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A Remembrance—Crafting a Maraca in the Museum of the Americas

An Eco-Cultural Experience Designed by the Visitor
Publication of Discovery: March 31, 2021
Issue: March, 2021

[Editor’s Note: In this issue, we render tribute to the magazine’s first publication by republishing it as we are celebrating ecotreasures magazine’s fifth anniversary. We are very happy and grateful for having been able to share our experiences, findings, and learnings during our journey so far.

Enjoy the remembrance as we go back through time and relive our experience during a culture oriented ̶ arts and crafts workshop at the Museum of the Americas, Old San Juan Puerto Rico.]

“Crafting a Maraca in the Museum of the Americas”, article published in February 2016 ecotreasures ® issue:

Besides the permanent exhibitions available in the Museum of the Americas in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, kids may enjoy various arts and crafts workshops allusive to culture and history of the Americas, including Puerto Rico, in this museum.

María Antonia Méndez, the arts and crafts teacher, explained that the kids-oriented workshops involve or foster the use of recycled or reusable materials to encourage environmental conservation. She stated that next time we see some of the reusable materials used during the workshop, we will remember what we crafted as a result of reusing such materials.

The maracas are traditional musical instruments part of Puerto Rico’s culture. Remember, the Tainos indigenous people that lived in Puerto Rico crafted maracas, musical instruments with a handle and a round hollow top that might be filled with beans or rice, and is shaken to make noise. The Tainos crafted maracas with the dried shell of the Puerto Rican “higuera” tree fruit.

Ms. Méndez fully explained step-by-step instructions to craft the maraca and performed the first three steps. Then the kids entertained themselves as they performed the further steps to craft their one and only custom-made maraca.

When the kids reached the step to paint the maraca, Ms. Méndez emphasized: “Be creative.” As she stated, you may design Taino symbols, a scenery or whatever you want.

The kids had fun making their custom-made maraca. As you enjoy the pictures, you will find one maraca portraying the sun and the moon. It was also very interesting to see various creative designs of Taino symbols depicted on different maracas.

Ms. Méndez surprised us when she showed us a beautiful traditional maraca made of the “higuera” tree fruit, similar to that crafted by the Tainos. This maraca has the words “eco musiclaje” crafted on its handle, being allusive to a musical instrument made of nature elements.

The materials used to craft the maraca are:

1) Cardboard cylinder
2) Wood stick
3) Hot glue
4) Heavy-duty adhesive contact paper
5) School glue (white glue)
6) Tempera paint
7) Paintbrush
8) Container with water
9) Paper towel
10) Beans or rice
11) Ribbon (optional)

We share with you the instructions to craft this particular maraca as follows:

1) Cut a 4-inch piece of a cardboard cylinder.

2) Make a hole at the center of the cardboard cylinder.

3) Put hot glue on one end of the wood stick.

4) Insert the wood stick in the hole of the cardboard cylinder, applying pressure so that the wood sticks on the inner part of the cylinder.

5) Cut a round piece of adhesive contact paper.

6) Put the wax paper side of the already-cut contact paper on top of one of the topless sides of the cylinder to make sure the measure is the appropriate one. Apply pressure when you do this so you mark the circumference. Cut the border of the contact paper if you need it to be a smaller size. Put the contact paper on top of the cylinder to measure it again. The contact paper will be the bottom of the cylinder so you want to make sure that there will be enough space to paint the cylinder.

7) When you have the desired size of the contact paper, make small vertical cuts on the side of the contact paper without reaching the circumference border mark shown on the contact paper.

8) Put a little bit of school glue around the inner lower part of the contact paper, but not on the circumference border line. You need to put glue on the part that will stick in the cylinder. Do not put too much glue in order to prevent spreading to the cylinder part that you will paint.

9) Stick the contact paper in the cylinder, pasting each semi-cut piece of the contact paper. You may paste part of one piece over another one so that the cardboard is not seen at this part. Apply pressure smoothly to the glued contact paper.

10) Put beans and/or rice inside the cylinder.

11) Repeat steps 5-9 for the contact paper piece that needs to be pasted on the other topless side of the cylinder.

12) Paint the cardboard cylinder with tempera. You may apply first a background color and then draw any designs with the paintbrush.

13) Optional- put two ribbons and tie them up at the point where the wood stick and cylinder meet.

The kids workshops in the Museum of the Americas are available on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Fees: $10.00 p/p, which includes entrance ticket to the exhibition rooms of the museum. Reservations for group of students may be made in advance for Tuesdays- Fridays. T. 787-722-6057 or 787-724-5052. [See updated information below.]

Regular entrance to the museum: Tuesday- Friday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:00-4:00 p.m. Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Fees: Adults- $6.00 p/p, Kids 4 yrs. old+, seniors 65 yrs. old+- $4.00 p/p [See updated information below.]

*****

UPDATED INFORMATION: Kids workshops- The arts and crafts¬ ̶ kid workshops that were given on Saturdays are not currently available. However, kids activities are available on the last Sunday of each month (Domingo Familiar event). Some activities may include arts and crafts. You may check the museum’s online calendar in https://www.museolasamericas.org to find out which activities will be available on a particular Domingo Familiar event.

Regular entrance to the museum- Current opening hours: Thursday- Sunday, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. Guided tours at any of the three permanent exhibitions (Conquest and Colonization, African Heritage and Popular Arts) are only available for group reservations (maximum of 10 persons per group) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday when Domingo Familiar event is not held (Sunday which is not the last day of the month). Group reservations need to be scheduled prior to the date of your visit. Fees: kids less than 12 yrs., students, and seniors (65 yrs. old+): $4.00 p/p, other adults: $6.00 p/p.

Visitors need to follow the required protocol in view of COVID-19 pandemic (e.g.: wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing). In general, people in Puerto Rico are required to keep a minimum of 6 feet between people who are not from the same family unit. However, currently people visiting any Puerto Rico beach are required to keep a minimum of 10 feet between people who are not from the same family unit whether they are at the sand or body of water.

tour provider: Museum of the Americas Workshops
book here
where the crew ate: Cueva del Mar- Old San Juan
photograph by: N. Michelle Rodríguez Amadeo

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all details with the pertinent businesses before planning your trip. Please be cautious. The company behind this publication assumes no responsibility for your safety when participating in the activities mentioned in this article. You are responsible for confirming whether you are capable of participating in any of these activities or tours, regardless of the effort level or any other information provided in this website.

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Lizette Torres, San Juan, P.R.- “The experience during the workshop was wonderful. The workshop’s teacher explained the activity in a very simple manner and the kids had a great time.” (translation ours)

Benjamín Vigio, San Juan, P.R.- “We crafted maracas and painted them. We also played.” (translation ours)

Salvador Ferrer, San Juan, P.R.- “I liked painting the maraca. Also, I enjoyed being with my friend.” (translation ours)

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