Thursday, October 7, 2021

Day of the Dead in quilts

The Mexican holiday known as Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is celebrated on October 31st, November 1st and 2nd. It overlaps with All Hallow's Eve (Halloween), the night before All Saints DayThe tradition honors those who have passed, whose souls are thought to come back to be with their loved ones. Here are some fun and colorful quilts that reflect the holidays!

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Catrina's Halloween by Michelle Howe (Irvine, California)


We were captivated by the gorgeous fringed and flower-bedecked hat worn by the skeleton, who is also holding a giant red peony.  This is a great example of broderie perse - a quilting style where flower motifs are cut from fabric and used as design elements. 

Michelle says that she fell in love with the "Catrina" quilts in the special display by Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli at the 2018 Road to California quilt show.  This is Michelle Howe's second "Catrina" quilt.  The colorful painted face was created using the face-painting techniques of Patt Blair.

The black and white background fabric, featuring bats and crows, provides a perfect haunted setting for "Catrina". The design elements, including skeleton parts, flowers, hat and dress were appliqued.  Many of the elements were edged with black blanket stitching, helping the pieces to stand out.

Emily by Jane Rua (Arizona)

Jane Rua made this fabulous quilt as a wedding gift for a great niece who loves skeletons and haunted houses. The piece was inspired by a quilt made by Jane Impey. In this delightful scene, a skeleton is enjoying a relaxing bath while shipping on a glass of wine.  Meanwhile, bugs rain from the shower head! 


In the closeup photos, spiders can be seen weaving webs on the wall above the bathtub (above).  A skeleton cat is having fun chasing after a huge spider (see the photo below)!


Save the Last Dance for Me by Nancy Arsenault (Tucson, Arizona)


This is the eleventh quilt in Nancy Arsenault's renowned Dia de los Muertos series!  Our photo does not do justice to this quilt, as the lighting was very uneven at this show. We hope you can appreciate the outstanding design nevertheless.

This original design was created in a workshop on mandalas.  Nancy says, "Everyone else was drawing beautiful flowers.  The more I drew, the less I liked it.  The teacher, Sharon Schamber, noted my frustration.  She said, Nancy... do what YOU do.  Then she walked away and I thought - does she mean SKELETONS?"

The center mandala features a ring of grinning skeleton heads with flower eyes.  They are surrounded by an outer ring of colorfully-dressed male and female dancers. The dancer shown below is elegant attired in a red dress with a striped Mexican shawl, with a cockatoo perched on her shoulder.


Image credits: Photos were taken at the 2020 Road to California show (Catrina's Halloween and Save The Last Dance for Me) and the 2020 Quilt Arizona show (Emily).

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