The email I received on June 10 started, “I am looking for a covered urn…one that can be secured,” and ended, “I have a terminal illness and was looking for something to hold my remains.” I have never met this person, but she had purchased one of my tray and bowl sets from The Muse in Frederick and loved the pattern and color. Thus began our conversation and collaboration.
We spoke on the phone just once. Over the next several weeks, we carried on our conversation through email. We explored a variety of possible shapes, textures, and colors for the finished piece. I sent Elise sketches and photos of ideas. She sent me commentary and a photo of a vase she had that she liked. Through our back and forth messages, we built a common trust to design a satisfactory final resting place.
This past week I developed the agreed upon shape in the studio. It took two attempts before I was satisfied the urn reflected the image I had drawn and Elise desired. It would take some time to dry before it could be bisque fired, glazed and fired a final time. I offered to deliver it in person and donate half of the proceeds to one of her favorite charities.
At the same time, the owner of The Little Green Store in Huntsville, Alabama asked if I could make a special kitty urn for one of her customers who had seen my clay art there. Again, I drew a rough sketch outlining what I could create in the studio. The customer visited my website numerous times to add creative detail to our collaboration. I like this sort of challenge.
Previously, I have created urns and memorial boxes for family members and friends. I had created some prototypes of standard pet urns I showcased at a few local veterinary practices too; now I think these items need to be personalized and reflect a more unique vision for each customer.
I heard from Elise on Tuesday, June 19 around 1 in the afternoon. She knew I’d made the urn; we were ‘discussing’ how I would deliver it to her home after it was complete in the next few weeks. Around 6:30 that same evening, I picked up an email message. Elise had died. Even though we had never met, this news made me very sad. I’m glad Elise and I had the opportunity to collaborate on her special urn and I’m sorry she did not get to see the final result. The urn has been bisque fired and is going in the glaze kiln later today. It will be ready for the memorial service this coming Saturday.