Monday, September 10, 2012

DIY Pull-String Lightning McQueen Pinata

This is the second in a series of posts about the crafts projects I made in preparation for Logan's 3rd birthday party, which had a Cars theme. I had seen an article in Disney FamilyFun magazine that showed great crafts to make with cardboard, including a castle-shaped pull-string pinata. ("Crazy for Cardboard," p. 55, March 2012) I took that thought and combined it with this basic plan for making a car from a cardboard box, and amazingly, I created a very cool pull-string pinata that looked like Lightning McQueen.

Materials for Basic Box Car:
  • cardboard box (mine was 14.25" x 9.25" x 5.25")
  • pencil
  • scissors (or box cutting tool)
  • tape (I used both clear packaging tape and masking tape)
Additional Materials for Lightning McQueen Pinata:
  • acrylic paint (red, white, yellow, orange, turquoise)
  • black Sharpie marker
  • ruler
  • Mod Podge
  • clip art/printouts of decals, tires, etc.
  • newspaper to protect work surface
  • paint brushes (foam works well for Mod Podge and large areas to be painted)
  • Styrofoam tray/s to hold paint/Mod Podge (plates or bowls also work)
  • red curling ribbon
  • clear tape
  • pinata fillers (I used Cars themed toys and crayons and candy from Dollar Tree.)
Directions for Making Basic Box Car:
  1. Flatten your box. Draw the basic shape on one of the long sides of the box. There are two sections you will cut out: the front (hood and going up the windshield) and the back end (with slant going up for the tail fin). Do NOT cut the front end of the car (short box side), top of car (which meets up with another long side), or the back of the car (other short side).

{After cutting out sections from both sides of car}

2.  Flip the box over and using a pencil, trace around the areas you have cut out to make the car shape. Repeat cut-out process from step 1.

3.  Once the top of your box car shape is formed and secure, cut a "trap door" into the bottom of the box. I just used the inside edge of one of the flap and then cut 3 sides to form a square shaped flap. Glue or tape one piece of curling ribbon to the trap door. Do NOT tape the bottom together yet.

{Close-up of "trap door"}

4. This next step is harder to explain. I folded, shaped (bending a bit at times when necessary), and taped as I went along starting with the tail fin, then the first side, the second side, the top center (where I had to overlap the box flaps somewhat to get them to fit for some reason) to form a 3-D car that looks like the diagram. Note: There was one section that didn't fit together (from where I had cut pieces out) so I had to cut a strip from the extra part of the box, tuck it under the rest of the box, and tape that into place.

{Starting the process of taping the box car together}

{Close-up of tail fin as it was taped together}

{Front view after being taped}
{Race car box all formed and taped!}
Directions for Decorating Lightning McQueen Pinata:
  1. Paint the paint with red acrylic paint, leaving the area for the eyes blank. Allow paint to dry and apply additional coats as needed. (It took about 3-4 coats to get good coverage over some of the writing on the box.)

2.  Once the base coat of paint is dry. Work on the facial details. I used a pencil to draw the eyes and eyelids freehand. Then I traced a bottle cap twice for the eyeballs, after which I traced a button twice to make the pupils. I used white acrylic paint and turquoise acrylic paint to fill in the eyes. Once it was dry, I outlined them and filled in the pupils with black Sharpie marker. I added touches of white paint to the pupils and moved on to the mouth. Again, I drew it freehand with a pencil. I filled in with white paint for the "teeth" and once the paint was dry, outlined and filled in the rest with black Sharpie. The headlights I drew freehand, then I painted the side parts with yellow acrylic paint and the front with white acrylic paint. After that dried, I outlined with black Sharpie. The final detail (other than touching up paint as needed) was to draw the hood outline with the black Sharpie. Once this was all done, I felt like it really had the personality of Lightning McQueen and the rest was just details.

3.  For Lightning McQueen's tail end, I drew the tail lights and filled them in with orange and white acrylic paints, and then used the black Sharpie for outline work once the paint dried. To make the design on the back I used a pencil and a ruler. The line in the center is about 3 1/2", the ones on either side of it are about 3 1/4", and the outside ones are about 3". They are staggered in a sort of "V" formation. I drew over them 2-3 times to make them thicker and made triangular shapes on the tops and bottoms to give it more definition.

 4. Okay, I promise this is the icing on the cake, and truly not hard at all. The decals are what makes this pinata look finished, and I found everything online and adjusted sizes as needed in Microsoft Word before printing them. For tires, I printed 4 of this image and cut them out. Here is the Rust-eze logo I used for the hood. This is the Rust-eze logo for the tail fin. (It requires a little bit more intricate cutting out.) I used a this number 95 for the top of Lightning McQueen after enlarging it. I enlarged this this lightning bolt for one side of the car, printed it, and cut it out. For the other side of the car, I didn't want it to be backward, so I flipped it in Microsoft Word and printed it out. I knew the 95 would be backward, so I printed off another plain number 95 and cut it out. I had to cut out some of the extra yellow and orange background from the lightning bolt and paste it all together to make it look like the lightning bolt logo (not perfectly but close enough. I used Mod Podge to adhere all of these printouts and then applied extra Mod Podge over top of them all to ensure a good protective seal.

{Top view}

{Decorating is done, and it just needs to be made into a pinata.}

5. Punch holes on either side to allow a string for hanging. (Don't make the mistake I made of trying to do this after filling your pinata.) To make holes, I decided on placement and then pushed a push pin through, following that with a pencil to make the holes wider. Then I knotted one end of a length of curling ribbon, reached inside the box, threaded it through making sure that the knot caught on the inside, brought the ribbon around the outside, threaded it through the other hole, and then knotted it off on the inside of that hole.

6.  Now add your extra strings for the pinata. (These are not actually attached; only the one string from before is actually attached to the trap door, so only that one string can pull it open.) Make sure you have at least one or two strings per child (I think I made about 20) and cut them around 18-24 inches. Bundle several strings together and slip them into the box along the edge of the trap door so that an inch or so will be held inside -- just enough to keep them in place. I had to do this three or four times to get them all of my ribbon lengths in. Then, carefully close the trap door to make sure that all of the ribbons are inside.

7.  Fill the pinata and then seal the trap door well enough to hold the treats, but not so well that it won't get pulled open. I used clear packaging tape for this. You are now ready to hang the pinata and have some fun. (Brett hung this one from our swing set.)

Here is the pinata after it was opened. Everything went really fast, and I didn't get too many pictures. At least it was nice to know that after spending approximately 3 hours on this project, it wasn't going to get smashed with a bat. Logan loved his pinata, and now he has something that can "live" in his bedroom and remind him of his fun Cars party.

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