Día de los Muertos Calavera Collage

Dia de los Muertos season is here.

With so many Day of the Dead festivities happening, I thought I would create a collage that incorporates two things I love: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Dia de los Muertos. If you don't know what a collage is, it is simply a cut paper assemblage. What I love about collage is, you can do anything with some colored paper and scissors. No wonder Henri Matisse called it painting with scissors!

I have bins and bins filled with multi-colored cardstock, paper and tissue paper. Most of it is scraps from other collages I've done. I just hate to throw anything away. But really, any cut paper that is left over is perfect to be used again in another collage.

I decided to try this collage with my 11-year-old  son. It started out as a couple of skeletons, or calaveras, but somewhere down the line it changed to Frida Kahlo (my muse) and her beloved Diego Rivera. Frida is easily recognizable in almost any art medium but Diego was a bit more of a challenge since his most recognizable trait, his large body, can't really be duplicated on a skeleton!

What you need:

A pack cardstocks in several different sizes and colors will work best for this project. I bought a large set from Dick Blick and it came with round shapes, foils and patterned paper. Larger pieces will be needed for the background. A piece of poster board works because it is sturdier than paper.

Be sure to use a glue stick. Anything else will cause a huge mess because liquid glue takes forever to dry. More experienced students can use rubber cement, but make sure you have proper ventilation. That stuff stinks! If you have older students, consider using tweezers to help shape the smaller details. My son was frustrated by some of the small cut pieces of paper sticking to his fingers, which got lots of glue stuck on them.

When working on a collage, start with your large, basic pieces as your foundation and build as you go. Have your students lightly trace their skeleton shape with a pencil before cutting it out. If they feel comfortable tracing all of their pieces out, have them do that. All the little details of this collage can be added accordingly. Be creative!

I helped my son with the finer details of this collage, such as Frida's hair, dress and jewelry. You can also use a black marker to add a few accents, such as sugar skulls designs on the face.

If you give your students consistent guidance while they are working, their finished projects will turn out amazing! I say "consistent guidance" because there are always students who want to rush through the project. Or there are those who "don't know what to do".  If you take your students through the steps of laying down their foundation shape, then they are more likely willing to continue working on building their skeletons. Sometimes, a blank piece of paper is just too daunting.

Hope you have a blast creating this Día de los Muertos collage. We certainly did!

The artwork above was created by my eleven year old son (with a little help from mom).

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  1. WoW THaTs AmAZiiNg!<3
    iTssO cuTEeee!

  2. I would LOVE to get permission to use this fabulous art as my muse for a an art quilt!!!

    1. Yes, of course! Please send me a pic--I'd love to see it finished. pearmama@gmail.com

  3. I'm very slow, it could be a year but I will certainly send you a picture!!! thank you for your fast response =)

  4. Denise, me too!?? I am friends with Janet. My daughter's birthday is Nov. 2nd, so she has always received Dia de los Muertos items from me. Check out my blog: http://runandsewuilts.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/dia-de-los-muertos-quilt/ I have used my children's art for quilts throughout the year. The latest is http://runandsewuilts.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/its-a-stretch-quilt-challenge/
    Please say yes to me too!

  5. quick question! What comes with the Day of the Dead lesson plan, specifically?

    1. You'll receive the history of Dia de Los Muertos, some fun ideas for the classroom (food, music, books, videos, links) and six original coloring pages for you to use at your own discretion. Thanks for asking, Megan!

  6. Nice art! I'm from Mexico but i don't see a high quality in a work, but you work is awesome! I share it on fb, if you can visit my blog too! Cortes de cabello para cara redonda

  7. AWESOME!!! Are there templates for the shapes by any chance?

  8. Fabulous. Can you please send me the history of Dia de Los Muertos, some fun ideas for the classroom (food, music, books, videos, links) and six original coloring pages too?
    Gracias por todo. joanna.humphrey@btinternet.com

  9. My students just completed their art project. They enjoy it very much.


Artistically speaking....

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