Anna-Liza here. And yes, I did say “piñata”. It’s supposed to be a dragon, but I’m not sure at the time of this writing how it will turn out.
Mr. R’s school is having a sort of carnival thingy as a fundraiser, and one of the events is a piñata contest. He reallyreallyreally wants to enter the contest, so we’re making one! He and Darlin’ K are crafting the armature even as I type,
the papier-maché paste is cooling on the stove, and at any moment I will be called to begin what I refer to as “the messy part”. I will add updates as they occur. So, let’s call this “Day One”, even though they actually started the armature last night. See the egg cartons? Those are to support the wings and make it possible to adjust their position until we’re ready to add the papier-maché.
Day one — Mr. R and Darlin’ K have made the armature out of long cardboard tubes, medium cardboard tubes, short cardboard tubes, and 18-count egg cartons. Oh, yes, and the box that Lyda sent the Princes’ Quilts in (wings), and a lot of masking tape.
Darlin’ K is using two egg-holder thingies from the cartons for each set of eyes.
Did I mention this is a two-headed dragon?
Darlin’ K also came up with an ingenious arrangement with a sturdy piece of old clothesline to create loops for hanging.
This means we don’t have to worry overmuch about the weight distribution–we can attach the hanging string anywhere along those two loops to get it balanced.
Day one and a half— I have successfully made the Primordial Goop* and we took the whole works out to the front yard. The armature was turned upside down so we could work on the underbelly and support structure for the wings first.
We also wrapped the main tail section, neck(s) and parts of the heads. The entire thing is now in the garage, drying. I have to admit that, at this moment, it looks rather more like a long-tailed, two-headed goose (with fangs) than anything else.
But it’s not anywhere near finished yet.
Days two through five — sporadic progress on the papier-maché. We are able to accomplish this because I made a second batch of Primordial Goop and put it in a large, sealed plastic tub in the fridge. We can take it out, do a little papier-maché, seal the tub up and stick it back in the fridge. I put at least three tablespoons of salt in, so we don’t seem to be having any spoilage problems. I actually got up at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday to get another layer of papier-maché done, so it would dry in time. The dragon is looking more like a dragon. A newsprint dragon. Painting will have to wait until Saturday morning, the morning of the competition, because the papier-maché is still drying on Friday night …
Day six — Painting completed — as you will notice, this is a non-traditional dragon in a number of ways, including a sort of Pollockesque final treatment.
Touch ups done, although I think it would have been better with a third coat in spots. The newsprint still tends to show through the yellow. But on the whole, I’d say this is a fine looking two-headed, multi-colored dragon.
The piñata was successfully delivered and displayed at the Family Fun event. Piñata voting was taking place during the event, but final judging was to be during the following week. And the piñatas were to be displayed in the school.
Following week — Rowan’s two-headed dragon piñata did not win. (Please keep in mind that he was among the youngest participants. He’s in first grade, and his school goes all the way up to eighth grade.) However, he got to do a pretty big and complex project and get a lot of great feedback about it. His classmates were really impressed. We had fun working on it together, too. We might even try making another one! Probably not real soon. But you know, Primordial Goop, old newspaper, and cardboard tubes are pretty cheap. A little papier-maché crafting might be a nice messy “together” project for your family this summer, too! (Yeah, definitely summer. Doing the messy stuff outside is a really, really good idea.)
*Primordial Goop: Heat 4 to 5 cups water to boiling in large saucepan. I used 5. While the water is heating, mix one cup all-purpose flour with 2 cups water, stir thoroughly to get rid of as many lumps as possible. This stuff will be lumpy no matter how hard you try, but you may as well avoid what you can.
Once the water is boiling, add the flour-and-water mixture and simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring the whole time, until it thickens. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt to help prevent mold. If you have to store it any length of time beyond, say, a couple of hours, it’s probably best to refrigerate it.