(See Video Below On How It Is Made.)
Our Victory hand-made ceramic urns are a particular point of pride with us. As far as we know, no funeral supply firm other than Mark Thomas operates its own in-house studio to produce ceramic urns.
Hannah, our staff ceramics artist, has been making urns at Mark Thomas Co. for the past six years. Each piece is an individual work of art, and each one starts as a carefully measured lump of clay. She goes through 5,000 lbs. of clay every year.
Using a motorized wheel, she coaxes the clay into shape, adding water as necessary to get the clay to the right consistency. Once she gets it tall enough, she begins opening it up to make it hollow.
The process is deceptively quick. It only takes a few minutes for the clay to start looking like an urn. Throwing an urn is all done by hand, without a mold. As Hannah puts it, “my hands know how to do it.” After the urn is thrown, a matching lid is made on the wheel.
After the fresh urn dries for a day or two (“leather hard”), she returns it to the wheel to be trimmed. A sharp tool cleans up any irregularities left from throwing. When the urn is completely dry (“bone dry”), it goes into the kiln for its first firing (the bisque firing, 1830°F).
Once the urn has cooled, Hannah puts the design on the urn using glazes and special pencils. She keeps one of each of her urns to use as a model, but her artwork is all done freehand. She currently has 15 designs in inventory, and is always working on new concepts and fresh artwork.
One last firing to 2160°F, brings out the true colors of the glazed image, and urn is ready to be shipped. We use foam-filled bags that are custom made for each urn to insure that it is perfect when you receive it.