[Clayart] Glue on urns - sorry not good craftsmanship

David Hendley david at farmpots.com
Wed Jan 11 12:01:52 EST 2017

As Paul mentioned, of course using glue on cremains urns is
a poor, uncraftsman-like solution for keeping ashes from
spilling out. As designers and craftspeople, we are expected
to, and should, devise elegant solutions for practical concerns,
not just glue, or tell customers to glue, things together.

A design I have used is the metal plate screwed onto the bottom
of a sealed pot. Some commercial urns use this idea. A piece
of metal about the size and shape of the cover for an electrical
wiring box is inset into the bottom of the pot. Threaded inserts
are glued into holes in the clay, at the corners, and then screws
will hold the metal plate in place. It will take a minute or two, but
the vessel can be opened and re-sealed any time the owner

Another good design is the twist-on, twist-off lid. This is not a
true threaded lid, as only a small twist is needed to unlock and
remove he lid. Kind of like when Hillary Clinton opened a pickle
jar on The Late Show. No special tools are needed to make
this lid - it's just a matter of accommodating the added lugs and
accurately fitting everything together.
I developed this technique 40 years ago when I was doing
work for my college thesis. The thesis looks pretty dated now,
but it is available, and includes detailed instructions, in PDF
format. Ask if you would like a copy. You must promise not
to critique the 40-year-old pots shown as examples!

Now that I have a set of true potters taps and dies, I use them
for any cremation urns I make. With these tools, I can create
jars with true screw-on, screw-off lids, that will absolutely keep
the contents contained, yet are easily opened. Unfortunately,
you cannot buy potters taps and dies. You can see photos
of them, and pots made with them, on my website
In the thesis, I document a way to make your own tap and die
tools, and these tools are also pictured on the webpage - not
as good as real taps and dies, but still workable to make
small screw-in stoppers.

(While you are scrolling down the webpage to get to the tap
and die section, you can also read a more detailed essay
of my philosophy of marking and identifying pots, as was
recently discussed on Clayart, including why I do not like
stamping an internet address on pots).

None of the three urn sealing technique I described will
produce an air-tight, water-tight seal. If that's what you
want it is doable, but a little difficult to pull off. This requires
the addition of a rubber gasket, which must be thought
out and designed into the final design. Back when I was
working on the thesis, I usually used wire bail devices with
cork or rubber seals when I wanted air-tight seals. This
design is great for canisters, but just doesn't seem
appropriate for ceremonial vessels.

There are bound to be other good solutions for securing
the lids on urns. As potters, good craftsmanship and design
is the most important thing we offer!
David Hendley
david at farmpots.com

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