In Krakow, Poland during Christmas, carolers carry brightly decorated puppet theaters designed to emulate the shapes of stately churches and other impressive buildings through the city streets. These miniature puppet stages are called szopka or szopki (plural). The translation of szopka is Krakow crib, or manger scene, because nativity scenes are incorporated into the design.
DIY Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal
In West Bengal, India, a traditional caste community of artists, called patuas, paint colorful scrolls to accompany songs which they sing to relate historic, current, religious, and cultural events to their audiences. Many of the scrolls have a moral or lesson which relates to the story.
DIY Ofrendas: Altar Vision 2020
During the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico an elaborate collection of ofrendas (offerings) are placed in a ritual altar display to welcome deceased loved ones in a colorful reunion with the living. Global events like COVID-19 inspired contemporary Santa Fe, New Mexico Santero, Arthur Lopez to respond and process artistically what was going on around him to visually tell a story of this moment in time by creating Altar Vision 2020.
DIY Woven Wall Hanging
“In and Out, In and Out” goes the thread weaving through the warp strings. This special thread, the weft, goes “Over and Under” to the end and back again for another line. Most fabric today is woven, but the majority of fabrics are woven by a machine. Some very special fabrics, blankets, and rugs are still woven by hand.
DIY Japanese Accordion Book
Orihon are accordion-style books, composed of a continuous folded sheet of paper enclosed between two covers. In comparison to scrolls these accordion books were more practical and allow enough space for writing similar to a scroll, but in a compact form.
DIY God’s Eye
Ojos de Dios (oh-ho-day-DEE-ohs), “god’s eyes,” are ritual objects made by the Huichol (wet-chol) indigenous people of Mexico. The Huichol symbolism of the god’s eyes is primarily associated with the prayers for their children – prayers for a good long life, protection and to ensure abundant crops.
DIY Sailor's Valentine
Sailor's Valentines are intricate mosaics composed out of seashells of various colors, forms, and sizes. This unique art form appeared in the Caribbean during the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the arrival of trading sailing ships. It was believed that sailors were the makers of these seashell mosaics. However, recent research has attributed the art form to islanders from the West Indies (Caribbean).
DIY Animal Masks
Cultures all over the world integrate masked processions with celebrations. Some celebrations mark seasonal changes, others religious occasions or historical events, still others, spontaneous revelry.
DIY Tramp Art
A notch and a layer. Some wood and a knife. Patience and labor. These are the key ingredients of tramp art, a form of woodcarving that was common among working-class men (and occasionally women) primarily from the 1870s through the 1930s and 1940s in the United States and Europe.
DIY Paper Plate Weaving
Weaving is one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world. People learned to use plant and animal fibers to create useful and decorative objects such as clothing, carpets and baskets.
Maracas, sometimes referred to as rhumba shakers, are percussive instruments made from dried calabash, gourd, or coconut shell.
DIY Mini Community
We are all part of a community: a family, a neighborhood, a town, a state, a country, and the world. People with different roles make-up our communities, from our family, friends, and neighbors to classmates, teachers, and so on.
DIY Paper Flowers
Cempasúchil or marigold flowers (flower of the dead) are used to decorate altars and the graves of loved ones during the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday in Mexico.
DIY Japanese Fan
Uchiwa is a Japanese fan with a rigid structure made of split bamboo and washi paper. These fans are used in festivals and celebrations for the purpose of cooling down during hot summers in Japan.
DIY Corn Husk Dolls/Figures
Many crops provide not only food, but clothing, and the supplies to make decorations and crafts. For example, corn or maize is a staple food for many cultures and multiple parts are used for creating many things. The corncob is used as a brush and fuel for a fire, the corn husk is braided, woven, and shaped to make rope, mats, and even dolls.
DIY Clay Animals
Animals, Animals, Everywhere! All kinds of animals are found in Folk Art from every corner of the world. Why do we see so many animals in folk art? Why do we love and need animals so much?
DIY Amate Paintings
Amate is an ancient tradition of paper making from Mexico, made from the pulp of the fig and mulberry trees. To make amate, the outer tree bark is peeled and the inner bark is boiled and soaked in water overnight, then beaten with a smooth flat stone until it becomes pulp.
DIY Tree of Life
The Tree of Life appears in many forms of folk art across cultures. In Mexican Folk Art, ceramic Trees of Life often show birds, animals, angels and nativity scenes, while other traditions might include religious and fertility symbols.
DIY Hands - Khamsas
Hands are symbols of strength and power. Around the world hands are also seen as a sign of welcome, protection, and blessing.
DIY Sewn Stories
In the Museum of International Folk Art, we have a special exhibit that looks at how communities across different continents told stories in difficult times. Each community used embroidery, quilting and applique to share what was hard, special, or important to them, or what they wanted to remember about their homes, families, and communities.
DIY Symmetrical Cut-outs
Paper-cutting is a centuries-old technique that was initially practiced by Chinese artisans. In the 16th century, Chinese paper cutting was introduced to Persia (Iran) and over time the technique spread to Europe. This influence can still be seen today in the intricate Polish paper-cutting designs, and the brightly colored papel picado (cut tissue paper banners) from Mexico.
DIY Paper Beads
In some communities, beads are used at important moments in life and can represent passages such as birth, becoming an adult, marriage, and death—or power and status.
DIY Amulet Necklace
Amulets are used for protection, as a charm, and to fulfill wishes. Ex-votos or votive offerings or milagros (Spanish for miracle) are presented as gifts in gratitude for answered prayers or as a method of divine assistance.