Piñata Schemata

From deployment to destroyment, what makes a great piñata? What are the pitfalls? How easily does it break apart? How does it maintain character as it loses structural integrity? Should the hammer merely bludgeon, or should it cut and shred, too? What sort of treasure is inside? Is it okay for an adult to shove a child to get a really good bit of candy?

Pinata Project MaterialsClearly this is serious business.

Obvious considerations:

  1. Hammer
  2. Form (how it looks)
  3. Container (how it is constructed)
  4. Suspension
  5. Treasure
  6. Environment

Other factors:

  1. Size
  2. Empathy
  3. Clean-up

We’ll cover all this in more detail as we go along. For now, here are the broad strokes.


Broomstick? Bat? Hammer? Cane? Staff? Magic wand? Wrecking ball? Should the hammer be totally incongruous or thematically matched to the piñata?


Classic burro? Robot? Easter egg? What sort of colours, accessories, and  decorations? Can be simple tempera paint, tissue paper, fabric, any sort of glued on accessories such as eyes, bangles, fun fur, feathers, beads, or metallic sprayed macaroni.Would more exotic materials such as ice, glass, or cloth be dangerous?


Cardboard boxes are bo-o-o-o-ring, so obviously we won’t be doing that. Papier-mâché all the way, baby! What about shapes? Standard globes? Uneven? Do the limbs and external bits play a role? Alternative materials include plastic shells, glass, ceramic, origami forms, formed card, lots to test here.


Single or multiple point? Hanging or propped? How does the suspension enhance or impede the bashability of the piñata? The way it comes apart? Should it be invisible (fish line) or decorated (garland).


The prizes can vary in size and mass. Should they tumble out heavy and authoritatively? Explode like glitter? Can the piñata support the initial weight? Texture and mass will matter. What about surprises? Small incendiaries, fluids, live insects of both the flying and crawling sort.



Decorate environment to match? Indoor, outdoor, high ceiling, low ceiling, false scale (mini piñata in a set). Day, night, wind, rain? Clinical lighting, or artistic?


Basketball-sized seems normal and scales well with candy prizes. Can try micro (tennis ball, egg) or huge (sofa) for effect. Interesting suspension and hammer combinations due to size.


Villain or victim? Comedic violence? How does the design of the piñata elicit an emotional response?


Different combinations of treasure, shell, and environment could make clean-up simple or complex.

We are going to be doing some serious making and breaking. Follow along as Piñata Science ventures into the vast world of hollow candy stuffed tissue wrapped sculpture—that we bash!

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Piñata Science, Project