The West Coast Wire

Mom shares Mexican culture and pinates

Malena Padilla’s fun and festive creations are often too pretty to break

- DIANE CROCKER SALTWIRE

Malena Padilla is not quite certain how the pinata became part of celebratio­ns in her home country of Mexico.

“Usually, we use them for birthday parties and celebratio­ns. In Mexico at Christmast­ime they’re very popular.”

Growing up, she said, they always had a star-shaped pinata at Christmas. The star had seven points on it and represente­d the seven deadly sins. “I think that’s why you break it.”

Her mother was a teacher and used to make pinatas when she had time. Making them is something many people in Mexico do and Padilla started doing about 10 years ago.

Padilla lives in Little Harbour, just outside of Deer Lake, with her husband, William Raymond, and their two daughters, Emma, 9, and Naomi, 3.

She met her husband while living in St. John’s, where she was studying English and French while working as a live-in caregiver. The couple moved to the west coast 10 years ago.

When Emma was turning one, Padilla said, she found it hard to find the pinata she wanted and figured she could make one herself and decided on a big number one.

“I called my mom to figure out the recipe for the paper mache because I couldn’t remember,” she said with a laugh.

It was quite simple, though: just a cup of water and a cup of flour combined to make a watery paste. Pieces of cut-up newspaper are dipped into the paste and then placed on whatever shape is being used, completely covering it with at least three layers.

When the paper mache dries the pinata can be decorated using tissue or crepe paper that has fringes cut in it to create movement.

After her first pinata Padilla continued the birthday tradition for Emma and later for Naomi. Both girls have birthdays in June and will give her ideas for the theme they want. She has

Malena Padilla of Little Harbour said this shrimp was one of the more challengin­g pinatas that she has made. also made some for family and friends and for other events and has added making cake toppers to match the pinatas.

Padilla has used balloon shapes for some of her pinata forms and has created forms out of cardboard, cutting out designs and putting them together in a 3-D shape that will hold the treats. Each one takes only a few hours to complete, but that is spread over a couple of days because the paper mache has to dry completely before she can decorate it.

“It’s a challenge sometimes,” she said, but something she enjoys.

“I like to see how it turns out at the end because when you’re just making the shape on the cardboard with paper mache it doesn’t look like anything, really. Once it’s decorated it’s so pretty.”

Sometimes they look too pretty to break, she added.

“I’ve worked so hard on it, don’t break it,” she said with a laugh. “That’s the tradition, that’s part of the fun of it.”

Part of the fun for her is also getting her daughters involved in creating the pinatas to share this part of their Mexican culture with them.

“I try to keep that alive, make it a part of their life,” she said.

“It’s important because we don’t go (to Mexico) very often.”

When they do go it’s usually an extended trip.

“So, they can learn a bit more Spanish and see the traditions.”

Those trips are fun for Emma, who said she likes going to the beach and spending time with her family. The two girls will often help their mom with the paper mache process, and Emma has even made some pinatas on her own.

“I like helping her make the parts,” said Emma, who enjoys being creative and spending time with her mom.

Her favourite pinata so far has been a boba tea one, but she’s impressed with all her mom’s creations.

“They’re really nice.”

The ones she’s made herself have been mini versions of a cat decorated in Christmas-theme colours, a black and white panda and a black cat.

Padilla is starting to see interest in her work grow outside of her family and friends and has set up a Facebook page, Pinatas by Nena, to show people the things she can do and that she is also able to take on custom orders.

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D PHOTOS ?? Malena Padilla is sharing her Mexican culture with her children, Naomi Raymond, 3, and Emma Raymond, 9, through making pinatas. The family lives in Little Harbour just outside of Deer Lake.
CONTRIBUTE­D PHOTOS Malena Padilla is sharing her Mexican culture with her children, Naomi Raymond, 3, and Emma Raymond, 9, through making pinatas. The family lives in Little Harbour just outside of Deer Lake.

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