Salmon Pinata: Step by Step

I recently made a salmon pinata for a potluck hosted by some Mexican friends in my program. The pinata turned out beautifully, and the party's host really appreciated the effort. The pinata was a great addition to all the delicious and authentic Mexican food we ate. It also managed to withstand a whole hour of whacking before breaking open!

I made sure to take WIP pictures while I was winging the process of building the pinata. Unfortunately, the quality of the photos is a little low because I was taking pictures on my phone, but I figured it would be helpful for anyone who was interested in constructing an intricate pinata of their own.

Step 1: Stick balloons together to create your form and tape on cardboard to act as a skeleton. I'd recommend thicker cardboard pieces, since my cereal box cutouts got warped from the paper mache.

Step 2: Construct other important features using cardboard, paper towel rolls or egg cartons. 

Step 3: Add first layer of paper mache. Leave a hole somewhere in the pinata so that you can pop the balloons and fill it with candy (I've left a hole where the tail should be). Continue to layer the paper mache, making sure you allow each layer to dry for 12-24 hours.  

Step 4: Once dry, pop the balloons and fill the pinata with candy of your choice! I recommend wrapped candy since it'll be falling to the ground when the pinata burst open.

Step 5: Close and reinforce the hole. I first used some duct tape to seal the hole (you can omit this step if you want to create a weak spot on your pinata). I then added a layer of mache over top of the tape. 

Step 6: After 24 hours, I used a glue gun to adhere the salmon's tail to the pinata. Find some reference pictures online and start painting your pinata. For my pinata, I decided to create a male spawning coho salmon.

Step 7: Continue painting the pinata.

Step 8: Start blending colors together and paint any additional pieces you plan to glue to your pinata (in my case, I created pectoral and dorsal fins out of pieces of cardboard).

Step 9: Glue on your additional pieces and add any final details to the pinata.

Step 10: Get your Mexican buddy to tie your pinata to a tree using an intricate belay system. Let the pinata games begin!

And of course, there's the after picture:

It might seem like a waste of time to spend so much effort on something that's going to be destroyed. I don't see things that way. Honestly, this project was so worthwhile, and the look on my friends' faces when they saw the pinata was worth it. The host of the party was sharing his authentic food from his hometown with us, so the least I could do was offer a little generosity in return.

Not to mention, the reactions I got while taking the bus and walking around the neighborhood with a giant salmon were more than worth it!