Tattoos Penetrate the Funeral Industry

September 9, 2010
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By Tiffany Stewart

Tattoos have been a means of personal and religious expression and even a healing remedy for thousands of years. In the states many have a negative outlook on tattoos while others see tattoos as a means of personal expression. In the 1930?s, some 10 million Americans had tattoos while over 45 million American?s have tattoos today. American?s have an interesting history and relationship with tattoos. In the early 1900?s, tattoo?s identified Sailors and Marines while in the 1950?s through the 1970?s they generally connoted gangs, criminal and biker groups. Through the 1970?s tattoos started to gain more traction throughout American culture. 72% of Americans? tattoos are placed in discrete areas, which can be easily hidden by clothing. Baby Boomers and retirees have jumped on the tattoo bandwagon, mainly because they don?t have to cover them up for work anymore and tattoos provide a means of personal expression.

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Matthew Kennedy of TooTall?s Pottery, is way ahead of his time?creating urns inscribed with images connoting affiliations with various groups or ?tribes? with much of the same meaning tattoos have. I spoke with him recently:

TS: What inspired you to make urns?

MK: “I fell in love with the shape and working with the different kinds of woods on the lathe. It is a vase shape with the wood working added to the process. I made urns for a few years and then when I was living in Washington State about 4 years ago and I saw “Miami Ink” a TV program on A&E that showed different tattoo artists in their tattoo shop. I thought “wow I would love to do that on my pottery”, then I started making tribal plates and other urns using the same process a tattoo artist would use. I now am incorporating this tattoo process into my “art urns”, vases, etc… I like to take a design or theme someone has in there mind and make a special tribal design for them.”

TS: Which urn has been most popular?

Adventure (to the left)

I think because it is black and white (it pops) in a photo and it is very detailed. It can take me 3 to 4 hours to complete one urn and 1 to 2 weeks until the final product is completed and ready to ship. You can see more about the whole process with videos here: tootallspottery.com

TS: Do you see a resemblance between your urns and tattoos, as a means for personal expression?

MK: “Yes I do, I love tattoos. They have really inspired my “Tribal Line” of cremation urns. I like the black and white and sometimes add color as well. I was watching the show and I thought – WOW I could totally do the same thing with my pottery.”

TS: Where are your urns available?

MK: TooTallspottery.com

TS: Do you make custom urns?

MK: “YES, I love to make custom urns and? I welcome special orders.”

TS: How much do your urns cost?

MK: “My wholesale price to funeral homes right now is $375.00 per urn.”

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