Kodiak is home to a locally based piñata business, Just Whack It Custom Piñatas, created by Sara Fish, who was born and raised on the island.
Her business was inspired by the innate joy of hitting piñatas — colorful paper mâché figures swinging from rope — until the sides burst, spilling candy onto the ground. But, Kodiak’s lack of quality piñatas made her want to create her own.
Born and raised in Kodiak with a Mexican stepdad, Fish said she grew up around piñatas, which are ubiquitous with birthday and Christmas celebrations in Mexico and throughout the United States.
Fish began making her creations after a piñata her friend bought at Walmart fell apart after only one whack, not enough to entertain the 15 or children at the party who also wanted a turn.
She started making simple piñatas with a balloon and paper mâché, and then advanced to popular designs like cats and Batman. She had a lot of fun making them, Fish said.
Her friends began to request piñatas for their own parties, and she started creating more intricate designs. That’s when Fish realized she had a talent for piñata-making.
After two years of making custom piñatas, her friends pushed her to turn her hobby into a side business, which she officially created in January.
Fish creates her piñatas by hand using cardboard, paper mâché and duct tape. She leaves an opening for people to fill with candy, toys and prizes.
She works on her art out of her home in Chiniak when she is not tending to her farm or taking care of her three children.
She has made piñatas in the shape of cats, foxes, superheroes and eagles. Two custom orders included a 3-foot crawfish and a 5-foot chainsaw.
“I really got into it when I got the crawfish order and the chainsaw order,” she said, noting that the difficulty in making piñatas lies in the level of detail in some of the designs.
Some take as little as five hours to make, while some take as long as 10 hours.
This is not the first time Fish has been involved in the art scene. She grew up in an artistic family with a mother who was a mixed media artist.
“I grew up in a very creative house with access to all sorts of materials,” Fish said. “I’ve worked with clay, done metal smithing, beading and a little bit of everything.”
Creating something unique that will be destroyed is part of what Fish loves about making piñatas.
“It’s not like a sculpture that’s going to be there for a lifetime. There is something awesome about putting the time and love into something that’s going to get destroyed. It’s hard to describe,” Fish said, laughing.
As a stay-at-home mom, Fish said she can make her piñatas with her children, who have even started making their own.
“It’s something you can do around the kids. My youngest loves helping with the paper mâché part,” Fish said. “They are making little piñatas too.”
Piñatas are not only for children, she said. Her friends order them for their birthdays and other celebrations as well.
Fish said she can make any design for any kind of party. Her business is on Facebook.