Day of the Dead

A modified version of Dios de los Muertos was celebrated in my house this year. I am not Hispanic, or Native American (that I know of), but the holiday makes a certain amount of sense, a holiday for the spirits revolving, as all good holidays do, around food and crafts. What spirit wouldn't love a party thrown in their honor? My mom was always fascinated with the work of Frida Kahlo and the idea of the spirit world, though I'm not certain she believed in it herself, I still think she would have approved. Preparations included making some of the dishes from the messiest pages of my mom's cookbooks: Tuscan Chicken, polenta, beet and beet greens with balsamic vinaigrette, and bread pudding. So utterly delicious and filled with such bright memories of my childhood. And then as part of the festivities, I included a little more traditional bits of the holiday with a little altar of "mom" things: flowers, art tools, bread, brie, wine, and then made sugar skulls. How happy was I to find a new material! Sugar skulls are made with a mixture of sugar, meringue powder, and water pressed into a mold and inverted on cardboard to dry. I bought a skull mold and meringue powder from a local store, but you can find them (along with various saints) online here. I took photos for a short tutorial but the one on the site is more than adequate, so I'll leave them out.

Making bunches of the skulls was so meditative, mix, scoop, press, smooth, invert, dry, scoop out the innards and glue sides together. Visions of molded sugar artworks as part of art opening fare danced through my head. We decorated them at the party, such a colorful mess. . .mine turned out very minimalist in color, but still quite intricate. Here's a snapshot of one of my mom's pieces, sorry it's a not great quality image, but you get the idea. . .

charcoal on paper
30" x 40"

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