Issue 66: Pictorial: Johan Hallin (Sweden)

When I first met Johan Hallin from Sweden, and saw his beautiful feather kites flying from the end of his fishing pole, I was anxious for everyone to see them! Johan’s feather kites are the most incredible works of art, made from elegant and beautiful swan, gull, and goose feathers. In addition to a great kite maker, Johan is a good planet steward as well. He respects the environment, is ecologically considerate, and uses recycled materials. And still, his feather kites are terrific flyers. It must be one of those cases where less is more. Their elegance is in their simplicity. Johan is one of those talented kite makers who are natural born educators. Teaching comes naturally to him when he is doing a workshop.

Maria Gutebring, Johan’s friend, has done a great job with the web site, layout and photography; together they make a good pair and complement each other well.

As I was gathering material and information about Johan and his feather kites I came across a brief bio he wrote. As I read it I realized it described him and his journey perfectly. It was also a wonderful example of his genuine, un-pretentious, and open nature.  Even though English is not is first language, Johan explains perfectly how his wind catchers began to fly…

“My name is Johan Hallin; I’m from Gotland the largest island of Sweden. I love the sea and the wind and live close to the seashore. I like to work with creative things and I work a lot with handicraft. Most of what I like to do has a connection to the sea and the shore. Fishing, swimming, sailing, looking for flotsam and flying kites.

About 1990 I started to design art using driftwood from the seashore. I also started to make simple wind mobiles using flotsam, fossils and bird feathers. Gradually my wind mobiles (Wind Catcher’s) became more sophisticated. I got a lot of credit for my creations and that inspired me to develop the construction as well as the design. As my wind catchers became more popular I began to sell them.

In the summer of 1997 I made a kite for fun using feathers from a swan. I brought the kite to a local kite festival on Gotland. The following year I was very surprised when I was invited to an international kite festival in Stockholm Sweden because of my feather kite. This was my first big festival and I met many kite flyers from Europe and Japan. I saw many fantastic kites and made many friends. I understand that my feather kites are very unusual, and due to my kites, I have been invited to several international kite festivals to show them. Now my kites have participated in exhibitions both in Sweden and other countries. One of my greatest experiences was when I was named “Best in Show” at an international festival in Hong Kong in 2000.

Inspired by all the kites I saw, I started to design kites using simple materials. Now I have a kite shop where I sell all kinds of kites; single lines, stunt kites, power kites for kite surfing. I also run workshops with thousands of children and adults every year.

Flying a kite is a way to find out if it works, but also a way to let the mind take off and fly free as a bird.

Selling kites and running kite workshops is now what I’m doing for a living, and it all started with the feather kite I accidentally made in 1997.”

Johan Hallin