Custom urns and tributes

Olley Pottery custom urns and tributes
Custom Urn designs showing a WWII Spitfire fighter by Simon Olley
Custom bespoke cremation or tribute urns


My image above shows one of my designs for a ceramic tribute urn, it is one of a series of images that I have uploaded to my Etsy shop at to help me display and offer commissions. This urn is really just an idea of the type of thing I can create, the idea being to use my pottery and illustrative skills to the maximum to create unique one-off ceramic pieces that reflect the life for whom the tribute is intended.

This particular design is intended for a gentleman who was a dog lover and also had a special interest in World War 2 aircraft (in fact where I am based we have regular flights overhead of a Spitfire out of Biggin Hill). It is typical of the type of design I can create and the sketch is the first stage of making a commission piece, using information from a customer to piece together the important elements for me to illustrate.

There are a few things to consider before commissioning an urn.

1. The shape and size (scale) of the urn – this is of course dependant on the size of the person prior to cremation.  A rule of thumb is for each pound of body weight prior to cremation, one cubic inch of ash (a body of 150lbs would equal approximately 150 cubic inches of ash). This is the starting point for one of my urns, but the size can be made to suit.

2. The overall design and attractiveness of the design and illustration. My urn designs are each totally unique, no two would ever be the same. I use my very many years of experience as a designer and illustrator to make orignal artwork on my urns.

3. Style of design. Olley Pottery urns are unique in the style of design illustration which has been likened to woodcut or linocuts. The technique is a combination of ceramic painting (with vitreous slips and underglaze that are turned to impervious ceramics in the kiln) and sgraffito where fine hard tools are used to scratch details into the illustrations.

4. Fine detail of design and wording. My urns can incorporate any wording, dates, poems, verses, anything really that the size of the urn allows.

5. Texture, shine, materials used. My urns are created first on the pottery wheel with the highest, purest quality professional clays from Valentine Clays of Stoke-on-Trent (know as The Potteries). Special glazes help to provide both shine and imperviousness to the ceramics.

5. Packaging and delivery. I am well used to sending my ceramics around the world, and take very great care in the most protective packing to ensure my work arrives with customers swiftly and reliably. I only use the trusted delivery services which offer full tracking and signature services.

7. Flexibility and understanding in the way of work. I aim to provide the best and most effective design solution for bespoke urns, where uniqueness and craftsmanship is appreciated an Olley Pottery urn can provide a most fitting tribute.

My Etsy shop at gives an idea of the type of thing I can create and the prices too. I welcome the challenge and the honour of creating original pottery for discerning customers.


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