Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 18, 2014

Fred Goldenberg: Designer working in urn-est

Faced with the realities of the 2008 economic downturn, fifty-eight-year-old custom furniture and cabinet designer Anne Culver Noble had to redefine her career path. The cabinet worker for whom she designed high-end custom cabinetry wasn’t getting enough business to keep them employed.

With a bachelor’s degree in fine arts for the New England School of Art, a family history in the funeral business (her great grandfather founded H. Noble and Sons Funeral Homes in South Dakota) and a desire to provide a service to the community as well as a sustainable business model, she founded Urns By Artists.The company provides unique custom cremation urns designed and produced by local and national artists that allow for “personal expression” and provides a final resting place for a loved one that is truly aligned with their personality and desires.

Her online gallery ( shows an array of options from bio-degradable “green” urns to metal and everything in between. Right now she is working with 12 to 15 artists throughout the country (plus one in China) who can, if desired, provide one of a kind urns but her goal is for her artists to design urns that can be replicated, not mass-produced like most urns sold today, in large enough quantities that she can increase her sales but maintain the personal services she currently provides.

The urns run from $300 to $3,000 and up. This might seem a lot for a vessel to store ashes of a loved one, but if you shop online at Amazon for urns you get mass-produced made in China “martini shaker” looking urns that sell for $60 to $200. As Ann pointed out, “people spend thousands of dollars on a casket and then bury it in the ground. With my urns they have a beautiful piece of art which expresses the personality and soul of their loved one”.

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