Farmpark Koi Nobori

Today I participated in a children’s festival at the newly opened Soil to Soul Farmpark. The weather was perfect, there was a huge turnout and 23 people made koi nobori at my stall. I sold almost all the large fish and about half the small ones, which was opposite of what I guessed I’d do. Nobody bought my finished fish, but they were inspiration for numerous others and they definitely captured attention.

I was delighted by the variety of creative efforts and results put in by the children and their parents. Some kids were precise, others loose. One boy did an amazing work with color mixing paint; another dropped handfuls of sequins onto a well-glued fish base. Some of the fish were clearly fish with fins and eyes; others were a backdrop for every possible art supply available. There were definitely future graphic designers and artists in this crowd.

Most of the kids were well behaved – sharing the supplies, taking turns, putting things back where they found them, and asking for help when needed. A couple of them behaved selfishly or lashed out in frustration, but they were by far the minority. One pair of moms did the most amazing job guiding their four kids through the stall so all of them got access to the supplies without crowding each other – I was impressed and inspired.

I enjoyed giving each artwork and its maker attention and praise a bit deeper than the default “good job.” I commented on colors and placement of elements, on the overall concept, on the whitespace. There’s always something nice to say about art.

Photo by Megumi (Thanks!)

In the slow periods, I sat at the front of the booth and decorated fish. This kept me from being bored and also showed exactly what was going on in the booth. Plus, it was fun.

Some takeaways to remember for next time:

  • Glitter glue is exceedingly popular; look into making it myself.
  • Shiny stickers and sequins were also frequently used.
  • I had paper towels, but wet wipes might have been a good idea. Parents often had them, though.
  • The wind will rise up. Don’t forget the paperweights (tiles) next time.
  • Also, be prepared to wrangle stray sequins and small offcuts.
  • Smaller pieces of fabric and felt would be easier for people to commit to.
  • Separate the trims from the fabrics.
  • Nobody used the stencils. They were hard to see.
  • Rethink how to present the paint.
  • Sponges worked well to apply paint; the brushes I had were too soft.
  • Consider “stations” for the kids to move through. This is what the impressive mom team did and it worked well.
  • Do not hesitate to bring all the fancy supplies. It was nice to use things up!
  • Oil-wax crayons from Daiso work well on fabric.
  • Paperclips were very helpful for threading yarn, clipping fish to dry, hanging up supplies.

This was not a high-earning event. I grossed 11,500 yen, with 10% going to the event venue and about 1,000 yen in supplies. Was it worth my time? Not in money, but it was soul satisfying. Good day!

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.