Working on Piñatas: “Evergreen Santa”

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes.  What you see in this post is my “Evergreen Santa” sample piece.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

Santa’s boots and pants were done in a flat-application technique where the tissue paper is glued flat onto the piñata form in strips.  That technique allows for quick coverage of an area, and can be layered to give it less translucency if required.

The jacket and faux fur was done in the layering technique I use for most of my own piñatas. I tried several different kinds of evergreen plant leaves and needles, and although it’s kind of a cliche, I settle on using holly leaves. That choice also allowed me to give the Santa holly leaf buttons and cufflinks which I liked.

The hair and beard were made of regular 20# white copy paper.  I chose that paper and weight because it’s relatively easy to curl (running the paper strips along the edge of the blade of a pair of scissors, like curling ribbon) and it’s light enough to cut somewhat intricate patterns.  All of the curls were glued into place first, and then the cutout layers of the beard and mustache were added last.

Final touches included a stocking cap made of tissue paper, and accents of “icicle” glitter and a sprig of mistletoe (made of cardboard, tissue paper, and faux pearls.)

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Evergreen Santa doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, the hat on the top of the piñata can be removed to fill it up and empty it out.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.