Introduction: Giant Hydra Pinata

About: I'm M@. If you know Prototype This, TechShop, The Best of Instructables, Show Me How, or AVPII: Requiem, you've seen some of my work and the cool stuff I've been involved in. I build and design and make and th…

Inspire terror, delight, the high pitched keening of small children as they rassle for candy. I'm talking about the family pinata: endangered, hunted both for sustenance and for sport. Now you shall take it to the streets and create a pinata of your very own.

Last week, for the Instructables Halloween party, I created a man-sized pinata (or manata as I like to call it.) It was a lot of work, but was cheap to build, fun to make, and even more fun to break. This design is very durable and is meant to satisfy a large party of whackers.

Step 1: Chicken Wire You Looking at Me Like That?

To build this whole thing, you'll need:
  • 3 yards of chicken wire (a 3' x 9' sheet in a gauge you can easily bend)
  • 1 newspaper
  • flour
  • water
  • glue
  • a bus tub, bucket or deep tray
  • wire snips
  • needle nose pliers
  • streamers
  • tissue paper
  • candy and prizes of all shapes and sizes
  • rope for hoisting

The whole project is based around a chicken wire frame. Other materials could be substituted, but I felt this was appropriate for the hoard of candy the hydra was to be guarding. I started with the necks, rolling sheets of chicken wire around cardboard tubes, snipping the overlapping ends, and twisting the wire ends together.

Step 2: Crimp Daddy.

Folding volumes together is nearly the same as it would be in paper. You cut a seam in the material, and fold the chicken wire in. To round out corners and bumps, you can poke small dimples into the mesh, and then even them out.

Step 3: Parts

I wanted as many cool features to kill on this dragon as possible, so each major part (heads, necks, arms, legs, tail, body) is loosely attached together with twists of wire. Fit them together, unless you want them to spew streamers. I chose to attach the heads later, so they would bleed red paper ribbons. More on that later.

Here is where you'll want to fit in some support for hanging the creature. I passed a cross of sturdy wire into the body of the beast, and tied it to the frame. You can loop your hauling ropes around this junction.

Step 4: A Perfect Mache

This is a messy step. To give the pinata a nice skin to decorate, I used about a newspaper's worth of paper mache. You'll want to do this outside, or spread out a big tarp inside. To make the mache, you'll need glue, flour, water, and newspaper. I would also recommend you have a fan or space heater around to aid in the drying process.

Mix about a quart of water with two cups of flour and a half cup of white glue to make the base for your mache. Then, pass strips of newspaper through it, and wipe off the excess. I usually hang these strips on the side of my container so they can drain a little. Then apply to your monster. Cover everything with a good thick layer. If you hang some extra paper off of things like the neck and tail of this monster, you can wrap it all at once, instead of waiting for this layer to dry before getting the underside.

Step 5: Bonbons Et Decorations.

Cut some seams in the paper mache, and snip some wires to open up little holes for you to pack in your goodies. I filled mine up about half way, and then twisted the wires back together. The paper seams are easily closed with duct tape. I wrapped a pass of tape around the whole body just for good measure.

The most fun part (aside from the whacking) is the decorating. After the mache dries (mine took a good eight hours) you're ready to cover. I used streamers, construction paper, and tissue paper for this one, but you can spray paint it, cover it in foil, or whatever you want. Googley eyes are a must. If you left your heads off, now is the time to add streamers. Red streamers glued on the inside of the necks will provide some cool gorey touches.

Note: Do not put heavy stuff in your pinata! It will fly out and hit someone, i assure. This is the voice of experience talking to you. Include only light stuff, that couldn't possibly hurt you if it came flying at you at mach fun.

Step 6: Hoist

Depending on how heavy your pinata is, you'll want something serious to hang it from. We ended up making a complicated hoisting rig up on the roof for people to take a swing at this thing, but a strong tree branch, swingset, or porch overhang will do. Be sure to test it first, and put it through some abuse before you let your little ones at it. You don't want your rig crashing down on your wee sprog, now do you?

Step 7: Party!

It's done. Check out some photos of this in action in the Instructables Blog, and our Flickr Set.

Thanks for listening.