Elizabeth McCarthy makes Day of the Dead sugar skulls

by Linda Hubbard on October 1, 2022

Step into a back room of Menlo Park resident Elizabeth McCarthy’s home and you enter an assembly line of sorts. It’s there she crafts sugar skulls that are traditionally used in conjunction with Day of the Dead on November 1 and 2.

Elizabeth explains: “Families and communities in central and southern Mexico make altar displays for people who have passed away. There are photos of the person, foods that person liked, orange marigolds — and sugar skulls.”

Elizabeth, who is a nurse at Stanford, started making sugar skulls about 20 years ago when she got interested in Mexican culture but couldn’t find any sugar skulls locally. She was lucky enough to discover Reign Trading online that sold manufacturing molds to make the skulls.

Once the mold is made, Elizabeth carefully hand-decorates each, something this observer notes requires much patience. She says it helps that she was once a cake decorator.

You can buy her sugar skulls at Letter Perfect (384 University Ave., Palo Alto) as well as Five Ten Gifts at 510 Waverley. They are also available online at Mexicansugarskull.com.

In addition to making sugar skulls, Elizabeth offers ready-made and DIY kits and hosts parties and demonstrations. She’ll be at Draegers in San Mateo on October 8. Contact her for more details about kits and demonstrations: emtmcc@yahoo.com/(650-328-2083).

Sugar skull photos courtesy of Elizabeth McCarthy; photo of Elizabeth by Linda Hubbard (c) 2022

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