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How to Make a Death Star Pinata Using Papier-Mâché
Death Star Piñata
If you are a person of the male persuasion between the ages of 3 and 43 (or live with one), you probably instinctively understand the need for a Death Star piñata. Some days you just have to smash something, am I right? Multitask and use your aggressive impulses to save the galaxy by whacking a piñata shaped like the Death Star until it explodes. Plus, you get candy!
While I first attempted this project for my son's 6th birthday party, it is suitable for many occasions. Celebrate the release of the 3D versions of the Star Wars films! Honor the completion of your Jedi training! Observe your favorite holidays with a Star Wars theme! Bring a Death Star piñata to the office to celebrate your boss' being laid off! . . . See? The Death Star piñata is always appropriate.
First, gather the necessary ingredients. You'll need flour, water, newspaper, a balloon, string, gray paint, and a black permanent marker. (For a rounder shape, use a punching balloon or a thin beach ball rather than a regular balloon.)
Making the paste
Take a small saucepan and fill it with one quart of water. Bring it to a boil. Take one cup of sifted flour and stir it into one cup of cold water until smooth. Then pour the mixture into the boiling water. Let it boil gently for three minutes, stirring all the while to prevent lumps. If you don't like the smell, add a dash of cinnamon.
When it's done, allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then pour it into a shallow bowl. I used a clean metal paint tray, which was absolutely perfect.
If your paste is not perfectly smooth, don't fret. Pick out any large lumps with your spoon, and chalk the small lumps up to "character".
Stripping for fun
Now it's time to strip! Strips of newspaper, that is. This is an easy job for kids to do while you're making the paste. Have them tear full lengths of a broadsheet newspaper about 1" wide, and then tear them in half across the fold.
Now put your lips together and blow
Every papier-mâché project needs an armature, and yours will be a beach ball. (I did it with a balloon, but using a beach ball will keep your Death Star from looking like a malevolent Hersey's Kiss instead.) Blow it up fully.
Time to get messy
Once your beach-ball armature is ready, drag your newspaper strips through the paste and rub them onto the ball. Try not to overlap too much at this stage, but cover the ball fully except for a small hole at the bottom that you will use to put the candy in.
Don't forget the string
You'll need to be able to hang the piñata in order to smash it, so tie a piece of string into a loop. At the top of your Death Star, smooth a strip of papier-mâché over the bottom of the loop and press it on. Make sure the rest of the loop hangs free.
Now let it dry. This may take several days. Repeat the process with two more layers of newspaper strips and paste.
Once the papier-mâché is completely dry, use a sharp scissors to cut a whole in your armature. If you use a balloon, it will shrink up on its own. If you use a beach ball, you may need to gently insert your hand into the hole and peel it away from the sides if it sticks.
Paint the town . . .
Or the Death Star, as the case may be. Use silver acrylic craft paint and a foam brush for easy painting and easy clean-up. Hold the piñata steady by putting it into a shallow bowl. (You don't want it rolling all over the table and leaving silver streaks.) Let it dry completely before handling it. This will take somewhere between a few hours and overnight.
With a black paint marker, draw in as many details of the Death Star as you have patience for. As you can see, I went for a minimalist look, with simple outlined rectangles to give the impression of a thriving city of evil. If you are a better artist than I (and it would be hard not to be), you can get much more detailed. It helps to have a photo to work from; I sat in front of a picture on my computer as I drew.
Here comes the best part
Fill it with candy!
Don't forget to tape up the bottom with duct tape to keep the candy inside until you're ready to smash it. Hang it from a broom handle at the party, and let guests have at it with their lightsabers or a small wooden baseball bat. Stand back when it finally breaks, or you will be trampled. Seriously, a rugby scrum has nothing on a pack of sugar-starved kindergartners on a quest for mini chocolate bars.
- Start this project a week before you need to use the pinata. Papier-mache can take a long time to dry, especially if you live in a humid and/or cold climate.
- Cover your table with more newspaper and wear a smock or old clothes. This is a messy project, especially if you let children help.
For the Mess-Averse
If building a pinata from scratch with papier-mache is just too much for you, check out your local big box store or party store to see if one of their pinatas can be repurposed. If you can find a spherical pinata (intended to be a basketball or a globe, for instance), you can paint it gray and add some details using a black permanent marker. Voila! Instant death star with (almost) none of the mess. If you can't find one the right shape (as I couldn't, on my recent trips), use your imagination. I found a large bipedal lizard-shaped piñata that could easily have been painted brown and used as Chewbacca, for instance. However, I couldn't think of any good reason for the little boys at my son's birthday party to be smacking a Wookiee around with their lightsabers, so we didn't go with that idea.