Portland Oregon Sign Pinata

Posted on Apr 24, 2013


Karen and I have been friends since 1995. Her 40th Birthday party was last weekend. A month or so ago, she asked me if I would want to help her make a pinata of the Portland Oregon sign for her party. I think my exact words were “hells yes”. We had made plans to meet two weeks before her party, but she was sick and we didn’t meet. Then I was on vacation the weekend before the party. I have to admit, about this time I was pretty freaked that this wasn’t going to happen. I had even started looking online as to where I could buy an Oregon pinata if our plan failed.

Pinata and booze

We finally got together at my house the Wednesday before the party to start this project. One of my biggest worries was finding a template. Greg suggested that we use The Rasterbator to create our templates. It worked like a charm and Karen printed out templates. She also brought over the cardboard boxes we would need. I made us mango, blueberry, vodka smoothies and we got to work. Karen found this pinata tutorial and it was super, super helpful.

Luckily, Oregon is pretty square. Cutting out the shape with an exacto knife was super easy. I left a couple of inches at the bottom of each piece to create the bottom. The two bottom pieces overlapped creating a strong base to hold all the loot.

Taping the body together is really a two person job. The tutorial used 4″ strips of cardboard for the sides. We went with 3″ strips. I gently rolled the strips first to bend the cardboard and make it easier to form the sides. Greg formed the sides while I taped them down every few inches. We didn’t want to put too much tape on it since this would be the main weak areas for the pinata to burst open. We left space for an opening. Once it was done, it was easy to fold the flap inside to close it.


While Greg and I made the Oregon, Karen was cutting crepe paper fringe. It takes a lot of fringe and she ended up with a blister from cutting for hours and hours. We got this far and called it a night. I was completely relieved. At this stage, I knew this would work and all my worries dissipated.

I had a few hours on Thursday afternoon to work more on this. The fringe goes on pretty darn quickly. I was amazed at how much I got done in a few hours.


I drew a bead of glue across the body and then gently laid the fringe on top. I found it easier to do this with Oregon upside down. There is enough time to adjust your fringe and to straighten lines before it dries.

The tutorial didn’t really talk about how to fringe the top and bottom. I kind of just guessed and I think it worked out well. I started to do the top early, so that the rows of fringe along the sides could cover the ends coming down from the top.

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I also figured that I needed to get the holes done before I finished covering it. I just eyeballed the holes and poked through the cardboard with a knife. The twine entered on the left side which didn’t have the opening. I tipped Oregon over and let gravity help me get the twine. Then I used a yarn needle to thread it back up through the second hole. This hole process took less than 5 minutes.

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I don’t work Fridays and I was glad to have the whole day to devote to finishing this beast. I started in on the Portland Oregon. Karen had Rasterbatored a picture of the actual sign, so we had the exact font. Yes, the ‘g’ is really that funky. We taped the sign together (it was printed over six pieces of paper) and then taped the whole thing to cardboard.
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I slowly cut around the whole outside. After removing outside pieces, I would secure what was left with tape. I also traced the edges in pen. The Rasterbator image is made up of lots of little dots. It made it a little hard to cut straight lines which is why I traced the image. I knew those lines would come in handy later.

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Here is the cardboard without the template. On my first go around, my exacto knife didn’t cut too deeply into the cardboard. This was actually a benefit, because I could smooth out my lines when I cut deeper into the cardboard.

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This piece took 4 passes, 3 exacto blades, and several hours. This was by far the trickiest part of the whole piece.

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I used silver glitter on the Portland Oregon and the stag to mimic the white lights of the sign. I diluted white glue just a touch and painted it onto the cardboard. It was pretty easy to add the glitter. Even though I had wax paper down and tried to be careful, I ended up getting glitter everywhere. I’m still finding it.
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The Old Town letters were super easy. I printed out two different sizes. The bigger size was perfect. I taped the template to silver paper and cut it out in a flash. Much easier than cutting cardboard.

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I glittered the old town letters and at the same time touched up the Portland Oregon and the stag. I was happy to put the glitter away. I rounded the edges of the red paper, used a ruler to line up the letters and glued them down with a glue stick.

While the glitter dried, I finished putting fringe on the rest of the pinata.

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I glued the Old Town part first and then used that as a guide as to where the Portland Oregon should go. Greg held his fingers where the ‘P’ and the ‘g’ should be.
I slathered a ton of glue on it, because I didn’t want it to fall off. The whole thing became super wobbly as I picked it up and tried to put it in place. It slipped once and it got white glue on the fringe, but luckily it dried clear and people couldn’t tell where I goofed.
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Here is the finished pinata! I lowered the angle of the stag on purpose. I wanted more of the body on the pinata, so it would stay on better. You can see the white glue where I mislaid the Portland Oregon at first.
Karen and I stuffed the pinata right before her party. Greg and a really nice worker bee hung it up. I was so relieved when it was hung and out of my hands. It was nice to get a cocktail and enjoy the party.
Karen’s party at Wafu was just incredible. The food was amazing. It was great to see old friends and to talk to new folks. Everyone had a great time celebrating Karen.

Karen got a few whacks in, but it survived a few more beatings before it burst open.

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We filled the pinata with booze, lottery tickets, and candy. We were going to also put in dollar coins, but chickened out at the last minute. We didn’t want anyone losing an eye.


The pinata was the talk of the party. This was such a great project and I’m so glad that Karen came up with the idea. After I finished making it, I walked around giddy for days. I can’t believe I pulled this off in three days. It took about 16 hours total to make this. I also had all of the supplies already on hand (Packrat Power!) except for the cardboard and the red paper. This was such a fun project that I think I’ll definitely make another pinata. Maybe for my 40th…

1 Comment

  1. Yay, yay, yay!!! Four hours on the letters? I’m even more impressed.

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