How to Make a Papier-Mâché Pig Piñata

In honor of my niece having turned the big 1-0, I threw her a mini-luau at the beach.  Since we couldn’t exactly bury a pig in the sand, we decided to make a papier-mâché pig piñata.  Traditionally, piñatas are stuffed with treats and then kids club them to death until their guts fall out.  Way to reward violence! :)  That was the original plan but then this little piggy got anthropomorphized and the kid got attached.  Winston is his name.  He was ultimately modified so that his pudgy little body could be spared.

The making of Winston was pretty simple with a few supplies we had around the house.  We were inspired by this Pin and we’re sharing the process as part of the Pinterest Challenge.  Woo hoo!

Glue (we made three total batches of glue – one for each layer):

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water

To make the glue, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Then mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the cold water to the dry ingredients to make a runny paste.  Whisk the runny paste into the boiling water and stir constantly until you get the first bubbles of boiling.  Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool – about 15 minutes.

Assembly:

  • balloon
  • masking tape
  • 7 bathroom tissue tubes (4 for legs, 1 for snout and 2 for ears)
  • newspaper, torn into 1.5″ strips
  • pink construction paper, torn into strips
  • butcher’s twine
  • paint brush
  • black marker

For the legs, I cut off about 1.5″ off of each tube so Winston’s legs weren’t too long.  I cut open another tube and cut that in half to create a larger, shorter tube for the snout.  The tail was strips of paper* twisted together then wrapped around a pencil for the coil.  All of Winston’s extremities were then attached with masking tape.

*In the process of covering Winston, we realized that his newspaper tail would be impossible to cover in pink so we had to perform emergency surgery and his tail was replaced with a pink construction paper one.

I started with reinforcing the legs by brushing glue on Winston’s legs and belly.  The strips were then applied all the way around each leg so that it was touching both the leg and the body (kind of like a starburst effect) so that it’d be secure when it was all dry.  The same was done to his ears and nose.  Section by section, the then-soon-to-be-10-year-old and her sister painted Winston in glue and applied the strips until his entire body was covered.

We found that the brush then strip method kept things really neat and tidy without having to submerge each strip in glue then trying to messily apply it to his body.

We covered Winston with three layers – allowing for a complete dry and hardening between layers (time will depend on your atmospheric conditions) – two newspaper and one pink construction paper.

Butcher’s twine (for hanging Winston) was tied around his entire body and behind his ears after the first layer was dry so that it was extra secure.

The initial pudgy body modification idea was to make a less-violent string piñata.  A string piñata usually involves a trap door from which several strings are tied but only one of which actually opens the door.  I thought I could make udders from which the strings would be attached.  Then I remembered Winston was a boy.  :/

I also didn’t like the idea of one kid getting all the guts and glory.

Husfriend came up with the brilliant idea that Winston could crap candy leis!  It was a perfect solution (that I had to execute by myself).  :/

The candy leis were simple yet very time-consuming to make:

  • candy (I used three packages of individually-wrapped hard candy which yielded about 20 yards of lei)
  • 1 roll of cellophane
  • curling ribbon, cut into 6″ pieces

The cellophane was cut into 3″ wide strips spanning the length of the roll.  The candy was then laid in a long row in the middle of each long strip of cellophane.  The OCD in me also had to have the candy Roy G Bivved.  The cellophane was then wrapped around the row of candy and ribbon was tied at each joint.  When I got to the end of each strip, more cellophane was added and overlapped to keep it continuous.  Then after every single joint was tied, I went back and curled all the ribbon.

I was too deliriously tired to take any decent pictures.  This was the only salvageable one:

The single super long strand of candy was then painlessly stuffed into Winston via a newly-minted butt hole.  :)

In the end, it was all worth it.  Projects like this always remind me of my father.  He was my Martha before I knew of the Martha.  

Winston was a major hit and the kid was happy.  Her friends got a major kick out of pulling candy crap out Winston’s butt and wearing it around their necks.

Winston had fun.

But his butt was tired!

Dream a Little Dream of He…

I dream of him often.  I never see his face, but only hear his voice.

I awake thinking that life as of late has been a dream.  That these past few weeks haven’t been real.  That I’ll call home and hear his voice again.

I don’t know what these dreams mean, if anything.

I guess all it really means is that I really miss my father.

Once Upon A Time…

So many of the best parts of me are from my father.  He is strong, smart and crafty.  He taught me, through example, how to navigate this life.

Over 30 years ago, he escaped a communist war-torn country in the still of the night with his wife and 4 small children, the youngest of which was still a few weeks old.  That infant happened to be me.

Growing up, I’d always been his right-hand lady.

When my little sister moved in (from the hospital), I watched as my father wove a hammock for her to sleep in.  I slept underneath that hammock so we could have more space in our tiny one-bedroom house.

As a kid, under the watchful eye of my sister, I played beneath a cove of trees at the beach while my father, mother and older siblings braved the hot sun to collect soda cans to recycle as added income for the family.  They’d walk miles and miles each day, carrying giant trash bags fulls of cans, amongst the bikini-clad strangers.

I was there when he fell from the rooftop of our rental home trying to repair the leak that the landlord had endlessly promised to fix.  I ran to get my mother and amongst all the commotion, I watched as the blood that invaded his brain escape from his ears.  My first-grader self was then too young to know the extent of the damage that required an induced-coma and brain surgery.

I was there with grommets in hand when he built his own truck camper shrouded in sheet metal that unbeknownst to my 2nd-grader self then, embarrassed my teenage siblings so.  He would drop them off at school in all its gleaming gloriousness.  To make sure they got to school on time, he’d drop them off at the very front of the school steps and as they climbed out of the back, the homemade plexiglass door with just-a-little-too-tight hinges smacked them in the butt.  :)

I was there when all the years of hard work paid off and we had our own home where we raised chickens in our backyard in the middle of the city.  He gave me my own chicken to look after that he dubbed Nerdy Nelly.  My father recognized that Nelly wasn’t like the others.  She was a loner that liked to be held.  He also recognized the special bond I had with Nelly and our other chickens.  When chicken was on the dinner menu and I didn’t partake, he understood.  He’d come to my rescue when I burst into tears after my sister taunted me about the family eating my friends.

I was there when he did all the landscaping for our home.  I still have the scar and tetanus records from when a particularly large tree branch fell on my arm as I watched my father from below.

My father has always been my biggest supporter.

Despite being a new immigrant and having limited English skills, he was at every single parent-teacher conference.

And although we didn’t have much money, he always encouraged learning and there never was a budget cap for books.

When I joined Science Olympiad, he came home with a giant box of straws so that I could get a head start on bridge-building.

When I came home and announced that I was going to be a vegetarian for a year, he surprised me with a case of mac and cheese.

He dropped me off and picked me up from grade school, middle school, high school and even college, every day.

My father is the king of making-do.  What we didn’t have, I didn’t notice.

When I had asked about a 7-11 Slurpee, he suggested we go home and make it ourselves instead.  We threw ice and orange slices into the blender and made a delicious smoothie.

He helped with all of my school projects, building the best miniature car out of things we had around the house – an old plastic lychee box with barbecue skewer axles and cardboard tires held on by beeswax bolts.

And, on my fifth-grade field trip to Coronado Island, I had the biggest and best gleaming white kite that he fashioned from heavy-duty trash bags and hand-carved bamboo rods.

25 years later, back on Coronado Island, my father married me and the Husfriend last autumn.  He even sang at the reception.  :)

My father always made everything better.

And now, I wish I could make it better for him…