Tag Archives: tradition

Don’t worry. Be happy

There is less than a week left in January. How many of you have already slipped up on your New Year’s resolutions or are worried that you didn’t make any in the first place? Don’t worry, we have the solution.

Our Worry Dolls, imported directly from Guatemala, are commonly given to children* to help them express their fears. But there is no upper age limit and there is a lot to be said for stating your worry out loud, then literally sleeping on it, to diminish that sense of foreboding.

The Caoba Worry Dolls come in all sizes, no worry too small or large.

The text in each bag reads
There is a legend amongst the Highland Indian villages of Guatemala: If you have a problem, share it with your worry dolls. Before going to bed tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow. When you awaken they will have taken your worries away.

*The smallest dolls are not a toy. They are very tiny and not suitable for children under 4 years old.

Bride and Groom Worry Dolls

Bride and Groom Worry Dolls

Six tiny Worry Dolls in one bag

Six tiny Worry Dolls in one bag

Six Worry Dolls in their bags

Six Worry Dolls in their bags

 

 

 

Guardian Angel Worry Dolls with a tiny worry doll for scale

Guardian Angel Worry Dolls with a tiny worry doll for scale

 

A Worry Doll Pen

A Worry Doll Pen

Big Worry Dolls. Six in a bag

Big Worry Dolls. Six in a bag

Carved pumpkin decorated with acrylic paint

Sugar Skulls in the Making

Moulded Sugar Skulls

We did decorate the skulls but they were eaten before we could snap a picture!

Last week at Caoba Towers we had a crack at making sugar skulls in preparation for the Day of the Dead. We used silicone moulds that we bought on line and ready-made fondant/sugar paste (Mary Berry may not approve, but we love the stuff). If you search online for tips on making your own sugar skulls you’ll find lots of instructions for making a sugar paste, but many of them say don’t try making the paste on a rainy day as it won’t dry hard enough. They clearly don’t live in Scotland. As I said, we used ready-made fondant.

There are some fabulous examples of sugar skull making online; Pinterest has some particularly fine pictures and how-to tutorials which you can adapt to suit your own environment.

This week we tried a different method of skull-making; pumpkin carving.

Carved pumpkin decorated with acrylic paint

Carved pumpkin decorated with acrylic paint

Any good illustration can act as a guide for your paring knife and paint brush. Leave the pumpkin bare or paint on a decorated skull using opaque acrylic paint* as we did here.

If you’re feeling more decorative than creative then sugar skulls in various media are available at Caoba, in store and online. We have Alexander Henry fabrics by the metre or made up into aprons and cushions, papier maché cocktail sticks, skull and skeleton wind chimes and more.

Blue Sugar Skull fabric

Alexander Henry Blue Sugar Skull fabric available from Caoba

*NB if you want to eat your sugar skulls DON’T use acrylic paint, it is most definitely not edible.

Calavera Catrina, the Elegant Skeleton

Mexico’s Day of the Dead actually takes place over two days; All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). There are many images associated with the celebration, some we’ve already mentioned.

One of Caoba’s favourites is Calavera Catrina, the Skeleton Dame or Elegant Skeleton.

Retablo featuring Posada's Catrina

A retablo featuring Posada’s Catrina. From a range at Caoba

She originates from the beginning of the 20th century as a creation of the Mexican illustrator and satirist José Guadalupe Posada as a mocking representation of the Mexican

middle classes (and was said to bear more than a passing resemblance to the wife of Mexico’s then president). Much of Posada’s work was influenced by his contemporary, the lesser-known artist Manuel Manilla, but his famous series of satirical skeletons has embedded the character of Catrina as a Mexican icon, closely associated with the country’s national and cultural identity.

Caoba, Edinburgh carries a range of Catrinas represented in various forms; from greetings cards to fabric and most beautifully in a ceramic form almost too fragile to look at.

While researching the Catrinas I came across this article at huffingtonpost.com. It’s a comprehensive look at the Day of the Dead and makes fascinating reading if you want to learn more.

Sugar Skull print by Steven Howells

Sugar Skulls aren’t just for the Day of the Dead…

During the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations homemade altars (ofrendas) are decorated with ornate sugar skulls as part of the traditional display, to attract and honour visiting spirits. Over the generations the brightly coloured, clay-moulded skulls have been have elevated into an artisanal art form in a uniquely Mexican way, to celebrate the happy return of the souls of lost friends and family.

Latterly sugar skull imagery has crossed borders and cultural boundaries; you will find sugar skulls on t-shirts, as tattoos, in jewellery; there is even an annual competition for creating the best sugar skulls in bead work. And what about a Sugar Skull Decorating party anyone?

Sugar skulls cushion cover

Sugar skulls cushion cover

At Caoba we carry Alexander Henry fabrics and prints and cards featuring sugar skulls all year round because we love them and know our customers do too!