Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Handcrafted Silver Urns

The National Funeral Directors' Convention continues to amaze. This is my third year and in some ways I am getting used to it. I hardly notice the playing of "Taps" throughout the day, the mongo Escalade hearses, the airbrush make-up displays, and the tragically small caskets. I should get counseling for getting accustomed to all that.

Instead, I spend my energy seeking out the items and services that I think are most likely to be attractive to Unitarian Universalists at large, my congregation specifically, and the random funeral service groupie who might find their way to the blog.

This year, let's start with urns. Every year I pick a favorite urn style since my(our) religion cremates in way higher numbers than the general population. Usually I pick something eco-conscious or of unique construction. This year, I went for a more simple concept: stunning, jaw-dropping beauty.

These photos do not begin to capture the beauty and craftsmanship of these urns from the fine artisans of Lasper Imperial Urns. I had the pleasure of meeting with the designer, JP Lascurain, who explained the design, creation, variation, and properties of these urns. Sadly for you, he did so in a lilting, hypnotic Hispanic accent which made it hard to focus on utilitarian ash receptacles. Their booth felt more like being in a very upscale jewelry store without the attitude.

What I caught when I wasn't dreaming of the magic of Mexico was that JP comes from a long line of silversmiths. These urns are the visible and tactile expression of his family legacy. They come in sterling silver and the more cost-conscious brass nickel plate. Both are very attractive but, naturally, the sterling looks like it should be in a museum while the brass nickel just looks like it would be the best looking thing in my home by far. Then again, a sterling urn costs what you would imagine (over three thousand dollars) while the nickel is quite affordable.

The urn shapes that were most eye-catching to me were the Chalice (or was it just the name that attracted me) and the Classique. They are available with different little notches on top that ranged from simple to ornate, and will also be available soon in keepsake size.

What is keepsake size? You sure you want to know? OK - should this get uncomfortable, imagine a beautiful Hispanic accent. The keepsake size is for children, pets, or when the remains are split among various family members. (Don't look at me like that. You asked.) With the general feeling of hanging around Sr. Lascurain, I think you could also use the keepsake size for jewelry if its real purpose is bugging you.

These are not your usual urn, nor are they like the urns I am generally attracted to, but they are so beautifully designed, so stunningly hand produced, so striking in their appearance (shiny almost to the point of being mirrors, and the effect of seeing your own face in your loved ones urn was intriguing to me)... I could not resist them. Needless to say, these are for people who do not want to bury the ashes, and people who are comfortable with an urn that will invite constant comment in their home.

Here are JP and Sergio in front of their display poster. Please check them out at their website. I told them you would be coming, so they'll be waiting for you. And even though they are not on the website, they have some drop dead beautiful necklaces. Sorry. That wasn't meant to be a sick joke. Very pretty. The necklaces are very pretty.

In an unrelated observation, JP on the left is also in the top spot for being the best-dressed man at the convention. How I got out of that booth without finding myself $3000 poorer is a mystery.

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