Amy has been a fan of Greek mythology since she was knee high to a minotaur, so I didn’t need the Oracle at Delphi to tell me that Medusa was one day fated to become a piñata. The biggest challenge in the design of the Medusa is how to get all those long, curling snakes to stay in place when they’re only attached at one end.
I made the snakes out of long, skinny balloons covered with papier mâché. I planned to paint them so the snakes would have a smooth, shiny look to them. Unfortunately, it took so much papier mâché to anchor the snakes to the head that by the time I was done, each snake rose up from a bump in Medusa’s scalp. The snakes themselves were also pretty rough and bumpy from the papier mâché, and painting them would have revealed every flaw.
On top of that, even though Medusa had 28 snakes for hair, there was still a lot of bare scalp in between the snakes, and if I painted her hair all that bald scalp would have shown. So I had to use crepe paper on the snakes to hide the bumps, the rough snake skins, and the bald areas.
I wrapped the snakes in snipped crepe paper but didn’t fluff the crepe paper once it was on the snakes. The snakes still ended up looking hairy instead of smooth. In hindsight, maybe I should not have snipped the crepe paper at all, and simply wrapped the crepe paper streamer around the snakes the way I later decorated the mouse’s tail on the Warlord of Nibblecheese piñata.
Although the snakes didn’t turn out the way I hoped, over all the Medusa piñata still came out pretty well and I was happy with it. The kids had a blast battling the snakes – more on that in a minute.
The piñata stick was a 48-inch dowel rod, spray painted silver. The hilt of the sword was a disposable plastic bowl painted gold, and the handle was a black velvety cloth with an added red spiral.
Only twice have I made a piñata stick that was 48 inches long, and both times the stick broke. This was one of those times. Now I always cut the stick down to 36 – 42 inches before decorating.
When it came time to break the piñata, the snakes shielded the head from attack, so they had to be broken off one at a time before the head could be smashed open.
This was good fun for the kids, because each snake could be satisfyingly dispatched with a single well-placed hit. Removing the snakes became a kind of pre-game show, and the kids didn’t even try to break Medusa open until they had removed every last snake from her head. By then her head was weakened by all the holes left behind from the snakes.
I wanted to make the kids fight Medusa in a mirror like Perseus did, but my wife didn’t want to drive anyone to the emergency room so we just pretended we were immune to the Medusa’s petrifying gaze.
Sorry, Medusa. There’s no escaping fate, especially when you’re a piñata.
In the original myth, when Medusa was slain Pegasus sprang forth from her dead body. I’ve never made a Pegasus piñata, but I have made a Pigasus or two.