DALLAS — Inside a cozy garage in Dallas, an artist is redefining a throwaway party staple.
With hundreds of sticky paper mache layers, Alfonso Hernandez has perfected the piñata.
“It’s a lot of mental notes, it’s me looking for those small details,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez's customers call him the Piñata Man. He converted his garage into a studio and launched his company, No Limit Arts and Crafts. He works day and night to build life-size pop-culture favorites. You name it, and he’ll build anything from popular video game characters, to superheroes and Disney princesses.
Someone recently paid hundreds of dollars for a piñata that resembles their young daughter.
“It’s just an incredible feeling. Being able to make these characters come to life,” Hernandez said.
Piñatas are meant to be broken, but his works of art are meant to be cherished. At times, many of his customers decide his pieces are too good to break apart.
“The customers generally know whether they’re gonna break it or not,” Hernandez said. "I think 50% of the customers change their mind. They’ll get it, they see it, and they’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ I have people say we’re probably gonna [sic] go buy another one, a $40 one.”
Hernandez gained the skill of piñata making when he lost his dream job in IT.
He needed a distraction, but found much more…
“I saw an opportunity,” Hernandez said.
Building creative piñatas became his way of coping.
“I just kind of disappeared from everybody, and I just came back here and never really left,” Hernandez said.
When Texas Monthly published an article highlighting his work, Hernandez blew up on social media.
“When they released it, I had over 100 messages,” Hernández said.
Ever since, business has been good. These days, families pay hundreds of dollars for one of his piñatas.
Recently, a family drove eight hours from Louisiana to collect their masterpiece.
Cynthia and Carlos Rodriguez told WFAA it was worth the long drive and money. They watched as their children lit up when they first saw their finished piñata.
“At the end of the day, they’re happy,” Carlos Rodriguez said.
“Most of the people are surprised. They’re usually surprised and I’m looking for their expression,” Hernandez said. “When I bring it out and they see it, I’m looking at them, I’m looking at the kids.”
It’s that look of joy he hopes will last long after his creations.