Maker of Glass Tombstones Sees Life in Cemeteries

In a field filled with gray granite gravestones, each departed soul dots the landscape as just another rock in the ground.

But Greg Lundgren, the owner of Lundgren Monuments in Seattle, wants to change the cemetery back into a sculpture park of individuality.

Lundgren makes headstones and monuments out of glass. They are clear or translucent, and gleam in the sun -- and the rain -- while their granite counterparts stand sullenly.

"What we're really looking to do is we want to revolutionize the cemetery," Lundgren said.

People who order from Lundgren Monuments want to remember their lost ones with something unique, he said. Many clients are parents whose children died young. They want to honor bright spirits and personality.

"We live in a world where you can get 100 choices of cell phones, 200 choices of ice cream," Lundgren said. "We're seeing a society that really cherishes customizing."

Lundgren and his crew take orders for pretty much anything. One current project incorporates a basketball-sized etching of a monarch butterfly. Another headstone features a blazing pink three-dimensional heart. Smoky, violet swirls light up the inside of another like rose petals.

The studio is one of the few companies in the world that takes on "all the weird things," Lundgren said.

Scattered around Lundgren's 6,000-square-foot Fremont studio are different variations of his standard headstone: a 200-pound, frosted green slab made from fused windowpane glass.

"When you make a piece 4 inches thick, 5 inches thick, you can take a baseball bat to it," Lundgren said.

Despite the company name, the studio also makes architectural design elements and memorials from cast glass. Out of about 150 projects a year, 50 are headstones.

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