Paper Turtle was founded by Laura Bruzzese in 2016 as a solo operation. By 2020, increasing sales and Laura's decreasing ability to maintain all aspects of the business indicated that it might be time for a little help. The obvious course of action was to post a few Help Wanted flyers in the dank halls of the University of New Mexico Fine Arts building. To her (and our future customers') great fortune, that hopeful expedition yielded just the right catches just weeks before the pandemic would have shut down the opportunity: Nic & Eden. Susan came along a year later to complete our team.

The original line-up has changed a little since then, but we remain a small group of artists dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind urns honoring the lives of those who have passed. 

Our Team

Laura Bruzzese


Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Laura Bruzzese has been a professional artist for over 25 years. After graduating high school, she traipsed about the country earning college degrees, then returned to Albuquerque in 1994. Her daughter Isabella was born a few years later and that's when life really began. After exhibiting in galleries for many years, she founded Paper Turtle in 2016 upon discovering a significant need in the funeral industry for unique, hand-crafted cremation urns.

Laura is the lead designer, contributes to the production of every urn, and oversees all aspects of daily operations. She considers this to be work of the heart, collaborative with both studio helpers and customers whose design requests often become permanent features of our portfolio.

When not in the studio, Laura enjoys tending the large garden behind the studio, indulging a bewildering but persistent tendency to hoard vast quantities of plants.

Nic Jacobson

Lead Ceramics Production

Nic joined Paper Turtle in 2020, soon after earning their MFA in Art And Ecology from the University of New Mexico. Nic's excellent wheel-throwing and hand-building skills are an invaluable contribution and help keep our shelves filled with beautiful urns. Nic is also a great problem solver, listener, world-class word player, and wears pearls better than anyone.

Susan Gomez


Susan is a talented painter experienced in many kinds of artmaking ranging from pet portraits to murals to printing & face painting. She joined Paper Turtle in 2021 and assists with painting on both ceramic and biodegradable urns, as well as decal application. Susan is a purveyor of fine playlists, lover of chai, and has a truly magnificent laugh.


Pest Control

Vivian contributes very little to daily operations. Her poor work ethic (sporadic attendance, indifference, etc) makes her essentially useless except for the occasional mouse or grasshopper catch. Her presence is tolerated only because she's cute and has never broken anything.


We are proud to partner with the talented Villafranco Peralta family for production of our biodegradable (water burial) urns.

The process begins with our original ceramic models that are sent to Mexico for production. Molds are utilized to create our designs in recycled paper using traditional techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation. Each urn is made with care and skill in the family's home-based workshop, and the craftspersons are paid fair wages for their talents. We could not offer this collection without their dedication and expertise.

Supporting us means supporting the Villafranco Peralta family and their community.

[photo: Stray Dog Designs ♡]

Photo courtesy of our friends at Stray Dog Designs.
Collage portraits by Isabella Bruzzese