Monday, September 23, 2013

Bling for Dia de los Muertos en El Norte

In Mexico, November 1 and 2 are the days for remembering beloved ones who have died, the first day for Angelitos, lost infants, and the second day for adults, Muertos. I love the idea that we don't really have to say a final goodbye; that our love for others will live as long as we do, and that we, in turn, will be remembered by those who love us.

The fine craftsmanship and art devoted to these festive days takes as its theme Catrina, or the calaca, and you will see wonderfully detailed dioramas with the calacas doing much as they did in life, just as they were portrayed in the work of Posada, the calavera. They provoke an ironic giggle, but what choice do you have, except to keep loving, stay on top of the dirt as long as possible, and bow humbly before mortality. South of the border, they have made something very beautiful of that. 

En el Norte, we are just beginning to catch on. Here's my effort, inspired by the holiday and the beautiful way the folk art of Mexico combines such things as rust and rhinestones.

I got a batch of wonderful little handmade terra cotta calacas here, from Susie Carranza, on Etsy. She remarked how interesting it was when I used the first ones, just plain, raw, because, you see, they are meant to be decorated.  And so this one has been painted, using dry-brushed titanium white and several washes of mixed colors, including some interference blue, and iridescent powders.

Then the assembly gathered speed: using a maple sugar tin collaged with an illustration from a Serbian language novena, La Calaca got settled into a resin puddle with some old rhinestones. But first, I had to figure out a way to suspend the pendant from the necklace. For that, a milagro corazon was drilled for suspension and riveting.  It was surprising how tough that milagro metal was.  It did not drill easily -- what sort of metal do they use?  It acts like some sort of brass.

From that point, the lovely little enameled cross with a rose finally got pulled out of the stash, at last coming back to life. The contrast between the fine enamel and maple sugar tin is piquant, I think. And also resurrected, sparkling like new after an ultrasonic bath in detergent and water, the pink and white aurora borealis rhinestone bracelet, chipped in places from mucho partying. It had been fastened with a foldover clasp, which I removed, and a safety chain, which I also removed, but which left nice little connections for some chain and rosary fragments. Then I stitched on luscious paloma-gray velvet ribbon to tie in a bow at the back of the neck. Now the assembly is ready to make someone very sparkly and beautiful.  Just listed here, at my Etsy shop.  Arriba!


  1. what a beautiful piece, priscilla, and in so perfectly in keeping with the true tradition of Dia de los Muertos. gorgeous!

    and thank you so much for mentioning my Etsy shop; i'm so glad my little clay calaveras are part of such beautiful work. :)

  2. This is gorgeous and all of your skill and special touches really make it shine. A very feminine piece expertly balanced out with the Dia de los Muertos skull.