Biodegradable Clay Urns

New biodegradable clay urns are being made in the pottery studio this past month.

I am very excited about this new series of biodegradable clay urns! I only make these urns about once a year, as it requires a good deal of space and time. I use paints, paper, recycled paper pulp and reclaimed porcelain clay. The studio gets taken over by this process!

I began making biodegradable clay urns in 2009, mainly for environmental reasons. I wanted to make something that did not require the use of fossil fuels. Firing kilns takes lots of electricity, or other fossil fuels such as gas, or wood. I do the best I can in the studio to recycle, and re-use clay, water, and packing materials. I purposely fire a to mid range temperature, and do a very low bisque firing to save electricity. The past couple of years the environmentally forward thinking town of Greenfield, MA where I live built a very large solar farm, which we get most of our electricity from… I am very happy about that!

As I experimented over the the years with nature inspired biodegradable urns, I found myself leaning more and more towards color and pattern in these urns. You can see some of the older urns on my old WordPress blog here.

Many of my older biodegradable urns were a nod to quilt making. Before I had children I fell in love with quilt making. Between the kids and working full time as a potter there was no time for sewing. I tried getting back to it as the kids went off to college, but after working a full day making pots, or glazing pots, my fingers were way too tired to hold a needle. So these quilt like urns are my answer for my need to quilt. I find my inspiration mainly in older quilts and Islamic patterns. These can be found on my Pinterest board here.

The new series of quilt inspired urns are different from the older ones. For the first time in the eight years of making biodegradable urns, I am throwing the urns on the potters wheel. I always just assumed you could not throw clay mixed with lots of paper. I was wrong, you can… it’s not easy though!

Here are a few photos of new the series of biodegradable clay and paper urns that I am working on. They are all in process. They look a little grey in color when they are still wet. After they dry completely the porcelain will turn white, at that point I will rub in beeswax to seal the surface, and give it a slight sheen.

I will be putting these up on my urn shop page in the next week or so. I have some a couple of the older ones listed in my shop here.

biodegradable clay urns LucyFagella.com

biodegradable clay urns Lucy Fagellabiodegradable clay urn Lucy Fagellabiodegradable clay urn LucyFagella.com

New Urns for 2017

I am working on some new urns for the new year.

These new urns have such detail to them. Lots to think about for me with the different faceted planes and the carved feet. I am quite happy with the result so far.  The form itself is not totally new, I have been doing variations of it since I started making cremation urns 12 years ago. What is new are the faceted and carved vertical lines. I have been working out the kinks on these in my spare time for about four months now. I finally have them to the point where I can test the glaze on them. One will be a translucent dark blue that breaks white on the vertical lines. The other will be a semi matte clear. I will find out only after the glaze firing if this form will truly work out the way I imagine.

You can see some similar footed urn forms like these on my website here.

You can also visit my shop here to purchase the current footed urns that I have in stock.

 

new urns LucyFagella.com

foot detail of urn LucyFagella.com

Artist Made Cremation Urns

Artist made cremation urns.

I have been making urns since 2004 and in 2005 it became part of my pottery business. It was tough selling artist made cremation urns back then. I would call up funeral homes for an appointment, and bring them a sample urn and brochure. Door to door saleswoman with brochures in hand! I remember that three fold brochure which I spent a bunch of money on. It was very expensive to hire a photographer, designer and printer. Two years later I no longer liked those urns, and stopped using the brochure. The time had come to focus on the website. Oh how times changed… now if I no longer like something I made, I just take it off the website!

My website, Etsy, and online urn companies are where you can find my urns. People need beauty during the very difficult time of a loved one’s death… this is why I choose to use my talents in this way as an artist. I know that what I do helps. I know this because after 12 years of doing this I have received numerous emails, letters, hugs, and reviews, (see etsy shop here for reviews). All of this feedback keeps me going strong. I know that I am doing the right thing with my talents.

When I was a kid my mother alway quoted a scripture verse from Matthew 5:13… a paraphrase here… “You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, no one lights a lamp to hide it under a basket, it is put out for all the world to see”.  Another word kid, she would say… “use your talents for the good of others”! I like to say this to my kids now, but I say it in another way too… “do what you love, then share it”.  Or this way… from Picasso… “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

After 12 years of making cremation urns I can honestly say that this is the majority of my yearly income. When I look at this in terms of using my gift, it makes me smile. I know mom’s spirit is smiling too!  I also think, well it’s time to even do more. So for 2017 my focus will be on my urn business. I will of course still make functional pottery for the kitchen and home, (useful handmade pottery brings joy to our everyday lives). There will just be more of a focus on urns. In the past I have been afraid to post on social media too much about urns, fear that it would turn people off to my work, and that it is too sad to think about. I’m realizing though that these forms I make are beautiful, and they are needed.

Right now in the studio I am working on some new urn forms, that I will be sharing in the next month or so. The urns that are pictured below are part of my standard ware, (meaning that you can count on these being in stock. I also partner with cremation urn companies who sell these online). These come in four sizes- Individual, (220 cubic inches). Medium, (120 cubic inches). Small, (40 cubic inches). Keepsake, (12 cubic inches). They can be found here on my website.

All of my artist made cremation urns are made with great detail, and many hours are put into each one that I make. The new urns I am making will come in similar sizes, but they will be one of a kind, sold only here on my website.

artist made cremation urns LucyFagella.com

artist made urns in process lucyfagella.com

Patterns through the Years

I went to college for ceramic art 30 years ago… ugh, I’m getting so old.  The first 15 years after college were spent teaching pottery, farming, and having kids.  The last 15 years I have been a full time, making-a-living-from-it potter.  When I look back at the pots I have made, there is a thread that keeps surfacing… and that is pattern.  I really love the repetition and movement that happens with overlapping patterns.  I also love the soothing repetitive lines of a ripples in the water, or windblown sand. Patterns are literally everywhere in nature.  It is no wonder that artists have consciously or unconsciously include it in their art.  My favorite patterns are from Islamic architecture and American quilts.  Check out my Pinterest board on quilts and patterns!

Included below are pots of mine from the past 10 years.

Goblets with stamped pattern, 2004
Goblets with stamped pattern, 2004
Biodegradable Urn BlueTie Quilt, 2007
Biodegradable Urn BlueTie Quilt, 2007
Tiles with pattern, 2009
Tiles with pattern, 2009
White Stamped Urn, 2010
White Stamped Urn, 2010
Biodegradable Urn, June Star, and Sun Squared, 2012
Biodegradable Urn, June Star, and Sun Squared, 2012
Star leaf cup and saucer, 2015
Star leaf cup and saucer, 2015
From my morning walk today. Snow spattering.
From my morning walk today. Snow spattering.