I'm not who I was.
Several folks have inquired as to how I created the Larry Boy pull-string pinata for Cheeks’ birthday. The top question seems to be “Was it hard?” This is a difficult question to answer because I know that the real question is, “Will it be hard for ME?”
I can only answer for myself. It was time consuming (there are several occasions that require drying time), but no, it was not difficult. I think Veggie Tales are pretty much the easiest characters to recreate because they are made up of very basic shapes. However I do understand that not everyone’s brain works in basic-shape mode like mine does, so I can’t say whether or not it will be difficult for you.
If you have your heart set on a VT themed pinata but Larry Boy seems slightly beyond your level of craftiness, fear not. I’m sure you could create a Bob the Tomato pinata using a punch balloon (because they blow up more rounded than traditional balloons) and the basic principles behind the construction of Larry Boy without having to administer nearly as much detail.
(My apologies in advance for not having pictures of every little detail, as I didn’t exactly plan ahead thoroughly for a how-to post.)
Blow up the balloons. (I find these particular balloon shapes difficult to blow up with my breath, so I used a soccer ball air pump to do the hard work for me.
Easy peasy.) After inflating the balloons, use duct tape them into 2 groups of 3. Then stack one group vertically on top of the other and tape.
The large size bowl is merely for helping to keep your balloons in an upright position while administering the paper mache. The medium sized bowl is for mixing paste. I am not a flour-based paste kind of person. (It’s messy, it’s smelly, and it can attract bugs.) For my paper mache paste I mix equal parts warm water and white glue. I don’t measure it… guessing is good enough. I also like to add a little bit of paint to the paste. You don’t have to do this, but I find that doing so makes it easier to assess where I have and have not covered.
The first layer is the the trickiest (but not THAT tricky). Using a sponge brush, apply the paste to the balloons. Stick newspaper strips on, in the same direction, overlapping the edges. (Ex: if you start your bottom layer with the strips running vertically, do this for the ENTIRE first layer. Then when you get to the second layer, run all of the strips horizontally instead.) You may need to almost immediately paint over the first layer with more paste as you go along to keep it stuck to the balloon.
I typically do 2 solid layers. Then I “band-aid” any gaps or bumps and smooth out. I give one more coat of paste all over and let it dry completely. (If you are able to let it dry outside in the sun, it dries much more quickly. Otherwise, you may have to wait a full day.
After the first 2 layers have completely dried, add another full layer of newspaper and glue. Remember to make sure that the new layer is not laid in the same direction as the previous layer. (Also, we will be hanging the pinata by Larry Boy’s super-suction ears. But for other pinatas in which you will be running the string through the paper mache later on, you will want to add a couple of extra layers for reinforcement so that you pinata doesn’t break at the top from the weight of hanging.)
Once the frame of the pinata has been completely layered and completely dried, you will want to cut a large flap opening at the bottom. Make sure that the flap is large enough to allow items to fall out. (I had some larger bagged items that initially clogged up the opening on this one and I had to dislodge it before the rest of the treats would fall out. This could have been avoided if I would have just cut the flap to make a slightly larger hole.) Also, this is the perfect time to pop your balloons and pull out your balloon and tape guts.
Now it’s time to decorate. I find crepe paper streamers much easier to work with than tissue paper. The key is to think from the bottom up. First, think from the most underneath layer up (skin, base clothing, then outerwear). Next think from the lowest point to the highest point. I looked at an image of Larry Boy to help me.
Larry Boy’s bottom-most layer, his skin, is green. So that is the color of streamer I began with. I wrapped the streamer once around the pinata to determine the length of my streamer strips, adding a little extra length for overlapping. Upon cutting a strip I would fold it accordion-style and then cut a shallow U-shape at the bottom, so that when I unfolded the streamer, it would be scalloped. (Think like when you make paper snowflakes. You don’t have to scallop it, I just prefer the way it looks.) I determined about how much green would need to be showing, and covered a little bit extra just to be sure. Beginning from the bottom of the green section, I secured each strip of crepe paper using white glue, overlapping slightly as I worked my way up.
Next I did the purple pants, and then the purple hat. Before working on the headpiece portion I crumpled up some crepe paper and glued it to the top of the pinata mohawk-style just to give me some substance to build upon.
The last part of the “basic” decorating was the yellow coat because it is the outermost article. At first I just worked in a large rectangular space from the purple up to the green. But Larry Boy’s costume is v-necked, so my final layer or to I made sure to shape that way. It’s not shown in the picture below, but the final touch to his base decorating was Larry’s nose. I crumpled up some crepe paper or tape (I honestly can’t remember which) into a ball shape and glued between the face and the headpiece. I then used the same overlapping technique with green and purple crepe paper (working from the bottom up) to finish it off. Before working on the details, I let all of this dry overnight.
To detail the Larry Boy, I used a vertical u-shaped black piece of construction paper for the mouth and a rectangle cut out of white printer paper for the tooth. I also used a long rectangular strip of printer paper for the color, and several black construction paper rectangles for the belt. I cut out a yellow circle for the buckle, an d used yellow crepe paper on the mohawk part of the head piece. To create the super-suction ears I pierced through Larry’s head with a metal skewer and then ran a wooden dowel or skewer through it. (Or was it a long white lollipop stick? I can’t remember). I used yellow crepe paper to make the stick-part yellow & red construction paper to create the cones. The stick is where I eventually attached the string for hanging because I decided it would be more stable that way (although originally I had it strung through his head).
For the whites of the eyes, the laces on the shirt, and the “LB” on the buckle, I used white puff paint. (Tip: to be sure that your character appear Veggie-Tales-ish, whether it be in drawing or pinata making or whatever, be sure that the whites of the eyes touch each other, and also that at least one is leaning slightly inward). I used construction paper for the pupils.
Now, you are welcome to stop hear, provide small children with a bad, and let them beat the daylights out of poor Larry, but I prefer the pull-string version. You can turn ANY pinata, even a pre-fabricated pinata into a pull-string pinata. You just have to be sure to cut that flap that we did toward the beginning.
Using my handy dandy metal skewer (I’m telling you, this is the kitchen tool that I use most for things having absolutely nothing to do with the kitchen), I poked 20 holes in the flap at the bottom of the pinata. You want at least as many holes as you anticipate children. Nobody wants a kid to be left ribbon-less. You could use fancy ribbon, but I just used cheap, dollar store gift-wrapping ribbon. Make you ribbon long enough so that the children can easily take hold of one from wherever your pinata will be hanging. I use 1 ribbon for 2 holes, so I made my ribbons twice as long. With my skewer’s help, I threaded the ribbon through the holes, making sure they covered the surface of the flap.
Prior to party time, you will want to stuff the pinata with goodies and tape the bottom shut. My favorite tape for this is the decorative duct tape. Because it is decorative, I don’t have to detail the bottom with crepe paper to give a finished look. But more importantly, you want just the right amount of hold from your tape. It needs to be strong enough so that the weight of the treats themselves will not fall out, but you don’t want it to be SO strong that the flap won’t pull open. The decorative duct tape doesn’t have nearly as much stick to it as traditional duct tape, so it is perfect for this job.
Everyone holds a string and pulls on the count of 3! Then the treats come pouring down.