Friday, August 31, 2012

How to make a Death Star pinata

When Jim and I first decided to do an R2D2 birthday cake for Timmy's big FOUR, it was almost immediately that I practically shouted out "and I can totally make a Death Star pinata and the kids can whack the crap out of it with a light saber!!!"  A bold statement from someone who hasn't done paper mache since grade school and is only moderately crafty.  Turns out, not only is making the paper mache glue practically stupid person proof, but doing the actual mache-ing is too. 
Just do a google search on paper mache and you will get an overload of sites telling you different ways to make glue, techniques, what have you.  I stuck with the old tried and true method: pour some flour in a bowl, slowly add water, and stir until you have a consistency that works for you.  I wanted mine super strong so I made sure mine was thick and creamy.  And I added just a smidge of salt to each batch of glue...a trick I saw on multiple crafty sides to ward off any mold that might grow if you live in a particularly humid or damp place.  Some people will say to add some cinnamon to make it smell better but I don't find the smell of the glue to be all that horrible so I didn't bother.

Turns out my (what I thought was an original) idea of doing a Death Star pinata and hitting with a light saber was absolutely unoriginal!!!  I must have seen hundreds of google images of people doing this before me.  Some impressive, some, well, not so much.  Come on people, you cannot use a regular old balloon, which is oblong, to represent an object which is clearly a sphere!

Anyway, here was how we made Timmy's Death Star pinata.  A super fun, incredibly messy, major hit of his party, project!

  1. Newspaper strips...mine were about 1.5 inches wide.  And in total I think I used about a full Seattle  Times daily paper
  2. Paper Mache glue
  3. Beach ball...I bought one for $3 with an 18" diameter
  4. Paint/decor, etc.
  5. Candy to fill
  6. Small rope for hanging 
Day 1: my first batch of newspaper goes on.  Timmy helped quite a bit with this first layer so let's just say the strips weren't all lined up and pretty like they were with the next layers.  
Make sure you let each layer dry completely prior to beginning the next one.  If not, you risk mold.  Yuck.  In total, I did 5 layers because I was so scared these kids were going to whack it to pieces in the first couple hits. I left small area at the opening of the beach ball so I could deflate it a little bit before pulling it out.
Jim traced a circle where we knew the laser needed to be, cut the paper mache with a razor blade, and very slowly pulled out the beach ball, deflating it as I went.
Nice, pretty insides of the Death Star!  
Our house is dark grey so we just used some old house paint to paint the Death Star.  2 coats of paint was good for us...
Jim begins the decor, not my area of expertise.  Plotting out grid lines with a pencil...
This is the support we made to actually hold up the pinata.  3 increasingly larger pieces of fairly thick cardboard, further supported by a pen, with the string (which truly was more like thin, super strong rope we had) to hang it.  Totally necessary considering the pinata, when fully stuffed with candy, weighed about 10 pounds.
Putting the support in through the area we had saved for the laser.  The string comes through the small hole on the top.
Invert the circular piece cut to make the laser shield and tape it back onto the pinata.  Then I did a quick 2 layers of mache to hide the tape.  We also made 3 holes for where the actual laser beams were going to go.  Lastly, paper mache around the small hole at the top where the string/rope is.
My sister Lindsay, painting darker grey squares on the Death Star.  This was definitely a family project...
And...Lindsay and Tim using silver, and a little bit of yellow and red, dots from a Sharpie market to resemble the small lights on the Death Star.
Finished product!!!
I could not have been happier with how this pinata turned out.  Timmy's buddies had so much fun whacking it down with the light saber too.  (Just the handle from a broom that Jim spray painted neon yellow and put black electrical tape at the bottom).  We had about 16 kids there in total and each got about 5 hits before it finally split open.  I know you can buy Death Star pinatas online but isn't it more fun to make something at home with your kids?  Timmy had a blast...a messy, messy, blast...helping us make this!  


  1. WOW! I'm really impressed!!!! It turned out GREAT!

  2. Awesome job! I cant wait to try this! Did you poke a hole in the beach ball or was it still usable after you were done?

    1. thanks! beach ball was definitely reusable afterwards:) I manually pressed some air out to deflate it a bit while still stuck inside the pinata, then pulled it out. Wasn't stuck to the insides at all either. Couldn't have been easier!

  3. This is so cool. My son's 4th birthday party is next weekend and we are doing a Star War/Angry Birds theme. I am totally going to make this pinata! I have also promised him a Millennium Falcon birthday cake-- wish me luck. :)

  4. How long did this take, including drying time? My daughter wants a star wars party for her 3rd birthday (daddy couldn't be more proud), and I just want to make sure I have enough time to make it.

    1. About a week...I did one layer per day. And another couple days for painting/decorating and candy filling. It was totally worth it!

  5. This is awesome. You should be proud of your work, especially while juggling young children. That said, after reading how much work this required, I think I'm going to need to buck up and buy one of these on Etsy.... :)


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