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1310-3 Mexico
Banderas Paperl Picado Mexican Banner Paper

Banderas or cut paper banners have been made in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs. The most famous traditional papeles picados come from the Mexican villages of San Salvador Huixcolatla, and Puebla. Many of the banners produced in these villages are still made by hand with blades, sharp punches, and hammers. Two families, the Vivancos and the Rojas, are well-know rival paper-cutters that have lived in the villages and passed down the tradition for many years.

When you see the “helping hand” symbol on a project, it means you may need adult supervision to do the project. Always cover your work surface with a mat or some type of protective covering like wax paper or plastic. Always use care when using tools or a heat source. Be careful and safe!

Always cover your work surface with a mat or some type of protective covering like wax paper or plastic.
Age Range: 7 to 12

Grade Range: 1 to 6

Skill Level: Moderate

Appropriate for These Special Events:
Mexican Independence Day
Day of the Dead
Cinco de Mayo
Valentine’s Day
Every Day and Rainy Days

Supports Subject Area(s) of:
Social Studies
Language Arts – e.g. step by step instructions
Visual Arts – teach color theory, positive and negative space, symmetry

Time Needed for Project:
1 hour plus drying time

Main supplies:

  • Pre-cut banner paper
  • Dyes or watercolors
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic gloves


Decorating Basics:
Patterns can include:
1.  Flowers, which can be used for any type of celebration. Flowers have been used for special ceremonies since ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations lived in Mexico.
2.  The Mexican coat of arms, which would be appropriate for celebrating national holidays – Mexican Independence Day, September 16, Cinco de May, May 5, Constitution Day, February 5. Benito Juarez’ Birthday, March 21, and Revolution Day, November 20 are a few possibilities.
3.  The skull and crossbones, along with many other depictions of skeletons, are a familiar motif of the Mexican Day of the Dead, November 2; on this day Mexicans remember those who are deceased.

Tips for coloring banners:

1.  Use liquid watercolor paint, washable markers or diluted food coloring.
2.  Dampen the paper first, then spray, spritz, or splatter the paint or food coloring, spray lightly with water-watch the colors meld.
3.  Color dry paper with washable markers and pens, and then dampen the paper by misting water and watch the colors bleed.
4.  Make new colors by applying one color on top of another then spraying-yellow on blue for green yellow on red for orange, red on blue for purple.
5.  Allow adequate time for the banners to dry before hanging-lay a string across the top edge, apply glue, and fold edge over string.

How they are used:
1.  Papeles picados are used for personal celebrations like birthdays, weddings, christenings, etc. as well as community holidays and events. They are typically hung on buildings, placed in yards, on windows, ceilings, and altars.

2.  Typical colors used on the banners for the Mexican national holidays would be colors of the flag-red, white, and green. Typical colors used on the banners for the Day of the Dead are pink, orange, and purple




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