Actian Corporation in Austin was having their annual tailgate party, and party means piñata!
It started with a sketch.
The body of the football was a giant punch ball and the eyes were ordinary party balloons of different sizes.
Football fans! Get it?
I painted the main body of the piñata brown just in case the ends of the football were knocked off first. I didn’t want a bunch of naked newspaper showing.
The points on the ends of the football were made of thin cardboard. Normally I avoid using cardboard because it’s so hard to break, but this piñata was made for grown-ups and had to be tougher than normal. You can get these large cardboard sheets for free from Costco or Sam’s Club. They’re slipped among the stacks of paper towel and toilet paper, and they’ll let you take them for free.
I had some difficulty making the pointed ends of the football because they’re not just cones, they’re cones with convex sides.
To make the points, I first made a wire frame out of shirt hangers, then laid cardboard over it, taped the cardboard in place, and covered it with papier mâché. My wire frame is pretty lopsided – I expected that might create a problem, but it turned out to be much worse than I expected. It took me forever to reshape the points.
Since making this piñata I’ve worked more with thin cardboard and if I had to do it again I would not use a wire frame at all. By cutting the cardboard flaps more uniformly, they can be brought together cleanly without a frame.
One lopsided point. And there’s another one for the other side of the football that’s just as bad. If only I had known then what I know how, it would have saved me hours and hours of papier mâché repairs.
The points were taped onto the center section, then the tape was papier mâchéd over. By the time the points were cemented on, that center section was pretty thick. I planned it that way on purpose – I wanted the ends to break more easily, with the larger main compartment tougher to crack open.
I drew a mouth on the piñata, then had to create a raised version of the mouth out of thin cardboard.
This is one of those thin cardboard sheets I got from Sam’s Club.
Here’s the mouth all cut out and folded and ready to tape on.
The points have been (painstakingly) reshaped and the eyes and mouth are attached. I painted the white parts before decorating with crepe paper because it would be harder to paint them afterward. I used a stain-blocking latex primer to keep the newsprint from showing through.
This Actian logo on a t-shirt was what I used for designing the logo on the piñata. It seemed to me it was kind of a weird logo – what are those gray and blue bits supposed to be, anyway? It never occurred to me that there might be also be a big black part in the logo that doesn’t show up on the black shirt. The logo looks a lot better with the black part. When in doubt, Google!
So first I drew my incomplete version of the logo on the back of the football…
…then I decided to spray paint the football. I had a whole lot of brown crepe paper to glue on, and if I missed any spots between layers, the brown paint would help hide it.
The decorating is mostly finished. (It didn’t happen nearly that fast in real life.)
The eyes felt a little incomplete, so I decided to add eyebrows. These are bent wire shirt hangers with fun fur from a fabric store hot glued over them. Then I stuck the ends of the wires into the eyeballs and hot glued them in place.
Are you ready for some football?
The logo was wrong because it was missing the black piece, but the employees were all too polite to say anything.
Whack whack whack whack! The piñata passed its concussion protocol and went back into the game. About two dozen employees got a turn.