Deciding on a loved one's final resting place for your loved one's cremains might involve some major emotions.
Whether you want your loved one's remains placed in a columbarium niche, a cemetery plot, or you plan to scatter them, you need to put them in something first.
Jump ahead to these sections:
You may want to make an urn for ashes extra special by making a homemade urn. Read through some ideas on different types of homemade cremation urns.
Homemade Cremation Urn Ideas for a Loved One’s Ashes
Think about your creative skills and talents. If you enjoy woodworking, you might put those skills to use by making a wooden urn to hold your loved one’s cremains. If you enjoy doing stained glass, you might think of how to incorporate that into an urn.
Before you begin the project, take careful consideration of the size of the urn. Plan for one cubic inch of space for every pound of the person cremated. If your loved one weighed 200 pounds, you will need an urn that holds 200 cubic inches.
Here are some ideas, along with links on how to complete the projects.
1. Handmade wooden urn box
You can watch many videos that show you the process of making a homemade wooden urn. This video is highly rated and shows families how to make a beautiful wooden urn using three tools and a 1-inch by 8-inch board.
Plenty of companies also sell custom-made wooden urns. Depending on the quality of the item (and whether it is mass-produced), the price may range from $120 to several hundred dollars. You may have a lot to think about when making the arrangements for someone’s funeral, especially if that person left behind no end-of-life plans. You may know that your loved one wanted to be cremated, but you may need to make other decisions as a result of this choice.
If you decide to make a wooden urn box, visit your local trophy store to purchase a custom-made metal plate with your loved one’s name, birth date, and death date. You can attach this plate to the wooden urn with small screws or strong adhesive.
If you would rather use all-natural materials for the label, learn how to do simple wood engravings and place words or a design directly on the side of the urn.
2. Ceramic urn with lid
Are you a skilled potter and have access to the necessary equipment? You may consider making a ceramic urn with a lid. This video will help you with the process.
Consider how you will seal the lid to the container. Commercially made ceramic urns usually either have screwed lids or seal with some wax or adhesive.
3. Ice urn
If you plan to scatter your loved one’s remains in water, you may want to consider creating an ice urn. It requires no money or skill.
Mix the cremains in water along with pretty leaves, flowers, or other biodegradable materials. Freeze the mixture and transport it in a cooler to a body of water. Once there, you can place the ice urn in the water. The urn will melt as it floats away from the shore.
You can do this on windy days when scattering is not an option. For more tips on how to create an ice urn, visit this website.
4. Embellished urn
Creating a new container from scratch might prove difficult for most people, but you might consider embellishing an existing urn so that your loved one gets a one-of-a-kind urn.
Did your loved one enjoy the ocean? Adhere small seashells to the outside of an urn. Check out a seashell-themed urn on HGTV’s website.
Was your loved one known for having a blingy style? Bedazzle the urn with crystals or small gems.
You may also wish to create a mosaic-style urn with pieces of decorative glass.
5. Papier-mâché cremation urn
Perhaps your loved one did not wish to leave behind a casket, headstone, or any other death-related item that would not biodegrade. In this case, you may use some of your creativity to make a piece of papier-mâché to hold the cremains temporarily.
This type of urn can vary in shape and size. In fact, you're only limited to your own imagination and skill. The inexpensive, earth-friendly options can really make an amazing project.
If you use non-toxic materials, you could use a papier-mâché urn in a sea burial. Watch as the urn floats away with your loved one’s cremains inside.
6. Blown glass urn
While most urns hold cremated remains, a blown glass urn uses the remains in the creation of a decorative item. Whether or not this is truly an urn depends on your interpretation.
If you enjoy blowing glass, you might consider creating a special piece in memory of your loved one (and with the remains of your loved one).
7. Stuffed animal
Several companies specialize in creating urns that look like stuffed animals. These usually hold a child’s remains, but they could also hold a portion of an adult’s remains.
Loosen the stitching on the back to insert a small container with the remains. Sew up the seam and think about how you want to label the bear so others know it is a special item.
8. A beloved item
If you plan to keep the cremation urn in your home, you don’t have to follow anyone’s rules on what type of container you use to store the ashes. The container can be as simple as a decorated shoebox or as meaningful as a Harley Davidson motorcycle gas tank.
You could hollow out the inside of a large book (or several books) to hold the cremains of a reader or place the remains inside of a tackle box or toolbox.
If your loved one had a green thumb, you might create a specialized piece of pottery that holds cremains as well as a plant.
Although you may need to consider the size of the container, wine bottles might also be an appropriate vessel for storing your loved one’s remains.
Use your loved one’s hobbies or interests and brainstorm a custom-made urn based on your ideas.
Homemade Cremation Urn Ideas for a Pet’s Ashes
Of course, all the previous ideas could be used for a pet as well (and vice versa).
These urn ideas can scale down to hold the remains of pets or the divided remains of humans.
9. Sea glass bottle urn
Are you looking for a beautiful container to hold the remains of your beloved pet? You can create this project on a budget and with little artistic skill.
Find a sealable glass container (perhaps one with a cork), sea glass spray paint (comes in a variety of colors!), and some way to label the urn. Find the instructions and photos of this project on this website.
10. Log storage box
Create a beautiful, earth-friendly urn for your pet (or your human loved one) by hollowing out the inside of a log or branch. You may consider placing the finished project outside in a garden or a special place in your family’s home.
For instructions on how to complete this project, view this YouTube video.
11. Cremation jewelry
If you enjoy making and wearing jewelry, you might consider creating something that could hold a tiny amount of your animal’s (or your loved one’s) remains. Of course, you will need to make plans for what to do with the rest of the ashes.
DIY Urns Honor Your Loved One
While you can purchase an urn for less than $100, creating a loved one’s cremation urn offers a lovely way to honor the person you lost. Designing your own urn for your loved one also allows you to create something that reflects your loved one’s personality, likes, and beliefs.
- “How to Make a DIY Cremation Urn.” Shara Woodshop Diaries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NE8c4NwMDE.
- “How to Make A Sea Glass Bottle Urn For Your Beloved Pet.” Sanctuary. https://mysanctuarystyle.com/2020/01/sea-glass-pet-urn/
- “Log Storage Box.” Instructables. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeEAM5-XZT4
- “Make a Beachy-Chic Shell-Covered Urn.” HGTV. https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/make-a-beachy-chic-shell-covered-urn
- “Our Monthly Tip: Make a Biodegradable Ice Urn.” Seven Ponds Blog. https://blog.sevenponds.com/practical-tips/our-monthly-tip-make-a-biodegradable-ice-urn
- “Studio Pottery With Kris Neal #4 - Make a Jar w/Lid.” Kris Neal. https://vimeo.com/18242438