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DIY Monday: Tracker-Jacker Nest

Ready to shoot at.

Ready to shoot at.

Today’s DIY project might come in handy if you happen to have any Hunger Games fans in the family. Aside from writing this blog and working our respective jobs, Terri and I are both archery instructors, and occasionally we run archery parties. Shortly after the Hunger Games film came out, we were asked to host a birthday party for one of our regular students, and we wanted to do a little something extra; a quick search of Pinterest turned up the idea of making a Tracker-Jacker nest pinata. The one they made was a little on the cutesy side, but we liked the idea, so we tried to make a more realistic-looking nest, more like what was seen in the movie. We didn’t put treats inside our version because the kids were going to shoot it with arrows. Candy and arrows don’t really mix well.

How we did it:

Cover a balloon with strips of newspaper and white glue.

Cover a balloon with strips of newspaper and white glue.

The first step in the process was to blow up a balloon and then cover it with paper and white glue. Terri did this part; she built up a few layers, then let it dry a bit. Once it had started to stiffen up, she popped the balloon. Then she reshaped the paper sphere, adding dents and bulges to give it a more “natural” appearance, before adding a few more coats of paper and glue to make it stronger.

While Terri was making the body of the nest, I did a Google Image search for images of Tracker-Jackers; I found one I liked at Trip Park’s blog and downloaded it. (he’s an incredibly talented illustrator and designer, so check out his site. Since this project was a one-off for a private party and not something we planned to publish or promote, I didn’t ask permission to use the image; if Blue Collar, Black Tie had existed then, I definitely would have contacted the artist and gotten permission to use his work in this way.) I placed the image in a document, resized it to an appropriate size, and made a mirrored duplicate. I copied the two images several times to fill up a sheet and printed a few pages of copies. It trimmed out the pictures and matched them up back to back.

Next, I cut several lengths of lightweight wire and twisted a loop on the end of each one. I glued each loop in between a pair of Tracker-Jacker pictures.

We spray-painted the paper mache nest in a mottled texture made up of a few different colors: green, yellow, red, brown, gray, spraying a light dusting of each color and overlapping them to create an uneven and natural-looking color pattern.

Painted and with Tracker-Jackers attached.

Painted and with Tracker-Jackers attached.

Once the paint had dried, we poked several holes all over the nest using a push-pin. We inserted the wires into the holes and secured each one with a dab of hot glue. The end result is a swarm of nasty-looking Tracker-Jackers surrounding the nest.

The kids had a great time recreating the scene where Katniss shoots the nest. You could do the same thing using Nerf arrows or throwing beanbags or some other method of assaulting the target, or you could make a traditional pinata, or just use it as a decorative element for your own Hunger Games party. The next movie in the series, Catching Fire, comes out in November.

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Jim

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