How do I harden my pinata?

Hello! I am making a rather large spiderman pinata for a party Monday, and may have been too enthusiastic in laying down multiple layers of paper mache during single sittings. I have done three layers at this point, but am worried it will not fully dry out in time and am wondering if there is anything you would suggest to harden the surface and make it very difficult to break! Also, I did not plan the hook very well, and am unsure how to string up what I predict will be a 10 pound pinata. Would you think cutting a somewhat large hole into the shoulders, adding a wire hanger, and closing it up with superglue work?

Thanks for your help!!
Erin

Answer from Piñata Boy

The only way to harden the piñata faster is to dry the papier mâché faster, and the best was to speed the drying is to put a fan blowing on the piñata.  If it’s warm outside and you can put it in the sun that also helps, but wherever you put the piñata, make sure you have a fan blowing on it.  Keep turning the piñata in front of the fan every half hour or so, so that as one side dries another side gets a turn.  I can’t say how long the entire process will take, just keep it going until it’s dry. I have also tried using a blow dryer to help speed the drying, but from my experience the fan was much more effective and the hair dryer was a lot of effort for a small payoff in terms of time saved.

The piñata will continue to feel soft until the papier mâché is fully dry, so throughout almost the entire drying process the piñata is going to feel soft and you may think it’s not drying out very well, but it will suddenly become much harder at the very end of the drying process.

If you still have balloons inside the papier mâché, then when the piñata is dry enough that the sides will not collapse, you can remove the balloons and cut a hole in the papier mâché, and use a blow dryer to help dry the piñata from the inside.  I know I said earlier that a blow dryer wasn’t very effective, but it’s the only way to circulate warm air inside the piñata, and it works better in an enclosed space.

It’s okay to add the hanging hook after the piñata is dry.  For a heavier piñata you’ll want to make a hanging hook similar to the ones I describe here.  This design for the hook helps spread the hanging force over a larger area and prevents the hanging hook from tearing through the papier mâché.  The second example on that page shows how a hanging hook is added after the papier mâché work is done.  To close up the hole just use masking tape and if you are pressed for time you can decorate right over the masking tape.  (Superglue doesn’t adhere well to papier mâché.)

Good luck!

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