About Custom Pet Memorial Votives

If you’ve purchased a votive before…

Please use the ordering area below. You’ll find a link to upload your images at the very bottom of this area.

If you are new to ordering a votive…

Scroll down the page to read about them and see samples of photos used and finished votives.


Order your votive here.

The dropdowns below will ask if this votive:

  • is shipping within the United States, to Canada or elsewhere
  • is shipping to you or to your recipient (I don’t include any receipts or cost information if it’s a gift)
  • if a gift, whether you want the “Love Never Ends” sympathy card or one of your choice from my selection (enter the name of the design in the text box below). If it’s for you, I always write a note in the card. If it’s a gift for you to give, I send you a blank card, or write your note inside when I ship it to the recipient.
  • has any extras, such as additional subjects, specific background, text or other art


Upload images after you order…

If you:

  • didn’t get a chance to upload your images while ordering
  • have more you’d like to upload
  • want me to make sure the image will work

Click the link below to upload your image(s) for your votive to a folder in my Dropbox account. Only I have access to and will see your files. This will open in a new window.

Upload your image(s)


Two legacy reviews

Uploaded to a prior page, copied and pasted here.

Rated 5 out of 5

★★★★★Ingrid King (verified owner) – October 26, 2022
I have purchased several of these votives for friends who have lost cats. They make wonderful gifts, and every recipient has commented on how much comfort they brought. I can vouch for that myself, as Bernadette gifted me a votive after my beloved Ruby passed in 2019. Bernadette has a unique ability of capturing an animal’s essence when she creates these votives. The artificial flame somehow brings the animal “to life.”

★★★★★Justine Cosley – October 27, 2022
I’m a feline exclusive groomer and purchased on of these for a customer whose super senior cat I had been grooming on a regular schedule. He was such a perfect gentleman and I wanted to get him something to let them know his “light is still shining”. It was perfect! They loved it and delivery was quick! I will definitely order again!

And a review texted to me…

Here’s a recent votive I created for a customer and shipped it directly to Rosie’s family with a note from the sender in the card you see. Both the sender and recipient permitted me to use the photo and comment between the two sisters.


About Custom Pet Memorial Votives

custom pet memorial votive of tabby cat
Paddy O’Mally

My Custom Pet Memorial Votives are my own innovation, and began as gifts to friends with an idea of someday marketing them. With the encouragement of those first recipients I’ve worked to refine the process so that I can make the most durable, beautiful and unique gift.

My goal with each Custom Pet Memorial Votive

To give a perspective on my experiences of loss in relation to designing and creating my pet memorial votives, I’ve been rescuing and fostering cats since the early 80s, constantly expanding my understanding of their health and behavioral needs and more ways that I could help them. In addition to working with shelters and veterinarians, over a decade ago I began volunteering with a TNR organization, helping to bring many cats off the streets, socializing litters of feral kittens and providing hospice care to ill and elderly cats.

While most of rescue is happy endings as cats find forever homes indoors with people or outdoors with a vigilant caretaker, no small amount of rescue is loss, the fading kittens, the ill and injured you couldn’t save, losing my own oldest best friends and the shock of losing a few young ones too. And not just my own losses, but those of my friends, veterinarians and technicians and others who work with us to save these lives. These experiences color my approach to the loss and grief of an animal companion. I take very seriously the delicate emotional state we are in as we grieve.

As you’ll read below, I made the first of these votives as a heartfelt gift for longtime shelter volunteer friends and art customers who had lost a rescued cat just a short while after we’d done his portrait. I know from my decades of pet portraiture how something beautiful can move even the most broken heart, how that face, those eyes, can make them seem so present. So I used all that experience to prepare the image for the votive, and it had an even greater effect than I’d imagined, on me and on my friends.

This is my goal with each custom pet memorial votive, and I take the utmost care each step of the way with that recipient in mind whose broken heart needs a little healing.

 

votive with gray and white cat
Oscar, the very first Custom Pet Memorial Votive.

They began as personal gifts to friends

My Custom Pet Memorial Votives are my own innovation. I’d always pictured my artwork on the glass votives I saw in stores, and after a few years of visualizing I made that real, working my way through upcycled glass jars and purchased vases and various labels until I arrived at what I use today.

I designed the first of these memorial votives, seen above, as a gift to a friend who had rescued Oscar and had previously commissioned me to paint a portrait of him. Rather than using his entire portrait where he is sitting up, I designed it to focus on his face and positioned him so that the votive candle would alight his face, and especially his eyes. From its effect on me, and Oscar’s family’s reaction, I knew this was an idea that I could share with other animal lovers. I made two others for friends with equal response and began planning.

So I designed the memorial votives to focus on the subject’s face, and position their image so that the votive candle shines through their face, especially their eyes. During the day the votive captures ambient light even without the candle, but in the evening, when the candle is lit, the flickering light through your pet’s face in a darkened area is warm and intimate. Watch the video below as I place a lighted votive candle into Luna’s custom memorial votive.

Creating the image

If you visit the page on this site for my commissioned pet portraits you will read that I use photos to create the portraits, but I don’t copy photos. Instead, I specialize in creating the image you have in mind for your portrait, often combining a dozen or more photos.

As you can see in Sam’s original photo, the light fell from above and filled her eyes with shadow and I had to carefully open that up to see her eyes. The light was also dim and a very warm tone—the carpet is actually off-white, so color needed to be corrected as well.

When I work with your provided photo for your votive I use the same techniques from my decades of portraiture on paper to prepare the image to fit the votive, but I use Photoshop instead of pastels or watercolor.  I first size the image into my template so that the face fills the majority of the front of the votive, and the eyes are about at the level the votive flame would be. I remove background distractions and correct distortions if necessary. I correct colors due to use of a flash or a filter. Most important are corrections to their eyes from use of a flash or from shadows because the light should be able to shine through their eyes and look normal.

Then I choose a background color or pattern that suits the subject, or pull ideas for those from the supplied photos. I want the subject to be prominent on the votive, so the background is either a complementary color or provides contrast, lighter or darker. I chose a dark blue for Sam because blue is a color complement to orange and would provide a dark background so the light would shine through her while the background stayed darker.

For Marnie, below, I chose a light neutral tan background because she is primarily dark, and their photos showed that their home is filled with neutral earth tones.

Marni's votive.
Marnie’s votive.

Tips on choosing a photo

It’s nice to be able to get a photo where they are looking right at you, and with the number of photos people take today that’s often possible.

For Marnie’s votive I chose the straight-on relaxed gaze. The red bandanna was too bright and would isolate her face, and though she has a nice head tilt in the first photo, her ear is tipped and she looks a little startled.

If a straight-on gaze isn’t available, then one where their face is clear is good, even if they aren’t looking directly at you. You’ve seen Luna a few times on this site, and though she’s looking a little off to the side, her image is still effective.

votive with tuxedo cat
Luna.

Slightly blurry or excessively filtered images

One of the biggest challenges of photographing animals is that they move far more than humans do, so movement-blurred photos are common. Also, digital photos look great full size on your phone, but if you want to crop one down to just your dog’s face and enlarge it to print, you’ll see it’s a little soft around the edges. With in-camera filters and other filters provided in social media platforms, you can transform a photo completely from its original appearance, but sometimes details are lost, and the resulting photo is often very low-resolution because it’s intended for the small screen of a cell phone.

I can work with much of these issues to a certain extent, using my experience as a graphic designer composing a customer brochure with photos of staff or events pulled from someone’s cell phone. They’re not perfect, but on a votive they are usually acceptable. Above, you can see the best photo Leo’s caretaker had, and it looks fine until you enlarge it to see his face. I used a series of art filters in Photoshop and managed to maintain most of the details, but this is about as far as I would go with blur or distortion.

More than one subject on a votive

I’ve actually created several of these with two animals or with a human and an animal. My goal is always to focus on their faces, but sometimes the recipient has a dear photo of two pets together, or a human and a pet, and that’s how it is, and it’s fine. If this is a gift we’re creating for someone else, you probably know them best and can determine what they’d like.

two cats on votive
Leaper and Annie, two variations.

Above and below, Leaper and Annie were feral cats and bonded when they met in her colony, which at one point she had to remove for their safety so five cats came to her home and eventually adapted. Leaper and Annie stayed closely bonded and later died a month apart. She couldn’t see them apart on their votive. Above, you can see the difference when we use the full photo and when it’s cropped to just their faces. Below, another photo she considered using, just to remember the moment.

two cats on votive
Leaper and Annie, another photo.

In another example, this unfortunate recipient unexpectedly lost her cat and her dog a month apart and her friend asked if I could put them together on the votive. You’ve also seen Cody and Dakota elsewhere on this site.

cat and dog on votive
Cody and Dakota

There were no good photos of the two of them together, but I am also acquainted with the recipient so we decided I could visit her Facebook page and find what I needed. Looking close, Cody looks crisp and clear, but Dakota not so much. We often photograph cats when they are up on things near our eye level, but dogs we usually photograph on the floor, or somehow below our eye level. This is something I deal with in portraiture all the time but I can work with perspective, and the biggest challenge is usually getting them proportionate to each other. For all the photos she had, only two were ones I could use to make it appear Cody and Dakota were side by side, and one was filtered so much I couldn’t correct it. The one I used was filtered as well and was lower resolution than Cody’s photo, but they fit together very nicely.

Including a decorative or patterned background

Background items can sometimes be a part of the memory that’s wanted, or a customer may want a specific addition to the background related to the subject. It works in some cases, but in others the subject is lost in the pattern no matter how it’s done. I’ve created votives of cats in flower gardens that I wish I could share. Creating votives with a background pattern like the ones I show below would have a small extra charge for the extra time, $10.00 to $25.00. The examples below show how a background pattern can work.

Pearl loved to nap on the screened porch, which had furniture in this pattern. I could pull enough of the pattern from the photos to be able to collage together an all-over pattern.

white cat on votive
Pearl on the patio furniture.

Ziggy Stardust’s person asked if I could use purple and add some stars in the background because of her namesake. The purple was easy, and I have decades of clip art from design, I knew exactly the starry background I could pull and use.

white cat on votive
Ziggy Stardust

You’ll see a multi-color watercolor pattern in several instances on this site, like the note card that comes with the votive, the simple garden flag and the simple votive. Sometimes I’ll use it in the background for darker animals, if it seems appropriate for the recipient. Stormy’s person loves rainbow bridge items and it looks like Stormy is in the clouds.

black dog on rainbow background
Stormy

Customizations for your practice

In addition to the basic creation of a votive, I can customize the votive to identify your practice. I can add your logo, or a brief standard or custom message, or use your business colors for the background, by setting up a template which I would keep on file. Designing the idea and showing proofs would be a one-time cost of $25.00.

One of my customers is a pet cremation business, and I am also her customer. I assist her with her Pet Memorial Sunday event every September, but in 2020 we couldn’t gather under a tent as usual. She decided we could certainly distance, even stay inside our cars, in the area she hosts it. To make up for the lack of physical community she wanted to give something to her families, so I made 20 votives for that event that used her logo colors and included her logo and a message.

Votives are kept in confidence

I photograph each votive I make for my records and to keep the details of what it looked like for my reference. I never use a votive in any public venue, whether for display or self-promotion, without permission of both the giver and the recipient.

Standard with each votive

You can use a wax votive, but as much as I love real candles and flickering candlelight, with years of curious feline noses and waving tails I’ve been trained to use flameless candles. I provide an LED votive candle with each votive I make that has an inexpensive and easily purchased replaceable battery so that no one needs to run out and find a brand new votive to continue remembering a pet when the original grows dim.

A sympathy card is also included. The one shown below is available with every votive. You can visit my page of Animal Sympathy Cards to see a selection of others. If I am to ship directly to the recipient you can give me a note which I will write inside the card.

Love Never Ends note card
Love Never Ends note card

I include a care and use card with each votive. This card, and a label on the bottom of the votive, have my retail e-commerce website information, not this website, which is intended only for animal professionals to purchase wholesale.

The price includes shipping, whether to your practice or drop-shipped to a customer, within the continental US. I have rates for international shipping.

Other votives

Before I developed the Custom Pet Memorial Votive I created other feline-themed votives using popular artwork, two of them as holiday-themed decorations or gift items. “Star of Wonder” votives and “Stained Glass Cats” votives are also chosen as feline remembrance gifts for self or friends. In addition, I designed the “Love Never Ends” votive for those who’d like to give a remembrance votive as a gift rather than a customized votive. These votives are $15.00 each and can be purchased in quantity. To a certain extent, they can also be customized.

You can find these and read more about each of these designs under “Standard Votives” on my Products page.

Packaging

I pack the votive into a white cube-shaped gift box, and pack that inside of a square shipping box with your sympathy card.

Shipping

I always use USPS, and most often ship by Priority Mail.


Order a Custom Pet Memorial Votive

You can order a votive here, or you can find this and all my products on my Products page.


A bit about my background as an artist and self-employed business owner

I have a BA in English, intending to be a writer and college professor of writing, nonetheless, when I graduated I found a job as a typesetter prior to personal computer days because I could type really well. This turned out not to be a digression as it led me to a career in graphic design with a high level of computer skills and the ability to use my writing, photography and illustration skills to build a solid foundation for self-employment. I had an early entry into desktop publishing, photo editing and illustration software and have used them as long as they have been in existence.

I approach art and design as problem-solving—I have this idea, I need to figure out how to make it real. I’ve been making it real for just about 40 years, 15 years of freelancing while working full time, then 20 years of full self-employment working at home, beginning with my commissioned pet portraits about 35 years ago as well. My tasks have run the gamut of typesetting the return address to be printed on an envelope to designing and illustrating a book and having it printed, bound and delivered, to designing, illustrating and managing the manufacture of interpretive signs on conservation land. No work is unimportant.

My goal as a commercial artist and writer has always been to convey my customer’s message in the clearest means in a manner that spoke a little louder than messages around it. My goal with my handmade goods is to make something beautiful, beautiful enough to be desired and treasured. All this goes into my votives.

All images and text © 2022-2023 Bernadette E. Kazmarski  •  www.custompetmemorialvotives.com

All images and content are copyrighted and may not be used or reproduced in any way without my written permission. Please contact me if you are interested in using any of my content.


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