Hi readers, welcome back to another issue of Kitemaker Profile.
I have been aware that I have not had many kitemakers from Europe featured in my columns, so in 2001 I am going to try and feature more, starting this month. It is my pleasure to profile a kite maker from Berlin, Germany – Peter Schittek. Peter has attended a few international festivals and has a unique style of kite making, placing together pre-cut shapes of fabric to form his complicated Egyptian-influenced kite designs. Hope you all enjoy this edition of ‘Kitemaker’ profile.
Don’t forget, if you have any suggestions for future ‘Kitemaker’ profiles, whether it be people you know, or would like to see featured here, please send me their details (preferably email address contact), please free feel to nominate yourself also.
Name: Peter Schittek
Location: Berlin, Germany
Favorite Food: Italian and Asian
Favorite Drink: Wheatbeer or old Bordeaux
Favorite Music: Latin-Jazz
Favorite Kite Magazine: I did like the German Drachenmagazin and KiteLines.
Professional Background: My profession is photography and I take pictures of paintings and sculptures for catalogs. I have also had some experience in holography 10 years ago, but I gave up, because there was no way I could earn a living from making holograms.
Other hobbies and interests: My second hobby is playing music. When I was about 25 years old, I started to play bass guitar until I was 33. I have played Jazz Music and also some Rock. After a break of 10 years , I started to play congas and percussion. It is always a difficult decision, whether to spend my free time practicing music or making a new kite.
How did your interest in kites begin?
My interest in kite flying began in 1989 with flying a flexifoil a friend let me try out. Actually it was more a fight than kite flying because the wind was too strong for a beginner. But something had impacted me, so I went to the kite store of Michael Steltzer in Berlin and bought a Spin Off and my time as a stunt kite flyer began.
What about your interest in kite making, Peter?
When I was in Lakes Entrance in 1995 to write an article for Drachen magazine on the World Cup sport kite team flying, I met Pierre Fabre and Scott Skinner. I was very impressed with their kites and my interest in single line kites began. But the idea of doing all this sewing work was not very appealing to me. So I bought the Compass Needle kite from Pierre Fabre, which is also my favorite kite not made by myself. One year later, I was in Orlando to write a report of the KTA Show, when I met Reza Ragheb. The first day we sat together having breakfast, he sold me one of his fabulous sets of small kites, so this was the most expensive breakfast I ever had, it was then I realized I would have to learn to build my own kites or continue to get poorer as a kite collector.
With the big influence of these kite makers, and also by pictures of Peter Malinski’s kites, I became more comfortable with the idea of sewing my own kites and the truth is, I began to build more kites than I could fly.
What type of kites do you make?
I was looking for a theme for my kites, which was complicated enough to reduce my output and also make every kite unique. I found inspiration when a friend took me to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, where I saw some books about ancient Egyptian Art. The first kite I made was the Hakaku with the Horus Falcon, every piece of fabric is different in size, like in the original pectoral, which is only 12 cm high. Some other Japanese types of kites with appliqued jewelery followed. Following that, I experimented using the original shapes and forms as kites, like the vulture or the coffin.
I applique every piece separately without using the common sandwich technique. This needs a bit more time, but saves material and gives a better surface in front of the kite, because the zigzag stitch goes over the edge of the cloth.
What projects do you have on the drawing board?
I plan to build an big earring kite with a long tail and I also have a prototype of a big inflatable Snake Cobra, but having some problems with the head.
What materials and equipment do you use, Peter?
I use only North Sail cloth, because they have exactly the colors I need. Unfortunately they stopped producing the gold laminate, which was best material for jewellery motifs. I have to find a replacement for this in the future. I do not use any adhesives or glues and I do not use hot cutters, because the lifetime of my body is more important to me than the lifetime of my kites.
What is the average time spent making a kite?
This is the most often asked question at kite festivals. And I always answer, that it is better that I do not count the hours. But I think from the first idea until the flying kite, there are a few months elapsing.
I guess the most popular kite is the Coffin which won the Members Choice at the AKA-Convention two years ago.
What are you philosophies on kitemaking?
1. Keep the construction simple.
2. A kite which looks good and flies bad is a nice thing, but not really a kite.
Who has had the most influence on you in kite making?
I really do not know why, but the kites of Peter Malinski gave me the greatest push to find my own style in kite making.
Who do you remember meeting through kiteflying?
But I can say I had a lot of fun with Reza Ragheb, and also with my friend Kevin Sanders who I met in Long Beach last year. I guess he is the best imitator of Mr. Bean on the world.
Where is your favorite kite festival?
Last year it was my first time at the international kite festival in Dieppe, and I think this festival will become my favorite, because I really like the French food and wine, and there are so may interesting kite people from all over the world at this festival.
Thanks Peter for sharing some your experiences with us, I am sure you have inspired others to go and make a kite, just as you were inspired by your mentors.
Remember, if there is a kitemaker you think might like to be featured here, please send their name and contact details to me. It would help if the kitemaker has an email address. Until next issue … happy kite making!