Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Make a Trash Truck Pinata

My son said he wanted a trash truck pinata for his birthday (which is NOT that easy to find btw), so we decided to try our hand at making one. It was a long, messy, and fun project for us me (he helped a LITTLE bit!). We had a lot of trial and error along the way, so I decided to share what we learned!
There are directions all over the internet about how to make a pinata using a balloon, but I needed a square shape. I thought about using a cardboard box, but I am dealing with 4 year olds and didn't think they would have enough "oomph" in their swings to break it. I thought if I used a lightweight frame of straws and plastic wrap, it would be my version of a "rectangular balloon." This was my first attempt.
I got about halfway through the first layer of paper mache, when I realized a valuable lesson. If you use bendy straws, you will have a bendy pinata. The straws were sagging every which way, the plastic wrap was caving in (wet paper mache is HEAVY), and it was a soggy mess. I chucked it in the garbage, and started on round 2. I cut the bendy parts off the staw, and attached them together by using tape and/or sliding one end into another. I also used more supports on the sides, and a couple of cross supports so it would hold its shape better.
 
Then I used Press'n'Seal (which is AMAZING!!!) to cover it, and added a small shoebox for the cab.
The paper mache paste is very easy: 1 part flour to 2 parts water (I used 1 cup flour, 2 cups water). It will be thin and runny.
For the paper mache part, I cut a bunch of old newspaper into strips about 2 inches wide by 12 inches long. I didn't take any pictures of this part (because my hands and arms and clothes were covered in goo!), but you basically dip a stip in the paste, run the strip through your fingers to get the excess paste off, then lay it on the pinata. It is good to alternate directions (lay one horizontal, then one vertical). That will make it stronger! This process took some time, because you can't do the whole layer at one time (you can't do the bottom until the top dries enough to turn it over). It took 12-24 hours for the paper mache to dry enough to move it. I did 3 layers overall. After the second layer, tie some string around to hang the pinata.
I just basically wrapped it up like a present, and tied a loop on top big enough to tie the rope to. I used yarn, and if I didn it again I would either double it up, or use something stronger (the string started to break before the rest of the pinata). After you put the string on, do your third and final layer of paper mache (3 layers was good for my group of 4 year olds...everyone got a turn before the pinata broke. If this is for bigger kids, you might want to do an extra layer to make it stronger. Or us a cardboard box as a base!).
Once it is all dry, use an Exacto knife to cut a flap on top big enough to reach your hand in (watch out for your string when you are cutting!). Reach in and pull out all the straws and Press'n'Seal (I used a small pair of scissors on the straws to break them up, and they came out very easily). Put your candy in, and tape the flap shut. Now you are ready to decorate!
I used crepe paper streamers from the dollar store. Fold them in half like this (if you do several layers at once it will save a lot of time!)...
cut about halfway through...
and when you unfold it should look like this!
I used dabs of glue from a glue gun every few inches to tack it into place. The closer you do the rows, the less newspaper will show through (or you could always do a quick coat of spraypaint underneath the same color as your crepe paper)
it will take some time, but eventually you will be done :>)
all that's left is to hang it up and watch the kids have fun!

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