How to Make a Retablo

How to Make a Retablo





A retablo is a small oil painting on tin, zinc, copper or wood used in Catholic homes to venerate Catholic saints.


6” x 6” oak tag with ½” scored around all four edges

6″ x 5″ oak tag 1/2″ scored on the left and right sides

Yellow construction paper

Yellow crayon or marker

Gold paint (optional)

Paint brush (optional)

5” x 5” construction paper (color of choice)cut into one inch strips

Scraps of construction paper

Black construction paper

Foil papers (optional)


Stickers, crayons, pencils, black markers (preferably Sharpies), rubber stamps and ink, etc.

White glue



Matt or utility knife



  1. Measure ½” around the edges of the 6” X 6” oak tag. Score the edges using a utility knife and ruler. Do not cut all the way through the oak tag.
  2. Cut out the corners, then fold up the edges and tape them to secure them.
  3. To make the doors: measure and cut a piece of oak tag 6” x 5.” Measurements are not always perfect so trim where necessary. Measure ½” on each end of the longest side. Score and fold. Cut in half.
  4. Cut a 2 1/2″ x 3” colored square and cut diagonally to make two triangles.
  5. Decorate the doors and the top triangle piece with gold paint or yellow markers or crayons or glue yellow construction paper.  Tape the 1/2″ edges of the doors on the right and left sides to the retablo.
  6. Cut small construction paper pieces and foil papers into different shapes and glue to the doors and triangle tops. Create a design that reflects you instead of a traditional retablo.
  7. Center and glue the oak tag with the doors on the black construction paper.
  8. Cut 1” x 5″ strips out of the construction paper (any color of choice) and glue into the back of the retablo box.
  9. Draw items of relevance and place them on the shelves or use stickers or glue small objects that mean something to you or use whimsical drawings or objects.
  10. Display the retablo during El Dia de los Muertos or on any day of the year that is special to you.




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About marion

I first wrote and sketched as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, New York. I received her first recognition for my creativity when I won the New York City Schools Art Award and participated in my first art exhibit in downtown Manhattan.

I was fourteen and a half when I moved to Cyprus with my family. I experienced culture shock but I continued to write about and sketch the sights and sounds of another country and many other things.

I am a creative person. I write children’s and Young Adult fiction and nonfiction. I write historical and Coming of Age Young Adult novels. I also write picture books and art books for elementary school children.
I am in the process of writing a fictionalized biography of a member of the Belgian Resistance who also fought for the US Army during World War II.

I worked as a freelance editor for two local companies: College Prowler and SterlingHouse Publisher. I also worked as an assistant literary agent for Lee Shore Agency. I was attending Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program at the time and the experience was invaluable. My course work toward my Master of Arts degree in turn helped me at work.

As an assistant literary agent, I reviewed all incoming manuscripts, cultivated a relationship with the writers we contracted and marketed our books to book publishers for sale.

I “freelanced” my editing skills which included working with the manuscript acquisitions editor, selecting book covers with the art department, writing the book jacket blurb, reading film scripts and executing general office duties as assigned.

Oh, by the way, I edited books, too. I even utilized Adobe InDesign for the editing that I did for College Prowler. I’ve also reviewed published books and conducted research.

I have published nonfiction articles and books online and in print.
As an artist, I have exhibited my mixed media drawings and collages nationally and regionally and have worked as a freelance designer and calligrapher.

I have a BA in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

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