Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Dia de Los Muertos!

Today is the Dia de los Muertos, when the gates of Heaven open and the spirits of the dead visit their loved ones on earth. 

Celebrated in many regions around the world, the elaborate celebrations in Mexico are the most well known, and most spectacular. Families weed and plant; paint and repair the cemetery plots where they will gather this night to celebrate. Offering mass, songs, stories, food and drink - this is a festive celebration honoring and remembering the departed. Not spooky of morbid in any way, it aims to acknowledge death as a part of life, and encourage one to live life to the fullest  - as death will come. 
Decorations abound with marigolds/cempasĂșchil or flower of the dead.

Families create ofrendas (offering tables/altars) at home that welcome the spirits with food and libations. Mementos and pictures, marigolds, candles... The four elements are represented: fire/candles, water/beverages & alcohol, earth/fruits & vegetables air/papel picado flags.
Day of the Dead ofrenda altar from Old Town San Diego. Pix by JDR
Sugar skulls are an iconic Day of the Dead image. Made of sugar, chocolate... you name it - they are meant to represent a departed soul. They are also exchanged amongst the living in the context that "our friendship/love will be stronger than and survive beyond death".
sugar, chocolate, icing! Oh my...
Day of the Dead has become increasingly present in popular culture here in the states the last few years. Shown below are highlights from my collection - including the bride and groom we had on our cake table at out wedding. Love that will last beyond death... While many of my pieces come from Austin TX and Albuquerque NM where I have family, I found some great stuff at Target this year...
Calacas and calaveras

The Day of theDead theme inspires me greatly - as you may have guessed by now. This year after my annual batch of polymer skull pendants I have been working on sugar skull tiles! I am glazing them as we speak...
Jenny's polymer pendant skulls and new ceramic tiles. 
Lesley found some fabulous sugar skulls in jewelry and clay from fellow artists near and far:

Maku Raku

So today, wherever you are, remember your loved ones that are no longer with you. According to Mexican legend, there are three types of death: The first occurs when all bodily functions cease and the soul leaves the body; the second occurs when the body is interred, returning one’s physical shell to the earth; and the final, most definitive death, occurs when no one remembers you. Raise a glass, tell a tale, remember them fondly... and know they are with you. 

Previous posts: 


  1. Love these! I have some of Joan Miller's sugar skull beads. So cool!

  2. Terrific post! Love this theme! I made a mobile this year from polymer clay sugar skulls. My birthday cake was a sugar skull. I love any kind of skellie and these colorful skulls are just too cool! Also enjoyed the traditional "alter"/memorial. Wonderful!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.