Sugar skulls: Creepy craft-making is an art at Snoqualmie Library | Photo gallery

Teen artist Bina Yoker takes a critical look at her all-green creation. One of her skull
Teen artist Bina Yoker takes a critical look at her all-green creation. One of her skull's eyebrow turns up and one down, because 'I wanted it to be kind of sassy,' she explained.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

“There it is, a bow tie on a skull!” Will Saimo announces proudly, as he puts the final touch on his sugar skull. The purple paper bow tie complements the purple streaks the 15-year-old added to the top of his creation in a workshop at Snoqualmie Library.

Saimo was part of a large group of youth filling the multi-purpose room at the Snoqualmie Library Wednesday, Oct. 2 for a workshop on decorating sugar skulls, or calaveritas de azúcar. In Spanish-speaking cultures, the skulls are standard decor for their annual celebrations of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, Nov. 1.

The fragile but festive ornaments are put on display during the community celebration, “to celebrate lost loved ones,” explained Cassidy Clausnitzer. Her traditionally-decorated skull rested on the lacy green paper doily she’d cut for it, and she was deciding on how to finish it when she took a break to talk about them.

“I’ve just loved sugar skulls forever,” she said. “I usually just draw them, though.”

During the workshop, teacher Amaranta Sandys walked the participants through painting the skulls, adding feathers, stickers and paper flowers (or bow ties). Even before she told them that yes, the skulls were edible, a few had figured that out for themselves, but no one wanted to snack on the fabric paints and other additions they all made to their skulls, opting for the plentiful supply of Red Vines, instead.

Of course, Sandys saved the best part for the last. “If you feel like you’re finished,” she told the group, “I can give you some glitter.”

A whoosh of excitement ran around the table, as one girl summed up everyone’s feelings nicely. “Ooooh, sparkles!”


Concentrating on her color, Payton Graves draws a detailed design on a sugar skull, as part of the Snoqualmie Library's Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event.

Taking a formal approach, Will Saimo shows off the sugar skull he decorated, with the finishing touch of a purple bow tie.

Although the sugar skulls are edible, the paints and other decorations used on them aren't, so librarians Jill Hetzler and Jenifer Loomis kept the workshop participants sugared up with a steady supply of Red Vines candy.

Amaranta Sandys leads a large group of teens in decorating sugar skulls, part of the Snoqualmie Library's program on the Day of the Dead. The skulls, she explained, are wild and colorful, to celebrate past loved ones lives.

Finished sugar skulls, or calaveritas de azúcar, seem to watch as teens at Snoqualmie Library create their own works of art.

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