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Cremation Urns in Disguise

By J. Malec

 OneWorld Memorials' interlocking hearts wooden keepsake box

As the choice to cremate grows in popularity, the number of cremation urn options also increases. One notable trend is that of the urn that doesn’t appear to be an urn. Unique cremation products often reflect the life of a departed loved one.

Artisanal Urns: A Unique Cremation Urn & Memorial

A recent Seattle Times article focuses on artists working in funerary design. A referenced interview with basketmaker Julie Moore of Apex, North Carolina, highlights the thought and creativity that she applies to these objects. One example mentioned in her interview is that of “families [who] will send items that belonged to the deceased, such as their clothing. She uses these materials when creating and personalizing the urns. Recently, Moore said, she made an urn out of T-shirts from a teenage boy who’d committed suicide. ‘It made a very pretty urn . . . And it was the colors of HIS life.’”

Moore sums up the desire for a cremation urn that doesn’t look like an urn by observing that: “People [who] are vivacious and celebrate life . . . want it to be a piece of art that they look at and they don’t think, ‘Oh. That’s Dad’s ashes.’”

While this may mean a one-of-a-kind artisanal urn for some, for others it may be a facsimile of a stone with a compartment for ashes, to be placed in a memorial garden. Another option is the choice of a small keepsake, such as the interlocking heart wooden keepsake box (pictured above). 

Though many urns in the marketplace are manufactured by hand, the majority of those designs and styles spell out "cremation urn". Occasionally you can find urns in the general market that are beautiful but hide their purpose. The Jadestone Urns sold by OneWorld Memorials have been popular not only for their beautiful carved stone facade, but for the fact they don't look like urns when in the home. As one customer commented, "When friends come to our house they have no idea that our son's ashes are in the Jadestone Rose urn sitting in the living room, they just think it's a beautiful decoration. We like that because it doesn't make them uncomfortable. The meaning is just for me and my wife."

Cremation Urn Jewelry: Concealed and Carried

Cremation jewelry is also a great way to conceal a small portion of cremains. There are many reasons for wanting to keep a loved one close to your heart without making your choice obvious, if that’s your wish. Beautiful and subtle designs, such as the Celtic cross pendant (shown below), offer options to fit your style and occasion. Cremation jewelry includes attractive designs for both men and women.

Can I Use a Found Object as a Cremation Urn?

There are even stories of vessels as common as the Pringles can being used as a cremation urn. Our earlier blog tells the story of Fredric Baur of Cincinnati, the inventor of the popular baked potato snack red container who was buried in a Pringles can following his wishes. With a little imagination and perhaps some creative modification, virtually any container of the right size could be used as a cremation urn.

Grandma’s prized teapot, your uncle’s handmade pottery vase, or maybe even one of your grandfather’s WW2 era oil cans might do the trick. And importantly, such an object speaks to the person’s character more than any commercially produced urn could. You be the judge. The very thing may be hidden in plain sight and within arm’s reach.

J. Malec is a visual artist and writer whose work often deals with themes related to loss and healing. She lives in Minneapolis, and spends much of her time practicing permaculture in the city.

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