How Cremation Urns Are Made

Considering the ever-growing popularity of cremation, the development and purchasing of urns is also steadily on the rise. Environmentally-conscious friends and family members are opting for wooden cremation urns for their loved ones, whereas those who wish to keep the ashes of their loved ones nearby or have plans to scatter ashes often opt for hand-crafted or custom-designed urns made from ceramic.

Here’s an inside look into how the two most popular types of cremation urns are made.

Wooden cremation urns
Wooden urns are usually made from either cherry, maple, or black walnut wood. An artist or craftsman will usually cut large blocks of wood into smaller sizes so they can be individually stored and dried. Then, a block of wood is chosen for a specific urn size and is mounted on a rotating lathe for the shaping and rough design process.

After the wood has been roughly shaped, the urn is hollowed on the lathe using a series of tools to accommodate a predetermined amount of ashes. Various types of grit sandpaper are then used to smoothly sand the urn so it lacks a rough, coarse texture.

Next, the urn is treated with a high-quality gloss urethane solution so the natural properties of the wood can be protected. In some cases, the urn is treated with a urethane solution two or three times before an urn reaches its final stages of sanding, polishing, and waxing. Considering most wooden cremation urns are hand-crafted, each urn differs slightly from the next in shape, size, and wood grain. Some wooden urns may contain natural markings that were present in the wood at the time it was alive and part of a tree, which often lends to its individuality. In fact, many individuals prefer wooden urns because they often represent the uniqueness of their loved ones.

Ceramic cremation urns
Ceramic urns are handmade using a potter’s wheel. First, clay is weighed for an urn based on size and wedged, which is a process similar to that used by bakers who knead dough. The clay is then centered directly on the spinning potter’s wheel for moulding and shaping. As the clay spins on the potter’s wheel, the artist places one hand inside the clay to hollow out the urn, while the other hand slides and pulls up the clay wall to create the desired shape.

After the clay has dried enough to form a leathery consistency, the urn is placed upside down so the artist can smooth and trim away any rough edges. Then, the urn is placed aside to dry for at least one week. When the clay has dried fully, the urn is placed into a kiln for the firing process for up to nine hours. The urn is removed following the initial firing process, and set aside for a period of 24 hours for cooling.

When 24 hours have passed, the cremation urn is glazed using one or more colors, and placed back in the kiln to allow the glaze to set for nearly 15 hours. The artist removes the urn from the kiln for the last time, and allows it to cool for about 30 hours. Considering glaze can be applied and painted on an urn in a number of different colors and styles, most individuals choose to have ceramic cremation urns custom-made for their loved ones.

Heartland Cremation has four generations of experience in cremation and funeral care, and serves the greater Kansas City region, including Columbia, Boonville, Macon, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Please contact us today to learn more about the cremation services we can provide for your loved one.

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