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DIY Día de los Muertos

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Decorating sugar skulls at CraftHack this time last year prompted me to learn more about Día de los Muertos and the handmade elements of this tradition.

“Day of the Dead, or Día de los muertos, is a time for commemorating the dead, celebrating with family— both living and dead—and appreciating the cycle of life and death.”

– National Museum of the American Indian

San Xavier shrine

When you lose someone you love, they don’t stop being part of your life. They remain in your heart and your memories. There’s something beautiful about recognizing and honoring this presence.

Día de los muertos ofrenda

La Ofrenda / Altar

One way to do this is by making a small altar (ofrenda) for the October 31 – November 2 celebration.

“Making a Day of the Dead Altar is about memories and traditions and the most important part is that you enjoy the process …  add [your] own special touches … add the four elements, water, wind, earth and fire in some way, the picture of your beloved one, food, flowers and candles.”

Elba Valverde

 

Marigold crown

The ofrenda can take many forms. Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo has even made them inside foam pumpkins!

Sugar skull from CraftHack

Calaveras / Skulls

“The calavera is an important symbol in Mexican culture, representing ancestors and the celebration of the continuity of life through generations.”

Kathy Cano-Murillo

 

Plaster paris skulls by Crafty Chica

Sugar skull project inspiration:

Colorful sugar skulls are probably the most iconic element in Day of the Dead celebrations, and they take many forms in art and craft.

2 Sugar skulls at CraftHack
Sugar skull project at CraftHack

Decorated candyFor CraftHack, Shanlyn made the candy skulls ahead of time in molds she had at home. Then we decorated them with frosting, sprinkles, and sanding sugar. The skulls she made were the mostly straight-up sugar kind, but some people make them from white chocolate instead.

Tip: You can also use sugar skull molds with plaster of Paris!

Embroidery pattern – Berene Campbell (Happy Sew Lucky) created this cute pattern with a sugar skull and scissors.

Sugar Skull printable via Live Colorful

Cupcake toppers – Free printable at Live Colorful!

Skull necklace by Vesna Taneva-Miller

Necklace – After Vesna Taneva-Miller visited Mexico City, she was inspired to create this Día de los Muertos necklace from a necklace chain, beads, and sari silk.

Tip: If you don’t have a skull bead on hand, you can make your own with polymer clay!

Skull coloring page

Coloring pages to print off or color online.

Day of the Dead planters

Day of the Dead Planters – Regina Lord painted terra cotta pots to look like sugar skulls and then planted succulents in them. The tutorial is at Creative Kismet.

 

A post shared by Berene (@happysewlucky) on

 

Quilt – Berene Campbell also made this awesome Sugar Skull Quilt using a variety of techniques (piecing, appliqué, reverse appliqué, stuffed hand appliqué, etc.)!

 

 

Papel picado at pasquals Santa fe

Papel Picado / Punched Paper

“Delicately decorated tissue paper represents wind and the fragility of life.”

– Karen Castillo Farfán

Papel picado

Colorful papel picado banners 3 ways:

1. Folded tissue paper method

Tip: Sketch your own design or use a printable template.

 

Papel picado by Live Colorful
2. Papel picado shortcut

 

Mini papel picado by Tikkido

3. Miniature papel picado

 

 

Marigolds

Flowers

“The ofrenda (the altar), traditionally includes the yellow marigolds (cempasuchitl) the sweet scent that leads the departed home toward their altar…”

– Vianney Rodriguez

Marigold crown

1. Marigold Crown

 

Paper flowers via Made Everyday

2. Paper (napkin) flowers

 

Mini tissue paper flowers by Tikkido

3. Mini Tissue Paper Flowers

 

Marigold margarita

4. Marigold Margarita

 

 

What traditions are meaningful to you as you remember your loved ones?


– More Día de los Muertos Projects + Resources –

 

Ofrenda




Photos via:

1 + 2. Me

La Ofrenda–
3. Elba Valverde
4. Kathy Cano-Murillo

Calaveras–
5, 7, 8. Me
6. Kathy Cano-Murillo
9 + 14. Berene Campbell
10. Elba Valverde
11. Vesna Taneva-Miller
12. Emily Mathews. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.
13. Regina Lord

Papel picado–
15. Me.
16. Crafty Lady Abby
17. Elba Valverde
18. Nikki Wills

Flowers–
19. Tom of View from Another Angle
20. Nicole Valentine Don
21. Dana Willard
22. Nikki Wills
23. Vianney Rodriguez
24. Reign Trading Company

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Book Page Garland for a Graduation Party

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Book page garland

Phillip finished grad school, after seven years of working full time and taking classes part-time. So we needed to have a party.

Graduation cap

We ended up reserving space in a restaurant near where the commencement ceremony was, so friends and family could just go there directly afterward. I wanted to add some festive touches but knew I’d have little to no time to decorate before people got there. (It turned out to be the latter.)

I kept it super simple with a few school-themed items that I could set up in a flash – all using things I had on hand.

Book page garland

How I made the book page pennants:

1. Ripped out several pages of a ridiculous conspiracy theory novel that I had picked up from free bin outside Changing Hands. (I mean, I’m not going to cut up a good book!)

Book page garland

Book page garland

2. Found the center of the page by folding it in half, only creasing the very bottom of it and making a mark. You could also actually measure and/or use a template if you’re into precision.Book page garland

3. Made a cut from the top right corner of the page to my center mark. Then repeated from the top left.

What I wish I would’ve done: cut from the top right and left margins of the page instead, so that the text would run all the way to the edge.

Book page garland

4. Punched a couple holes near the top of each pennant.

Then I just threaded some bakers’ twine through the holes and added the tassels.

Book page garland - tassel

Tassels

In keeping with the graduation theme, I made paper tassels for each end of the garland, loosely based on instructions I found on A Subtle Revelry.

Here’s how I adapted the project:

  1. Cut about 4 thin strips of paper. (These don’t need to be the same width – or even cut straight.)
  2. Folded over 3 of the strips, leaving a loop at the top. I made mine with a smaller loop and longer “tails” than the ones in the tassel tutorial, because I wanted the proportions more like the tassel on a graduation cap.
  3. Fanned out the strips just a bit.
  4. Stapled them in place.
  5. Covered the staple by winding that last paper strip around the tassel and securing it with double stick tape.
  6. Added a tassel to each side of the garland by threading the baker’s twine through the top loop.

Book page craft

What Didn’t Work…

Watercolor

I thought about adding some color with watercolors. However, my test pages totally curled up, even when I used the smallest amount of water possible or painted just part of the page.

Book page garland

The Pages

Another thing that could’ve been cool was using a book or notes from Phillip’s classes. But he didn’t have anything like that around – at least nothing that he was willing to sacrifice to the craft gods.

So I went with the conspiracy book, because I liked the page size.

I tried to make sure there wasn’t any murder on the pages I used, but it was hard to avoid. And there were still black helicopters and government officials typing things out on Blackberries – not very festive or on theme.

Book page garland at grad party

I hoped people would see it as decor and not try to read it.

No such luck.

One family member said they had been trying to figure out if the pages had some significance or clues. (Nope.) Another one asked me what the garland spelled. (Nothing.) It took me awhile to convince her that what she thought were large letters were actually backwards chapter numbers showing through some of the backlit pages.

I obviously should have come up with more for people to do.

image

What Worked (Mostly): The Decoration Bag

I loaded up a large ziploc bag with everything I (or whoever) would need to set up the decorations at the restaurant:

  • Chalkboard sign with “Phillip’s grad party!” already written on it – with chalk markers, so it wouldn’t smear.
  • A jar for markers and pens that had a chalkboard label on the front. I wrote “Please sign the program” on it with a little arrow pointing down.
  • Chalk markers in case one of my signs needed a touch-up.
  • Regular markers and pens, so people could sign the commencement ceremony program like a yearbook. These were just regular kids’ markers you’d find in the back-to-school aisle.
  • A wooden ruler to hold the program open. (Also because it was cute and school-y.)
  • The garland, carefully folded and placed between things so it wouldn’t get crunched up.
  • Washi tape to hang the garland.
  • Scissors.
  • This Yoobi kit in case we required a tiny stapler or scotch tape for some reason.

I had hoped to hand the bag off to my parents, who were designated to get the party started, since I guessed (correcty) that Phillip and I wouldn’t be able to leave the place where the ceremony was and get over there right away. But they were so focused on their mission that they left before I could give them the Decoration Bag.

So I set things up halfway through the party. Less than ideal, but that’s life.

At least having everything in one bag meant I could get it done in record time. And at least the guests didn’t have to wait on the food.
Grad party garland

 

– More info on DIY party decor –

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Solstice Cookies and Solar Cooking

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Craft | 2 comments

Solstice cookies

The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).

So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.

Burton Barr Library

On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!

I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.

Solar baked cookies

I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.

The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.

Baking cookies outside

Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.

Solar baking

So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!

Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.

Phoenix

– More info –

  • The package actually said not to eat the cookie dough raw. That didn’t stop me. But I thought you should know.
  • Many of the solar ovens I saw online have glass on top. If you decide to use plastic wrap like I did (because I didn’t have any glass panes just sitting around), try to get good cling wrap. I used the Target brand, and it was really annoying trying to get it tight across the top. (In the end, it was a wrinkly mess.)

Articles to check out…

Cookie dough

 




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The Opening Of The Fire Pit

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

After our morning hike at Tumamoc Hill, we returned to the Mission Garden that evening for demonstrations on agave rope making and roasting, tequila tastings, a display of products made from agave fibers, plant sale, and The Opening of the Fire Pit.

Agave products

Tequila

The day before, probably about the time Phillip and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a group had gathered at the Mission Garden. Jesús García, an Education Specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, was demonstrating how to build a fire in a traditional roasting pit and fill it with agaves. They would be covered with metal from the side of an old washing machine and then layers of dirt to keep the heat inside the earth oven.

Jesus Garcia

Other than the repurposed washing machine, the pit would be similar to the ones we had seen evidence of on our hike that morning, the charcoal gray rocks contrasting with the reddish desert clay only hinting at what was under our feet.

Agave plants

We don’t know exactly how the ancient roasting pits worked. Current tribes in the area have not continued this tradition. However, Jesús García pointed out that just a few miles south of the border, “the tradition is still alive.” He talked to his family in Mexico about the process, taking notes and drawing extensive diagrams about every step. Adapting those techniques to the Tucson area has taken some trial and error. Apparently. Last year’s cooking time wasn’t quite enough.

So this year, they would give the agave a full 24 hours to cook underground before literally digging in and opening up the fire pit.

Agave

That must be the magic number. It was soft and slightly sweet. Each variety had a different flavor. One tasted like sweet potatoes.
Roasted agave

So what if you don’t happen to have access to a 5-foot by 6-foot roasting pit?

Carolyn Niethammer shared how she roasts quartered agave heads in her home oven – just roast at 350 for 17 hours (!)

Carolyn cooking demo

Once they’ve been roasted, you can add them into other dishes. With an electric skillet, she demonstrated how to saute up some agave along with nopales (prickly pear pads), peppers, and tepary beans, a drought-tolerant heritage bean that has recently come back into use. It was delicious!

Agave and tepary beans

She followed up by passing around some “Aztec delights,” bite-sized treats she made from amaranth, chia, agave syrup, and chocolate.

Dessert at Mission Garden

It was a sweet finish to our Mission Garden visit.

 

 


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 6 + 7, 10am + 1pm: Fibers, Tequila and Fun at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Agave Garden Tours at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Rare + Collectible Agave Sale at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6, 6pm: Agave Fest tequila party at Hotel Congress. $35
  • May 7, 11am: Agave Heritage Brunch at Carriage House. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden. $55



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

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Southwest Maker Fest 2017

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

SWMF envelope journal

I did an envelope journal workshop again this year at Southwest Maker Fest.

SWMF 2017

Once again, the attendees were super creative, coming up with their own clever modifications to the project, including one multifunctional journal that doubled as a wallet and a paper airplane!

SWMF envelope journal

This year, my assigned room was in a different area within the i.d.e.a. Museum that seemed less hectic.

SWMF envelope journal

Also, I had help! Several friends showed up and pitched in with explaining the project to latecomers and helping answer questions, etc. A big thank you to Anne, Katie, Trish (who also brought extra art supplies), and the ever-patient Phillip!

SWMF 2017

It was a lot of fun, and it always gets me thinking about how to make it better the next year!




P.S. You can make this too!

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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