Ever wanted to beat an effigy of Justin Bieber with a bat? How about Barney the purple dinosaur or Elsa from “Frozen”?
If you can wait a week and pay as much as $125, an Oak Cliff piñatero, or piñata maker, can construct one for you.
There is no piñata that ABC Party Headquarters on West Davis at Windomere will not make. At least, there hasn’t been one so far. And the company, one of several custom piñata makers in our neighborhood, has received some strange requests. It once produced a piñata version of the HP printer from the movie “Office Space.” It has made Elvis, sock monkeys, an SLR camera, Hummers, tractors and even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Some of them, such as a bride and groom created from the picture of a happy couple, seem too cute to batter.
Piñata making is a craft that can take years of training to learn. ABC’s piñatero, Alex Sagrero, learned it by watching the shop’s previous crafter. Sagrero used to paint and detail the piñatas, but when the previous piñatero moved away, he told the shop’s owner, Elvie De La Fuente, that he thought he could do the job. His first piñatas were pretty terrible, De La Fuente says, but after a few trials, he figured it out.
The basic piñatas are made of newspaper, flour and water. Sagrero starts with a paper cone as the base and builds the shape from there. They take about a week to dry, depending on the weather. After that, De La Fuente takes over, adding the finishes.
She gets into it, painting the eyes by hand and adding as much detail as she can.
“My husband tells me, ‘You don’t have to spend so much time on that,’” she says. “But I think it’s fun. I like doing it.”
Her husband, Carlos De La Fuente, opened a produce stand on the corner about 22 years ago. He also sold piñatas ordered from Mexico. Their piñata customers often asked where they could buy party plates and decorations, which gave Elvie the idea for a party store. She opened originally on West Jefferson and moved into the building adjacent to the fruit stand about seven years ago.
Now party supplies and piñatas are their whole business.
A tiny burro piñata from Mexico costs about $4. Custom piñatas range from $35 to $125 depending on size.
A recent trend is the gender-reveal piñata. Pregnant women bring sealed envelopes to the shop. Each baby’s gender is stated inside the envelope, and De La Fuente stuffs the piñata with candy — pink for a girl, blue for a boy. “We’re the second people to know what they’re having,” De La Fuente says.
Later, she knows, she’ll be decorating piñatas for those babies’ birthday parties.