Another year, another Fort Worden Kite Conference. This was my 9th time. I haven’t missed a single conference ever since I came to the US, it’s such a great event. Yes, overall attendance was a bit down again this year; but a smaller event has the advantage of being more intimate and social. And we were still able to bring in some new instructors as well as first-time attendees.
We ended up hosting one of the international instructors for a couple of days prior to the conference: Rainer Hoffmann from Husum (near Hamburg). It was his first trip to the US and I think he enjoyed every minute. He’s a really nice guy – fun, enthusiastic, and open to any new experience; and a fantastic kite builder (multiple German national champion, in fact).
The workshop offering was excellent – there were definitely more great workshops than I could fit into a 3-day weekend. I ended up settling for 2 kites that I had seen at the 2008 conference that had really appealed to me. Cliff Quinn’s Modern Marconi and Carl Longbottom’s Swan.
Not everything is carbon and ripstop – the conference also honors the origins and traditional materials of kiting. Greg Kono from Seattle put an interesting twist on this: instead of Japanese Washi paper he uses industrial coffee filters and frames them in the traditional manner with split bamboo. The colors are dazzling and unique – the result of a japanese dying technique in which the paper is folded and dipped into water color to achieve a sort of tie-dye effect.