Mi Familia Calaca
My Skeleton Family
By Cynthia Weill
Paper Mache Calacas by Jesus Canseco Zarate
© Copyright Cynthia Weill and Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All rights reserved
In Mexico, the skeleton is a beloved and humorous symbol.
The skeleton or calaca adorns just about everything.
Author, Cindy Weill met paper mache artisan and skeleton maker Jesus Canseco Zarate , also
known as Chucho, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Chucho had submitted his skeletons to a contest….
…at the Museum of Popular Arts in San Bartolo Coyotepec in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. This
contest was sponsored by an American organization called Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art .
Judges from around the world were enchanted by Chucho’s paper mache calacas.
Not surprisingly, Chucho won one of the big prizes.
Cindy thought that
Chucho’s calacas would
make lovely figures for a
children’s book.
Usually, Cindy must spend weeks and months in Mexico with artisans as they work on the art for
her books. However, Chucho was able to document his process through a webcam. She and
Chucho discussed each figure through e-mail.
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
It was fun to watch the process.
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
The pieces slowly evolved and became a family.
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
Chucho used paper mache. This is a process that was brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the
15th century.
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Grandma/Abuelita is almost done!
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Anita and her brother with the pets/mascotas.
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Baby brother’s carriage needs a little decoration!
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Dad/Papa needs his glasses and Mom/Mama needs her pearls!
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Grandma/Abuelita , Great grandmother/bisabuela and Grandpa/Abuelito like having their picture
taken!
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
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Finally, the whole family is together and ready to star in My Skeleton Family/Mi Familia Calaca!
© Copyright Jesus Canseco Zarate 2013
All Rights Reserved
There were too many family members for everyone to fit on the cover but
Chucho and Cindy assure you that everyone is inside!
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Mi familia calaca/My skeleton family