Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Dia de los muertos pumpkins

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Backstory

I lived and studied in Mexico for a time. One of my favorite experiences there was during the Day of the Dead celebrations. I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Janitzio island on Lake Patzcuaro in Michoacan where Purepecha indigenous people gather every year to pray for the deceased loved ones. 

It was over ten years ago but I can still remember the archway strung with hundreds of flowers that lead onto a dock where we boarded the boat to cross the lake. The sun was setting as we made our way across the water and as the light grew dim the island of Janizio came into view all alight with what looked to be millions of candles. It took my breath away. 

Once on the island we made our up the one and only winding street to the alter at the top of the hill. The way up was crowded with venders selling flowers, garlands, candles, food, liquor and anything else you could possibly think of to bring as an offering to the dead. The sights, sounds and smells were overwhelming and incredible, some of which are documented in this photo journal by photographer Benjamin Morris.

I like the idea of celebrating and honoring the dead. Halloween, although fun, has become such a silly holiday linked to ghosts and the afterlife in only the most superficial way. In our culture the dead are something to be feared and not revered. That's why I like celebrating a bit of both and these Dia De Los Muertos Pumpkins seem to do just that. 

Here's How it's Done

These detailed designs are fun to make and easier than they might look. You can always free draw your design (which is what I did for the black and white pumpkins shown above) but if you're nervous about getting the outline right you can also make a simple stencil using paper, marker and an x acto knife.

After you get the outline down you can really get creative with outlining rest of the design in marker. Have fun with it!

The final step is to paint in your design. Again, don't be afraid to get colorful if that's the look your going for.

The final pumpkin product

Happy pumpkin painting everyone!!! Along with the all the trick-or-treating, costume wearing and party-going this Halloween you might also want to consider lighting a few candles and saying a little prayer in honor of loved ones passed.


  1. how great you got to see that tradition firsthand ! I love your design so I'm going to give it a try and mix it in with my traditional JACK O LANTERNS !