Sugar skulls are part of Day of the Dead celebrations. The Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos, or in English Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life as well as death. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. The tradition goes back before the Spanish colonization of Mexico, when it was celebrated at the beginning of summer.
The tradition includes creating altars, or ofrendas, often with a photograph of the deceased ones being honored. Family and friends bring gifts and favorite foods and beverages that the honored ones enjoyed during their lives. One of the common offerings are calaveras, known in English as sugar skulls because of their main ingredient.
The tradition of sugar skulls is for families to decorate their loved ones’ ofrendas with both large and small handmade sugar skulls. Children who have died, represented by small sugar skulls, are celebrated on November 1. The larger sugar skulls represent the adults, whose celebration takes place on November 2. It is believed that the departed return home to enjoy the offering on the altar.
Some sugar skulls are made to be edible, while others are strictly decorative, with inedible ingredients like beads, feathers and sombreros. Sometimes known as sugar skull make-up, or Catrina make-up, face-painting a skull with ornate elements is also a popular element of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico.
In this upcoming class, we will create a flat glass version of a sugar skull, decorating the pre-cut skull with glass threads (stringers), crushed glass (frit), pieces of scrap glass that you cut to your desired shape and size, or with a glass paste made of powdered glass and glass glue. We will provide the various glass elements and you decorate your skull any way you wish.
Feel free to do a Google search for images of sugar skulls prior to class, so that you have an idea of what you may want to create. If you desire, you will have the option to put your decorated sugar skull on a black background so that you can display it on a stand. You can also choose to hang your sugar skull by drilling a hole at the top.
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