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Issue 12 (Nov/Dec 1999): Fort Worden

report kite making retreat workshop

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#1 Steve Millspaugh

Steve Millspaugh


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Posted 01 December 1999 - 04:00 AM

Pictures by Judy Millspaugh

The 17th annual Fort Worden Kitemakers Conference will take place on March 10-12, 2000. The location is the historic Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington, USA. This former Army base is now maintained by the Washington State Parks Department, and has been home to 16 years of kitemaking gatherings. Next year’s event looks to continue our growth in both quantity and quality of offerings to the kitemaking community. A complete conference package, including conference fees, lodging, meals and a pin is available for $200. This does not include kit costs for classes that provide them.

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Left: Registration, Ft. Worden '95

Regardless of skill level or area of interest, we have classes for you. A complete list of teachers and their offerings follows. For those of you unfamiliar with our event, see the article in the May/June issue of KiteLife. The most important improvement we have made the last couple of years has been pre-registration for classes. Previously, it was get there early and stand in line. Now, your class schedule is confirmed beforehand. In order to ensure your best chance of getting the classes you want, contact us now!

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Right: Sharing a laugh, Ft. Worden '91

We will begin mailing registration packets about the time this article goes to press. However, in order to be as fair as possible, we hold all returned forms until December 5th. On that date, they are selected randomly and processed. Forms received after that date are processed as they arrive. Teachers and staff members must return their forms, and are subject to the same random selection process. The registration forms request multiple choices, and as classes fill you may receive an alternate choice. To request a registration packet, please contact our Registration Chair. You can email him at kitemakers@netscape.net. The snail mail address is Fort Worden Kitemakers, c/o Sam Zeiler, 10716 Palatine Ave. North, Seattle, WA 98133-8727. You may also contact me with any general questions or requests not related to registration. My E-mail address is sparks@netcom.com.

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Left: Margaret Gregor, 1996

Marla Miller would not forgive me if I fail to mention the raffle. One of the reasons we can invite kitemakers from around the world is the raffle. The proceeds are earmarked specifically for the expense of bringing in folks from out of the area. This enables us to keep the fees low while providing a wealth of expertise from around the world. Whether you’re able to join us or not, we would appreciate any kite-related item you could donate to our event. E-mail the address above for details on where to send your donation.

I would also like to thank the Drachen Foundation for their ongoing support of our event. They helped us bring Achim Kinter to last year’s event, and are co-sponsoring Tal Streeter for the upcoming conference.

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Right: Ronda Brewer, 1995

In alphabetical order, here is the list of teachers and their classes for the upcoming conference. More detail, such as schedule, skill levels, required materials, and kit costs are included in the registration packets.

Stuart Allen, Woodland, California

Curvilinear 3-D Kites

Using paper sails and bowed wooden dowels in tension-based structures, participants will create one of a kind, three dimensional kites.

Photo Collage Kites

Compose a collage with instructor-provided photo materials showing sky, earth, and water. Frame the collage with bamboo, and bridle to produce a unique, functional kite.

Robert Brasington, St. Helens, Tasmania

Cantilever Cell Kite

Construct a 1.2m by 800mm, double-celled kite with tails, using Robert’s method of stitching, sparring, and bridling. Discuss sculpted tails and the progression of simple cells to more complex combinations.

Mike Button, Bellingham, Washington


Mike teaches ten basic knots and their uses as they apply to kite building and flying. Demonstrations and illustrations lead to hands on practice in this informative session.

Franchesca Caton, Malmsbury, England

A Practical Guide to 3-D Inflatables

Build a 6 foot replica of Franchesca’s famous soft, fluted Coke bottle windsock. Learn the basics of constructing complex inflatables using internal structures to maintain true-to-life shapes.

Inflated Aspirations

Franchesca explains her methods of translating practically any 3-D object into an inflatable. In particular, she’ll describe techniques for creating pattern pieces and ensuring that an inflated shape will faithfully represent the original object.

Deb Cooley, Lincoln City, Oregon


Make a roomy kite bag (48 inches or 60 inches long), with accessory pockets or a duffel bag for spools, using Cordura fabric with full-length zippers and heavy straps.

Barry Crites, Olympia, Washington

Hexagon Kite

Take a hexagon, divide it into a gridwork of equilateral triangles and plot one of a "million" possible designs (patterns and guidelines to be sent in advance). In class, everyone will arrange their colors, strategically sew and cut layers, and make a flat hexagonal kite.

Georgean Curran, Edgewood, Washington

Marbling for Kites

Experiment with marbling dyes to create color variation and a variety of patterns on kitemaking materials. Students will try marbling on papers, ripstop nylon, and a silk scarf to wear or turn into a kite.

Eric Curtis and Anne Sloboda, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada


This kitemaking team pioneered the process of acid dying of nylon fabric to make beautifully decorated kites. They will present a two-session project, first preparing fabric, and then using the result to make a Rokkaku.

Scott Hampton, Sandy, Utah


Students will mix and match interchangeable fabric parts they cut with Scott’s templates, and come up with one-of-a-kind, wind-animated decoy banners.

Sam Huston, Kent, Washington

No-Sew, Six-Wing Brogden Kite

Make a scaled-down (5 foot by 5 foot) version of Charles Brogden’s historic high-altitude, high-angle, dihedral kite. Learn Sam’s techniques for construction using polyester sailcloth, industrial adhesives and carbon spars.

Frits Jansma, Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Shield Kite

Work out very basic quilt pattern principles for a design with strong visual appeal. Then combine the sail with Frits’ unconventional frame design to build a very light wind eight-cornered kite.

Dan Kurahashi, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Yakko Bee

Make a precisely balanced bee kite with an intricate bamboo structure. Each student will split and bend bamboo over heat, tie a frame, glue on fine Washi paper, color with dyes, then bridle.

Lady Bug Kite Train

Students will construct and paint ten bamboo and paper lady bug kites (Dan’s variation on a classic, simple kite form), then learn how to fasten them together as segments in a kite train.

Don Mock, Ruston, Washington

Mock Form II

Each student creates a unique 20 square foot, soft kite that is neither parafoil nor flowform. Learn to sew curved edges to straight, and see how to vary surface design. Students will receive face material to customize prior to class (please indicate color preference on registration).

Gerry Pennell, Olympia, Washington

Beginning Sewing

See, hear, and do. Gerry relates inexperienced sewers to the tools and techniques needed for basic sewing with an emphasis on kite making. Exercises to familiarize students with their machines are followed by a simple kite project. A take-home windsock kit will be available.

George A. Peters, Seattle, Washington

Grenadian Crafts Kites

Make a small, light version of George’s traditional Grenadian "singing" kite of paper and coconut flex. See examples of variations like "moon," "moon peak," "star," "bow and arrow," and "trembling Kuli" kites. Participants will also experience the first kite Grenadian kids make—a flying cocoa leaf.

Ludo Petit, Marines, France

Kite Fighting Spirit

Work with bamboo, paper, and traditional Indian glue to make an active Indonesian, Singaporean, or Chilean fighter kite. Participants will see a variety of Asian fighter kites, learn to modify bamboo, and, time permitting, Ludo will demonstrate Indonesian spool making.

Graeme Poole, Hawthorn, South Australia

Dragonfly Kite

Step through the process of constructing an 8 foot dragonfly, its wings formed as a Genki variant, with inflated eyes and a unique, 3-D body. Class includes explanations and notes on the development of this design and different approaches to detail and decoration.

Rob Pratt, Olympia, Washington

Diamond Kite Arch

Build an impressive European kite arch with 24 Eddy-style kites. The class covers the making and use of templates, as well as various ways of cutting and sewing straight lines on ripstop nylon.

Mark Reed, Seattle, Washington

Dynamics of Sport Kites

Explore the evolution of big wing sport kites, and discuss the relationship between design and performance. Gain an understanding of how sport kites work, emphasizing practical knowledge that will help pilots and builders get more from their kites.

The Black Magic of Sport Kite Bridles

Mark dispels the mysteries of those webs of string to which we attach our flying lines. Learn how simple and complex bridle systems work so you can tune any kite for maximum performance in different conditions and develop bridles for kites you make.

Kevin Shannon, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Painting with Applique

Using Kevin’s ingenious template process with a positive applique technique, kitemakers will build a 3 ½ foot Rokkaku with a Samurai face graphic. From a distance, this kite will appear to be painted, rather than sewn.

Randy Shannon, Flagstaff, Arizona

Petroglyph Squares

Try Randy’s intriguing method of spray painting on nylon to simulate the look of the "rock art" typical of early Native American cultures. Use the painted fabric to build a small, square kite.

Tal Streeter, Verbank, New York

The Original Rice Paper Shirone Six-Sided Roll-up Rokkaku Kite

Join Tal in a review and celebration of the original Japanese bamboo and handmade rice paper tako with cotton line. Participants will build kites, color (optional) original art work screen printed on the skins, and if time permits, view an inspiring video or fly the kites.

Renewing the Pleasures of Paper Kites

Over years of extensive travel throughout Asia and the world to study, observe, and appreciate kites, Tal has developed an extraordinary collection of slides which he will show as he discusses the traditional paper kite styles and uses in various countries.

Considering Two Views

See slides and a video tape of the Desert Kite Festival at Jodhpur/Jaipur and consider two views: traditional, Indian Manjha Patang kite fighting and the developing alternative versions; international, Indian and US sport kite touching.

Dom Jalbert’s Friends

Tal will show slides, review from the manuscript-in-progress and review his work on Dom Jalbert and Friends, Brothers of the Wind, the book he is writing about Domina Jalbert and other significant innovators in mid-twentieth century contemporary kite design.

Bob and Charmayne Umbowers, Gig Harbor, Washington

Henry Wadsworth’s Rotating Box Kites

Complete one (probably even both) of a pair or cleverly engineered, rotating box kites which can fly individually, but counter-rotate outstandingly when tethered to one line.

Mary Yoshimi, Long Beach, Washington


Mary teaches an original kite by W. J. Brick, whose designs are based on observations of birds and aircraft. Each student will make an impressive, well-behaved, single-line soaring kite out of inexpensive readily available materials.

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KiteLife's own Elain Genser, hamming it up, 1995

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Banners welcome conference members to Fort Worden 1994.

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Raffle Room at '96 conference.

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Kitemakers hard at work at '91 conference.

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