Sunday, March 22, 2009

El piñatero (the piñata maker) by George Ancona

Honeypie had her birthday just a little bit ago and though we had never ventured into piñata world ourselves, we had attended many a birthday party with one. I guess I was not ready for the shower of sugar one would introduce and I've yet to see one raining apples.
Don't get me wrong... I am not the type of parent that denies sweets but I do like making nutritious decisions, reading the labels on the food our family chooses to eat and I am very happy with the findings of healthy alternatives like fruitabu fruit roll-ups and yummy earth organic lollipops (organic, dye free, HFCS free), amongst other things. I am astounded at the amount of high fructose corn syrup inside the majority of food our children eat and not necessarily inside candy. It is inside bread, cereals, crackers, yogurt, lunch meats, cookies and even vegetable juice. Here's an article by Dr. Jay Gordon whose website i love, on nutrition for children, one on HFCS High Fructose Corn Syrup and another one on the new findings of mercury inside high fructose corn syrup. This sweetener is horrible, linked to everything from ADHD to obesity.

But i digress... back to piñatas...
Honeypie's new love is a book by Judy Schachner called "Skippyjon Jones" and she wanted to have a Skippyjon Jones birthday party theme. So we decided to make all the party things ourselves amongst those things a "Bumblebeeto Bandito" piñata. We read a great book by George Ancona called "El piñatero (the piñata maker)", which was a great introduction into the world of piñata making. The book takes us through the day of Don Ricardo, a piñata maker in a small village in southern mexico. It documents this beautiful latin american art form, shows plenty of pictures of mexican daily village life, including how to make your own piñata. The book is bilingual, written in both Spanish and English, so it's a great way to introduce a new language into your child's vocabulary. Interested in raising a bilingual child? Read a great article by piñatamama at Piñata on "why raise bilingual children".

Below are some pictures of our piñata adventure, including our small disaster with the experimentation of a new art material... celluclay, (made to help make piñata making easier????). We made the bumblebeeto bandito from the skippyjon jones book and filled it with beans just like the book. Our "beans" were made of plastic filled with chocolate.

Honeypie uses the paper mache paste to cover 2 balloons which were placed side by side to resemble the body of the bumblebee (bandito).

Here's the finished bumblebee body...

3 days of trying to dry the piñata yields this... (oh, what a dissappointment!!)

Duck tape could not even salvage this mastodon.

We go back to basics with a flour, sugar and water paste. I found a great recipe for paper mache in the family fun website, which by the way, is a great site for arts and crafts ideas.
To make this paper mache paste, combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups cold water in a bowl. Add this mixture to a saucepan of 2 cups boiling water and bring it to a boil again. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let it cool; it will thicken as it cools. Once it does, it's ready to use.

Try #2 ... I forget to line my form with plastic wrap or rub it with oil. The newspaper and paste concoction gets stuck to the form and i can't peel the paper mache off...

Here is try #3. We use 2 balloons again, cover them with newspaper saturated with the paste and this time we use poster board paper to hold the 2 paper mache ends of the bumblebee body together. We wait until the 2 ends are dry and we attach them to the cardboard with ducktape.

We cover the whole form with yellow and black tissue/crepe paper. (I use elmers glue diluted in water as an adhesive to put on the cardboard and tissue paper). We leave a hole at the bottom to fill with the goodies. The bottom opening gets covered with yellow construction paper of a lighter weight. That is where honeypie used a make-believe sword to "pop" the piñata... just like in the skippyjon jones book, releasing all the goodies.

We add the tissue paper stinger attached with black duck tape.

We use black pipe cleaners to make the antennas and construction paper for the eyes, wings and nose.

All done!!!
It was a great piñata adventure and a great party addition!

Hope that you can make one too.
I am going to have a piñata challenge in the month of May to celebrate"Cinco de Mayo", so stay tuned...

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