Lessons | Methods & Ideas

Day of the Dead Skulls

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Pâte de Verre is a casting method that involves hand-packing layers of frit and powder in a refractory mold. The term literally means “paste of glass” in French. Works made with this technique take many forms. These include thin-walled vessels, sculptural pieces, and textured wall panels.

In this Lesson, we explore the method by making a skull decorated in the spirit of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. In Mexico, this holiday centers on remembrance of friends and family, and one custom is making festively decorated calaveras, or skulls, from granules of sugar.

For our Day of the Dead skull, we'll use granules of glass instead. The process involves packing a refractory mold with granules of glass and gum arabic. Before firing, the packed glass is back-filled with talc powder to keep it in place. The resulting piece will have a sugary appearance. But though it looks delicate, this is in fact a strong and long-lasting object.

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