If you wander through any of the open-air markets (or
mercados) in Latin America, you’ll quickly notice a wide variety of artesanías (essentially crafts) lining the shelves and tables. Tourists and locals alike frequent these important hubs of culture and commerce, searching for unique handmade treasures, inexpensive printed tees to commemorate their latest trip, or simply a gift for a friend or relative's birthday. After all, crafting is a major part of Latinx culture, whether it’s a Mexican alebrije sculpture, Peruvian pottery out of Cusco, or hand-embroidered Cuban guayabera shirts.
Crafting is also a major part of how we Latinx folks celebrate holidays, like when families make their own
piñatas for birthday parties, or even more timely, for the upcoming Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead, during which many erect elaborate altars complete with paper marigold flowers and papel picado. And while we may not celebrate Halloween in the same way in our countries of origin, many of us (especially first- and second-generation Latinxs) also get into the spirit of the season, especially via crafts. And what better place to get a glimpse of our craftiness than Instagram? I've compiled a number of Latinx crafters who are creating (and sometimes even selling) some lovely festive autumn crafts in the list below, and they're perfect for some crafting inspiration of your own.
Phoenix-based Cano-Murillo is one of the most popular Latina crafters on Instagram and beyond, with a whopping 53k followers. Owner of
Mucho Mas Studio Boutique and Gallery and author of new book , Cano-Murillo lives and breathes art. Her most recent venture, Forever Frida: A Celebration of the Life, Art, Loves, Words, and Style of Frida Kahlo Zombie Quinceanera Dolls, is especially fun.
“These are a big hit as well because it combines the best of being Mexican-American during Halloween time,” says Cano-Murillo.
She’s also been leading classes to make DIY
Muertos-themed Barbie dolls, along with kits to buy. Cano-Murillo says she feels it’s fine for non-Latinxs and non-Mexicans to celebrate Dia de Muertos, so long as they “educate themselves on the history and traditions and then celebrate respectfully.” She also has this to add: “Support handmade muertos art by Latinx makers rather than only buying commercially made items from chain retailers.”
Vanessa Barraza Brady has been crafting her entire life. The mom of three runs the blog
Tried and True, featuring tutorials and ideas around cricut crafts, wreaths, kid-friendly projects, printables, and more — including a whole section dedicated to autumn crafts. This year, she’s posted over 15 different Halloween wreaths on her Instagram for followers to try themselves, including one with glowing skull eyes that’s sure to be a hit on Halloween night.
The Designing Chica, a.k.a. Susana Sanchez-Young, is a designer, illustrator, and crafter who leans into her Latinidad as a source of inspiration. The Guatemalan-Nicaraguan-American is also selling Dia de Muertos-inspired Barbie crafts this fall holiday season. While Sanchez-Young’s main form of art is making prints, she’s also been known to make the occasional
Halloween wreath, and absolutely adorable pins as well.
Mexican-American Rina Gonzales first began crafting around 2003 via scrapbooking. 10 years later, she went on to start craft events and a DIY card kit business.
“I craft because it makes me happy. I have a business to provide the necessary supplies and inspiration to others,” says Gonzales.
Today, she owns Create Studio Fresno in California’s Downtown Fresno, where she teaches crafting classes to the community (though classes are currently virtual due to COVID-19). For now, crafters can sign up for Zoom classes or get inspo through her Instagram where she’s shared lovely pieces, including this Dia de Muertos altar kit.
Aimee Cuellar is the owner of Quirky Cipota, a lighthearted brand that celebrates being just a little bit weird.
Cipota is a word used in Central America to refer to a young girl, and for Cuellar, it’s also a way of honoring her heritage (Salvadoran and Nicaraguan). The queer, disabled creator designs and sells shirts, pins, stickers, tote bags, spooky stationary (like the ones seen above featuring jack-o-lanterns and coffins), and more through her Instagram and Etsy shop.
For those who prefer their crafts a bit on the lighter and cuter side, there’s The Paper Treasury. Owner Araceli E. began her crafting journey years ago when a roommate asked if she’d be interested in scrapbooking with her.
“I was hesitant because I honestly thought it was a grandma hobby and I was no d*mn granny (no offense, grandmas). But I fell in love after my first layout and evolved from there,” she says.
For Araceli, crafting is now about connecting as well as a form of self-care. “What I love most about crafting is that it helps me de-stress... and I am able to connect with so many other crafters."
The 39-year-old Mexican-American crafter now creates adorable creations from colorful cash envelopes (who says budgeting has to be boring?) to holiday cards, charms, wax seals, and more.
If you’re head-over-heels for Halloween, you’re going to want to immediately follow Backstitch Bruja. This account (and owner Yvette’s entire website and shop) are what Halloween dreams are made of. From
, to vintage-y The Shining-inspired skirts Jack-o-Lantern cardigans, and more dreamy witchy goodies, you won’t be disappointed. Oh and the best thing is you don’t even have to wait for October to get these quality ‘grams in your feed cause this Mexican-American Bruja (witch for those who don’t know Spanish) keeps the brand in orange and black all year round.
Steffani Hernandez De Mendez first began making crafts as a means to make money while having the flexibility to raise and care for her children.
“(But) I needed a business name. I remembered that my son used to tell me I was ‘so Mexican’ because I love the smell of the wet earth and fresh cut lawn, so that was it!” says Hernandez De Mendez. Thus, she began her small crafting business, Sew Mexican — focusing on dolls, aprons, ornaments, pillows, hand-embroidered jean jackets, and so much more. The 50-year-old crafty mama always makes sure to make festive autumn holiday crafts as well, like shrink paper buttons and these tiny, adorable catrina dolls for Dia de Muertos.
SoCal-based Vanessa Sanchez first learned to sew back in 2007, and since then has created an Etsy shop for her crafts. While her main focus these days is on home decor, she’s also gotten into the spirit of things by creating Halloween and general Fall-festive masks.
“The thing I love most about my craft is turning fabric into something useful,” says Sanchez. You can see plenty of this Mexican-American crafter’s work, including market tote bags, hand towels, and these lovely Halloween-inspired throw pillows, all on her Insta.
Carolina Hernandez Medina is the sole owner and creator at Caffeinated Coven Co, a craft shop whose focus is on the intersection of pastels and Halloween horror. (Oh, and of course, coffee!) Peruse her Insta and you’ll find plenty of cute tricks and treats to choose from, influenced by a love of
The Nightmare Before Christmas, skeletons, ghosts, witches, and the occasional horror flick bad guy like Friday the 13th’s Jason (with a cute twist, that is).
The most useful and popular craft these days is ultimately the much-needed face mask to protect against COVID-19. Luckily, many crafters (including many Latina crafters) are stepping up to not only bring us items that keep us safe, but also items that help us celebrate the spooky season. Cue Theresa Cooper, a sewist and crafter in Southern California who is using some lovely haunting fabrics to create some truly fun and only slightly creepy masks, like this one featuring our favorite characters from the Great Pumpkin Peanuts Halloween special. PS. She also makes masks with matching scarves for your pups if that’s your thing!
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Esther Guajardo has been creating crafts of all kinds for over 50 years, influenced by her Mexican roots. The gifted grandmother stays busy making beautiful handcrafted earrings and other jewelry, kitchen towels, as well as whimsical embroideries featuring conchas, nopales, and more (as well as these lovely
Dia de Muertos-influenced catrina ones).
“I’m trying to keep the interest of our heritage for my and our future generations,” says Guajardo. And from the looks of it so far, she’s succeeding.
Jesstin Ramos and boyfriend Freddy Turcios run Los Angeles Crafts, an LA-based online craft shop with a focus on Halloween, Disney, Latinidad, and of course, the City of Angels. The pair sell goth-friendly black tees, frightfully fun stickers that blend horror and animated characters (think Maleficent as a skull, or a
papel picado ghostly Mickey Mouse), plus reusable cups, art prints, and more.
33-year-old Jillian Gomez first started crafting for the mental health and meditative aspects of it, but these days her favorite part about it is the community it can build. When the pandemic began, the Monrovia, California-based cross-stitcher started a Virtual Craft Night and has found its brought the most joy in an ultimately “insane” year.
While some of her creations are influenced by pop culture (like
Trolls and Animaniacs), she’s also got a love for Halloween goodies like the ones seen here. And while the third-generation Mexican American shares that she’s proud of her heritage, she admits she sometimes feels like the connection is a bit lost — which is why she continues to try and learn about the traditions, like Dia de los Muertos.
“Sometimes non-Latinx people just slap on some sugar skull make-up and don't learn the history of the celebration and it can be really discouraging to see, but I am hopeful that with the holiday gaining popularity, more people will come to see the beauty and wisdom that comes with the day and Mexican culture as a whole,” she says.