Pinatas are a traditional decoration for birthday parties. You fill the finished pinata with candy and treats, and the kids take turns trying to break the pinata with a stick. Making a pinata is not expensive or difficult. It is, however, time consuming. You will need at least two days including drying time. Making a pinata is very messy regardless of how simple the design is so you will need a good work area.
Inflate one 18-inch round latex balloon. Prepare papier-mache paste by combining 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water. Stir the mixture until it is the consistency of pudding before it is refrigerated. Tear or cut old newspaper into strips. For a project of this size you probably will need the amount of paper from an average weekend newspaper. Once the newspaper and papier-mache paste are ready, dip each strip of newspaper into the paste. Wipe off any excess paste, and lay the strip of paper flat on the balloon. Use your hands to smooth the paper so it is completely flat on the balloon. Continue putting the paper onto the balloon until the entire balloon has a solid layer of newspaper on it. Leave the pinata overnight to dry.
Once the pinata is dry, poke two small holes in the top, about an inch apart. String a piece of twine or yarn through the two holes so you can hang the finished pinata. When you poke the holes in the papier-mache, the air from inside the balloon will be released, but the balloon will not deflate because the papier-mache will hold its shape. With a box cutter, cut a three-sided flap in the papier-mache at the top rear of the pinata. When you are done adding the tissue paper you will be able to lift the flap to pour the candy in. If you hadn’t decided on what you want the finished pinata to look like, now is the time. With a pencil, draw the design onto the pinata. Cut pieces of colored tissue paper into 1-inch-by-1-inch squares. Squeeze some white craft glue into a disposable cup. Add a small amount of water and stir the mixture with a craft stick. Continue adding water and stirring until the glue is thin enough to be easily brushed onto the pinata. Use a craft brush to spread the glue mixture over a small area of the pinata. Place the eraser end of a pencil into the center of one piece of the tissue paper. Bunch up the rest of the piece of tissue paper around the pencil, and press the eraser into the glue mixture. Slowly lift the pencil away, and the tissue paper should stick to the pinata. Continue spreading the glue and attaching the tissue paper with the pencil until the entire pinata is covered. Let the glue dry for at least an hour.
Inflate one 18-inch round latex balloon. Cut out a 1-inch-by-1-inch piece of poster board and fold it in half diagonally. Tape it to the center of the balloon for a nose. Cut two pieces of poster board into half-circle shapes and tape them to the sides of the balloon for the ears. If you want, you can also cut out two half-moon pieces of poster board for eyebrows.
Once the poster-board pieces are attached to the balloon, prepare the papier-mache paste and newspaper strips as described in Section 1. As you cover the balloon with the papier-mache-coated newspaper strips, go over the pieces of poster board as if they are a part of the balloon. This way when the balloon dries you won't be able to tell where the balloon ends and the poster board begins.
With face pinatas, you can draw the design and cover the pinata with tissue paper as described in Section 1, or you can paint the face onto the pinata. To paint the face on, it is still best to start by drawing the design in pencil. Then use solid-color acrylic or poster paints to paint the pinata. Because you will paint over the papier-mache, make sure every part of the face is painted. To keep the paint from smudging, paint one side, let it dry and then paint the other side.
After all the paint is dry, use a sharp pencil to poke two small holes in the top of the pinata about an inch apart. String a piece of yarn or twine through the holes to hang the pinata. Use a box cutter to cut a flap in the top back of the pinata to add the candy.
Melanie Williamson graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She worked for four years as a college writing tutor. During that time she proofread and edited academic papers. She works as a professional freelance writer and writes for a variety of websites. In April 2011 she published her first book on resume writing.