Letting Life Lead
It is that time of year again. My daughter’s upcoming sixth birthday, a wonderland of Frozen, begins with the production of a pinata. I vowed last year that I would never make another character pinata again. But, it’s Olaf! He’s a snowman. How complicated could it be?
Turns out, Olaf isn’t particularly complicated.
Until you get to the head.
And if you are seduced by detail work.
Nonetheless, I am already quite pleased with my crafty self. I did come up with a few alteration on my own, particularly some of the face details, but my research and initial inspiration came from this Youtube video: DIY Olaf Pinata and also this blog Munchkin Time that has a step by step tutorial on constructing an Olaf Pinata.
First the head! Begin with computer paper taped together to make a longer paper, and some leftover balloons from 2010 (or whatever you have). Olaf’s rather massive head is kind of conical on the top and bottom. Wrap the paper around the balloon until you get the right shape.
You should end up with something like the above picture. You can certainly use smaller balloons. This is a Mad Craft, so a twelve inch balloon did the trick.
Here is the back of the balloon. You can trim off excess and tape it down better than the picture, which is what I did.
Blow up two more balloons. The bigger one will be Olaf’s butt and the middle will be his…uh…chest? Thorax? Middle snowball? Look at an Olaf picture to get a sense of his proportions. It is okay if it isn’t perfect since it is going to be smashed to smithereens!
For the feet, cut some cardboard from an old cracker box or anything that will work from your recycle bin. Tape it onto your butt balloon. You can attach it later, but in my experience things I attache on later tend to go flying off into the crowd of spectators as a child whacks the pinata.
Papier mache’ is messy! Work outside or protect your floors with paper or drop cloth. Paper mache the balloons with one or two layers of newspaper cut into long strips. There are any number of recipes out there for papier mache. I used three cups of flour, eyeballed a half cup of salt, tossed in some cinnamon for scent, and put in enough water until it got to the consistency I liked. This will be painted and covered so a simple no-cook recipe does fine for me. Two layers at once will take longer to dry. It was 200% humidity here all week and it took a full twenty four hours for my base to dry even in front of a big box fan.
Child labor is always acceptable. She mache’d that balloon to within an inch of it’s life. It’s a tough little ball of paper!
Not only did it take forever to dry in this walking snorkel weather, the balloon in the butt deflated before it was fully stiffened. Not a big deal, but it did make the application of another layer a challenge. Once that layer dried, the parts were nice and stable. So far there are three layers (I had to wait to finish Olaf’s head because it was starting to sag at the ends since I used regular paper instead of poster paper or cardboard). For toddler you can get away with three layers for the part that holds the candy. For the bigger kids I recommend at least a good four or five or six layers if you want the pinata to last through a good beating. If you are using computer paper rather than newsprint, you can use fewer layers since the former is thicker and stronger. This framework took three days because of the drying time, but this first part really only took two hours the first day, and an hour the second. The rest was waiting and shouting, “Dry damn you! Dry!”
Don’t add the final layers of paper yet. Wait until the assembly stage to avoid having to use hot glue to put Olaf together and risk having him fall apart.
Cost So Far: $0.25 (for the flour and salt)
Part 2: Head and Face and Nose
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Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection. Columnist for The Conscious Talk Magazine.
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