Sunday, January 25, 2009

New kite project

For more than a year I have a had an idea for a kite but have made no progress other than a few sketches and some mental pictures. One problem I had was how to put some of the complex features together using layers of ripstop and stitches. Now that I have a sewing room, I felt it was time to get started on the project.

To start, I reread some of William Farber's book, Painting with Light and Air. He suggests a modular approach when sewing complex designs and I had been pondering the method but couldn't quite figure out how to use it. But the approach does make sense and I have started to use it to a small degree. Not all designs work with his method but with more complex designs, this is a great way to work.

The kite I made this weekend is not the kite I am aiming for, rather, it was a practice piece, using some of the design elements and colors to see how well they work together. This is the same size kite we made in the kite workshop a few weeks ago. That is a fun size, small enought so you can get quick results and you don't mind if it is a complete failure, not much waste with so small a kite. And, if the kite works, you have a nice little kite you can fly or give away.

By the way, Farber's book is not yet available in the US but he did tell me that the Drachen Foundation ordered a number so it may be available from them soon. It is a good book for kite makers wanting to step up to the next level in applique. His kites have won prizes in Dieppe France as well as Dieppe, New Brunswick.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

kite making workshop

Tony Otis and I held a kite making workshop on Jan 10 in Tony O's kite workroom. This was the first time Tony O taught a workshop (I ran a fighter kite workshop a few years ago) but he is a fine kite maker and a very patient teacher. The sewing experience of our participants ranged from well experienced to first time on a sewing machine. But they were all new to kite making, only two had even made one kite before.

We furnished the kite makers with the material to make two complete diamond kites, including applique material and a template to make more of the same sized kite. They all hemmed their kite sail and attached the pockets in the morning and after a lunch break I demonstrated an applique process, drawing a design, tacking the fabrics onto the kite sail, sewing the design and completing it by cutting out the extra fabric. Then they all got to try the same.

A great job was done by all. They all created one or two color designs and added them to their kites, all will be flown with pride. Hard work, slow at times, but we all learned plenty, including the teachers. We hope to do another workshop later this winter, perhaps sewing a Della Porta kite.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day Kite Fly

Today was the beginning of our kite flying for 2009 and some of us braved the 15 degree F and the 20+ mph winds and stuck a few kites in the air at Bug Light Park in South Portland, Maine. Tony O and I flew Powersled 24s and were glad we chose 500 # line. There was no snow on the field so I was not tempted to get out my power kites and skis. The 40 mph gusts were another reason. Allen was more sensible and just got out a little sled. Don and John got some kites out too, a papillion and a rok, brave choices for the wind that day.

Most of us lasted no more than an hour out there before retreating a mile or so to our little Craftsman cottage in South Portland for a pot luck New Years Day feast. Lots of good food and drink. A big hit was my rhumtopf which I started last July. It is a fruit preservation style featuring rum as the preservative. So some rum soaked fruit over ice cream may be an annual feature of the New Years Day pot luck.

Most of our kite flying today was while seated, with a plate of food and a drink in hand, all talk. At a show of hands, at least a dozen of us said that they have plans to attend the kite festival next August in Dieppe, New Brunswick. It looks like kite flyers plan ahead. We have not heard many details of the festival other than the date but I have heard unofficially that many of my favorite kite makers will be there including Robert Brasington from Tasmania and Bas Vreevick from Holland.

Our next kite event will be in 10 day, a kite making workshop for new kite makers where we will make small diamond kites with ripstop nylon and wooden spars. Tony O and I hope to inspire a few more people to start making some creative kites. Pictures to follow the event so keep reading.