San Miguel, Part 2

IMG_9121 I wanted to start off Part 2 with the primary reason we were actually in San Miguel….to create art!!! Our collaborative project this year was called El Santo Real, The Royal Saint/Santos. We had three areas at Casa de la Noche that were transformed into classrooms. There were 4 workshop days and we needed every minute of everyday to complete this very complex project!

In my class we worked on creating the base for our sculpture using polymer clay.IMG_5580IMG_5666

Lynn taught sculpting with paper clay and students made amazing heads for their santos.

Heads drying!

Heads drying!

In Helen’s class, students created the center torso/box with a book on it, of course! That’s Helen’s motto, “put a book on it”!  In Elitia’s class, participants learned the art of pewter embossing and made beautiful crowns and wings for their santos.

Each day lunch was provided in the courtyard of Casa de la Noche and Barbara, our hostess, could not have been more accommodating. The lunches were delicious!

Leslie, Barbara and I

Leslie, Barbara and I

Pozole lunch day!

Pozole lunch day!

On the final day of the retreat we had a student showcase and reception. It was so amazing to see the fruits of everyone’s labor with their incredible Santos. Each one was so different, unique and full of personality! It was so rewarding as teachers to see the amazing creativity and skill. Here are just a few of the 30 Royal Santos that were created!




The other reason we were in San Miguel was to be a part of the celebrations for Dia de los Muertos. It is a magical time of year to be in San Miguel…..altars spring up all over town, front doors are decorated with flowers and this town that is already as colorful as can be, just about bursts at the seams with a riot of color and pageantry.


My sister and I were just lucky enough to happen upon the Monarch Parade as it went by!IMG_5604IMG_5599On the afternoon of November 1st, we visited the Guadalupe Cemetery for what is always a very powerful experience. It is a time of year when families freshen up the graves of their loved ones and bring replicas of things they loved. They sell a variety of small sugar skulls and Day of the Dead miniature food, drinks, etc.IMG_9260

Families gather at the gravesite and often mariachi bands play music. There is laughing and crying and it is a very moving thing to witness and be a part of. IMG_5586IMG_9244IMG_5592Later that day we began the preparations for the evening’s activities which included parades and performances up at the Jardin. Many students had their faces painted in the traditional “calaca” or skeleton style and others dressed the part! (this was actually on Halloween night)IMG_5545IMG_5539IMG_5547

But on the evening of the First, we had an artist come to the home where we teachers were staying and he did a great job painting my husband’s face, Lynn’s face and the Ashley’s faces….IMG_9275IMG_9295

When the painting was completed (it took about 45 minutes per person, so I didn’t paint my face, rather I became the paparazzi who followed these guys around town as they joined in the parade!)IMG_9402

Throughout the evening we met up with groups of students, friends and complete strangers who immediately bonded with our merry band of Calacas! IMG_9323IMG_9528IMG_9461IMG_9198It was an amazingly wild and crazy night made all the more fun by joining in with painted faces. We had talked about doing this for years so it was fun to finally make it a reality and I am sure it will become a longstanding tradition now! IMG_9305IMG_9560

As our retreat came to a close a few days later, we celebrated with a final, farewell dinner at one of our favorite places, Mi Casa, with a beautiful view of the night-lit Parroquia. It was a truly special evening with music, margaritas, yummy food and new friendships that were forged.


Thank you so much to all who joined us this year and made it such a memorable trip……hasta lluego….until we meet again! Muchas Smooches!IMG_9750IMG_9753 (1)




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