Day of the Dead (Dios de los Muertos) conjures some very distinct imagery: skeletons and skulls, often with big toothy grins, adorned with bright marigolds and intense saturations of color. Macabre but also festive. Most of you know it, or have seen it without realizing.
Day of the Dead is a day of remembrance (actually, it’s three days), but unlike many cultural days of remembrance, there’s more of a sense of celebration. It’s believed the souls of deceased friends and loved ones are invited to earth for Day of the Dead. Altars are constructed, and the favorite foods of these souls are eaten. Families visit cemeteries and decorate tombs with flowers, incense, and traditional family items. Children are given sugar skulls (calaveras), which are just what they sound like.
This preamble is to say that Bullseye’s newest Kiln-glass Education Online video is the seasonally-appropriate project-based lesson Day of the Dead Skulls.
In this lesson, we will teach you how to make Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls — only, since we’re a glass manufacturer, we’ll show you how to make the skulls with a paste of glass rather than a paste of sugar. The method we use is called “pate de verre” which means, literally, “paste of glass”. If you’ve never used this technique before, this project is a simple and fun introduction to it.
We also offer a Day of the Dead Skulls class at Bullseye Resource Centers, so if you’re interested in trying this technique in a friendly group setting in a studio you don’t have to clean up, take a look at our class schedule and see when we’re offering it in your area.
To share a little bit of my personal experience with this project, I took the Day of the Dead Skulls class at Bullseye Resource Center Portland. One thing worth mentioning — and it is mentioned in the video but bears repeating — is that you will want to make sure to apply your colored powder thickly. The clear frit will turn opaque during firing and the colored powder will lose some of its potency. I used what seemed like an reasonable amount of powder and ended up somewhat disappointed with the color saturation in the finished project. So if you want a lot of color, word to the wise: don’t be shy with the powder!
Oh, and please share your completed projects on the Bullseye Facebook fan page.