On February 13th of 2022, I received an email from Paul Spadafore of Impact XM through my website's contact form. He briefly told me about his idea to have an artist making mobiles at a booth in a trade show in San Diego. It would be for a company with Japanese heritage and Paul was brainstorming and wondering if I'd be interested in being a part of it before he pitched his idea to the company.
I checked my calendar and didn't see anything in my future that might keep me from participating, so I said I'd be interested, but had some followup questions. Once Paul had more information about what the company wanted we arranged a time to speak over the phone. He told me all about the different projects he had done in the past involving artists making mobiles and folding paper. The main idea was to have the attendees take part in the creation of a mobile - either by folding or writing on a crane.
The idea was still in the early stages, but over the next few weeks, through many video chat meetings, emails, and phone calls, the project became more focused and took on a life of its own. By mid April I was officially hired and began ordering paper, wires, beads, thread, booking flights, and folding cranes.
The entire project would require almost 2,000 cranes folded from 6x6 inch sheets, and I only had 3 weeks to fold all of them. I had to hire the two women who helped me fold the cranes for the NYC mobiles again. They folded 500 each, and I folded the other 800, as well as several larger cranes for a central display in the booth.
The plan was for me to assemble 16-20 paper crane strands to hang from a trellis wall at the back of the booth. On site, I would assemble 6-10 large mobiles as well as 2-3 large chandelier mobiles over the 3 days of the trade show. Attendees would open up the flat paper cranes and hand them to me or a booth facilitator, and we would add those cranes to the mobile strands, or they could add them to the trellis wall strands. On each day of the event there would be cranes in 4 unique prints with red backgrounds that would correspond to the four core values of the company, so attendees could choose a different print each day they stopped by the booth.
I assembled and shipped 15 strands for the trellis wall, 2 large mobiles, and 16 giant cranes to hang from a cherry tree that would be in the center of the booth. The week before the event I also shipped all the rest of the cranes - the ones I had folded and the ones from the two Etsy sellers I had hired, the wire frames for the large mobiles, the rings for the large chandelier style mobiles, extra thread, beads, paper, and tiny clothes pins for hanging cranes from the trellis wall strands. My personal tools stayed with me and went in my luggage.
Once in San Diego, I settled into my new home for the week - a hotel that was only a 5 minute walk from the San Diego Convention Center. I landed in California on Thursday night, and visited the Convention Center for the first time on Friday morning. I was finally able to meet Paul and the rest of the team in person, and we were able to start getting things set up for the Digestive Disease Week.
Now that everything was together in one place, Paul and I were able to reassess how we wanted attendees to participate in the origami experience. We decided that the trellis "selfie" wall would probably draw in more people than the construction of the chandelier mobiles. So we scrapped the chandelier mobiles entirely, and instead, decided that attendees would choose a crane, open up the wings of the crane, and clip the crane to the ribbon strands hanging off the trellis wall, or give me the crane to be incorporate into a Calder Style Mobiles.
I would be spending the 3 days of the convention at the booth, building mobiles, threading strands on the trellis wall once they were filled up with cranes, and teaching attendees how to fold paper cranes. Behind me, in the same booth, there was a tea station with mochi donuts. Between my side of the round counter and the donut side, there was a stunning man-made cherry tree with brilliant pink blossoms. 14 very large cranes hung effortlessly from its branches, and moved freely in the air conditioning drafts of the convention center.
Colorful spotlights were directed at the tree's branches, and heightened the pink of the blossoms above all of us. Around the perimeter of the booth there were seating areas, and two small tables also gave attendees a place to relax while they sipped tea and enjoyed their donuts. There were also a handful of seats at the counter where I was working, so attendees could sit and talk and fold cranes with me.
The whole thing was such a fun experience, and I heard wonderful things from attendees. Many commented on how our booth was the most beautiful and relaxing at the DDW, and several said that folding origami with me was the most fun they had ever had at ANY convention in their lives. Making so many people smile and express joy with my art was extremely energizing and validating, and I ended the three days feeling exhausted yet filled with happiness over the entire experience.
Paul found me on the World Wide Web and gave me an incredible opportunity to share my love of origami in a very personal way with hundreds of people over the span of 3 days. It was an unforgettably special experience that I will always hold dear to my heart, and I won’t hesitate for a second if Paul or anyone else ever approaches me with an opportunity like this in the future. Thank you Paul, thank you Impact XM, and thank you Takeda Pharmaceuticals!