Introduction: Colossal Covid Pinata

About: Storyteller, Entertainer, Former Librarian...and he owns more than 1,500 neckties.

The challenge: Super-Size something, make something that's normally small on a grand scale.

I thought: What's something small?

I thought: Of course! The Corona Virus! SO, I made...the COLOSSAL COVID PINATA! and YOU CAN, TOO!

Step 1: What You Need

A Beach Ball (or a large balloon...or one of those inflatable punching-balls) - I really wanted the punching ball, but couldn't find one, so I bought the beach ball. Unfortunately, it didn't want to deflate when the paper shell was finished, so I cut a hole in it and pulled it out through the top opening.

Newspaper - One of my favorite craft materials. I'm a librarian, so we do have newspapers. These were copies of a local giveaway publication that weren't taken by anybody.

Liquid Starch/Glue - Most people make papier mache with white glue. I grew up making "starchies" with liquid laundry starch. Apparently, nobody uses it nowadays on their laundry, because I had to go to five different stores before I found any! I do use glue for sticking cardboard rolls and crepe paper onto the pinata.

Toilet Paper Roll Tubes (or paper towel tubes or gift wrap tubes) - Another of my favorite craft materials. Between our bathrooms, the kitchen, and my wrapping supplies, I did just fine.

Crepe Paper (or Tissue paper) - I would have used tissue paper, but couldn't get packages of a single color. I found crepe paper in packages of 20 inches by 7 1/2 feet! I used yellow and red.

Paper, Scissors, Black Permanent Marker - The usual suspects when it comes to crafting.

Wire (or String) - Used to suspend the ball or balloon while covering it with starch and paper.

Step 2: Blow It Up!

Blow up the ball or balloon, and hang it where you can work on it. I used telephone wire, run through the connector that links the plug to the ball, and connected it to an overhead cupboard handle. That way, I could swing the cupboard door back and forth to get access to different angles of the ball.

Step 3: I'm Not a Shredder. I'm a Tearer!

For making small papier mache projects, small pieces of paper help you get fine details. For a larger project, long strips interlock and hold together better. My co-workers said, "Run it through the shredder," but I insisted on tearing the newspapers by hand. Why didn't I just cut it? Tearing gives a ragged edge to the pieces, with thinner surfaces that bind together more completely, making a stronger object.

Step 4: Swinging on a Starch

Pour some of the liquid starch into a pan or bowl, after shaking the bottle to mix the contents. If the liquid comes out gloppy, stir it a bit to blend it to a better consistency. Dip a strip of paper into the starch, then run your fingers down the paper to spread the starch on the strip, and to remove extra starch. the paper needs to get wet, but not sopping wet.

Why do I use starch instead of watered-down glue?

  1. This is what my Cub Scout Den Mother mom taught me.
  2. Liquid starch is easier to clean off of your hands than glue is.

'Nuff said?

Step 5: If You Build It...

As you add strips of paper to your starchy, cross them at different angles and interlace them, linking them together. Leave a space uncovered near the nozzle of the ball or balloon. This will be the opening for filling the pinata with candy, toys, masks, and hand sanitizer packets, and also where you will remove the deflated ball or balloon once the shell is dry and stable.

Make sure that, other than the top opening, there are no places you can see through to the inflated ball or balloon. Once the first layer of the shell covered the base, I did some library work in the office, and returned to add another layer of paper to my starchy. I let it dry overnight before I started on the next phase of the project.

Step 6: It's Tubular, Dude!

Cut the cardboard tubes into lengths of 1" to 2" (one to two inches). For TP roll tubes, that works out to three pieces per roll. The roll pieces will represent the virus's Spike Glycoproteins. That's what scientists call those little nodules that stick out from the virus, the ones you always see in pictures of COVID-19 on television.

This is where I switched from starch to glue. Squirt glue on three or four sections of the roll piece from end to end. Take strips of paper and glue them to the roll piece, extending an inch or two beyond the bottom. Put glue on the strips that stick out and place the piece onto the shell. Attach your cardboard Spike Glycoproteins to the shell, top to bottom, but leave an empty area on one side, where you will give your virus pinata a face. In the upper half of that area, put two spikes. They will become Cory's eyes (Didn't i tell you? I named my pinata - CORY COVID.).

Step 7: Wrap It! Wrap It Good!

Cut the yellow (or whatever color you choose as your base*) crepe paper into strips a little wider than the height of your Spike Glycoproteins. Mine were two inches wide, more or less. Not all my tubes were the same diameter, so I wrapped around the tube, gave it a little extra, and cut the paper. I put a little glue on the cardboard, stuck the strip of crepe paper to it, wrapped all the way around the tube, and glued it.

If I thought about it at the time, I folded the extra crepe paper around the rim, pressing it down into the tube.

Once all my Spikes were covered, I glued circles of white paper (or you could use craft foam) on the two Spikes chosen to be the eyes of the virus. With a black permanent marker, I drew and colored circles for the pupils.

*Different colors will give your pinata different personalities. Red crepe paper would give you a mean, angry virus, one that is out to get you. A blue virus would be sad to infect you, but it's his job. A green virus is the berserker type, in it for the mayhem. I chose yellow for a kind and cheerful virus. He's friendly - he even wears a mask, so you won't get sick!

Step 8: Crepe Paper, Not Crepes Suzette

When I had all the spikes set, I carefully removed the beach ball (All right. It deflated slowly, so I stabbed it with the scissors, pulled it out, and threw it away - It was from a dollar store, so it was no great loss!). To cover the shell, I took one of the two-inch-wide sections of yellow crepe and made cuts in the sections i'd cut off. It rolled out into a long fringe. Choosing one of the spikes near the bottom as a starting point, I glued the uncut part of the fringe onto the shell, with the fringe pointed toward my starting spike. Around and around I went, unrolling and gluing, cutting at obstructions, starting new strips when one ran out. I sat and worked on it at a desk. It took time, but the progress was worth it.

Step 9: Make It Look...Contagious!

The pictures of the virus usually show a colorful top to the spikes, so I cut red crepe paper into four-inch squares (more or less - most of them ended up as rectangles). i ran a bit of glue around the rim of the spike, and I tucked in the red pieces, so it looked like they bloomed out of the spikes. Staff who walked by would look and ask, "Is that the virus?"

I knew I was on to something.

Step 10: Ta-Daaa!

There it is - Cory Covid! I made his mask from a piece of white paper, folded, glued, and trimmed to the desired size.

Pretty cool, huh?

Step 11: Notes

  • I may run yarn from the mask, around the nearest spikes, and back to the mask, to look like mask straps.
  • It may be used as a pinata for the library's full re-opening (We're doing curbside service and online programs, currently)...or it may be put on display as what we did during the lockdown.
  • Making a starchy is fun and less messy than papier mache. You might consider it for future projects.
  • I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and vote for it on the Supersize Speed Challenge for 2020.


Super-Size Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Super-Size Speed Challenge