Día de los Muertos – Mexify Your World

by Jenny Butler
Thursday 3rd November 2011

After getting her Mex on yesterday, today Madeleine Stamer gets her craft on! Today Maddi shows us step by step how to create some simple and effective decorations to add some Mexicana at home, as well as giving us an insight into the celebrations of the Melbourne Mexican community. – Jenny x

Back in 2002 I had my first Day Of The Dead hands-on experience. I volunteered to assist members of the Melbourne Mexican community as they set up for the Day of the Dead celebrations. They installed a gargantuan altar inside the spectacular Spiegeltent during Melbourne’s Arts Festival. Two years had passed since my dad passed away, they welcomed me with open arms and invited me to add a photo of dad on their communal shrine. It was the most spiritually liberating experience I have ever had. The decorations, scent of marigolds, dance, music, feasting and fun with relative strangers was a sensory delight. I documented the day with my clunky digital camera that required a floppy disk. Funnily enough it was cutting edge technology at the time. I am grateful for a few decent shots and fabulous memories.

Mexican decorations are the epitome of joyous beauty. Traditional Papel Picado banners (Punched Paper) are a definite festive must have. I’ve compiled a few simple decorative showstopper alternatives that can be made with basic stationary supplies and modified to your hearts content with a touch of recycling and minimal elbow grease. All you need is the Mariachi band!

Paper Rosettes are super easy to make, construction is similar to basic paper fan making 101. Colourful Kinder square sheets are a good choice for small rosettes but why not get a little adventurous and try going large scale?! Adhere 2 folded symmetrical pieces together and trim edges as desired. For a green alternative use recycled sheets of newspaper. Once you’ve created a decent stockpile have a crack at stringing them together to make a garland or suspend them from the ceiling in a grouped cluster at varying heights. Welcome to show stopper central!

Upcycle old candles with a simple hand cut paper stencil. Glue under and above with slightly watered down PVA glue, wipe back excess glue off wax. Let dry, then light!

For further visual inspiration check out my stack of favourite reference books above.

More happy reading.

Madeleine xo

by Jenny Butler
Thursday 3rd November 2011


  • Dawn Tan 5 years ago

    ooh. Those candles look like lots of fun to make!

  • Nichola 5 years ago

    The decorations are so bright and colorful. I think even I could make the paper rosettes :)

  • Kirsten Devitt 5 years ago

    Needed these for my DOTD party….guess there is nothing wrong with a DOTD Xmas, right? :D x

  • Prue 5 years ago

    What lovely coloured paper decorations, I can see many upcoming uses…and making them is all part of the fun (maybe an afternoon tea party as well).

  • Michelle 5 years ago

    Very cute – and easy! Love it!

  • Anna Walker 5 years ago

    Simply gorgeous…and I love a gratutious book shot!

  • Sandi Richards 5 years ago

    I love this easy to make style of papel picado..will try it to brighten up my altar and home. Thanks. Loving these guest blog posts.

  • Catherine 5 years ago

    Thanks for this guide! I always appreciated the deocrated candles but never even thought of making them. I’m having a traditional Mexican Christmas with my partner’s Mexican family, so I hope to incorporate some of the ideas you’ve presented in the past few posts. Thanks!

  • Michelle 5 years ago

    Very clever and festive guide!

  • Giselle 5 years ago

    I am so logging off right now and making those rosettes. Thank you for the tutorial.

  • Rachael 5 years ago

    I’ve just returned from 3 weeks in Mexico, and one of the many highlights was seeing all the Dia de los Muertos decorations for sale at the markets, and adorning the locals’ homes and workplaces. What a colourful, vibrant time of year it is!

  • nikola 5 years ago

    love the paper rosettes-and not just for day of the dead decorations! have been loving everything this week.

  • kelly 5 years ago

    hi madeleine, i just love your work. thanks for the rosette tutorial, i’ve always had a thing for snowflakes, but these are just gorgeous!

  • Emma 5 years ago

    Those paper rosettes are beautiful! So simple yet stunning. Will start making now in preparation for Christmas…

  • I love love love the candle cutout ideas! So nice!

  • Sharon 5 years ago

    Have loved your posts this week! Your work is amazing – so colourful, beautiful and inspiring. <3

  • Amanda 5 years ago

    Terrific decorations! I am going to make some to put in my hair for the day of the Dead party I am going to tomorrow night. Exciting!

  • Andrea 5 years ago

    Really enjoyed your blogs – thx for this week!

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