Issue 81: Drachen Archives – Power of Our Online Archive

After 17 years of collecting, studying, documenting, digitizing and finally redesigning a massive website that could not only hold the DF collection, but also the world’s kite collections, I am delighted to these examples of how the new website is working!

The Seyfang Labs Kite

For years, I’ve had a kite in my collection that I knew nothing about (I probably have more than one, but this one stood out). It’s a large diamond-shaped kite, about 7 feet tall, with “Conyne-like” cells attached to the front. In remarkably good condition, I thought it was probably from the 1950s or 1960s. It had “Seyfang Labs” printed on the sail, and cursory searches over the years had revealed nothing.

As I was preparing to talk to fellow kite enthusiasts at the AKA annual convention, I practiced uploading information onto the new Drachen Foundation website so I could show others how easy it was. Also, I wanted to make the point of what a great tool the website could become if we all treated it like a clearinghouse for kite information. I remember viewing a random entry at that time, uploaded by a collector “at large,” and all I can say is that it just didn’t “click,” at least not until I had returned home.

Then I took another look: entered by TBH in Philadelphia, I found, uploaded to the site, an article titled, “Kite Maker Finds a Pot of Gold.” The kite maker in question was Frank George Seyfang, who made a business displaying advertisements from kites in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Miami Beach, Florida. Amazing! This is exactly the kind of information that is so valuable to kite historians, collectors, and teachers.

Looking at the article (http://www.drachen.o…-finds-pot-gold) that “TBH” entered I found that Seyfang “started on his career as a professional kite-flyer at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.” That’s where Conyne won his gold medal and probably influenced the later Seyfang design. Pictured in the article is a kite identical to the one I own, with a claim that it could “stay aloft in a four-mile breeze or ride out a 90-mile gale.”

In sharing this item of historical kite scholarship with the kite community, “TBH” provided the clues needed for further study of my own kite. This might be my next historical reconstruction!

Name that Japanese Kite!

An archival inquiry came from fellow Coloradan kite maker, George Peters. George asked if I might have information about a wonderful Edo kite that he had acquired over 20 years ago. In this case, the website wasn’t my source. Instead, I chose to forward the photographs George had sent to our friend Nobuhiko Yoshizumi. Yoshizumi-san has proved time and again to be an almost-limitless source of Japanese kite knowledge. Sure enough, “Yoshipedia” came up with the answer. George’s kite was made by Tokyo kite maker Tatsuro Kashima. He’s a kite maker that I have admired since seeing several of his kites in the Kunstdrachen catalog. I remember meeting him years ago in Tokyo and thinking that his craftsmanship was as fine as any I’d ever seen. I also remember talking with Modegi-san and Toki-san about the Tokyo kite makers after WWII. There was great effort and pride in preserving the kite making heritage, but there were two schools of thought as to how “real” Edo kites should fly: should they fly hard against the wind, or should they soar, pulling gently? I recall being told that Kashima was one of the principals in this discussion and today’s hard-flying Edos may have Kashima to thank.

The reason I write all of this is to “get it down on paper,” so others can react, add more, or dispute what we’ve said. George’s images have been uploaded to the site (http://www.drachen.o…tatsuro-kashima) and to this we have added the scholarship of Yoshizumi-san. What is exciting about this interaction is that we connected artifacts with information and now have a place to store the data so that everyone has access. Memory isn’t perfect, and the more we interact, record, and share knowledge, the better our kite world will be.

A Global Reach

During the many, many incalculable hours I have spent in front of two large computer screens, moving massive digital files and data to our new site I have wondered who might see and intereract with the newly accessible information, Now that we are live, it is so exciting to hear from people so far away and yet the web has brought them so near… Ali Fujino

Reaching the “Cave” in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dear People of Drachen Foundation,

Each month I look forward to your publications. The high level review of global information on the subject kites, cause my avid reading and constant consultation.

Today I’m very dedicated studying the history of the origins and development of kites in different cultures and reproduce them on “minikites” for easy access to people interested in the subject.

I am a Plastic Surgeon of 74 years old, retired and now fully dedicated to my “toys” and writing a book on this topic devoted to children, adults and teachers to recreate the kite construction activity, and I remain at attentively to your disposal from my “cave” in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Connecting up to India, the Numbers Add Up

After visiting our website, a professional international kite flyers club from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India contacted us, sharing their work with students in India.

Our kite club name is Vibrant Kite Club. Sir, I work for schools, do workshops free of cost for school students. We do knowledge based programs for students and I explain to them how mathematics and sciences work with kites, which mathematic equations and Science Theories work with kite making and kite flying. Plz add my Kite Club in your website. The name of the kite club: Vibrant Kite Club Thank you!


Another website comment from a constant visitor to our site:

I have suggested that the Academy of Model Aeronautics Museum follow the DF lead and put their collection online. Like DF, they could have modelers upload images from all over the world, making it an international virtual museum.

The AMAM is the world’s largest model aviation association, ( representing a membership of more than 150,000 from every walk of life, income level and age group. Now that is an amazing compliment!

Scott Skinner