Monday, December 13, 2010

Calaveras de azúcar

Calaveras de azúcar is the name of my latest quilt. It's Spanish for "sugar skulls" and refers to the molded sugar confections made for the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Some people mistake the Day of the Dead as the Mexican version of Halloween, but they're not the same holiday. Day of the Dead is more about honoring the memories of our ancestors and celebrating their lives. The souls of the dead are invited to return and visit the living, to share favorite foods and drink together. It's a communion between the departed and the living and an acknowledgement that the departed are still with us in one way or another. I particularly like the concept that death is not something to be feared, but rather just another stage of life than we all go through.


The backing of this quilt has a Dia de los Muertos motif on it. I've always liked Mexican folk art so I was thrilled to find this fabric in the clearance section of my local fabric store earlier this fall.


Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913) was a Mexican illustrator who drew both humorous and satirical images of skeletons dressed in clothes and going about ordinary lives. His art has become part of the iconic images of Mexican artwork and is the inspiration for the fabric I used as the backing on this quilt.



I used a disappearing nine patch pattern for the front of the quilt. This is a neat method to quickly make a more complicated pattern from an easy to assemble nine patch block. Rachel Griffith of "p.s. i quilt" has a nice tutorial that shows you how to make this pattern. I included bright blues, greens, oranges, purples and pinks, along with some black and white patterns, to match the backing fabric. I couldn't find any yellows that were bright enough to include in this quilt, although they would have fit nicely.


I quilted this piece using bright orange thread in meandering, wavy lines. The batting is another flannel sheet and the binding is made of the same black and white dotted fabric seen here.


This isn't a large quilt. It measures about four foot square, a good size for covering a lap or displaying on the back of a chair for some folk art.


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