How to Design Your Own Custom Urn: Step-By-Step


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An urn is a highly personal thing. As something that’s intended to store a loved one’s ashes for years to come, you want something that is both meaningful and functional. You’ll quickly realize that urns for ashes come in all shapes and sizes. However, what happens if you want to make your own?

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Since this is something that’s intended to last forever, you want to make sure it’s the right fit for you. It’s possible to design your own custom urn even if you don’t know much about this process. There are both DIY options for those who feel confident handling this on their own, and you can also work with a professional to design a custom urn for yourself or a loved one.

An urn is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. As such, you’ll want it to be something you’re completely comfortable with designing. From choosing something unique to crafting a reflection of someone’s legacy, here’s how to design your own custom urn from start to finish. 

Why Design a Custom Urn?

Why would you need to design a custom urn in the first place? While it’s true there are more options than ever before, death isn’t one-size-fits-all. Taking the time to create something special and entirely unique ensures that you’ll have something powerful to hold onto for the rest of your life. 

While everyone has their own personal option about this process, most families design a custom urn for the following reasons:

  • Cost: So how much does an urn cost in reality? Urns can be anywhere from $25 - $300 depending on the material, and that means it’s much more affordable to create something custom compared to other ways to lay the body to rest. 
  • Personalized: Sometimes the standard sizes, shapes, and colors aren’t a good fit for someone’s legacy. They might have had a final wish to create something unique, or you might just wish to honor their memory in a special way.
  • Decoration: Lastly, many urns are used as decoration. They don’t have to be all about function, so many choose to customize a cremation urn to match their home design. 

If you’re thinking of creating your own urn, you’re in luck. It’s never been easier. There are so many options to do it yourself, whether you’re a crafty person or you’re willing to entrust someone else with this task. 

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Steps for Designing Your Own Cremation Urn

With so many different types of urns and styles to choose from, how do you start making your own? As we mentioned above, it’s easier than ever before to get started.

However, follow these steps below to make sure you know what to expect along the way. 

Step 1: Research different urn types

To begin, research a bit about urns. Since most of us don’t shop for urns frequently if at all, you might not recognize which options are available. Learn more about different urn sizes, from small urns to larger urns, and what type makes the most sense for your needs. 

From there, learn more about different styles. If you’re designing an urn for multiple people (like two partners), you might wish to customize companion urns, for example. Otherwise, get to know some of the leading styles right now and determine what you like best. 

Keep in mind the following factors:

  • Size
  • Material
  • Shape
  • Personalization
  • Engravings
  • Design
  • Color

It can be helpful to save images of urns you like. You might want to see some in-person, but looking online is an acceptable option as well. From there, you’ll have a better idea of what direction you want to go with your custom urn. 

Step 2: Decide if you’re going to DIY

Believe it or not, it is possible to DIY your own urn. You don’t need any expensive materials or complicated crafting materials. Many families choose to DIY their own urn as a way to create something truly special and unique. 

Taking the time to build this yourself is a highly personal process, and it can help you work through feelings of grief. Some ideas for things that can be turned into urns are:

  • Wooden box
  • Glass jar
  • Wine bottle
  • Upcycled keepsake
  • Toolbox
  • Vase

You can easily find endless tutorials and ideas on the internet if you’d like to go the DIY route. As long as the ashes are stored somewhere safe, secure, and stylish, it’s an urn. Otherwise, continue to the next step to discover the best places to help you create an urn. 

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Step 3: Choose a service

If you’re not a crafty person or you’d like something a bit more professional, you can also purchase a custom urn through an existing service. Many of the leading urn manufacturers and crafters offer customization at different levels.

Here are a few options to choose from:

  • Foreverence: Foreverence specializes in custom urns. Each design is created individually to create a unique tribute that can sum up someone’s legacy and passion. 
  • Memorial Urns: At Memorial Urns, you can easily add a custom engraving to almost all of their urns. They also have an option for adding photos or additional designs to some of their wooden urns. 
  • Perfect Memorials: Perfect Memorials has a selection of urns that are easy to personalize, ranging from classic metal urns to something a bit more out-of-the-box. Add custom text, photos, designs, and more.
  • Etsy: Lastly, the handmade marketplace Etsy is home to a number of crafters and creators who hand make custom urns of all shapes and sizes. 

Step 4: Design and approve your urn

Last but not least, it’s time to design your custom urn. Once you’ve chosen the right service for your needs, communicate your wishes to the designer or provider. While your customization options will depend on your specific type of urn, consider adding details such as:

  • Custom text or engraving
  • Photos
  • Symbols
  • Prayers or messages
  • Dates
  • Artwork

When sharing any custom engravings, ensure everything is spelled correctly and grammatically. This isn’t somewhere you want to make a mistake. The designer should send a final mockup or template for you to approve, and then it’s ready to be made. Once you receive your urn, be sure to follow any of the manufacturer’s instructions to keep it in good condition. 

Custom Urns: Frequently Asked Questions

Because it’s important to understand what this process is like, read through these frequently asked questions before deciding if a custom urn is right for you. There are situations when it might not fit your budget, timeline, or needs. 

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How much does a custom urn cost?

A custom urn will most definitely run you more than a typical urn. Because it takes time for the additional elements to be added, and you’ll also need to add in extra labor costs, this isn’t always an affordable choice. 

That being said, a custom urn won’t cost you significantly more than you might already be prepared to pay. You can find customizable urns starting at $50 and going up from there. The sky is really the limit, but there are a lot of affordable options for custom urns as well. 

Can you add a photo to a custom urn?

It is sometimes possible to add a photo to a custom urn, and this is something many families choose to do. The most important factor is the material of the urn itself. Not all materials are a good fit for photos, and this has to be done through a specific process with the manufacturer to keep the image high quality. 

If you’re interested in adding a custom photo to your urn, talk to your urn provider. They can guide you to the best materials to protect the image quality. 

Can you design your own urn for a pet?

Pets are members of the family too, and an urn is a powerful way to keep their ashes close as well. If you’re looking for an urn for your pet, you can also customize it. While most people think about customizing urns only for human family members, there are really no limits.

Because pet urns are usually smaller than traditional urns, these are a more affordable option. You can customize your pet’s urn with their name, important dates, images, or even design elements. 

Is a Custom Urn Right for You?

We’re living in a golden age of urns. Just about any design imaginable is already available. If not, you’re free to create your own design so you have exactly the right urn for yourself or your loved one. Urns are more than just a place to store ashes. They’re functional works of art, and they become family heirlooms in their own right. 

If you’re in the market for a custom urn, it’s easier than you think to get started. Follow these steps above to find just what you’re looking for, whether you want a custom engraving or something completely original. Everyone deserves a lasting, impactful legacy.

If you're looking for more urn resources, read our guides on Celtic urns and infant urns.

Another beautiful option for keeping a loved one's memory alive is a memorial diamond created from ashes. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.


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