day of the dead skull

día de los muertos, or the day of the dead, occurs on november 2nd, shortly after halloween. some rituals connected with this mexican holiday include creating altars honoring the dead using sugar skulls, marigold flowers, and the favorite foods of the departed. sometimes people visit cemeteries with these gifts honoring their ancestors. while the day of the dead is different than halloween, it is often lumped together with it since some of the iconography is similar. we decided to create our own little skull honoring the holiday and our ancestors for our altar at home.

N found a pre-made paper mache skull on a recent trip to michael’s that she really wanted to paint, which was the impetus for this project. she decided it should be white (like skulls are) so we got out some white acrylic and mixed it with a little silver for some shine. N began to paint.

after it was all painted white, she wanted to decorate it by gluing on different sequins, shimmery stones, and feathers.


she had a great time putting on drops of glue and placing objects. my favorite moment was when she found a red plastic “crystal” and glued it to the forehead of the skull and said, “this can be one of his chakras!” what a proud reiki master momma i was in that moment.

N loved the finished skull with its different yellows, reds, golds — inspired by marigold flowers (though we had none.) after it was complete, she asked if it could “glow in the dark.” we didn’t use glow-in-the-dark paint, so i told her we could try to put an electric votive candle inside of it to make the inside glow. i had to use an x-acto knife to cut a little trap door in the bottom to get the “candle” inside, as it wouldn’t fit through the jaw.

she loved the effect — “magic!” though not made of sugar, the skull will be placed on an altar i made in grad school to honor our ancestors as an offering to those who’ve come and gone before us on november 2nd.

(a peek at my ancestry altar from 2003)


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  • yea shout out to Naropa 😉

  • jen

    naropa reprazent!!! 🙂