Make your own Loteria Deck!


So, I said on Mondays that I might start posting entries about Loteria art.  If you don’t know what Loteria is – here is a link to read.  I love creating new Loteria decks – so far, I think I have made or started about elsol14 0r 5.  Below is a card from a deck I was manipulating in PhotoShop a couple of years ago.  I think the focus was on artesania – or Mexican arts and crafts.  I like fooling around with those things.

So, how does one go about creating a loteria deck?  One thing I like to do is to print out a list of images from the traditional Don Clemente game and use that as my guide.  Here is a list of the images for you to peruse:

1 El gallo (The Rooster)
2 El diablito (The Little Devil)
3 La dama (The Lady)
4 El catrín (The Dandy/Fop)
5 El paragüas (The Umbrella)
6 La sirena (The Merelserape copymaid)
7 La escalera (The Ladder)
8 La botella (The Bottle)
9 El barril (The Barrel)
10 El árbol (The Tree)
11 El melon (The Melon)
12 El valiente (The Brave One)
13 El gorrito (The Bonnet)
14 La muerte (The Death)
15 La pera (The Pear)
16 La bandera (The Flag)
17 El bandolón (The Citar)
18 El violoncello (The Cello)
19 La garza (The Heron)
20 El pájaro (The Bird)
21 La mano (The Hand)
22 La bota (The Boot)
23 La luna (The Moon)
24 El cotorro (The Parrot)lacalavera
25 El borracho (The Drunk)
26 El negrito (The Little Black Man)
27 El corazón (The Heart)
28 La sandía (The Watermelon)
29 El tambor (The Drum)
30 El camarón (The Shrimp)
31 Las jaras (The Arrows)
32 El músico (The Musician)
33 La araña (The Spider)
34 El soldado (The Soldier)
35 La estrella (The Star)
36 El cazo (The Bean Pot)
37 El mundo (The World)
38 El apache (The Apache)
39 El nopal (The Cactus)
40 El alacrán (The Scorpion)
41 La rosa (The Rose)elcantarito
42 La calavera (The skull)
43 La campana (The Bell)
44 El cantarito (The Water Pitcher)
45 El venado (The Deer)
46 El sol (The Sun)
47 La corona (The Crown)
48 La chalupa (The Canoe)
49 El pino (The Pine)
50 El pescado (The Fish)
51 La palma (The Palm)
52 La maceta (The Flowerpot)
53 El arpa (The Harp)
54 La rana (The Frog)

Next, begin thinking of a theme.  If you have a theme or subject, such as your own culture, or your town, or your own group of friends, you can begin to conceive of your own images.  If you are doing a Loteria about Christmas, for lacampana copyexample, El Venado (the deer) can be a Reindeer, El Pino (the pine tree) can be a Christmas tree, and El Arpa (the harp) can be played by an angel.

You don’t have to remain stuck using all of the cards, as I hope you can see.  Staying with the Christmas theme, you might not want to have La Muerte (death) or La Calavera (the skull) – unless you are doing The Nightmare Before Christmas…  You can replace those images with ones that are not included in the traditional Loteria, such as Santa’s cap instead of El Gorrito (the bonnet), and a sleigh instead of La Chalupa (the canoe).

Your use of images is up to you.  I save images that I think I might want to elcantarito2use in the future.  One of my favorite decks that I did a few years ago was based on a multitude of mola images I had accumulated.  I also have my quilt loteria that I made using line drawings and fabric samples, available at my CafePress Shop.  And there’s the original Loteria Celeste and my Vintage Loteria.  See, I told you!

Using Loteria in the classroom lends itself to many applications.  My students created cards for a House of the Scorpion Loteria deck that we did after reading Nancy Farmer’s book.  At the same time, I also started looking for relevant images to use as loteria/flash cards in my teaching of the book.  I would pass them out to students and ask them what significance the card had in the story.  It is challenging and brings up the use of analogies, since students have to make connections and comparisons between topics and themes in books and lessons to see the connection to the card I chose.

Use of analogies, which have been scrapped from formal testing, is important in being creative with your own loteria deck.  If you are doing a deck based on New Orleans, for example, you would want to see the connection between La Sirena (the mermaid, usually bare-chested) and the “show me your boobs” girls on the parade route…

These are just some beginning guidelines.  The reason I like to start with the original deck and make analogous entries is so that the art form can be recognized as a variation on a Loteria deck.  If you were making your own Tarot deck, you would want to start with the original deck as a guideline, wouldn’t you?

In future posts, I would like to seek out original loteria decks and feature them in my blog.  Tonight, however, I thought that an introduction to the creative process of creating a deck would be relevant to some.  If you would like to start looking at decks, go to to look at the scanned collection there.


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Loteria Artesania, Part One « Maison Celeste

  2. Pingback: Australian Loteria, Part One « Maison Celeste

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