Monday, October 4, 2010

'Tis the Season: Calacas

Most readers of this blog know that Day of the Dead is a popular holiday at Casa Maki. We all enjoy making meals that remind us of our loved ones who have passed away and the cheerfully macabre decor.

(As always, click to see the pictures close-up)

The most recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors (my favorite magazine in the world!) included a feature article by the ridiculously talented Michael Demeng on making calacas. Of course I had to try.


The way you make these is to take Dollar Store figurines or wedding cake toppers (expensive!) and lop off their heads. I know - rather violent, no? I used a chisel, hammer and safety goggles and it was easy peasy.

Then I replaced their missing heads with skeleton heads torn from a garland, also from the Dollar Store. 


Next, you cover the whole thing with modeling paste (which is like working with tartar control toothpaste - not fun but very textured) and decorate and paint them as you like. Using a paint pen was easier for fine details like the eye sockets and mouth.

For me, having a very tactile finished project is important so I glued lace to the dress and added dimensional flowers and added a veil turning my "pretty girl" into a "winsome bride".


The veil was one of my favorite parts as I sprayed it with yellow, brown and a bit of blue homemade glimmer mist and then burned the edges to make it curl after I attached it. The effect added a lot of age and movement to the figure. I used the same colors to dye the lace. 


For the platform she's standing on I used a piece of scrap wood from our etagere that Brayden lit on fire back in May. I know those pieces would come in handy! The back (tall) piece is balsa wood, I love how it warps a little from the paint and gel medium and that adds a little bit more movement too.


After the wood glue dried, I covered the whole stage in modeling paste, waited for it to dry and then added painted book pages and acrylic paint. To finish I embellished the piece with wrinkle ribbon and blue Prima flowers.

You can see last year's shrines here.



This is my entry in the Mixed Media Monday "Shrines" challenge and the ethereal, non-corporeal, magic or supernatural challenge at Alter-it Monthly

Linked Up With:
 


Get Your Craft On Tuesday
Tatertots and Jello
Inspiration Avenue

38 comments:

Mim Smith Faro said...

Very cool! I saw that deMeng article the other day and thought these were wonderful. Great take on his project.

Eileen Bergen said...

Nicole, it's so cool to be reading this from Mexico where I've lived for 13 years (near Guadalajara).

I wish I could send you some of the sugared calacas (skulls) that are so popular here this time of year.

The elegantly dressed skeletons like you've done so beautifully in this post are known here as Catrinas.

To be "muy Catrina" is to be "very elegant" and "un Catrin" is a very elegant woman.

Interestingly, there is no masculine version of the Catrina for Day of the Dead.

Your Catrina would fit in very well on any "ofrenda" (shrine) to lost loved ones in our little village ;-)

Rosa Witten said...

Wow Very cool! I read that article too and thought I gotta check out those wedding cake toppers and get some. I LOVE THE SHRINES!!!!! SO AWESOME! Thanks for sharing. :)

Dara Lynn said...

well... I am going to admit, I have seen these but never knew it had a name...Calacas??? Educational post for me!!! lol but I really enjoyed your creativity!!!! I think I am a hillbilly!

Abby said...

Awesome. So artistic! I love it.

Zuzu's Blog said...

Wonderful!!!
I am a great fan of the ethos behind the day of the dead and love the decorations that go with it. thank you SO much for joining in my shrine theme on mixed media monday...
this piece is also perfect for this months " alter it monthly" http://alteritmonthly.blogspot.com/ (there is a prize up for grabs there) we would be delighted to have you link to us there too if you feel so inclined..

Jacqueline said...

I loove these in Mexico but they are so expensie. Really cute.

Rein said...

Wonderful art work!

Zuzu's Blog said...

thank you Nicole :)

Shar said...

So cool!

Sourkraut said...

This is amazing! Love the details like the veil and burnt background. Spotted your link at eighteen25's link party.

Grannie Annie said...

Nicole ~ Your shrine is fantastic...how fun....I love it.
I just finish doing a Day of The Dead piece for Inspiration Avenue's "Mexico" Challenge and I did a little research about it so I am really psyched on the subject.
Your creations are excellent.

Becklee Cottage Designs said...

Oh I love the young lady in yellow!

Kristin said...

WOW! This is such a beautiful shrine - I love all the bold colors and floral elements - so cool, Kristin

Lorraine said...

I too am a fan of cloth paper scissors and michael de meng..what a great fun shrine

Magpie said...

A fabulous shrine! Thank you for telling us how you achieved it! So happy to have you playing along at Inspiration Avenue!

Carol said...

Wonderfully ghoulish! And you described how you did it so well..even a newbie like me can gather inspiration from!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I was impressed by how much of YOU is in this piece and how little of deMeng. Your bride will surely have no trouble finding her mate.

I'm glad you joined this challenge because it brought me to your blog. I have really enjoyed looking around and love your art.

Carmen said...

Am smacking myself in the head now as somehow between my blog revamp I managed to unfollow you and look - have missed some FABULOUS posts!

She's gorgeous - I am inspired to try! Someone told me that they had bought the new Cloth.Paper.Scissors and it had given them the heebie jeebies and therefore they thought I would probably love it (I took that as a compliment!) - if this is a sample of how inspiring it is I reckon I need to search me out a copy :)

Dawn said...

I love this dark yet light peice I know of the holiday you speak of. You have a real talent thanks for sharing

Love Dawn xx

Krista @ While He Was Napping said...

This is so cute! I hope you will come link it to my Halloween party this weekend. It would be a wonderful addition!

whilehewasnapping.blogspot.com

Krista

Envy My Cooking said...

We would love to feature you. Come on over to our site and check us out..

Also we have a free beadboard giveaway going on now

Gillian said...

Nicole, this is such an interesting and think outside the box creation, so much detail, very artistic piece indeed, thank you for sharing it with us over at AIM.

priti.lisa said...

Totally kewl!

Kelly Jeanette said...

Love her! She so cool and I love that you included hoe you made her. So amped to try myself. Glad I found your blog.

gemma said...

Love her funky coolness. What a fun project!

Msartist said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing the how to. I love your shrines~ So lovely!
~Theresa

Ginger said...

I really, really love this. Think I will have a go at this project.
Carol x

Hermine said...

This looks great!

Terri said...

This is so cool! I love reading about how you did it. The veil is really special the way you did it.
Hugs,
Terri

ArtSnark said...

Fantastic! Found your through both challenges ;D Love your piece & thanks for the walk-through

Katie said...

AHHH I love all the day of the dead stuff as well! I'm your newest follower and I'm hoping you'll swing by SewWoodsy.blogspot.com for my first ever link party today! This would be a fantastic project to link up!

Katie said...

Thanks for linking up @ SewWoodsy.blogspot.com!

Michelle said...

Great work - love the contrast with using the lemon colourings.

Kris Dickinson said...

So wonderful!

~*~Patty S said...

Wonderful day of the dead creations

your shrines are inspiring !

I am squeaking in with the MMM challenge with a little shrine

oxo

Cheryl said...

Now that is super cool. Very nice piece of art you've created.

mixedmediamadness said...

Wonderful! Diane