“CAN YOU MAKE A PIÑATA OF OUR OFFICE CAT ‘ROCCO’?,” I challenged PATRICIA CARRILLO when she emailed me about her burgeoning piñata business. “Of course,” she said, and a few days later it was in our office, a two-foot tall rendering of Rocco’s head, hand-made by the self-taught Houston artist, who is also a pre-K aide in HISD. (You can see it on this month’s cover!)
And she brought more of them along, too, for the visit – a giant dog bone, birthday cakes, ears of corn and traditional Day of the Dead skulls – all made with recycled cardboard, paper that she hand-shreds herself, tissue and felt. For someone who claims she can’t even draw, each piece is a true work of art.
“I always made stuff growing up, like pillows or flower crowns; I was always a crafty person. One day my best friend asked me if I could make her a unicorn piñata, and I said, ‘Ok, why not? I’ll give it a try!’ It turned out to be almost four feet tall, almost as big as I am, but she loved it. And then more and more people started asking for them.” A business – Piñatas by Chi – was born.
“Something like a cake or an ear of corn – I can turn that around in an hour,” she says. For a custom job like Rocco or the dog bone, the process can take a full day. The business keeps her busy during the two months she’s off from her school job in the summer, taking orders and working pop-up shops in and around the Houston area.
“Houston is changing,” she says, “and I’m seeing more and more people wanting to support local businesses rather than chains and the ‘same old thing.’ And who doesn’t love a piñata? It makes every party more fun.”
Want to add a little bang to your next bash? Email Patricia at Pinatasbychi@gmail.com or check out her Instagram: Pinatasbychi.