I have always loved working with paper mache and for my friend's birthday I decided to make her a Holga pinata as she loves photography. If you have worked with paper mache before, you probably know there are A LOT of different ways to make a pinata. Here is how I did mine and the results were a hit.
all purpose glue - about 20oz
newspaper pages and strips
inflatable pool raft
scissors, boxcutter, long knife, hobby knife
thin cardboard - beverage boxes, posterboard
tape: packing, masking, or scotch
various plastic and cardboard packages
white paint or printouts for details
foil and plastic wrap
red tissue paper
rope for hanging
1. I started with a hand-drawn plan. Then began collecting materials to work with. I suggest recycling/reusing everything possible! Look around you and use what you already have. Don't worry about color or textures too much. Just look at shapes.
Prep your paper mache area. This is a messy process. I am not going to go in-depth here about how to work with paper mache. If you are unfamiliar, do a quick search for paper mache techniques, then jump right in. It's fun and easy if you like sculpting.
I like to use white all purpose/school glue (but have also used flour and water in a pinch but the drying time is longer. I don't bother with the wallpaper adhesive method because I hate the texture and smell.) I mix my paper mache roughly 1 part glue to 2 or 3 parts water. I have found this varies with the brand of glue. But the consistency I prefer is that of a thick soup. Too thick means you go through A LOT of glue. Too thin and the paper doesn't stick after the water evaporates. I mix up a large batch for a project this big and keep it in an airtight plastic container. Also, tearing a box full of newspaper strips in the beginning saves time later. And keep a stack of old newspapers in arms reach for building and shaping later. Remember that you have to work in stages, allowing the paper mache to dry inbetween layers. Having a fan nearby to turn on helps speed up the drying.
2. To create the cavity of the pinata, I bought an inflatable pool raft for a dollar.
3. I inflated it about halfway, folded it into thirds, then used packing tape to secure it into a rectangular shape for the camera body
4. Using thin cardboard (soda packaging) create a shell around the inflated raft. I just did a quick and sloppy tape job. No one see this part.
5. Cut 2 rectangles of sturdy corrugated cardboard to act as the front & back of the camera body. I used foamboard because I already had some the right size. Use hot glue around the edges and attach to the thin cardboard, not the inflatable raft. That could cause a whole and the piece would loose its support too soon.
6. Cover entire rectangle with 2 to 3 layers of paper mache and let dry.
7. Cut 2 pieces of thin cardboard or posterboard the height of the rectangle and wide enough to fold into thirds and cover sides of the rectangle. These will help create the tapered sides of the Holga.
8. Tape both pieces on the sides, attaching them along the edge of the front and back of the rectangle. This creates a cavity on either side.
9. Fill both cavities with crumpled newspaper that has been slightly dampened with paper mache. No need to completely saturate.
10. Seal tops and bottoms with at least 2 layers of paper mache. Use more crumpled newspaper as you go to fill in dips and uneven edges. This is the best part about paper mache. if the shape isn't right, you can quickly add more bulk in the areas where you need it. Let this dry completely.
11. I used boxes and packages to create all the additional shapes on the Holga. Look around and see what you have that could be the right size with a little cutting and taping.
12. For the front fixed lens of the Holga, I found a box that was the right size, then used thin cardboard to shape into a circle. A quick tape job holds the pieces together for now.
13. Making the inner lens was my favorite part. A trip to the dollar store and I found the perfect blister packaging to act as a lens. It was from one of those battery operated "touch lights" but also look at kids toys. So many things come packaged in all that stupid plastic. I'm always happy to find a use from something that otherwise gets thrown away. The black plastic came from a empty gardening container. I was delighted that the container even had those little ridges around the edge. Just like a holga! So using a boxcutter, I sliced the container off at a point where the clear plastic lens would fits inside. Little trial and error to get a good fit. At this point, on the bottom of container, is where I taped a special message to the birthday girl.
14. Then I secured the lens inside the "lens housing" with tape and a circle of corrugated cardboard.
15. The blister packages from a large pack of AA and C batteries became the "switches" on the top and bottom on the lens housing! One for the "sunny/cloudy" setting and one for the "B/N" setting.
16. Cover all of this with a layer of paper mache, filling in any gaps with small crumpled newspaper. Since this portion doesn't have to support any weight or get handled too much, a thin layer of mache is fine. I pressed some clear plastic wrap over the lens to protect it from drips.
17. It is time to remove the inflatable part of the camera body! Make sure that entire rectangle is covered with many layers of paper mache to create a good cavity. Remember it has to hold all the goodies you are putting inside and withstand at least a few good hits. But too many layers can be a problem too. if the pinata is too thick, it might not bust at all! On this design, the areas where I used sturdy cardboard were completely hard but the areas where I used thin cardboard and posterboard had some flex to them when squeezed. This is good. If any area crackles and the paper tears open with slight pressure you might want to cover them with a few more layers.
18. I placed the lens housing where I wanted it located on the camera body and traced around it with a sharpie.
19. Then using a box-cutter I cut just inside the traced line (for a tight fit) and removed the thick cardboard. Puncture the raft and carefully remove it from inside the cavity, taking your time to peel it away from areas where the paper mache or tape is stuck. Check the cavity for loose tape or holes that might snag your goodies.
20. Fit the lens housing inside the hole you just cut. Hopefully it is nice and snug but if not use some tape.
21. Cover with a 2 or so layers of paper mache. This is where I added the shutter release, using some folded cardboard and covering with paper mache.
22. Also this is where I added the top molded part of the Holga using the end of a soda box. Again just taped in place and a light layer of paper mache. Let dry.
23. Here I have marked and cut holes for the viewfinder and for the wind knob which is just a plastic container fitted into the hole
24. Paint everything black and let dry. I used about 8oz of inexpensive acrylic.
25. Everything else is just details. I typed up all the letters and numbers on the computer using Helvetica font, of course. Holga's are German design. Then printed them in a faint grey outline on white card stock and used a hobby knife to cut them out. I hand-drew the people and mountain details and cut them out. The people's heads were created with a hole punch, thankfully. I might have gone crazy trying to cut that many circles.
26. I used corrugated cardboard to make the side clips. I took a blunt pencil and pressed it in between the cardboard gooves to make the ridges. Then i covered them with aluminum foil.
27. Again, corrugated cardboard was used for the back switch. I cut the shapes, painted it, and used more clear plastic packaging and some red tissue paper to create the little "red window"
28. Now to assemble it all.
FRONT: Glued all the lettering on with a glue stick. Created a little viewfinder window from a painted cardboard square and some clear plastic packaging.
SIDE: Glued on the foil-wrapped side clips. Using a long knife, I cut a hole through each side and inserted the red nylon rope to act as camera strap and hanging rope. I knotted the rope by reaching inside the hole cut for the wind knob..
BACK: Glued on the switch. Found a yogurt container with a clear domed top. i painted the sides and fitted in into a hole cut to act as the viewfinder.
TOP: Glued on the symbols with a glue stick. Made a "hot shoe" from a fold piece of cardboard wrapped in foil.
BOTTOM: Glued on the B/N switch letters. I didn't make the tripod mount because my switches were a little oversized.
29. Filled the pinata with lot of goodies and capped the "wind knob" which was a plastic container painted black and glued in place. All ready to bash to bits!
Actually, my friend loved it so much, she didn't want to destroy it. Also the weather was bad. So we opened the "wind knob" container, cut out the bottom and removed all the goodies. I'm planning on talking her into refilling it and bashing it to pieces on a beautiful summer day. Can't wait.