Paper Turtle: Handmade Urns for People & Pets

handmade urn

Hello. My name is Laura and I’m an urn maker.

There. The first step in introducing Paper Turtle, my new business specifically for cremation urns. I’ve been meaning to write about Paper Turtle for almost a year, after I opened shop last May. But I simply had no words, probably because every drop of energy was being sucked into coming up with new designs, befriending spreadsheets, and stocking shelves.

I think there’s a common misconception about artists — that we mostly lounge around in our studios wearing comfy flannel jumpsuits* drinking chamomile tea and listening to NPR while awaiting the tender muse bearing the next great idea: beautiful, poignant, and inherently marketable. But no; for those of us who make part or all of our livings from our work, we know that along with being creatives, we’re small business owners. And like any small business owner, we wear many hats from creator to accountant to janitor.
*ok that part’s true

The only difference, at least for me, is that I have to balance running a business with the compulsive need to make things. It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun, especially when studio successes outweigh failures, and I get to see the pictures in my mind come to life in just the way I was hoping. It’s all the more thrilling when other people like what I do and are even willing to pay money for it. !!

Imagining Paper Turtle, I  had an idea of how I wanted it to look and feel but needed professional help to manifest my vision. So I hired the best branding firm ever, Ripe Inc., who did a fantastic job creating the beautiful design & website,

Ripe Inc branding

paper turtle handmade urns

and awesome photographers (thanks JAK Media!),

biodegradable turtle urn

Biodegradable Turtle Urns, Large 17″l x 22″w x 5″h; Small 6″l x 8″w x 3″h

and then got busy making inventory.

large lotus urn

Lotus Urn, 5.5″ x 5.5″, hand-painted porcelain

Aspens cremation urn

Group of Aspens Urns, 12″h-5″h, hand-painted stoneware

green turtle urn

Turtle Urn, 8″ x 6″, stoneware with decal images

poppies urn

Red Poppies Urn, 6″h x 4.5″w, stoneware with original decals

poppy urn

Red Poppies Urn with matching Toasting Tumblers, 7.5″h x 7″w / tumblers 4″h, stoneware with original decals

fish urn

Fancy Fish Urn, 10″h x 6.5″w, porcelain with original decal images

A few months after I opened the online store, I  developed a line of cat & dog urns, which are now some of my best sellers.

custom yellow cat urn with daisies

Custom Cat Urn, 5″h x 4″w, stoneware with decal images

turquoise cat urn

Turquoise Kitty Urn, 5″h x 4.5″w, stoneware

custom dog urn

Custom Dog Urn, 4.5″h x 4″w, stoneware with decal images

custom white cat urn

Custom Cat Urn, 5.5″h x 4″w, hand-painted stoneware (image courtesy @kaitlynvogel)

custom dog urn

Custom Dog Urn, 4″h x 3.5″w, stoneware with decals

small hedge hog urn

Hedgehog urn, 4″l x 3″w x 2.75″h, stoneware

Part of Paper Turtle’s mission is to help bring our experience of death out of the proverbial closet — viewed in this culture as an unpleasant inevitability relegated to dark corners, spoken of in hushed tones and managed by medical and funeral professionals. I believe there is distinct need for cremation urns that, like any handmade object, are special because they bear the maker’s life energy and have been carefully considered: the shape, weight, silhouette, functionality, colors, texture, how it will look in a room, reflect light, or feel in your hand; in short, they have been loved.

I’m happy to be the part of slow but exciting changes happening in the funeral industry and the way our culture perceives and relates to death. I’m also honored to know that my urns have helped enrich my customers’ experiences of grief with beauty, joy, creativity, and even humor; rather than reminders of sadness and loss, they are engaging works of art that help keep family members and pets present in their lives. Art really does have the power to heal.

outer space urn

Galaxy Urn, 6″h x 6″w, hand-painted stoneware

I hope that none of you needs an urn anytime soon; but if or when the time comes, please keep Paper Turtle in mind, as it’s only with your support that I can continue doing what I love for a living. I also invite you to spread the word — connect with Paper Turtle on Facebook and Instagram, and visit to learn more.  Thanks.

7 thoughts on “Paper Turtle: Handmade Urns for People & Pets

  1. You’re back! And the urns are gorgeous. Great, superb, brilliant business idea. I’m guessing you’ve been posting brochures like crazy to all the pet cremation services?

    • Aw, thank you so much John! It’s nice to know that I haven’t lost all my bloggie buddies :). I haven’t had time to get to the cremation services yet because I’ve been so busy with online orders! I’m slowly making my way to local vet offices, tho. I hope you are well ❤

  2. I love all of the beautiful and individualized urns that you are creating, not to mention the toasting urns. What a great idea! I am glad that you wear a flannel jumpsuit instead of a shroud. As a therapist, I wear long floppy skirts and granola necklaces.

    • Ok, so if I ever make a “toasting urn” just send me to live with the other lunatics. But thanks for the comment and appreciation of all this hard work!

    • Thanks Stacie! Yeah, I know, I was thinking about that the other day — I never get to see [read] my blog friends anymore. Either because I’m not around or because [ahem] they’re not writing!! xoxo Hope all is well in CO

  3. I got a papier mache turtle from Laura about seven years ago to take to Hawaii to release into the Pacific. It was a favorite bay off the Big Island of my late husband, and two of my friends were with me on that trip. I still have wonderful memories of releasing the turtle filled with Jim’s ashes along with each one of our leis. As they floated out to sea it reminded me of his peaceful passing when his spirit and breathe floated off into the universe. It was a wonderful experience which I highly recommend.

Talk to me! I spend too much time alone in the studio.

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