Create a beautiful calavera (skull, in English) to celebrate Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Traditionally, skulls are created out of sugar or clay, elaborately decorated and placed on an altar to honor loved ones who have passed away. This art project is made with felt. Celebrate Día de los Muertos Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
Discussion Points for Teachers/Parents
- Talk about family celebrations and traditions.
- Decorative calaveras are a reminder to celebrate life. How do you celebrate life and people you love?
- Learn the Spanish words for skull (calavera), Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), family (familia) and love (amor).
- Discuss symmetry, pattern and color.
- 9”x12” piece of white felt
- Felt scraps in variety of colors
- White glue (Tacky Glue works best) or a glue gun (adult use)
- Embellishments such as silk flowers, sequins, beads, buttons, feathers, ribbon and bits of lace
- In pencil, draw a skull shape onto the white felt and cut it out. Tip: Trace around a glass then add a rectangle at the bottom for the jaw.
- Cut circles for eyes using colored felt scraps. Layer 2-3 circles for each eye (reduced in size) for interest (see photo).
- Cut out a nose and again, layer 2-3 shapes to make the piece more colorful and interesting. Tip: Start with a heart shape and place it upside down in the center of the face.
- For the mouth, cut several small white rectangle teeth and glue onto a black oval felt piece. Cut a slightly larger oval in a bright color and glue the mouth on top. Attach the entire piece to the skull.
- Decorate the skull as you wish using embellishments and felt scraps. Tip: Laying out all the pieces before gluing allows you to move things around. Glue embellishments down once you’ve chosen your design.
- Make the skull a stuffed decoration by cutting two skulls out of white felt. Decorate the first skull and allow glue to dry. Run a bead of Tacky Glue around the inside perimeter of the second skull leaving the bottom open. Press the two skulls together. Let dry completely. Stuff with small scraps of felt or fiberfill and glue the bottom closed.
- Adapt this to a sewing project by stitching on the felt pieces and embellishments and stitching two skulls together if you choose to stuff it. Enhance with embroidery stitches, if you wish.
- Have each person in the family make a skull and create a hanging banner decoration.
Alyssa Navapanich is an art enthusiast who teaches art to elementary school kids in North County. Photos courtesy of Alyssa Navapanich.