Designing a Cremation Urn

12 Jun Designing a Cremation Urn

I thought I was the only writer who created her own exit vessel by designing a cremation urn with photos of my family until I read about David Giffels in a posting on the blog, Fatherly. After writing books, articles and working on MTV’s Beavis and Butthead, he and his father decided to make their own coffins. Similarly, I’d written articles as well as scripts for series like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude and Northern Exposure prior to creating customized, artistic urns (

In the posting by Lizzy Francis, I learned that the similarities end there. Giffels refurbished a condemned house while I call the super in our New York apartment to do anything more challenging than putting a new bag into the vacuum. But I was interested in the experience father and son had while working on their coffins. It took them four years. I thought my urns were time-consuming, but I can complete one in less than a week.

Lizzie Francis wrote that she’d initially contacted David shortly after his father had died, but he wasn’t uncomfortable talking about it, explaining, “It’s a way to celebrate him.” I, too, use the word “celebrate” when describing what I do. I hope to make this rite of passage feel more natural. Including a photo montage makes my memorial keepsake urns about life. They tell a story and are uniquely personal.

Like my husband and me, David and his wife joked about death with him saying he was fine to be buried in a cardboard box. My husband said, “Just leave me at Zabar’s,” his favorite place to buy nova and salami.