This year I was asked to build an altar in the home of a dear friend to honor a loved one. This stunning, elegant home needed an altar that reflected the design within, which was very modern and with an understated color palette. Considering my style might be described at times as the opposite, usually playing in bold and bright hues, it was really fun to see how we could retain what we loved about our Day of the Dead traditions, in this new light.
And I knew, no matter what style of altar we were doing, the hand embroidered Otomi's were going to take center stage... as they're my personal favorite, and we had just received them in lovely neutral two tones.
Your altar will be a focal point but it should be placed where you can easily gaze and visit, if you will, with those you're remembering. A safe place where lit candles and glass vases aren't in danger around running children. Like any altar, it's a place of peace and contemplation. Instead of the living room mantle above a fireplace, we went with the dining room, where I knew gray, textured, walls with high ceilings would look fabulous with hanging textiles. The windows in the room also let in incredible light.
Fresh flowers always elevate an area with such vibrance. Lucky for me, I got to visit the famous Floral District in Downtown LA. At this time of year I'm usually carrying out Cempasuchil (Marigolds) out by the bundle for Day of the Dead... but this year I looked for more earth tones, something more grounded. I was immediately drawn to these gorgeous black dahlias, mums and large leafy arrangements of eucalyptus. It really made the altar come to life especially when placed with household adornments, pictures, art, pumpkins, candles sticks, sage and the most beautiful collection of Oaxaca skull candles I was able to find.
I honestly can't pick a favorite, I loved this altar as much as I love my bright marigold altars filled with Catrinas and Alibrijes. While doing this fun project I learned again what a fascinating holiday this is and how it's piqued such an interest with so many outside my own culture, and I feel that's a beautiful thing. Honoring family and friends who have passed is a grateful, humble and loving ceremony. It's been a joy to see how everyone has adopted their own way of being a part of this glorious tradition.
The hand embroidered Otomi table cloths and table runners can be found at LOLA Y TULA.
Oaxacan Skull Candles by il.lumina_
Natural candles made by hand in Mexico from the most amazing store in Tijuana, Called Linea Norte