I am writing this post in an attempt to show you what all goes into the process of creating your custom pet urn. There are many steps in the process, so I may be accidentally leaving a few out. Forgive me.
The first step is starting a conversation. If you know what urn design and size you want to purchase, this step just requires letting me know what text you would like. If you want me to create a custom urn for you, then I will ask you some questions, or you can send me an email with some ideas, and we can take it from there. It is up to you if you would like me to send you a sketch, or let me just create with the elements you ask for. Once this step is done, I can get started creating something special for you.
I use a combined process of sculpting clay, fabrication, and electroforming. The very fist step is to pull all the elements together. I start by sculpting in the feet, tail, ears, wings, and/or any other elements we have decided on. Because of drying times, I usually sculpt each element at a time, and then give it 24 hours to dry, so this takes from a few days to a week. After everything has hardened, I can go back in and carve out more details, or smooth out whatever needs smoothing out.
Once I am happy with how everything looks, I can start prepping your urn for the ‘bath’. I start by sealing everything that I want to protect. For example if you are adding in crystals or stones, I seal them with up to 4 layers to protect them from the copper. If I am adding some organic elements such as branches or flowers, I have to make sure everything is perfectly sealed, as any exposed opening can destroy the piece.
Next comes the conductive paint! This part is fun, as it starts to give me an idea of what the final urn will really look like. I cover everything that I want to be copper in this paint, so when I put it in the bath, the copper “knows” where to go. I usually give it three coats to make sure I get a good connection.
After I fill the urn with water (so it doesn’t float!), plug the opening, repaint where needed, and let it all dry, your pet urn will be ready to go into the bath!
It is an electric process that allows me to ‘grow’ the copper over the urn form. Once it is in the bath, I check on it and make amperage adjustments every 4-6 hours. Sometimes I have to recoat areas if they are not forming, or sand down areas that are over forming. Depending on the size of the urn, it can be in the bath with me checking on it every few hours for 4-7 days(!). This is the most important part of the creation process for reasons that are too numerous and boring to list for you.
Done! From the bath at least. Once the urn is ready to come out, I neutralize it, and let it soak for a day or two in clear water. Then it is ready for the patina.
The patina-ing is a part that always makes me nervous, as if you leave it in too long, it can go black. Wonderful if I am creating an urn for a black pet, but its still a bit nerve wracking. Again, after I get the patina to how I want it, I neutralize and put it in clear water for a day or so.
Finally, I get to go back in and hand polish areas to bring out the copper highlights. I love doing this part, as I love seeing the copper color coming back out. I have an endless amount of sanding items that I use to get the results I want.
What is next? Well, I am almost done! I go back in and do some final lowlights and highlights, take a photo and send it to you for confirmation. Once I receive your confirmation, I give the urn 3 clear coats, and let it fully cure. It is now ready to go home to you!
The final step is packaging it up safely, saying goodby, and taking it to the post office to send it on its way. Its actually always (even after 20 years) emotional for me. One, I am nervous, two, I am excited for you to get it, and 3, I take the time to remember how honored I am to be creating this and the loss that led to it having to be created in the first place.
I hope this gives you at least some idea of what it takes to create your urn. If you purchased a painted or bling urn, there are quite a few more steps, and this is just the starting point. Each urn is hand crafted from start to finish by me. Its a long process, 12-20 hours for each urn, but I love the results.
Be well and wonderful,