When you tell people you’re taking a piñata making class, expect to get some stares. Apparently after you become an “adult,” practical learning is the only way to go. And outwardly, piñata making has little relevance to anyone’s life. That didn’t stop me from spending my Saturday morning paper macheteing a balloon. Because I, like Dabble, believe in explorative learning. And I refuse to believe that only kids can learn by getting messy.

Me and a friend, a pre-school teacher with an actual connection to paper machete, showed up 20 minutes early to Ventricle, a startup incubator in a West Town converted warehouse. We were greeted by our instructor, Katie, and her fiancée, Len, and helped them open a few boxes of donuts.

As other students arrived, they joined us at seats around a gigantic tarped table, set up with a pile of scissors, newspaper strips, and tins of watery glue. We looked over Katie’s class agenda or “Agendanata,” as she playfully called it. Cute puns aside, what struck me about her syllabus was that she made “social interaction” a priority. Under the “Intros” section, she wrote, “After all, this isn’t just about glue and paper. It’s about potentially meeting fun new people.” And meet fun, new people, is what I did.

I met Brittany, a super Dabbler, who was taking two more classes that weekend. I met Shelby, who attended with her sister, and who told me she’d see me in the tarot card reading class in two weeks. And I even got to catch up with a new-old friend, Meghan, Dabble’s very own community manager and, as it turns out, lightening fast paper macheter.

I found Pinata making, like calligraphy, to be very soothing. I quickly fell into a pattern of dip strip in glue, place strip on balloon. With Katie’s gentle reminders that there’s no wrong way to paper machete, I forgot to compare myself to others. It felt freeing! Mood music, breakfast snacks, and Katie’s intermittent piñata trivia, put me in a good place.

Sadly, our three hour class was not enough time for the paper machete to dry, and we were not able to fully assembly our piñatas. We did however, spend time creating tissue paper fringe and flowers to attach once everything dried. We talked about what animals and objects our final piñatas would become. They ranged from an ambitious dragonfly to an egg (that was my idea. For Easter, get it?)

Days later I applied my colorful fringe and hung my paper machete sculpture from my ceiling fan. My next step will be to pop the balloon and load candy into the hollowed out space. Though, really, I don’t think I’d ever have the heart to smash it with a bat. I like it hanging up where I can see it everyday, a reminder that imperfect and d.i.y. lives are the ones worth living.


Ali Kelley is a 20-something trying to figure out her life one Dabble at a time. She is the Community Manager at social good startupZealous Good and the creator of The Cry Cave, a collection of the web’s best videos to make you cry. Be sure to check back each Wednesday to see her newest Dabble class adventure, and cheer her on with words of encouragement through the comments section below or on Twitter @freegiantparty.