The Austin Chronicle

Inside Kate Heyhoe's Skull

By Claudia Alarcón, October 29, 2010, Food

Wimberley resident Kate Heyhoe has a long history in the food business as one of the pioneers of online food writing, an editor of The Global Gourmet for 14 years, and author of eight books on food and wine. But her latest endeavor is a complete 180-degree turnaround. Inspired by Day of the Dead sugar skulls, she is currently making what she calls Dreams of the Dead sugar skulls. Cast in sugar just like traditional Day of the Dead calaveritas, Heyhoe's are not only adorned on the outside with icing and sugar paste, but they're also decorated on the inside with tiny handcrafted dioramas using antique papers, feathers, bones, hand-tinted parchment, and found objects. These works of whimsical art range in size from that of a Ping-Pong ball to almost life-size. Larger ones even include white or black-light LEDs that can be battery-powered or used as plug-in night-light fixtures. Some even flicker like candles, and many of them feature elaborate headdresses. Skulls undergo 20 stages of development, from casting to icing, drilling, decorating, and lighting. Each is an original, unique, numbered and signed artwork that will last indefinitely with proper care. "I also make custom skulls, using your own objects and photos, as shrines to loved ones, gifts, depictions of your business, or as arty conversation pieces," says Heyhoe. In Austin, they're currently sold at Authenticity Gallery, Yard Dog Gallery, and the Mexic-Arte Museum, or order directly through her website,

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