Aug 27

Sweet and Creepy Shrine


You can definitely see the Mexican influences in this piece.  I found the Mexican lottery cards at a store in San Diego, and knew I had to incorporate them in a shrine somehow.  I tried to catch the cheerful + morbid feel of Dia de los Muertos.  I was going to go so far as to make small ‘sugar’ skulls to put in the niches at the bottom, but I found Tinkerbell’s detached leg when we were going through my girls’ toy bins and I thought that would be perfect.  I had to cut grooves in the niche walls to glue it in.

Not shown: drawings on the sides of skeletons dancing in their folk finery.  It didn’t show as well as I had hoped. Acrylic paint, if it’s glossy at all, is resistant to other media over it.  I’m using gesso in another project for collage, and I hope it works better.

To get the blue/green “peeling paint” look, I painted blue underneath, and when it was dried, I smeared vaseline over it and painted the green on top. Then I wiped it off.  That idea came from a book by Claudine Hellmuth.

The beads on the spider are sewn on by hand.  The web was machine-sewed.

For the skull on the inside of the door, I made a stencil and sprayed adhesive. Then I lifted the stencil and poured the pink glass beads over the adhesive.  Quite the mess, I tell you.

The black-and-pink frame around the corazon card is a piece of mat board.  I cut slits in it and wrapped pink cotton twine around it to give the feel of spiderwebs.

For the semicircle/sun at the top, I embossed a sheet of tin.  You can see my mehindi influences in the lotus-petal shape.  Around the outside, I used some leatherworking stamps to add more texture.  When it was done, it had too much of a hat shape and not enough of a sun shape, so I painted some of the tin turquoise.

What I learned from this project: Apple Barrel acrylic paints are cheap because they are poor quality.  For this sort of project, I don’t really need thick tubes of Golden heavy bodied pure pigment artist acrylic, but Apple Barrel is below my threshold for useability.


    • Jane Cheek on August 30, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Hi, Kater.
    Had a chance to look over your new stuff – it’s all really good, and I’m still very jealous of your ability to put this together – time is not my friend yet. The shrine is great! I’m inspired! And I really like the chicken cooker – what class, compared to the idea of shoving a beer can up a chicken’s ass and sticking it in a pot. 🙂

    Well, done, dear.

  1. I am an art teacher in orlando, florida. i am teaching grade k-5. My fifth graders are doing a box assemblage project. while researching, i came across your image “sweet and creepy” which goes along beautifully with some of the other retablo elements, i am composing into a video for the kids to see.

    would it be possible to use that image in the video. it will also be on a blog and linked on youtube.

    nice image, very nicely constructed. thanks for your time

    • Kater on March 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Sure thing! I appreciate link-backs, but I’m all about sharing my images, especially when it helps educate and inspire kids.

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