion of the actual cremains.  Thus, from a planning point of view, it greatly expands the possibilities of what to do with the ashes from your pet or keepsake for your loved one.
So lets look at the cremation art by category…

Cremation Glass Art

Glass work may be the most common in the cremation art space, as there are several artisans making cremation glass.  A small portion of ashes are infused with the molten glass to make beads, memorial pieces, and even larger sculpture.  There is a lot of infused glass beads and pendants made for all types of jewelry.  Everything from rings and bracelets to necklaces and brooches.
Blown glass cremation urns are also another type of cremation glass work.  Many online urn sites sell these pieces.  However, I would recommend searching for the individual artisans that make the pieces themselves as their styles tend to look less mass produced.  Many of the urns sold on the online urn companies are made overseas in India, Vietnam, and China.  The glass urns they offer are somewhat prettier than a traditional brass urn.  Still, I find most lack an element of refinement that you would expect from an artisan with many years of experience.

Cremation Jewelry

Cremation jewelry has very old roots, as humans have been making memorials to their loved ones out of jewelry for thousands of years.  However, the practice really took off in the Victorian era as black jewelry made of Jet came into fashion.  Read here for more on cremation jewelry.  By and large many of the modern jewelry pieces have some container incorporated into their designs intended to hold a small pinch of cremains.
Glass Cremation Jewelry - Ryan HigginsCremation jewelry is very diverse not only in the styles and materials but the quality and designs of the items produced.  This medium is very popular and the main vendors of these items literally have thousands of selections available to choose.  Most of those pieces are sold in the price ranges of $25-$200 generally. 
I find the individual jewelry companies/artisans and the producers of cremation diamonds to be the more interesting players in this space.  Cremation diamonds are made from the ashes of your loved one or pet and they are grown into diamonds or gemstones.  These diamonds and gemstones come in a wide range of colors.
Cremation Jewelry - Lee Alexander & co.As with most things, the individual artisans are producing designs and styles that have a higher quality standard.  The cost of these pieces reflect that quality.  Much of the online cremation jewelry has a look of being mass produced.

Artistic Urns

The main attraction that I see in artistic urns is the quality standard.  The standard for a cremation urn is typical bronze, metal, or porcelain urn with a characteristic urn style.  Proportionally that style isn’t that appealing, and often when different higher quality materials are used it still conjures that same urn feeling. 
Here are some artistic urns in different mediums…

Scott Hartley – Infinity Art Glass Urn













Jason Van Duyn – Chinese Chestnut Turned Wooden Urn














Steven Forbes-DeSoule – Raku Urn













Cremation Urn Art - John Greco Copper Urn

John Greco – Handmade Copper Urn














Julie Moore – Textile Cremation Urn














At the moment, outside of glass blowers, individual artisans are a bit tricky to find.  Even with the glass blowers, the mass market sites overwhelm any online search results.  It takes a bit of digging but the artisans making cremation urns often are found more easily on an image search.  Otherwise, most of the time, the artist pages are buried a few pages in on a google search.  In a lot of cases those artists’ websites start to show up around page four and beyond.

Cremation Tattoos

memorial tattooI recently came across cremation tattoos and I believe that this style is still in its infancy.  Today, tattoos have become more widely accepted and there is a long precedent of tattooing as memorials to loved ones or pets.  So its not a big stretch to take the idea of a memorial tattoo to the next level.  As a casual observer, the level and depth of tattoo artistry has attained impressive levels over the last decade or two.    
As in cremation glass and cremation jewelry, cremation tattoos only require a small portion of the cremains.  Those ashes are mixed with the ink used in the tattooing.  It’s a good idea to work with an artist that has some experience however as its not quite as straight forward as regular tattooing.  The cremains are coarser than what is required for a consistently smooth ink/ash infusion.  Thus those remains need additional processing.  There are a few companies that have popped up to perform the service of infusing the ink, so its not on the hands of the tattoo artist.  Additionally they take extra steps to insure the safety of the ink.
cremation tattoo - treo ashesIn regards to safety, some suggest the risk of infection is not increased.  They suggest the cremains are sterile due to the high temperatures of the cremation process.  Others claim the cremation process leaves trace heavy metal particles behind.  Thus, the tattoo artist should not risk the medical liability.  Though those are the producers of memorial ink so it may be in their best interests to make that claim.  Several artisans however who do the mixing themselves and say that the process is safe.
The exact risks however have not been studied in detail very much.  As such, some state agencies have warned against them due to unknown risks.  Though, none as of yet have created any regulations prohibiting the practice.  Cremation tattooing has come a long way in the last decade and I suspect that it will grow in the coming years as cremation rates are expected to increase.

Is cremation art worth it?

Perhaps… despite great financial cost and effort, there are many that think so.  Now having worked with many families to select an urn I think, for many, its part of how they choose to remember their loved ones.  I suspect another part of it is helping in the grieving process.  Ultimately, though, I think its an expression of the love they have for their family, friends, and pets.