KING 5 TV, Seattle
Video coverage of Personal Temples opening on KING-TV in Seattle.
National magazine highlights a rising Seattle artist
Renowned Seattle glass artist, Mike Holberg, is featured in the November issue of “The Crafts Report” for his unique, handcrafted line of glass memorial urns.
Seattle, Wash. November, 2008 – The cover photo for this month’s issue of “The Crafts Report” is Holberg’s Venetia design, one of six distinct styles in his Personal Temples collection. All the designs are influenced by a storied tradition of Italian glass art, handcrafted and signed by the artist. The focus of the November issue is modern memorials highlighting the trend away from the generic to more artful and personal vessels.
When asked about the trend toward more personal memorials, Holberg, who is fast becoming the leading glass artist in the memorial art field, said, “The fact that such a prominent industry magazine has focused this months issue on memorial art, shows that the public is demanding new and more creative options in which to honor the memories of their loved ones.” I am also working on some new designs that incorporate photosensitive glass. It will allow me to put a photographic image into the glass that will last virtually forever.” There are very few artists even using this technique and none in memorial art.
Mr. Holberg worked under noted glass artist Dale Chihuly for several years before turning his attention to creating memorial art. In addition to his Personal Temples he also accepts private commissions and shows his art in galleries around the U.S. To see a selected line of his other designs please visit Holberg Glass.
January 2008, Seattle Magazine
December 15, 2008, ISSAQUAH PRESS By Makenzie Greenblatt
Glass urns earn national recognition for local artist.
Mike Holberg and his assistant Wilbur Kelly heat pieces of blown glass for the cap of an urn in a furnace at Viscosity Glass on Rainier Boulevard South in Seattle. Photo by Greg Farrar
Washington has one of the highest cremation rates in the country at 64 percent. With estimates for the entire nation to be at 80 percent to 90 percent in 20 years, what can we do sans tombstone to create a meaningful memorial for a loved one?
Issaquah artist Mike Holberg recently started his own business designing and crafting hand-blown, glass memorial urns. His pieces offer something different than traditional urns.
“We just made them as works of art,” he said. “I think, ‘Let’s make a cool vessel, and we’ll just make sure it can hold a set of remains.’”
Last month, Holberg was featured on the cover of The Crafts Report, a national magazine, as part of its memorial art special. A glass-blower for 13 years, Holberg never thought about urns until someone called and asked him for one a few years ago. The client needed it quickly, and while Holberg wasn’t able to help her, it sparked something for him.
“I started toying with colors and shapes,” said Holberg. “About the same time I got a prototype done, the lady across the street passed away, so I offered her daughter an urn. She was just crazy about that.”
He started to wonder if other people would be interested, and decided the most logical place to approach was a funeral home.
“We’d thought we’d give him a try because they were so unique and pretty and one-of-a-kind,” said Kelly Browder, owner of Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas. “They have sold quite well for us.
“I think what sets Mike apart from other urn providers we use is that Mike has no problem talking directly to the family to try and meet their exact needs, even if it’s just down to what color they want on top.”
Though he has achieved national recognition for his glass, Holberg started out doing other types of artwork.
His family moved to Issaquah’s South Cove neighborhood 30 years ago. He and his wife, Suzy, worked at Puget Sound Bakery, which her parents owned. In addition to decorating cakes there, Holberg made paintings, drawings and stained glass.
One day he and Suzy were watching the glass blowers at Seattle Glassblowing Studio.
“I turned to her and said, ‘Well, I could do that,’” he recalled. “And she said, ‘Oh yeah, why don’t you sign up for a class?’
“I sat down and just knew that was it for me,” he said with a grin. “I loved it from the beginning.”
Since glass blowing is quite an expensive hobby, Holberg tried to decide what he could make and sell. He started off with indoor fountains and was able to use the profits from those to finance other pieces.
In 2000, Holberg left the bakery to work in the hot shop of the world-renowned Chihuly Studio in Seattle.
After three years there, he went back to his day job as a purchaser for Milestones Products, a craft kit company. He continued blowing and showing his glass around the city.
Then, in 2004, Holberg began crafting his memorial urns. By late 2007, he turned them into his own company, Personal Temples.
Currently, there are seven regular designs, plus a special one for pets. He has also done very ornate, personalized pieces that retail for up to $7,500.
Each urn takes about an hour in the hot shop, 24 hours to cool, and then some cutting work for the top. Depending on how many assistants he has, they can make about a dozen in one day.
Holberg is now experimenting with photosensitive glass, which would allow clients to add a picture.
“I don’t know anybody who’s doing it,” he said. “The possibilities would be limitless — all you need is a photo.”
There are other glass urns out there, but Holberg has found a niche for himself thanks to the relative affordability of his pieces. According to him, most others solely make one-of-a-kind designs that cost thousands of dollars. His start at $795.
Though the designs follow a similar pattern, each urn is distinct in color and pattern.
“To know that my mother, who is unique and beautiful, ended up in something unique and beautiful was so special,” said Stephanie Fitzgerald, the neighbor who received Holberg’s first urn. “It was really comforting to the whole family.”
“If you put the remains of a loved one in a beautiful urn, every time you look at it, you will have good thoughts about how he or she would really like it,” Holberg said. “It makes you feel good, and it brings up good memories of the person that’s passed.”
January/ February 2008, Funeral Business Advisor Magazine
Seattle, WA -Noted Seattle glass blower Mike Holberg, today announced the unveiling of Personal Temples (www.personaltemples.com), a new line of distinctive hand blown glass cremation urns that celebrate passage of life through art. With cremation rates on the rise across the nation, people are looking for new ways to memorialize loved ones and are gravitating away from generic brass urns to stimulating works of art that arouse wonder and inspiration.
"Like every life lived, no two glass urns are ever exactly the alike," said Mike Holberg, the glass artist whose name is etched on to every individual piece. "Unlike traditional urns which are often placed out of sight, a Personal Temple is designed to be the focal point of a room and a heartfelt reminder of those we love."
The Personal Temples collection currently features seven distinctive styles that are influenced by a storied tradition of Italian glass art. The current collection includes: The , the Venetia, the Firenze, the Faldo, the Monzo, and Il Abbracio. The Salvare, and the Sunset Costaverto (see the Personal Temples website for a complete description). Each urn conforms to the funeral industry standards and comes with a six month money back guarantee. Mr. Holberg will also work directly with funeral homes to create custom temples that are in alignment with their specific market.