Sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos

My son’s teacher asked me if I knew how to make sugar skulls,and though I had never made them before, I was excited to take on the challenge.  How hard could it be?  I searched online for instructions printed them out.

Luckily she already had the molds, as I had a difficult time finding a local merchant that sells them.  The only other things I needed were lots of sugar, water, meringue powder, and paste food coloring.  The first two were easy and the second two could be obtained at our local cake decorating store.

The day we were to make the skulls was overcast and a bit chilly.  The instructions warned on making them on a humid or rainy day, as the moisture in the air would not allow them to dry properly.  Lucky for us, by the time we were ready to start, the clouds had dissipated and sun shined.

The mixture of sugar, meringue, and water was a little tricky, as the first couple times I tried to fill the molds, it stuck.  It was too wet; I guess it is suppose to be the consistency of damp sand.  I added more sugar, tried again, and then added more.  Finally we had it right.  The kids took turns forming their own skulls and placing them out in the sun to dry.  I was surprised how quickly it went.

The following day we made the royal icing for decorating.  For this, it required powered sugar, water, meringue powder, and the coloring.  We mixed up blue, purple, red, yellow, orange, and brown.

The kids decorated the dry skulls with the icing and shaped sequins.  Each one was very different.  I was impressed how they each had their own idea on how they wanted it made.  My son formed a hat out of foil and placed it on the head of his skull.  As I joined in the decorating, some of the kids inquired as to who I was making.  It threw me off-guard, as I knew Day of the Dead was a celebration of relatives who have passed, but I never had made the connection as to these skulls being a representation of those loved ones.  My design plan took another course after that.  I was now decorating a skull in memory of my grandma Emily.  It was more personal rather than just an art project.

They all turned out beautifully.  I will post, tomorrow, a picture of the skulls on the decorated altar in the class, for you to see.  And Thursday I will be repeating this activity with my daughter’s kindergarten class.

Room 20

Room 7

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2 Comments on “Sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos”

  1. Nona
    July 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    What fun for those kids!

    • Cecilia Lopez
      November 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

      They are beautiful! You are right… it’s amazing to see how well they decorated them and how unique each one turned out.

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