Amy’s 13th birthday coincided with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest, and that could mean only one thing – pirate party!
The design for the piñata was the movie poster itself.
Okay, so the piñata ain’t half as scary as the poster, but it’s twice as festive, and that’s what counts. The skull is just over 2 feet tall. The torches are 4½ feet long and topped with tissue paper flames. The voodoo doll is 11 inches tall.
The skull began as two punch ball balloons covered in papier mâché.
The two balls fit together to create a skull with two candy compartments – one in the braincase and one in the jaw. If you’re thinking this looks more like a light bulb than a skull, you’re right. This might not have been the best approach. Now I need to smooth out the face, reshape the jaw, and flatten the sides.
Smoothing out the face of the skull is easy.
With the jaw cut and reshaped it’s already beginning to look more like a skull.
The red lines mark where the bandana will go, but first I have to flatten out that big silly round head. Ignore the smile – that’s going to change before we’re done.
The entire side of the skull from jaw to crown had to be cut and cracked and pushed flat. Masking tape holds it in place until I cement it with papier mâché. Maybe there was a better way to make a skull piñata than this, but this is the path I took and I’m too far along to turn back now.
One side flattened, one to go. This is the last photo I took before the piñata was complete. (I was still shooting 35 mm film when this was made.)
Accessorizing the skull added time and expense to the making of this piñata. Ordinarily I like to make my piñatas as cheaply as possible, but every so often a piñata demands special treatment, and this was one of those times. My wife Linda made the bandana and the voodoo doll, sewed the costumes, and gave birth to the bonny pirate maidens.
Linda made the voodoo doll out of raffia and cloth, and I did the decorating. This doll is still hanging in Amy’s room.
The headband cloth was shredded in the back to look more piratey. Pirates wore ripped clothes a lot because their moms weren’t around to make them go change into something nice.
The torches were made from rolled newspaper layered in papier mâché, cemented together with more papier mâché, and then decorated with crepe paper. I wrapped some raffia around them to make it look like the raffia was holding them together.
I painted the torch sticks black before putting on the crepe paper in case anything showed through, and you can see a spot where it does.
After the torches were cemented together and wrapped in raffia, I attached them to the back of the skull using wire, and then hid the wire under some additional raffia.
The headband medallion was a wooden souvenir coin we got from somewhere. I drew on it with fabric paint and then spray painted the whole thing gold.
I tried to simulate skull rot by using splotches of cream-colored crepe paper. The hanging trinket is made from beads, cardboard, gold paint, one compartment from an egg tray, some raffia, and a stick from my backyard painted gold and black and red.
Wearing an earring when you don’t even have ears is true dedication to fashion.
The piñata had two candy compartments, one in the braincase and one in the jaw, that were connected by a three-inch-diameter hole. Most of the candy went into the braincase, but some was in the jaw. The mouth is actually an open hole into the jaw compartment. Every time the piñata was hit, some of the candy in the jaw spilled out the mouth, and some candy from the braincase fell through the hole to replace it. The piñata spit out pieces of candy with each hit until it was broken open.
Arrr, those pirate lasses done made off with the entire hoard, leaving poor Davy Jones with naught to claim but a few shattered skull fragments.
When Kerry was in 4th grade she had an assignment to interview somebody about their job, and one of the writers of Pirates of the Caribbean was kind enough to meet with her during the Austin Film Festival in 2004 to talk about writing movies. Terry Rossio has written a number of blockbuster Hollywood films, including Aladdin, Shrek, Mask of Zorro, and more. Here’s a brief excerpt from her interview with him:
K.A.: What is the best and worst thing about being a screenwriter?
T.R.: The best thing is the fact that I’m connected to everybody in a way. I could walk up and talk to somebody about Shrek, or Aladdin, or Zorro, or Pirates, and we’d have something in common. That’s just amazing to me, the fact that people sort of know me that I haven’t even met. To be almost like friends with the world in a way, you know, is just kind of neat. The worst thing is it’s kind of like having homework every night, all the time, and a lot of it. There’s always something that needs to be written that hasn’t been written yet.
Kerry: Which one of your characters is your favorite?
Terry: I have to say I like Donkey from Shrek best, just because he never gives up. He gets hurt easily and often and yet never loses hope.
Kerry: Which one do you think you are most like?
Terry: Oooooh – now that’s a great question. There’s a character in The Road to El Dorado called Miguel and he’s an adventurer and he always assumes the best. No matter what terrible situation he gets into, he thinks that he’s going to be able to get out of it somehow, and he’s sort of flamboyant and larger than life, and has fun with life. I don’t know if I am like him, but I’d like to be that character.