Quilt in banner:"Life is Unfinished Business" by Ronnie Doyal, Centerville, OH.

The Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) is a south-of-the-border festival to celebrate and respect the lives of loved ones who have passed on before us. This is not a gloomy festival, it's a party, with the dearly departed as the main guests. Held from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 it is an occaTsion of happy memories, celebration of the cycle of life and, basically, a positive way to find closure.

The focus of this challenge is to create a quilt / fabric art that is inspired by the Dia de los Muertos. This should be your interpretation and include items of remembrance that pertain to the person/people/loved one you are honoring.( It is these personal details that will make the quilt heartfelt). There are many traditional elements that are used for the 'ofrenda' (altars) but the only one that is a requirement for this challenge is "happy skeletons" (happy because they are being remembered).

Jacqi Levy, Coordinator           

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Blanche Batey
Shalimar, FL

This piece is dedicated to my Grandmother and her sisters who were all dedicated card players. I left off the whiskey glasses and cigarettes stained with very red lipstick that they were also fond of as I had originally planned because they looked a bit like an indictment vs a celebration. They were a brassy bunch.

The Bride
13.5" x 19"

Cotton and polyester chiffon. Crayon transfer,
raw-edge applique, and piecing.

Carrie Beauchamp
Alexandria, VA

Marriage is a rite of passage. The bride is on the threshold of a new life, shedding her independent single identity to build up a more complicated new one. She may not like all that being a wife has meant in the past, and yet she chooses to carefully reinvent that tradition rather than surrender to it or abandon it. She does not know what trials await her; she does not know who she will become. She may feel vulnerable and strangely alone, yet she faces her future with faith and a full, radiant heart.

Kris Bishop
Northern Virginia

"Night Flight" in honor of my husband ( who died in an army airplane crash in Dec. 1989). It is discharged dragonflies , fluttering in the night sky ( because he flew military intelligence missions).

Night Flight
9 1/2 x 34 1/4


Through the Gate Comes Transformation
January 2004
26 ½" x 32½”

There is a gate that lies between the living and the after life. A mere thread separates the dimensions. We reach out to those we lost and yet they to reach out to us!

January 2004
15" x 14"

Death is just another part of the journey of life!


January 2004
12" x 12"

One cannot exist without the other -
the skeleton is the foundation of who we are!

Rhoda M. Bombard
Roscoe, Illinois
My art is a mere reflection of nature itself - a reflection of past lives or that of this life. Experiences and emotions flourishing in symbolic colors, Mother Nature uses daily in her vast palate. Inspiration can come alone or along with any combination of creative sources. I look at art in all it’s mediums as both a process in which to work through emotions, extenuating circumstances or the shadows of emotions carried through reincarnation and visual appreciation. Through the visual symbolism a conclusion or statement is presented in each piece. All my works are a combination of the basic elements of nature and the technology of the present, radiating its own level of energy in a kaleidoscope of color that empowers lively interplay, creating compositional depth. Not all creations are visual successes to everyone. Knowing transition is going on in the process of the completion of the journey, the most unappreciated visual pieces speak emotionally the loudest. Therefore, the best work.
Celebration of the cycle of life Janus
El Dia de los Muertos

Sherry Boram
Pendleton, IN

Techniques used: Hand painted organic sheeting, commercial hand-dyed cotton, stamped, machine appliquéd, machine quilted and embellished. Glass, plastic and bone beads; turquoise fetishes; turquoise and shell heishei; paper; milagros and other religious charms; shrink plastic; coins; metal trailer medallion.

My family celebrated the lives of my deceased parents at Papago Park in Phoenix in 1999. Because they spent many winters in Arizona and Mexico, the culture became important to all of us. Embellishments are symbols of their lives and travels, especially the little yellow plastic bananas. They represent their devotion to a healthy lifestyle which enabled them to live long and rich lives. The title comes from a line in the poem I wrote for the occasion which is on the back of the quilt. The quilt hangs from a piece of sahuaro skeleton.

Wherever Papa Go
15 ½” X 25 ½”

The Colorful Women of My Past
32 " x 28"

Gerrie Congdon
Santa Rosa, CA

I have always been fascinated with Mexican art and rituals. My son was married to a Mexican woman who gifted me with many wonderful art objects and taught me much about the culture. So when the Day of the Dead challenge came up, I had to participate. I had seen a poster at the hospital when I had x-rays done that was an e-ray of a hand done in several color ways, using complements and knew I wanted to try that for my challenge. I scanned an x-ray of a skull and played with it in Photoshop. I printed the resulting skulls on fabric using my HP printer and bubble-jet treated fabric. I fused the skulls to their complements.
The four figures represent my maternal grandmother, my mother and two of my aunts — all of them had a profound influence on me. I embellished each section with beads and milagros representing their specific traits and importance in my life. Amazingly, I had the fabulous border fabric in my stash. However, the most wonderful part of doing this project was reconnecting with these four women and remembering what each of them had meant to me during my formative years and beyond.


Anne Copeland
Lomita, CA

I wanted to make a Day of the Dead quilt as a way of dealing with all the little animals I have loved and lost, and the loss of my parents in the last couple of years. Although I didn't end up putting the pets images on the piece, or those of my parents, it really helped me to feel as though I was celebrating their lives on this piece. It is a happy piece,
full of color and aliveness. But at the same time, it has a sense of darkness to it with all the skeletons, the lizards and the tortoise and some of the things on the shrine. The butterflies at the top speak to me of transformation from this stage of life to the next one. I used a papel picado (cut paper) edge like the real Mexican cut paper works.

32" x 41"

El Dia de los Muertos para un Pirata
19"h x 15"w

Jane Davila
Ridgefield, CT

Cotton, printed and embossed mulberry paper, linen thread, and plastic, shell and wood buttons. Manipulated photo transfer images

My husband Carlos is from Lima, Peru, where almost all of his family still resides. The first Davila in Peru was a pirate in the late 1600s - early 1700s who raided the port city of Callao. My piece brings this forefather to life with an adaptation of a couple of Posada's engravings, and an etching of an old Spanish galleon. Avast, yo ho and really bad eggs!


Marjorie A. DeQuincy
Sacramento, CA

OMEGA 3 BOO-gie is created with my own hand-dyed, hand-painted and hand-colored fabrics along with commercial fabrics.
The "movin' celebration" on the ocean floor is highlighted by a bright red densely quilted frame. The quilting in the ocean image is purposely spare to emphasize the movement of the water, steamers and balloons caused by the sonic blast of the music.
The Great Kahuna Tuna hosts the annual Omega 3 Boo-gie which celebrates the good works fish have done by providing Omega 3 oils to the cholesterol saturated world --- Balloons, Streamers, Music---
" Let the Celebration Begin!"

28 1/2 " H x 36" W
detail 1 / detail 2

Life is Unfinished Business
50" X 74"
detail 1 / detail 2

Ronnie Doyal
Centerville, OH

El Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration in the Mexican culture to honor those loved ones who have died. In the last five years both my parents and a dear friend have passed on to the next life. This quilt is in memory of them, to celebrate their life rather than mourn their deaths. When I pass on I hope those who love me will dance as well.

17-1/4 x 19-1/2

Jamie Fingal
Orange, CA

I have always been facinated by Frida Kahlo. The centerpiece is a watercolor that I painted. I then reduced pictures of Frida to fit on the wall and on the alter. The watercolor was then transferred to fabric. I used commercial fabrics to frame the piece. It is my tribute to Frida. On Day of the Dead, if she ever appears to me, we'll eat apples and drink Tequilia, and we'll wear red!

Kimberly Hamilton
Grand Rapids, MI
Materials: commercial fabric, fusing, fabric paints, chalk.

Technique: fused appliqué, free motion quilting, embellished with paint and chalk.
My father passed on January 11, 2001. On the evening of his funeral we held a bonfire to honour his passing. This quilt symbolizes his continued presence even after he was gone from our physical lives, and was made using a photo taken the night of the fire. I tried several times to add further embellishment, but the quilt would not accept them. Although not a traditional Mexican DOD style, this quilt, in its simplicity, is my father.

My Father's Pyre
24.5" x 29"

Spirit of the Bride


Kathy Harben
Hayesville, NC

When the challenge went out for entries for Day of the Dead, I entered because I teach English to people mostly from Mexico and it sounded interesting. Little did I know that a very good friend who had just gotten engaged over the Christmas holiday would be diagnosed with lung cancer. She was told of her condition in late January two weeks before the wedding. She died ten days after the bittersweet event. With Spirit of the Bride, I hoped to capture the roller-coaster emotions of that day and to celebrate her transition to a better place. I also wished to project the fragility of life and how close we all are to death each day. Spirit is fused and free-motion quilted. The veil is three dimensional and tacked to the surface by hand.

Helen Howes
Raveningham, Norfolk, England

In memory of my mother, Margaret Marie; married 49 years ago with a bouquet of yellow roses, who took her own life 41 years ago. Never forgotten, but I will not have her flowers in the house.
Hand-dyed and commercial fabrics, dimensional roses, silver lame skull and binding.

No Yellow Roses In The House
40 centimetres by 48 centimetres
(15 3/4 inches by 19 inches)


Catrina Leaves for the Party
35.5" wide by 27" long
detail1 / detail 2

Leslie Tucker Jenison
San Antonio TX

Techniques and materials-- Using my ceramic Catrina statue as an example, I sketched an image and cut pattern pieces. Fabric pieces were fused onto the background fabric and edges were stitched with monofilament. The feather was created from a piece of fabric I pole-wrapped and hand-dyed. Hat fabric was hand-dyed, silkscreened, and discharged. Various elements were thread painted for dimension, and the entire piece was free-motion quilted. Spider web pin was glued onto the surface.

Materials used are commercial and hand-dyed cotton, cotton/poly fusible batting, cotton/polyester/rayon threads.

Since moving to San Antonio, I've become fascinated with the Day of the Dead celebration. I am especially enamoured with the catrinas: dressed up in their finery, they come to escort the recently-departed up to the "big party" in the sky.

Peg Keeney
Harbor Springs, MI

Pure Heaven is my little Day of the Dead shrine to my beloved Dad. He loved nature, wading streams and fly fishing. I often picture him now having the time to do what he so loved.

The background is raw edged appliquéd made using hand dyed and hand painted fabrics. The back and fisherman are commercial fabrics. The marigolds from my garden were scanned and then printed on fabric to make the border. The entire piece was thread painted and free motion quilted. Embellishments, including fish, a dry fly, and luminous paint completed the work.

Pure Heaven
In Memory of my Dad
John Ross Slinger
1902 - 1965

detail 1 / detail 2

Those Who Have Gone Before

Becky Kelly
Kingsburg CA
This piece was made in honor of all those nameless women who have gone before us. Bleached muslin, pigma pen, embroidery and photo transfer.

Deborah Lacativa
Lawrenceville, GA

Cotton canvas, polyester batting, cotton muslin, commercial prints. machine raw-edge applique and machine quilting.acrylic paint. hand beaded.
Do you think she looks happy? I do. I have made this quilt in remembrance of my father's mother Nell Farrington Useted. We can all look back to our ancestors and single out the ones who may have passed on their artistic gifts to us. Gramma was the one for me. Besides being a full time homemaker, mother and farm wife in a time before the conveniences that we take for granted, she took in laundry to help make ends meet and still found time to always be doing something creative. Knitting, crocheting, painting - she dabbled and churned it out and got great pleasure from just doing it. In addition, she taught and encouraged me by allowing me to straighten her sewing box and cross stitch a rainbow of borders on all the pillow cases in the house. Both my grandparents were avid gardeners and I whenever I can coax something green to flourish and blossom, I can feel her approval over my effort to make something beautiful happen just for the sake of enjoying it...but don't neglect the tomatoes and lettuce!

Nellie's Garden - She Sees, She Knows
42" x 51"

Sugar in Paradise
20.5 inches x 19.75 inches


Kim LaPolla
Campbell, CA

It was hard for me to come with a subject for this piece because I've spent my life mostly trying to hide my feelings for one reason or another. I have lost family members and lost friends that were like family members but somehow kept my feelings in check. But then a couple of years ago I was home alone for the weekend and my daughter's pet rabbit, Sugar, died. It was probably the fact that for once I was alone and didn't have to be" strong," but all my grief both past and present poured out of me over Sugar. I buried her wrapped carefully in fresh quilters muslin, tied with a pink satin ribbon and then sprinkled with pink rose petals. Lastly I planted a rose bush over Sugar.

This piece illustrates a happy Sugar dancing among the carrots in Paradise.

Jacqi Levy
Greenville, WI
Hand dyed & commercial fabrics. Glass Beads, Polymer clay bones, army issue dog tag.
In Southwest tradition this Day of the Dead quilt honors the life of my dog: Sarge. Orion depicts his hunting ancestry. We would often track Orion across the winter sky while visiting with the owls. Rubber duckies were his favorite bath toy and his chew bones were always under foot. Sarge protected me from unseen harm and saved me from a fire! My life was truly blessed by such a loving creature. Always there for me. Always my Prince.

Sarge - Always My Prince
19" x 17"

El Dia de los Cuervos Muertos
(The Day of the Dead Ravens)


Liza Lee Miller
Boulder Creek, CA

Black raw silk, 100% silk batting. Computer art printed on to inkjet fabric. Machine appliqued and quilted. Embellished with various items including feathers, a key, buttons, and beads.

This piece was inspired by the Day of the Dead Quilt Challenge. While mulling over the topic, my daughter found and gave me a beautiful raven feather and things started to click from there. I created a small piece of art on the computer that include a Raven with a Smiling Skeleton head balloon, a raven's egg, and my original poem on death. After constructing the piece, I machine quilted it with the words of the title, feathery symbols, and tombstone shapes. It was my first attempt at freehand machine quilting and I'm fairly pleased with the results. I further embellished it with various meaningful and decorative items including the raven's feather, a more elaborate pheasant feather (purchased at Liberty House in London last November), a string of beads made by Navajo indians, a skeleton key, and assorted beads and buttons. This piece was a gift to my mother for Mother's Day this year as she has long admired Ravens. The title of the piece was translated for me by an online English to Spanish conversion program so I hope that it reads correctly. The poem reads:

blows wind
over life
and life
leaving dead flowers
dry and
in the wind

Jackie Moravick
Garfield Heights, OH

I've been interested in Day of the Dead artwork for some years now. These quilts are part of an on-going series to celebrate the Mexican folk-art tradition and are more humorous in nature than honoring anyone in particular."

Day of the Dead New Members Tea
32 1/2 x 27 1/2


Ann Louise Mullard-Pugh
Las Vegas NV

Not every one has loving family members to remember them and sometimes one just has to get away from listening to the family squabble and telling you their problems or maybe it is just a need to visit with other quilters.

Barb Pozek
Kimberling City, MO


Materials: Commercially printed Cotton fabrics, cotton batting, Found and purchased miniature embellishments, Computer printed shrink art medals, Hand sculpted head from Sculptey III.

I chose to honor my father in my entry. During my lifetime, my father was a hunter and gun collector. He was a fisherman and a carpenter. He believed in
planting by the signs and in self-sufficiency.
I was a late child and before I was born, he was a poor mountain kid, a musician and a warrior. In WWII, he was wounded and argued to keep his arm
getting, instead, wires in his elbow and months in the hospital. I am fascinated be the things I never saw in him and how events shaped his life. The war took music from him but made it possible to meet my mother. I honor his life in this quilt, both the man I knew and the one I've only heard of.

By the Signs
11 x 14

Great Visions, Great Life
17.5”w x 21” h


Meena Schaldenbrand
Plymouth, MI

The Spirits are celebrating my father’s life. Eyes represent his long term vision for a better life for our family that transformed his dream into our reality. The eyes form a heart shape that represents my great love and admiration for all his sacrifices. At the age of 37 he traveled alone 10,000 miles for a better education and changed our lives forever.

Susan Shie
Wooster, OH

15.5”h x 18.25”w.

Materials: Cotton fabric, fabric paint, perle cotton, , glass beads, polymer clay fish skeleton made by the artist, silver fish skeleton charms, pewter trout, and green Temple Buddha Boy bead.
Processes: Whole cloth painted quilt. Hand painted, after drawing the composition and writing the text with airpen. Hand quilted, embroidered, and lightly embellished, in the Lucky School of Quilting methods.

It all started because I was teaching in Columbus at QSDS, but Jimmy was fly fishing in Michigan at the Trout Bums Picnic in Grayling, like he always does every June, the week after Father’s Day. I was in my classroom, enjoying a really super group of students all learning my airpen stuff, and all of a sudden something in the trash can smelled like a dead fish… but Jimmy never keeps the fish, and in fact, he gently puts them back, making sure the trauma of the good fight is gone, before he releases them out of his hands, to swim away, with no big gash in their mouths, since the hooks have even had the barbs removed. Those fly fishermen don’t care about taking home fish, especially the ones who don’t like the taste of fish, like Jimmy. Anyhow, maybe somebody in the classroom tossed a tuna sandwich into the trash the night before, or a can of sardines??? Eeeewwwww!

I needed to start this Day of the Dead challenge piece, but I don’t think of my dead loved ones as happy skeletons. I see them as people with wings, who can fly around and be with us, whenever they want to. They show up in my dreams as real people without wings, still alive and interacting with us. So the challenge said the piece has to have happy skeletons! And that trash smelled like dead fish. It was an easy jump to realizing I could make a piece with dead fish in it, but also could use it to celebrate my Jimmy’s gallant habit of never killing the fish.

So that’s what I did.

This quilt also celebrates our big white cat Rita, who was very ill with liver cancer at the time I made the painting and did part of the quilting. She died on July 14, after her June 29th tenth birthday, and one of the things I could sometimes get her to eat during her illness, was canned tuna put through the food processor. So there were your dead fish! Rita was a really good cat, and we buried her out back next to our other dead pets, under the trees, and planted a new hosta on her grave. Had a very sweet little cat funeral, in which Jimmy and Floyd dug her grave and cried, while I read her little life story/eulogy and cried, too. We still have four cats: Meeper, Willy, Evil Tulip, and Marigold. And our dog Hattie Spooler.
So the gist of the piece became this: The spirits of all the dead fish love Jimmy, because he keeps the fish alive. I threw in the part about The Dead Horse Gallery in Lakewood, OH, because I’m thinking about Kim Schoel, the grad student I knew at Kent State School of Art, when we were both getting our MFAs in painting in the mid 80s. She has this gallery, and I plan to look her up soon, as Gretchen and Mike are having their baby in November, and I will be up there a lot.

So on the Day of the Dead Fish, celebrate life!

Last of the Martiniquecans
34 1/4" W x 43"L
detail 1 / detail 2


Mary Louise Smith
Brooklyn, NY

Technique: Reversed and Needle Turned
Applique, Machine Pieced, Embellished,
Embroidered, Machine Quilted

Due to the destruction of France during WW1 caused a small group of immigrants from Martinique to came to American instead. Today, only two people remain, and are represented by the two roses at the bottom
of the quilt. The surname of those who are no longer living are embroidered on the surrounding skulls. The center figure is dressed in fabrics which is over 75 years old from my grandmother's native costume. There is a hidden message (miniski) written in french to my grandmother. Their descendants are few. Creating this quilt enables me to keep my memory of them alive.



Sharon Walton
Pineville, LA

The Days of the Dead is an event celebrated in Mexico to remember and honor deceased loved ones by the setting up of family alters. My quilt depicts an alter made in honor of my mother and her sister who had untimely and tragic deaths. I have also included other family members in subtle photo transfers strategically placed in the background fabric. Other techniques used are stamping and screen printing. It is embellished with beads, sequins, milagros and other found objects. The fabrics are both hand dyed and commercial and it is machine quilted. The skeleton is incorporated in a photo transfer of the papel picado (cut tissue paper) that is usually found on the alters.



40"w X 63"h


Blowing in the Wind
Approx. 20" x 20.5" (It is not square.)


Debbie Rizzo Wambaugh
Brookdale, CA


This quilt is to honor my dear friend Carol Bahcall Zahn, 3/16/1925-11/22/2003.

Carol loved color, so I chose colors that represented her and her life. She lived amongst the redwoods and was surrounded by shades of green all year long. She drove a small Honda which she named "Little Red". Sometimes she would call me and tell me that she and Little Red went out to run some errands and get some sunshine. This quilt is multi layered, quilted and
then cut open. She loved to read and went to the library regularly. To me, the layers represent the pages of books. The grid like quilting represented
the crosswords she loved to do as she got into bed at the end of the day. She started each day with Yoga. I was thrilled to find a smiling skeleton charm doing Yoga. She was fascinated with the spirit world and looked forward to passing on. She loved adventure and travel which is why I named the piece Blowing in the Wind. I feel that her spirit is soaring.

We shared a close friendship and a love for dark chocolate. No, there isn't any chocolate in the quilt but if you would like, have a piece of chocolate
in her honor.


Elin Waterston
South Salem, NY

The photo in the center of this piece is of my grandparents, Millie and Charlie, who shared an eternal love for each other.

Amor Eterno
17" x 22"

La Catrina con flores
(The Fashionable Lady with Flowers)

36 1/2"W x 38"L



Sabrina Zarco
Little Rock, AR

Statement: La Catrina, the fashionable lady, is the most popular of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s many engravings. Here she is preparing for the three days of celebration of Dia de los Muertos. The cempasuchil (flowers of the dead) play an important role in preparing for the celebration. Their fragrance in addition to the burning of the copal helps the visiting spirits to find their way home. This work is in remembrance of my many relatives who enjoyed creating their own fashionable clothes for special celebrations.

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