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DIY Pandemic Piñata!
Wouldn't you love to take a swing at this nasty virus and bash it for good? You can—when the coronavirus is in piñata form. A "pandemic piñata" is the perfect pick-me-up for the birthday celebrant who is stuck at home. Not only will such a silly gift lift the spirits of anyone who is having a bummer of a birthday during this time of self-isolation, it is an especially fun and funny present for the high school or college graduate who is unable to have a fabulous party with all their friends. You might even consider making one for your mom on Mother's Day or your dad on Father's Day!
How to Create Your Piñata in Two Basic Stages
There is a manufactured version of this piñata that is currently sold out (not to mention the manufactured one is somewhat expensive and doesn't look all that great). But never fear! It's not difficult at all to make your own pandemic piñata with common household items such as a balloon, flour, water, newspaper, spray paint, glue, golf tees and little craft pompoms. The basics are this:
- Use a balloon and newspaper to make a round paper-mache shell (or simply buy one if you can find one)
- Paint it, poke it full of golf tees, then top each golf tee with a small craft pompom
The project is fairly easy but not exactly quick, especially if you must make your own paper-mache sphere. This project could take a couple of days from start to finish, because you must allow the paper mache to completely dry. Though the COVID-19 piñata is not a quick ten-minute project, if you're stuck at home during this difficult time but tired of cleaning out closets, you just might welcome the opportunity to "get your craft on" with this unusual, creative project. The finished product is sure to elicit laughter and smiles from its stuck-at-home recipient.
How to Make a Paper Mache Sphere with a Balloon and Newspaper
Step 1: Make the Paper-Mache Sphere
You can save some time by starting with a pre-made round piñata. We were lucky enough to find one at our local Walmart. It was a large sphere-shaped piñata made to look like a chick, apparently left over from Easter. All we had to do to prepare it for a paint job was pull off the beak, eyes, feet and crepe-paper "feathers."
If you're starting from scratch, you'll need to make your own paper-mache sphere out of a balloon and some newspaper strips. The video above gives lots of great tips and covers the glue-vs.-flour question.
What You'll Need
- A round balloon (plus a few spares in case of popping)
- If you choose the flour recipe: 1 cup flour, 1 cup warm water and 1/2 tablespoon salt
- If you choose the glue recipe: 1 cup (an 8-ounce bottle) white glue (Elmer's or similar), 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon salt
- Disposable pan, or a shallow glass or metal baking dish if you don't mind washing up the mess
- Fork or spoon for mixing
- Newspaper, cut into approx. 1" strips
- Strong string or twine for the hanger/handle
These instructions are the basics. Watch the video above for some really terrific tips and advice so that your project goes as smoothly as possible. I can't recommend the video enough. The maker of the video, "How To with Kristin," goes into such wonderful detail and provides so many helpful hints and easy-to-understand explanations.
- Blow up a round balloon and close up the end with a knot. The size of the balloon will be the size of your piñata, so keep that in mind. If you need or want a very large piñata, you can use a "punch ball" balloon and watch the video at the very bottom of this article for instructions on making a large, heavy, round piñata.
- Depending upon the recipe you chose, combine the flour, water and salt or the glue, water and salt in a plastic pan, foil pie tin or a shallow baking dish. Something disposable is convenient but not absolutely necessary. Stir briskly with a spoon or fork until smooth.
- Dip a newspaper strip into the glue mixture, covering it with glue on both sides. Run it between your fingers to gently "squeegee" off any excess glue.
- Place the strip onto the balloon, smoothing it out so there are no wrinkles.
- Repeat this process until you have covered the balloon in 2-3 layers of newspaper strips, leaving an opening a couple of inches in diameter at the top, around the balloon's knot. If your balloon is large and/or you predict your piñata will be very heavy once filled with candy and prizes, it is a good idea to reinforce the top of the piñata (where you will be inserting string to hang it) with a few extra layers of newspaper strips.
- Allow the paper mache-covered balloon to completely dry; this can take anywhere from 24-48 hours. Placing it under a fan or hanging it by the balloon knot so that it gets plenty of air circulation can help speed drying time.
- Once the paper mache is completely dry, use scissors to carefully pop the balloon, and pull it out from inside the piñata.
- So that you can hang your pinata, use sharp scissors, an ice pick or one of the golf tees to poke two holes, one across from the other, at the opening of your piñata (the portion that you reinforced with an extra layer or two of newspaper). Thread a piece of twine about 8-10 inches long through the holes and secure the ends with a strong knot.
Step 2: Make the Coronavirus Pinata
- Paper-mache sphere (purchased or homemade, as described above)
- Drop cloth
- Spray paint or craft paint
- Golf tees (we used about 50)
- Small craft pompoms (we used about 50)
- Hot glue gun and glue
Instructions (Painting, Poking, and Pompoms)
- Spread a drop cloth out on the lawn, place your paper-mache sphere on it, and spray paint your piñata. If using craft paint and a brush, you can complete this task inside on a table. Paint your coronavirus pinata any ugly color combination you like, any color that reminds you of germs. I sprayed the entire thing purple, allowed it to dry, then added random splotches of lime green and red. The great thing about this project is that the finished product is supposed to look somewhat gross and creepy, so there's no need to go to the trouble of trying to make it look beautiful or perfect.
- If you like, paint your golf tees. White was the only color in-stock when I bought mine, so I painted half of them yellow and half of them orange. I wanted a good contrast compared to the colors on the sphere. We purchased 100 golf tees, which ended up being way too many, and ended up using only the yellow ones for our piñata. I liked the cohesive look of a single color of golf tees.
- Allow paint on all items to dry. Flip the pieces and spray the undersides or any areas that are missing paint, then allow that paint to dry.
- Insert golf tees all over the painted sphere. Depending upon the strength of your paper mache, you may be able to jab them right in slightly forcefully, or you may need to brace the inside of the sphere wall with your fingers while you carefully poke each golf tee into the sphere. I expected that we would need to add a dab or two of glue at the base of each golf tee where it meets the paper mache, but the golf tees stayed in just fine without any glue at all. We didn't bother measuring out the spacing of the golf tees; we just eye-balled their placement.
- Use a hot glue gun to dab a bit of glue on top of a golf tee, then immediately place a craft pompom on top of the glue. Hold the pompom in place a few seconds until the glue cools and hardens. Repeat for each tee until they all have a pompom on top. Use any color pompom you like; we used green because it was the only color in the store that was available in the size and quantity we needed.
- You're finished! Stand back and admire your COVID-19 party piñata! Fill it full of goodies and get to the quarantine party!
How to Make a Very Strong, Very Large, Paper Mache Pinata Sphere
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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