Danse Macabre Blog Hop

danse macabre blog hop badgeWelcome to my reveal for the Danse Macabre Blog Hop.  Our hostess, Lee Koopman, challenged us to create jewelry, or decorations or other crafts, inspired by a “Halloween type character.”

The Danse Macabre has some symbols and imagery in common with Halloween, including skeletons. Those are what I decided to focus on for my creations.

I also borrowed from another fall holiday – the Day of the Dead – for my design inspiration. Skulls and skeletons are featured prominently in decorations for that day, as well as bright colors and flowers.

The Symbolism and Inspiration

Danse Macabre is French for Dance of Death. In art, it is usually represented as Death personified leading people of all walks of life on a dance to the grave. Death and the dancers are sometimes portrayed as skeletons, wearing clothes that depict their varying stations in life.

The underlying meaning in the symbolism of the Danse Macabre is that death comes for us all.  No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you do for a living, how much money is in your bank accounts (or your sock drawer), or any other social, economic, or other factors. That could be a depressing thought. Or, it could make you focus less on material things – the ones you have or the ones you don’t – and simply appreciate being alive.

The Dia de los Muertos (Spanish, Day of the Dead) celebrations have some symbols in common with the Danse Macabre.  Most notably, there are personifications of death or the dead in the form of calacas, or skeletons.  These whimsical skeletons are often dressed as if they were going about their lives. The basic idea behind Day of the Dead celebrations, which take place between October 31 and November 2, is to celebrate the lives of departed loved ones and welcome their spirits for a visit while the veil between this world and the next is thin.

These celebrations of death as a part of life include building altars with favorite foods and drinks of the departed. The altars are often decorated with photos, mementos and bright orange marigold flowers, which are believed to draw the spirits of the departed near. There are parades, dancing, lively music, graveside picnics, and laughter while telling stories about the departed.

One Day of the Dead icon that has made its way into jewelry is the sugar skull. These skulls made of sugar and elaborately decorated are placed on the altars or graves of the departed. The folk art style in which sugar skulls are decorated – with big smiles, brightly colored flowers and bold symbols – has inspired designs on textiles, fine art, tattoos, and jewelry, among others. They have become decor and decoration that is seen year-round.

The Jewelry Designs

Inspired by the idea of celebrating departed loved ones with laughter rather than tears, and by the brightly colored art of the Day of the Dead in particular, my designs are not spooky or scary. They are bright and festive.

I’ve been hoarding some ceramic sugar skull focals from Gaea for awhile, waiting for design inspiration. It’s always a challenge when working with art beads and components. I want to do them justice, which often results in designer’s block.

When I saw the shimmery black sugar skull pendant, I knew I wanted to pair it with bright orange flowers, to represent the marigolds from Day of the Dead altars. It took a while to find the right beads, but when I came across these Picasso-finish Czech glass flowers, the necklace design came together almost instantly. All it needed was my favorite textured rolo chain from B’sue Boutiques.

marigold sugar skull necklace

This Day of the Dead inspired necklace features a ceramic sugar skull pendant by Gaea, on a garland of marigolds made of Czech glass flower dangles on antiqued silver rolo chain.

Deciding what to pair these adorable sugar skull charms (also from Gaea) with took a bit more effort than designing the necklace. I tried some flower-shaped beads in different sizes and colors but nothing seemed quite right. When I discovered some orange and green E-beads in my stash that coordinated with the orange and green glazes on the skull, I finally had an idea. It was originally going to be chain maille with bead accents. In the end, it was more of a free form connection of beaded jump rings. Because I don’t actually know much about chain maille and stink at following patterns.

Sugar skull dangle earrings

The ceramic skull charms on these earrings are from Gaea. They dangle from strands of interconnected jump rings with glass beads.

Up next, I pulled a few strands of carved reconstituted stone skull beads in assorted colors and sizes. The smallest ones told me they wanted to be chandelier earrings. After I attached a rainbow of tiny skulls to the connectors I decided the earrings weren’t long enough. I loooove long dangle earrings. A pair of TierraCast rose skull beads were just what I needed to top off the connectors and add length to the earrings.

sugar skull rainbow chandelier earrings

The brightly colored skulls on these chandelier earrings are dyed reconstituted stone. They are paired with silver plated rose skull beads for longer dangles, bringing the total length to 3 inches.

The largest of the brightly colored skull beads became dangles on a charm bracelet. They are mixed with TierraCast calacas charms. I used silver-plated book chain as the foundation for the bracelet. This style of chain, also called cuff and oval chain, is great for charm bracelets. (And I got it from B’sue Boutiques.) It doesn’t twist and make the charms fall the wrong way. And the pattern on the cuff part is just the right bit of ornate interest to complement the charms.

sugar skull charm bracelet

This sugar skull charm bracelet mixes brightly colored skulls of carved stone with festive calavera (skeleton) charms.

A green polymer clay Bali-style skull, by Staci Louise Smith, was another great artisan piece that gave me designer’s block for a bit. I stared and stared at it, until it whispered “bat” to me. I pulled some brass bat stampings from my stash, but they were not the right size for what I had in mind. However, in the same box – where I keep all my brass stampings from B’sue –  there were some large-ish matte black wings. I had to punch holes in the wings so I could wire the skull into place. (I don’t trust glue.) I kept the neckline simple, with some beaded links using Czech glass flowers and beads with matte black Vintaj chain.

Winged Skull necklace

This winged skull necklace features a polymer clay skull from Staci Louise Smith wired to matte black wings. The neckline is beaded chain links with Czech glass flowers and matte black chain.

I also made a batch of sugar skull pendants. I haven’t come up with designs to incorporate them into necklaces yet. Hopefully my muse will be on the job soon. The pendants are polymer clay colored with alcohol inks, metallic Pan Pastels, acrylic paints, and colored pencils. I haven’t used my alcohol inks enough to have a feel for what color they appear in the bottle versus brushed on polymer clay. For example, the one that looks bright pink all over is actually part pink and part purple. And the one that looks lime green is part yellow and part green. Clearly, more play time is in order.

polymer clay sugar skull pendants

These are the sugar skull pendants I made from polymer clay. I haven’t come up with any necklace designs for them yet. But I  want to make some more and keep experimenting with the alcohol ink colors.

That’s it for my designs today.  They are all available in my Etsy shop, except the skull pendants, which are works in progress.  Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you’ll leave a comment with your thoughts on my designs, or maybe click a social share button at the bottom of this post to let your friends know you were here and liked what you saw.

Now as I send you off to visit the rest of the blogs in this hop, I leave you with this little earworm from the Blue Öyster Cult:

All our times have come
Here but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain… we can be like they are
Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper
Baby take my hand… don’t fear the reaper
We’ll be able to fly… don’t fear the reaper

The Blog Hop Participants

Lee Koopman, Hostess Strega Jewellry
Sam Waghorn Pale Moon Creations
Dini Bruinsma Angaza by Changes
Amy Jorgensen Hoarders Corner
Tammy Adams Paisley Lizard  You are here!
Michelle McCarthy Firefly Designs Studio
Becca White Morgana Fey Creations
Kim Dworak Cianci Blue
Inge Von Roos Inge’s Blog
Deb Fortin Mohti Studio
Melissa Trudinger Bead Recipes

P.S. If your comment doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry. It’s just being held for moderation and will show up as soon as I get a chance to approve it.

22 thoughts on “Danse Macabre Blog Hop

  1. Ann Schroeder

    Wow – I love your creations! Both of the necklaces are especially fabulous. I also picked up the tip about book chain being good for charm bracelets. I love yours and hate it when my charms get all twisted. Next time I will try different chain!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Ann. I have made many a twisted charm bracelet too. I tried the book chain for this one and now I might need to re-do all the others with it.

  2. Deb Fortin

    great designs. Love the dyed howlite skulls . I have some of them myself.
    I love how the charm bracelet chain maintains the details of the charms you used. The sugar skulls are not scary at all , the one in the centre seems most typical of the designs I’ve seen (my son has a calavera skull tattoo on his hand ) but at this time of year the olive green one speaks to me.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks, Deb. I think I will make more skull pendants like the center one. With different designs on the face. Maybe more flowers so can get more color in there. It was my first time using colored pencils on polymer clay and I was a little reserved. 😉

  3. Kathy Lindemer

    I love all your designs especially the first necklace. The colors and pendant are wonderful. Well done!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Kathy. That first necklace was really what got my muse going on this theme. The pendant is so great. Wish I had a few more.

  4. Lee Koopman

    Oh, Tammy, you went ALL OUT! I am loving Day of the Dead skulls and you had so many cool ones. Your own sugar skulls are just fantastic! They would be such fun to work with. All the designs are great, the chandelier with the faux chaine maille are fun and the charms on the bracelet are just awesome! But my favorite is that last piece that has the big wings. I love the simplicity of both the skull and design. Thanks for joining the hop! Well done!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Lee. This theme was very inspiring, And this time of year in general makes me feel much more creative than the season we just ended. Thanks for hostessing such a great theme.

  5. Shaiha

    What great designs! I love how bright and cheerful they all are. To me, Samhain is a time of celebration.

  6. sam

    Wow you really enjoyed this hop Tammy! so many wonderful pieces, i love Dia de muertos pieces and yours are perfect. The glass flowers really set of your necklace and the tiny beads on chain links look great on the Gaea sugar skull charms.
    All totally stunning.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Kim. I was pretty excited to have an excuse to bust out the skulls. 🙂

  7. Dini

    Thanx for all the background information, I love ♥ that… Your sugar skull pendants made from polymer clay are wonderful!!! Alcohol Ink is so surprising us when working with it! Have fun with it (-:

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Dini. I’m glad you liked the background info. And there’s so much more exploring to do with those inks. And too little time.

  8. Windbent

    There is so much to love here, I can’t even begin to know what to say. Of course, the marigold necklace is a stunner. I love your polymer skulls.

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