Día de los Muertos comes once a year (typically from November 1 to November 2), but the spirit of the holiday can last all season long with this delightful Day of the Dead craft: sugar skull stepping stones!
We love this colorful project for so many reasons. For one thing, the mosaics are easy to make with a simple mold (we used a paper plate!), and everyone in the family will have fun placing the mosaic tile pieces in the plaster of paris. (We don't know about you, but we love a good plaster of paris craft!)
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Not to mention, these stepping stones are a great way to discuss the meaning of Día de los Muertos with kids, family or friends. You can place them outdoors or in a row leading up to a Día de los Muertos altar, or ofrenda. They're also a sweet reminder to remember deceased loved ones while out in nature or when enjoying a moment of solitude outdoors.
A quick note: We suggest doing this craft outside for better ventilation and because, well, it can get a bit messy (like the best kinds of craft projects!). The good news? The plaster can be cleaned from surfaces easily with water and a brush or old rag.
With that in mind, let's get crafting!
Things You'll Need
Always read the instructions on the plaster of paris packaging, and follow safety precautions when working with plaster, such as wearing a mask to prevent inhalation.
How to make Sugar Skull Stepping Stones:
1. Prep the plaster mix
Measure the plaster and water according to the directions on the plaster of paris package. To cover a regular oval paper plate that's about 12 x 10 in., you'll need about 4 cups of plaster of paris and 2 cups of water. If you add more water than needed, the plaster consistency will be watery and the finished product will be too fragile after it dries. You also don't want to add less water than needed or the mixture will harden too quickly, not giving you enough time to add the mosaic pieces.
Add the plaster and water to a mixing bowl or container. Mix it using a paint stick until you get a gooey consistency similar to yogurt.
Plaster of paris is typically mixed in a 2 to 1 ratio with water to get just the right consistency. However, it's important to read the instructions on your plaster of paris mix as every brand is different.
2. Pour plaster mix into mold
Spray your mold (in our case, an oval paper plate) with cooking spray. Then, as quickly as possible, pour the plaster mix into your mold. Use the paint stick to drag all the mix from the container so the mold is filled completely.
To ensure the stepping stone can be removed easily from the mold, apply a good quantity of cooking spray to the mold and be sure to cover all corners evenly.
3. Decorate plaster with mosaic pieces
Before you begin adding mosaic pieces to the plaster, make sure that the plaster isn't watery. Once the plaster is ready, start by creating star shapes for the sugar skull's eyes. Next create big circles around the eyes by adding rectangular and triangle shapes around the stars.
Create the sugar skull nose by using triangular mosaic pieces. The nose should look like a heart that's upside down. Next, add teeth with rectangular mosaic pieces or two square mosaic pieces placed together. You can also use rhombus shapes around the sugar skull face to delineate the shape of a skull. Just be sure not to place mosaic pieces too close to the skull border or they will break off when the plaster dries.
Lastly, fill the empty spaces on the sugar skull with white mosaic pieces in different shapes and sizes, as seen below.
4. Clean up your design
After your design is ready and the plaster is almost dry, use a damp soft sponge to clean up and straighten any imperfections. Just be super careful not to press the sponge into the plaster too hard.
5. Allow the sugar skulls to dry fully
Let the sugar skull stepping stones dry properly inside the mold for about 20 minutes. Then carefully take them out of the mold and place them in a safe, covered area for about 24 hours.
Once the stepping stones are dry, place them in your entrance, patio, garden, balcony, window sill—you name it. We hope they add a special touch to your home this Día de los Muertos!