Saturday, May 2, 2009

Children's Day - Koinobori Windsocks

May 5th is Kodomo no Hi or Children's Day in Japan.

These Koinobori or flying carp windsocks are a great way to celebrate. I have 2 tutorials to share... the fabric version with the glue batik and a bit of sewing and a easier version using paper and pastel resist.

So let's get started

Fabric Version


some lightweight fabric, cotton works well
Elmer's gel glue
acrylic craft paint
sewing machine
12-14" length of wire
pole...we used a natural bamboo garden stake
fishing line
fishing swivel (optional)

I had the kids draw out their design first on paper. Because we are making a fish with 2 sides but folding it in half it's good to get them to practice how it is laid out.

Cut a piece of fabric approximately 24 inches long and 16 inches wide. Lay flat on top of some wax paper. We also have ours on top of an art board so I can move it easily.

Using Elmer's blue gel glue recreate your fish design on the fabric.

This glue works the best when doing this glue batik technique. It is the no run gel formula. I find the glitter version hard for the kids to squeeze and the clear version will run messing up your design.

We did half of ours using the glitter glue so you could see our design in the picture.

Put aside and let dry overnight.

Using watered down acrylic craft paint..put some color on to your fish.

Set aside to dry.

When dry soak in some hot water in a sink or bathtub...after about 20 minutes the glue will have softened and dissolved. You may have to lightly scrub or agitate it to remove the glue.
Let dry.

Fold over about 2 inches at the mouth of the fish and sew the width of the fish creating a pocket for our wire.

Insert the wire at this time.

Bring the ends together forming a circle for our gaping fish mouth. Twist the ends on top of each other... you may have to use some pliers.

Your fish mouth should look like this.

With right sides facing sew a seam the length of the up the tail leaving a small gap it the center of the tail to allow some air to flow thru your wind sock.

Here is the gap. Cut away excess fabric from the seams. Turn the fish right side out.

Your windsock should look like this.

Attach a 16 inch piece of fishing line to each side of the mouth. I find the fishing line is stiff enough that you can just poke a hole thru the fabric with it.

Try to get the places where you are attaching the line to be even to one another.

Attach to pole. You can use a fishing swivel to prevent the windsock from getting tangled in the wind.

Paper version


heavy brown kraft paper..I used a paper bag
tempera paint

Take your paper or paper bag and cut a piece 16 inches wide by 20 inches long.

Fold in half.

Trace out a fish shape. Cut out shape keeping as much of the fold on the top of the fish as you can.

Open up flat and start coloring in your fish using pastels.

When finished carefully crumple up.

Open up flat and smooth out a bit. Taking some tempera paint, paint over top the pastel. It will resist the paint and cause it to bead up making it look like your fish is underwater.

Cover your fish completely.
Let dry.

Take 2 pipe cleaners and loosely twist together.

Run a bead along the inside of the mouth edge of the fish.

Roll the edge up enclosing the pipe cleaner.

You can use some clothespins to hold it into place until it dries.

Run a bead of glue along the outer edge of the fish. Leave a gap in the tail to let the air flow thru the windsock. Fold the fish over.

You can hold it into place with some clothespins until it dries.

Bend the wire into a circle to form a gaping mouth.

Poke a hole into both sides of the mouth to attach the string.

Attach to pole.

Here is our paper version.

Give it a try and have your own Children's Day parade.

see you next time


  1. I love yours! I did these with kids at a summer arts camp a couple years ago, and we used Japanese paper and folded and dyed it, (the name for the technique is just not coming to me right now!). The kids LOVE it, and the results were gorgeous.

  2. These look like such fun! Thanks for sharing!

  3. wow! i am a long-time reader but have never posted. these projects brought me out of lurkdom. i love both versions, we will definitely make some of our own!

    hope your opera is going well--i'm a costumer for opera myself, so i feel your pain. :D

  4. Wow! I'm really impressed (once again). We made some of these a few years ago using someone else's instructions and they weren't NEARLY as good. GREAT JOB!!! And thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow, these are beautiful and so well explained. I love this! I'll be linking.

  6. Hi Gail, I wanted to stop by to say hello and thank you for this batik tutorial. I found the one that you did with making pillows and had to try it.

    I am a member of ATCsforall where we swap Artist Trading Cards and other mixed media art. There was a Prayer flag swap that begged for this technique. I had so much fun making these flags! Here are some pics of the results.

    Thank you for sharing with us.


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  8. I know this was posted a little while ago but I have a question for you. I would like to try this technique for a quilt. Do you think it would work for something that will be washed?

  9. Have you thought of just doing half of the design with your glue, then folding the blank side carefully over the side with glue? I kind of did that when I used your technique to make the curtains for our puppet theater and it worked perfectly to make a mirror image without using more glue and having to draw it out twice...of course I was doing this with a two year old, so maybe our glue went on thicker. Just a thought...and thanks so much for these great projects! Polly @

  10. This is so great! We made our own, posted it on my blog
    Thank you!

  11. Wow!!! This is really cool, I will hand it on to my sister. cheers from New Zealand Marie

  12. This is great! I saw this tutorial on another blog and tried it out. What fun! I also linked to this post at my blog.

    Thank you for posting this!

  13. My four-year-old loved making this project. Thank you for sharing.

  14. I LOVE your craft and have featured it on the "Weather Get Crafty" carnival :-)

    Thank you!


  15. I love these Gail, they are so fun!

    I run Fun Family Crafts, a library of craft tutorials geared at kids of all ages. I would love it if you'd stop by and submit this to be featured! (I link to you, I don't post your tutorial on the site) Feel free to submit as many kid friendly craft tutorials as you like!

  16. this is great project! I myself an art teacher for preschool kids and will definitely use this idea for spring project
    thank you

  17. the koinobori fish is a special kind of fish who swims against the current of a river. This simbolize the great effort made by ourt children to overcome the obstacles of learning. I think this is a celebration for the Boy's day.