Monday, January 21, 2013

DIY Rainbow Pull-String Pinata

Mia requested a Care Bear pinata for her upcoming birthday party. While I had successfully made a Lightning McQueen pinata for Logan's most recent birthday party, so she felt she should get one, too. The car was pretty boxy, which lent itself well to using a cardboard box. It only seemed fair to make her a pinata (before hopefully retiring from making pinatas), and I planned to work with cardboard again. However, I didn't think I could pull off something with some much roundness for my second-ever home-made pinata. So, I convinced her that a rainbow was perfect, and thankfully, she agreed. We had already decided that rainbow colors would be used for our decor since Care Bears are hard to find. This pinata took about 3 hours total to make and it isn't something I would recommend for craft novices. It is a pull-string pinata, because after spending all that time, who wants to see her creation beaten to a pulp in mere seconds? I'm not completely crazy, after all. The best thing, besides that it looks exactly the way I want (unlike the kind that I would have had to order online), is that it cost me nothing but my time since I already had all of the supplies at home. After the party, I plan to hang it from a hook in a corner of Mia's room. Mama's on a roll planning the Care Bear party.

  • corrugated cardboard
  • boxboard
  • scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • masking tape
  • crepe paper in rainbow colors
  • glue stick
  • string (I used bakers twine)
  • light blue curling ribbon 
  • Scotch tape
  • paper trimmer (optional)
  • pen/pencil
  • push pin

  1. Find a large, flat piece of corrugated cardboard. Cut it in half. To start the arc shape, I traced the top edge of a frying pan on one piece of cardboard. Then, I free-handed the rest of the rainbow shape. I cut it out and then traced it onto the other piece of cardboard, and then cut that out, too. The base of my rainbow ended up being 13 1/2" in diameter.
  2. Draw a vertical line to find the center of your arch. A ruler helps with this. Then, I decided that my rainbow would be 4 1/2" wide. I used a ruler to help make lines (for the straighter parts only; there was free-hand drawing involved with the curved sections) to divide it into sections for each color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, so 6 altogether. I started at the bottom left and worked my way over to the center. Next, I cut out half of the inside arch (not the whole rainbow), flipped it over on top of the cardboard, and traced it to get the mirror image for the bottom line of my arc. Then, I cut out the second half of the inside arch. I now had a rainbow shape, which I traced onto my second piece of cardboard, and then cut out for a total of two complete rainbow shapes for the sides of the pinata. (Tip: It was easier to cut this if I used my scissors first on the straight sections and then cut into them with small pieces using whatever angle was handy. I just pulled away little bits at a time until I was finished rather than trying to cut it all out in one, long line.)
  3. For the bases of the rainbow, I used a ruler to measure 2 cardboard squares measuring 4 1/2" x 4 1/2". I cut these out with scissors.
  4. For the top and bottom arches of the pinata, I used boxboard (mostly cereal boxes, but there was some Barbie packaging involved since it was after Christmas and this was handy). I used my paper trimmer to measure strips that were 4 1/2" wide and then scored the boxboard with the trimmer. This gave me an easy line to follow with scissors. I think I needed a total of 3 boxes to get the amount I needed.
  5. To assemble my rainbow, I started with my square bases. I used masking tape to adhere the bases to the cardboard arches -- 2 strips of tape per side on the outside and 3 strips of tape per side on the inside. I laid the arch flat on the table upright to make this easier. (Tip: Tear off several strips of tape prior to starting and have them near your work station. I just taped them along the edges of my table. My 3 year old helped by handing them to me one at a time.) You want each piece of tape to be folded horizontally so that about half of the tape is at the top and the other half is at the bottom of your cardboard seam. It doesn't have to be perfect, just sturdy enough to hold.
  6. Next, I used my strips of boxboard to cover the top of the arch. Again, I used masking tape, both inside and outside. When I would get the the end of one strip, I would slightly overlap the next strip to the first and secure them with more tape. Working around curved sections required shorter pieces of tape. (Tip: Make sure that the inside of your boxes is facing the outside of your rainbow so that you don't have printing showing.)
  7. I decorated the rainbow pinata with strips of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple crepe paper, all of which I had already, amazingly enough. (The red, yellow, green, and blue came in twin-packs from Dollar Tree. The purple was purchased at Target for her birthday party last year, and I have no clue about the orange, unfortunately.) I folded the crepe paper in half length-wise, cut strips, and used a glue stick to adhere them. I just started with red, and worked my way to the end, overlapped as needed. (Tip: As with the tape, it was easier to work around the curves using smaller lengths of crepe paper.) I did both sides like this as well as the top arch, which in retrospect, I could have made all red and saved myself some time. Oh, well. The inside (bottom) of the arch I did all with purple because I was tired by that point and wanted to be done. It looks just fine. (Tip: Do NOT use any other type of glue. It will be too wet, which will make your colors run and tear your crepe paper.)
  8. To make the trap door, I cut away 3 sides from the underside of one of the bottom squares. The 3-sided flap is set in about 3/4" all the way around. Then, I used an X-acto blade to make slits in the bottom square, about 12 around the outside edges, and 6 in the center (on the flap). I cut lengths of light blue curling ribbon, inserted them into the slots, leaving an inch or so on the inside, and then carefully curled the rest. One length of ribbon was taped securely to the inside of the flap to actually open the pinata. All the rest are for show. I may have added extras to fill it in, but I don't remember now. On the other side of the rainbow, I added several more curled blue ribbons and just taped them on with Scotch tape.
  9. For hanging, I poked 2 holes in the top, first with a push pin, and then I enlarged the holes with a pen. I struggled with getting my bakers twine in there and finally figured out a system that worked. I put the un-knotted bakers twine through the tops of each hole, pulled it through until it came out the bottom (luckily I could reach my hand all the way in), tied the ends together to make a secure knot (I had to knot it a few times to prevent it from slipping through the holes), and pulled it back through the top for a hanging loop.
  10. The pinata only opens on the one side. Before the party, I will fill it with goodies and close it up, probably adding a little tape just so it stays closed long enough.

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