Reader Needs Help With Pinata

I just received an urgent request for help with a pinata project on the Paper Mache Recipe page, and I don’t have the answer. I’ve never made a pinata,and I’m hoping you can help. Please read the comment below and offer your suggestions:

Hello there!

First, I must say how truly gifted you are. These sculptures are AMAZING! I am not doing anything that intricate. I have made 3 large dinosaur egg pinatas for my daughters 7th birthday party. There will be about 39 kids in attendance. I made this by covering plastic trash bags (filled with more plastic bags) with paper mache (using the flour/water/salt/cinnamon recipe). I have done 2 layers of paper mache and it’s SLOWLY drying. I plan to spray paint them, then go back and add details with a paint brush = like adding a crack and a claw sticking out, etc. My goal is to give each kid a good whack at the pinata = so each pinata should be able to withhold about 13 whacks before cracking open. What can I do to strengthen them more? I have run out of time to do a 3rd coat as it seems to take longer and longer to dry. Thank you for any insight you can provide to me. – It’s much appreciated!
Suzanne

(The dino egg idea is really clever, don’t you think?)

Thanks in advance for your help. I know Suzanne will appreciate it.

32 thoughts on “Reader Needs Help With Pinata”

  1. I had someone make a pinata for me but it doesn’t look like the character. I want to fix it. The head is more oval and I need it more round. Do I just glue more crepe paper over the other crepe paper?

    • That might make it so strong that it won’t break. Would it be possible to cut it in half, remove just an inch or so around the new rim, and then glue more crepe paper just over the seam?

  2. Hi Everyone,

    Me and my wife tried making a pinata. We got it working on small balloon (ruber party balloons) as testcase.

    But whenever we try it on big balloons (rubber party balloons), the newspaper layer crack after drying. And if we let the air out of balloon after the cracking, the pinata get deshaped and gets sucked inside from one side or another.

    Making procedure : We cut non-glazed newspaper strips of 3cmX24cm. And apply as one layer. Each strip is overlapping the corners of the other layer. We are using wheat flour and water as glue.

    Kindly guide us what is wrong in making this pinata.

    • My piñatas crack all the time! As the other user said you need more than one layer. Usually layers 1-2 will crack then it should be strong enough to stop cracking by layer 3 or 4. Letting it dry slowly out of sunlight is ideal. And always make sure each layer is completely dry before adding another. In cold weather you need about two weeks for one piñata!

      • Sarah, would you have any interest in writing up a how-to guest post about making a piñata? I’ve never made one myself, and I’m hopeless when it comes to making anything over a balloon. Only if you have the time, of course. If you think it would be fun, let me know.

  3. Hi

    I’m making a pinata for my team at work. We have recently finished a massive project and I wanted to take the sticky notes with all the tasks completed and make a pinata for them to break. I’m wondering if the sticky note paper will be too thick to use the flour/water based paste. Should I start with a newspaper base, layer it, and then glue on the sticky notes?

    Also, does anyone have tips on how to make a heart frame?

    • I think the sticky note paper should work just fine. You you can get faster coverage for the first layer or two if you use bigger pieces of newspaper, but if you’re patient, it will work, I’m sure.

      Not sure about the heart frame question. You might ask again on the Daily Sculptor’s page, which gets a lot more readers every day. Good luck with it!

    • Depending on how big you want it- you can buy heart shaped foil balloons for helium inflation- I didn’t get helium I just blew it up- I made a great heart piñata using them.

  4. I’ve made about 20 pinata’s or so. I found that adding 1 layer of Wall Paper mache in between the 3- 4 layers of newspaper mache gives it the extra strength your looking for. Pinatas are for small children I have teenagers that always want pinatas for their parties so I make em strong!!! but I use 2-3 layers of wall paper for them. Then I cut a trap door in the side of the pinata. Put my hand inside the pinata to put a peice of masking tape inside where I want the string to hold it. I also place a piece of masking tape on the outside of the pinata. Then I put my hand inside the pinata and with a knife I CAREFULLY poke a small hole at the top (where I put the masking tape) then put a string or thin rope through the small hole. After that I take something like a coffee lid or the paper rolls that tin foils is wrapped around and poke a hole through that and pull the string through and tie a fat knot. I place the coffee lid or cardboard roll back in through the trap door and pull the string tight. It makes sure that the pinata itself wont come down before it breaks!!! Hope that’s not too confusing have fun!!!

    • Hi Vanessa. Great tips. Do you have any photos of your pinatas that you’d like to share? Or, better yet, would you be interested in writing a guest post for the blog, showing people how you make the pinatas? I know people would love to see all of your techniques. If you’re interested, just contact me and let me know.

      • hey, I never done a pinata but i am doing a cloud and i have done 4 layers so far maybe 5…some areas are still a bit soft when i press with my finger. I am afraid that if the balloons pop it will collapse does this happen? if I used too much water in my recipe does it cause the structure to be soft? and if so how can I fix the damage? I thought of using structure paste on top but does this help?

        • I haven’t made a pinata yet, but if the paper mache is hard in some places, but soft in other places, you may simply need to let it dry a little longer. Try putting it in front of a fan. If it still feels soft when you’re quite sure it’s dry, put another layer or two over those spots, and let it dry again. If you pop the balloon before the paper mache is dry and hard, it will probably collapse.

  5. I am glad I found this!!

    Thanks to those of you who shared their experiences – this is my first time making a pinata, and I have to say, it is WAY more fun than I thought it would be. Who knew you could enjoy flour and water so much?!

    I am making a large Jack O’Lantern pinata for my Halloween party as there will be no Trick-or-Treating the night of the party…I figured it’d be a nice change for the kiddos. The foundation is one of those punching balloons…I’ve got three layers on it – based on what you’ve all shared, I think that should be plenty strong enough to withstand 9 eager ghouls 🙂

    I hope it goes over as well as I imagine it will – fingers crossed! I’ll try to remember to post a follow-up after the party…it’ll definitely be posted on my blog!

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences!!

  6. Had to laugh at the pinata experience. For my daughter’s 8th birthday party I made a world globe pinata out of about 4 layers of paper mache over a balloon. Since the party was the next day I cooked it in the oven to dry it fast. I thought it would be destroyed after a few whacks. Well, was I surprised when after about 2 turns for each of the 8 kids present the pinata was still intact!! Everytime one of them hit it there was a loud smack but no damage other than some slight denting. Eventually the holes through which the string holding up the pinata were threaded ripped and the pinata crashed to the ground. The kids finally smashed it open on the lawn with the stick and scrambled for the spilled candy. They loved it and I had gained a whole new respect for the strength of paper mache!

  7. Hello Everyone!

    The party was a huge success! The pinatas varied, but each took between 4-10 whacks before breaking. Some kids were upset they didn’t get a swing at it, while others just wanted the goods inside. I ended up doing 2 layers of paper mache, spray painting with that faux stone flecked paint, adding some really cool details with acrylics, then sprayed on a triple thick gloss coating. Thank you to everyone for your advice and help with this project!

    • Next time you make a pinata, depending on the size, you could try to use a thin gage of chicken wire as the sculpting base. Push and mush the wire into the desired shape, then use wire cutters to snipe a few open areas. cover with paper mache and tissue paper. This works well on the larger designs and gives it the sturdy whackablity that the kids love.

  8. My Advice is to mix some glue into the mixture or to put more flour in. The less water has to dry, the faster your sculpture will be finished.

    -CoOkIe MoNsTeR <33333333

  9. well i cant help much on how to strengthen your project as i am just getting into working with paper mache…however i would think the best way to go with drying something that large without melting your trash bags would be a hair dryer and a fan. my hair dryer has a “cool” button on it so it wont heat the air up as it blow dries….ive used it to help speed up the drying process and i usually use regular latex balloons for my projects and trying to dry the item without popping the balloon has always been problematic when im in a time crunch. im not sure how common it is for hair driers to have a cool button but if you have one i suggest using that. i know its not much help but there ya go….hope the party goes well!

  10. If you really need the eggs to be sturdier, about 3 layers of mache, the paste type or diluted Elmer’s glue and water are good for this type of work. The suggestion of tissue paper over the top is a good one, and the paint will add more strength than you might realize. If you go any more than that, they will be rocks instead of pinatas, and very hard to break… Trust me, I am speaking from my own pinata making experiences!!! I really hope that helps!

  11. First off, let me ask you a serious question: why so many whacks? So you give each kid one whack, I am assuming. But is that really necessary? They are seven-year-olds! They will get bored or frustrated long before the last one swings, especially when you take into consideration the fact that each one will need to change places, get blindfolded and positioned, etc. between tries. All that will take considerable time, and while it would take up a chunk of time during the alloted birthday party time, I would suggest you make the eggs with as few layers as possible to hold them together until the event, thin mache layers, 3 tops, and the paint will do amazing things to hold them in place. Hype up the fun, and when the candy flies in 5 whacks instead of 13, let them scream and eat their well earned booty… I don’t mean to be a party pooper, far from it! I just have a bit of experience with kids that little, and the fun needs to be compacted into short bursts, or their poor little over-active bodies go into melt down.

  12. Thank you so much everybody! I really appreciate the advice… and so quick too! So far, everything is going well. What I can tell Joey, who may be thinking of doing this sometime… is to use a punch balloon instead of plastic bags. It will give you a perfectly round egg – much better than the trash bag idea. And, it will be a lot smaller, too! These pinatas I have made a REALLY big – and they will not fit in an oven, dryer or anything else. Because of the size, I decided against Modge Podge (only due to cost as otherwise I think that really would have been the way to go). I’ll remember that next time I make a SMALLER pinata. I have filled them up with candy and little stuffed animal dinosaur babies, and just added some pieces here and there where I thought it was not hard enough. I’m really hoping that the fan I have on them now will allow me to add another layer to the top (where I filled in the pinatas) late tonight as tomorrow is the ONLY day I can paint them. For some reason, spray paint needs 50 degree temps. After that base coat of paint is dried, I will add details, like a giant crack in the egg and claws and eyes, etc… Then, back outside to varnish it. Another great suggestion – thank you Pamela. Thank you so much everybody for your great suggestions. What I wasn’t able to do this time, I will next time!

  13. Well, the best thing I would recommend is to add more layers. I just made a bear paper mache and I used flour, water and good old fashion white glue. It really made the surface hard. If you need to expedite the drying, you may want to try to use a heat gun. Try using an embossing one. A hair dryer will work but if you have a diffuser on it will offer it direct heat. If you have a dryer that allows a drying rack inside, do not put it inside. Since you used spray paint, it may cause a bit of a fire. Keep a watchful eye on the egg if you do put it in the oven too. Again, if you used spray paint it will not smell good in the house and may cause fire. Good luck.

  14. hi Suzanne and Jonni,
    My experience always goes the other way and my pinatas end up too hard…that really makes the kids wild, all that candy is so close and still so far…
    If you know you are definitely out of time, my suggestion is similar to above, but you might be able to get two birds with one stone here; Podgy.
    I’ve found that if you dilute Podgy or Mod Podge with water you can use it to add paper to help decorate the pinata. Even a few tissue paper layers on top of what you currently have will strengthen the piece and not take long to dry. Especially if you are planning on adding details with paint, you could do the tissue in all one colour and use it like a primer while you are reinforcing the pinata.
    Also, out of complete desperation I’ve thrown Podgy’d pieces in the oven (low temp) and they didn’t smell all chemically.
    Good luck! I really have found that the Podgy layers are strong and dry quickly. Desperate times call for desperate measures 🙂

  15. the dino eggs are a great idea!!!

    I would suggest taking tissue paper and mod podge-ing the eggs to make them stronger. Mod podge dries super fast and a layer or two of tissue couldn’t hurt. i would also varnish them afterwards with a safe gloss craft spray.

  16. Wow, thats a hard one. 2 layers aren’t going to be nearly enough to withstand 13 seven year olds with the scent of candy LOL.
    How much time do you have to work with? Using straight glue rather than flour mixture may dry faster. Or you can alternate masking tape with a layer of glued strips, giving you strength with half of the normal wet layers.
    I love the dino egg idea! I have to file that one away. I have a 3 year old, who is probably going to catch the dino bug soon.

    • Good ideas, Joey. I like the glue idea. Also, if just flour and water paste is used and the eggs aren’t too huge, a few more layers could could be dried quickly in a warm oven. But don’t try baking real glue – you end up with the smell of cooked plastic all over the house. And even with the plain flour and water you wouldn’t want to turn the oven so hot that the paper begins to scorch. About 200 degrees F seems to work pretty well.

      Oops, see Joey’s note below. I forgot about the plastic bags. They will melt in the oven, and ruin your project. Normally it would work, but it’s probably not a good idea for this project. Putting the eggs in front of a fan will help them dry faster, without adding extra heat…

      • I was worried about using the oven as she said her core is plastic bags. Not sure what their melting point is? That could get messy…and smelly!

          • I found all of your comments when searching for a solution to quicken the dry time! I have made a triceratops… whose legs just might make it on! It is not drying fast enough! So! In the loo of smelly bags and an oven… I will be pre heating the oven to 400 f… by the time I am done with my last touches, I will have turned the oven off about 20 mins before I insert the piñata! The door will stay slightly cracked and I will bake out the damp moisture of possible failure! Yay! Also, I LOVE the reminder, Glue and Mod podge CAN be diluted!!!!!!!!!! Wish me luck! Thank you all for taking the time to share your ideas and questions!

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