Monday, 2 April 2012

How to make Plaster Dia de los Muertos Angels

I saw some pretty painted angels on Etsy, and decided to keep my eyes open for any plaster angels so I could paint my own. I came across four little angels that cost only 0,50 euro a piece, so they all found a new home with me. I started the project months ago, and did a big lady angel before, but today I finished a few of the small angels and took pictures.

What you need:
A plaster angel (plastic or ceramic ones work also, it doesn't matter what colour it is)
Acrylic paints (miniature paints like Citadel or Game Color work very well if your angel is small)
Brushes (a small one for details and a large one for base paint)
Clear varnish (optional, satin or matter preferably)

1. If your angel is made of plaster, dust it lightly so there's no white residue that will mess up your paint job. If you have a plastic or ceramic angel, just make sure the surface is clean.

I didn't take a picture of the angels the way they came, because I had already done the base paint a few months ago, but I found a picture of a similar one on the net. Mine are 12 cm high and came with just a pure plaster surface and had some air bubbles left from the mould.

2. Put in the base colours. You want the angel's skin to be deep black, so white bones will show well, but otherwise you can choose any colours you like. I wanted bright, cool colours, so I had some turquoises, purples and pinks. Don't do any details yet, just make sure no unpainted area remains when you are done. You don't need to paint the backside, but you can if you want to. My angels had lots of bubbles and were missing some chunks, but dark base colours hide that well.

Angel with base colours in place

3. Add bones and detail. Do an image search to find pictures of sugar skulls and other Dia de los Muertos paraphernalia to get ideas. I did painted red lips, polkadot fabrics and some bright dots on the faces, but things like flowers and stripes are also popular. If you have picked your colours before and they all work well together, you can basically do any patterns and they will look good. Just leave the skin free for the bones and only paint details on them once they are completely dry. The bones will need two or three coats of paint to be completely white. If you make a mistake, just let it dry, add some of the base colour on it, let that dry and re-do the spot. The little surface imperfections don't really show.

I think the face and the fingers are the most important parts, and they also happen to be the parts where tiny air bubbles are most likely to be. Just paint around or in the bubbles and you should be fine. I was actually happy two of the angels were missing noses, it was much easier to paint the black "nose hole" when the white paint naturally avoided the bubble.
Still missing smallest bones and detail in hair and clothing.

With more detail, still missing depth in the cloth and hair, but bones are finished.

4. After the angel is completely dry, add varnish on top to protect it. Glossy varnish will make the colour deeper, but reveal any imperfections in the surface (mine had gaps from air bubbles). Matte or satin varnish will just protect the surface. You can also varnish the back side, if the plaster leaves much residue when touched. Glue a loop of yarn or wire on the back if you want to hang you angel on a wall.

All done!

Angels in different phases from left to right: two finished angels (the first one looks a bit like the Joker), one missing detail and the last one has just the base done.

This one is my favourite!

Here's my large angel lady. I'm planning on putting the little angels next to her.
I did the large angel earlier, she's about 30 cm tall. Bigger angels don't need as fine detail as the small ones, so if you are in doubt of your painting skills, go for a large one.


  1. Wow, they look awesome! :o

  2. Hauskoja ja kauniisti maalattuja :)

  3. What an awesome idea. :D I love Day of the Dead aesthetics and these angels are just so cute and hilarious. And you've painted the skeletons so neatly.

  4. these are freakin awesome!!

  5. As a suggestion, use One Shot or what it is also known as sign paint. It lays flat and no matter how many coats you use it doesn't get the weird built up or lumpiness which can often happen with acrylic's. My husband paints plaster all the time and that's what he uses. It's a little more expensive, but I little goes a long way.

    Your angels look amazing!!!I love the angel lady and her colors :)

  6. Oh my these are great!! I love the large lady piece so much <3 Good job :D

  7. Nuo ovat kerrassaan ihania! :D Tosi hyvä idea!

  8. Thank you all so much!

    Meagan, I'll have to look into those paints, they sound excellent. The miniature paints are nice, but come in tiny bottles and are a bit expensive.

  9. This is absolutely awesome and such a fun project! I may just have to give this a go! I adore the large angel at the bottom - gorgeous! xxx

  10. wow ! the angel is super great and I looooooooooove how you turned out the little angels ! so cute ! bravo !!!

  11. You could totally sell those. AMAZING work!

  12. Those angels are fabulous!! What a fantastic idea. I know what I'll be trying for a craft next haha.


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