DIY Amate Paintings

Appropriate for grades:
Subject areas: Visual and Performing Arts

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. A glutinous substance, taken from orchid bulbs, is added and then this paste is formed into sheets, and dried in the sun.

The State of Puebla to the east of Mexico City is known for their amate paper production and the artisans in the small town San Pablito, who are of Otomί ancestery, produce cut-out figures called Nahuales (devils and spirits) used in ceremonies. To the southwest in the State of Guerrero, amate paper is brightly decorated with beautiful scenes depicting everyday life of the villagers, such as the harvest, fiestas, weddings, religious customs and wildlife.


You'll need:

  • sheet of paper
  • pencil
  • permanent marker (black)
  • paint (tempera or acrylic) or colored pencils
  • paint brush
  • amate paper or grocery paper bag
  • container with water
  • newspaper
  • paper towels



Download Lesson Plan