Saturday, 20 Dec 2014
Home The Art Auction The Auction * La Calavera Catrina and the Shrine to Saint Marcella *
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Gallery images: Click to Enlarge

* La Calavera Catrina and the Shrine to Saint Marcella *

Christine Alvarado

Starting Bid: $100
Contact Person: Christine Alvarado

Art Doll & Shrine  (Click Images to enlarge)


I am delighted to be participating (for the third time) in the annual Cigar Box Shrine Auction benefitting the Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots Organization. Please join in us in supporting this wonderful organization, the children and families they help, by bidding on this piece and/or any of the other shrines created by the artists who have donated a piece to this year's auction.


T H A N K Y O U !

~ Christine Alvarado ~

(Du Buh Du Designs)



~ About this Shrine ~


My auction piece this year is titled "La Calavera Catrina & the Shrine to Saint Marcella". La Calavera Catrina is very much a part of modern day Mexican iconography and I thought it fitting to create one holding a shrine to Saint Marcella of Rome.

Marcella (325-410 AD) was born into a wealthy aristocratic family. Widowed after only a few months of marriage, she dismissed society's pressures to remarry and chose to devote her life to God , living piously, in prayer and in the spirit of giving and charity. She converted her palace on Aventine Hill into a monastery  where other noble women could study, worship and practice alms giving as well. She was known for her intellect and for not being afraid to question/debate matters of a spiritual nature. In 410 AD, the Visigoths invaded Rome and it was during this time that the elderly Marcella was violently beaten by those who wanted her to divulge where her great wealth was hidden. She succumbed to her injuries and died shortly thereafter but not before successfully pleading with her tormentors to not harm the other women in her company. They complied after learning that Marcella had in fact given all of her fortune away, "preferring to store her money in the stomachs of the needy rather than hide it in a purse."

Saint Marcella is said to have inspired many women to devote their lives to a higher calling, to live a life of simplicity and to help others in need in the spirit of kindness. Today, she is known as the Patron Saint of Noblewomen and her strength and humanity are the sources of inspiration for this shrine.




~Art Doll & Cigar Box Shrine Description~


Art Doll:

This articulated La Calavera doll is approx 16" tall and 10" at the widest part her skirt   She is made of polymer clay, gessoed and painted in layers of fine artist acrylics, and acid free ink. A light coat of antiquing stain has been applied to give her a slightly aged look. Her eyes and nose are coated with a layer of ultra fine black glitter.

The crown is made of sterling silver wire and I made each of the flowers out of watercolor paper. They  are hand painted with acrylics,gouache, or watercolor and some are embellished with glass beads and ultra fine glitter. (The flowers on top of her shrine and on the back of her dress were created the same way). La Calavera Catrina's  hair is upswept and is made of English black viscose. Her necklace is made of tiny glass beads and a sterling silver plated cross.The wire and findings connecting her arms and legs to her torso are sterling silver.

The dress is made of various silks~ black satin, black embroidered ,  gold and ivory dupioni and her veil is made of black silk chiffon (please note that this material frays a bit on the sides). The delicate sleeves and the lace over her skirt are both antique. At the base of her dress is a small string of papel picados that have been lightly coated in ultra fine glitter. Tiny rhinestones adorn the lace of her skirt and tiny glass beads and sequins have been hand sewn onto the neckline, sleeves, waist and skirt of her dress, all of which add a nice subtle glisten to her,especially in very low lighting  :)


The ribbon/banner across her skirt reads in Spanish:

"Porque dando es como La oración de San Francisco de Asís "   

("For it is in giving that we receive.. from the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi")


 Cigar Box Shrine:

The vintage wooden cigar box with the label "Marcella" has been cut down from it's original size and reassembled into a new box ( approx. 2.75" x 3.5" when closed). It contains two glass domes, one with a small tree, symbolizing both hope and spiritual growth and a sacred heart (handmade along w/the tree) which symbolizes God's love for humanity. I painted a small banner that reads "Marcella, the Glory of the ladies of Rome". She was referred to as such by Saint Jerome who compared her to Mary Magdalene in her devotion to Christ. On each side of the doors are tiny ex votos (offerings), reminiscent of the ones I saw in churches while traveling in Mexico .




*Care & handling: A hook is inserted permanently into the doll's back so that she can be displayed on the wall or framed. The shrine is permanently fixed to her hand so even though her legs can move she cannot sit due to the positioning of the cigar box. Though she is coated with a protective varnish, she should be kept out of direct or harsh indirect sunlight to ensure that the materials (fabric and paper) last a long time.
The original post about this piece can be viewed by clicking here.
Please contact me at with any questions you may have :)



Date added: 9.5.2011  Hits: 5530
Maximum bid so far: $700

Bidding/Comments (Most recent first)  

#22 700Mercedes Shields 2011-06-12 16:59
She's beutiful
#21 600Alice Riske 2011-06-12 09:12
Very beautiful work!
#20 Your OfferingGeorgina Cecilia Diaz 2011-06-12 08:26
Christine, I finally figured out how to comment on these shrines...I'm a techno idiot!! Your work has always intrigued me and the quality of your work is at the highest standard I've seen. I love this doll and all the little symbols that you added...what a show piece!

#19 400Pamela Van Norden-Schaefer 2011-06-11 12:38
Breathtaking - she whispers to me...
+1 #18 350JM 2011-06-07 18:06
Exquisite doll with an inspiring story. Bravo.
+1 #17 RE: * La Calavera Catrina and the Shrine to Saint Marcella *Pam Smallcomb 2011-06-07 04:00
Christine, this is so beautiful I am speechless!
+1 #16 325Stephanie Hilvitz 2011-06-06 08:05
She NEEDS to live with me!
+1 #15 300Michele & Robert Alvarado 2011-06-05 16:12
You are awesome and very loving and giving to so many.

Hugs, Mi Mi and Robert
+1 #14 240Fran Meneley 2011-06-05 13:32
I love this piece!
+1 #13 220Sarah Wallis 2011-06-05 13:10
Hi Christine,
I just love her!
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