I have always been fascinated with kites, but it wasn't until Spring of 1993 that I attempted to make my first ones. With the encouragement of Minnesota Kite Society member Pam Hodges who shared her many kite related resources and a stack of kite magazines I began my search for books, materials and plans for making them. Searching my local kite and hobby shops I ran across a number of books including the two by Margaret Greger, which were very helpful.
When I realized the cost of materials along with my limited sewing skills I started working with tyvek wood dowels and acrylic paints. Wood dowels proved to be unstable, so I started using fiberglass tubing and rods. After traveling with my kites I soon discovered acrylic paint required too much time to maintain. Storing them in a ski bag, in a hot car or lying in the hot sun caused the paints to stick together. It was time to try something permanent like ripstop nylon.

My first nylon kite was a Hexagonal Roller made from a plan in the book Kites by David Pelham. After attending my first AKA Convention in Seaside, Oregon I realized I had a lot more to learn about making kites. When I saw the work of Randy Tom and Jose Sainz, their detail and craftsmanship blew me away. I made it a point to sit throught their applique workshop. Since then I have attended many AKA convention workshops and made annual trips to the MAKR retreat in Illinois, and up until this year the Junction retreat in Texas. I have a lot of respect for the people who do such a great job of teaching these classes. Listening to others and being able to bounce ideas off of them helped to reinforce good design and construction techniques. I found that others were using some of the construction methods I had already discovered on my own. It always feels good to know you're on the right track.

My favorite kites have been Genkis and Rokkakus, but lately the Circoflex and figure kites have been of interest. Last winter, I made a life-like (dead-like) Kenny of South Park; and swept away with football fever made my largest rokkaku to date, eleven by eight feet, with the Minnesota Vikings Logo on it. Hey, they almost made it to the Super Bowl, and flying a kite in Florida would have been a nice break from a long winter. It's obvious looking at my kites that I am not an artist, but I enjoy the challenge of making an image look as though it was made to fit in a particular shape kite. I'm also working on some originals of my own. I enjoy making cartoon characters. I can hardly wait for people to ask where I bought it so I can answer, "I made it." I guess that, and knowing that no one else in the world has a kite just like it is why "I love to build kites."



[Reprinted with Permission - AKA Kiting November/December 1999]
Editing & Layout by Ellen Smith, NyteStar WebDesign