Paper mache is cracking and lifting since I’ve primed

I’m building a robot. I used boxes and paper mache’d over it – it’s probably waaay too hard to break lol especially for 3-5 yr olds but I’ll put holes in it. I’m excited but I’m concerned that it’s looking flaky like the paper mache is lifting – I’ve only primed 1 layer using a spray paint primer. I plan on just keeping it smooth so that’s why I’d like it to look super clean. Maybe I shouldn’t of paper mache’d anyway should I use latex paint:/ even tho I wanted it matte? Or quilt batting … or just leave it?? Yikes help

Answer from Piñata Boy

Rather than paint the piñata, I would hide the surface problems by covering the piñata with some kind of material. You can use colored paper, felt (craft stores also sell specialty felts with sparkles and such that could add some nice highlights), or even  metallic scrapbook paper. The obvious first choice for decorating a robot might be aluminum foil, but I have always found foil to be difficult to work with and hard to lay down flat without getting creases and wrinkles. For me, foil tends to add surface imperfections rather than hide them.

Once you’ve covered it in some type of material you may still have imperfections, but this is where you add additional details to hide them. If you have a visible seam you don’t like, for example, get some small googly eyes, paint them silver or gray, and glue them down along each side of the seam to look like rivets holding the panels together. If there’s an unwanted bump in a flat area, cover it with a “model number” nameplate or with a small control box with colored buttons. Adding a name of some kind is a good idea because then it’s not just a robot anymore, it’s DX Zero 5 (or whatever) and it becomes unique and memorable. You can also hide imperfections by giving the robot some battle damage if that’s appropriate, by painting on some black scratches or scorch marks, and maybe even adding some exposed wires. There are problems and imperfections with every piñata, and finding creative solutions to the problems is part of the fun of piñata-making.

I can’t tell you for sure why the papier mâché is lifting up in the first place. The most common reason for this is that many cardboard boxes (especially from food products) have a waxy feel to the outside, and if you used a box with a coating like this, the papier mâché paste won’t soak into the cardboard well, so the papier mâché doesn’t adhere to the cardboard, and starts curling and  lifting off as it dries. If you’re using untreated cardboard and still have the lifting off problem I couldn’t really say why without more information.

Good luck!




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