ttttDays of the Dead
Adapted from Indo-Hispanic Folk Art Traditions II

Bark Paper Cutouts

New paper is made with wood fibers derived from cut trees. Recycled paper comes from paper that has been broken down to wood fibers and pulp. The following instructions are for recycling a lunch bag to make “bark paper.”


• 2-lb coffee can with one end cut out.
• 1-lb coffee can with both ends cut out
• two 8 x 10-inch pieces of window screen
• water
• blender
• bath towel
• sponge
• 2 paper towels
• dark felt-tipped pen
• brown lunch bag
• scissors


1. Set large coffee can in sink. Place one piece of screen over it. Set small coffee can over the center of the large can.
2. Cut lunch bag into small pieces (1 x 2 inches)
3. Put enough water in blender to cover blade.
4. Put pieces cut from bag into blender. Cover blender and whirl it for one full minute or until the paper and water mixture look like mush.
5. Add about 3 cups of water to mixture in blender. Hold the small coffee can in place with one hand while quickly pouring mixture from the blender into it. Be careful not to bend screen.
6. Lift small can off screen and set it aside. Place screen with wet fibers on a bath towel that has been folded twice. Set the other screen on top of fibers.
7. Press a damped sponge firmly on top screen to absorb water and flatten the fibers. Wring out the sponge. Remove as much water from the fibers as you can in this way.
8. Carefully lift top screen and set it aside. Lay a paper towel that has been folded twice over the fibers. Press paper towel to remove more water. Repeat with a second paper towel.
9. Slowly peel fiber sheet from bottom screen and place on a flat surface to dry for a day or two. (To expedite drying process, place fiber sheet between two pieces of cloth and press with a hot iron until dry.)
10. Use felt-tipped pen to trace the outline of bark cutout pattern (3 included here) on the dried fiber sheet. Cut out shape with scissors. (It will be necessary to enlarge the patterns.)

11. Place the bark cutout on the ofrenda.