Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Take a Break: Make a Piñata

It’s finally summer in Northern New England. Homemade salsa and chips are everywhere and it made me think of how much fun it is to make and break piñatas.

Interesting though, piñatas probably came from China. Marco Polo discovered the Chinese fashioning figures of cows, oxen or buffaloes, covered with colored paper and adorned with harnesses and trappings. Special colors traditionally greeted the New Year. When the mandarins knocked the figure hard with sticks of various colors, seeds spilled forth. After burning the remains, people gathered the ashes for good luck throughout the year. History of the Piñata from Mexoconnect

10 Easy Steps for Making a Piñata.

Step 1: Figure out what you’d like to use your piñata for. With the 4th of July just around the corner, a patriotic themed one would be fun. I’ve been having ideas of using various tube shapes from toilet paper, paper towels or even a Pringle can to make a chain of firecrackers. Of course, anything with a balloon shape-fish, star-is just fine.

Step 2: Once you know what you want to make, either make the shape from cardboard (cereal boxes work well for this) or blow up a balloon. If you’ve never done this before, start with a balloon project.

Step 3: Rip up lots of newspaper into strips.

Step 4: Make your paste. I use combine flour and water, stirring the water into the flour until it makes a good paste-runny is better than globby.

Step 5: Dip your strips of paper into your paste mixture and start laying them on your base shape. It’s best if you let dry between layers, but I admit that I’ll add several layers before letting it dry. Hair dryers work to speed up this process. Once you have two layers dried, take some wire or rope and wrap it around your model so that you will have a way to hang the piñata when it’s finished. Keep on layering your paper mache until you have sufficient layers. The more layers, particularly if you use a cardboard shape, the harder it is to break.

Step 6: Cut a slot so you can put candy or other items inside.

Step 7: Decorate. You can use paints, glue on strips of paper, streamers, gems or whatever appeals to you. Glue guns, tape, glue sticks and even Elmer’s all work well. One year my husband made a virus piñata by gluing ping pong balls all over an oddly shaped blob that started out with a balloon.

Step 8: Fill with candy or other goodies and seal up the hole you made in step 6. You don’t have to use candy. Think of different things, such as confetti, gift certificates, tiny but fun gadgets, party favors etc. I’d like to fill the 4th of July piñata I’ve been thinking about with lots of firework type of things so that as soon as it is broken it would start sizzling like a real firecracker. Since there children that will be present, I figure I’m safer with candy and red, white and blue confetti.

Step 9: Hang your piñata so that you can change the height depending on the age of the person welding the stick. You can use any sort of stick-broom handle, cane-just make sure it doesn’t have any splinters.

Step 10: Blindfold the person and spin them a time or two before steering them to the piñata. Wack! Enjoy the contents.

For more ideas on making piñatas, check out the following websites
How to Make a Piñata: Video -Good basic instructions

Making Piñatas: Celebration Mexican-Style in North Louisiana-This is step by step instructions on making a seven pointed star piñata.

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