This year, Fort Worden Kitemakers Conference marked its 30th anniversary. After an all-time attendance low last year, it was great to see a lot of new faces. Some of the first-timers were even completely new to the hobby and making their first forays into sewing ripstop kites.
With all our other activities, I rarely get around to building kites at home these days. So I intended to make the most of this opportunity. I signed up for 3 full days worth of classes (compressed into 2 calendar days); and I brought along a kit from last year’s conference, in case there was any time left over.
Everything worked out as planned. As usual, the classes were well-organized and for the most part went really smoothly. I finished up my class kites and spent the evenings working on my kit kite, which ended up 95% complete as well. It was an intense weekend, working from 8am to 11pm – but time just flew by.
Now I just hope we have some nice summer days to go out and fly kites.
3do kite, taught by UK kitemakers Paul and Helene Morgan (AKA Skybums).
I like this kite for its bold and clean geometric look. I’ll admit I didn’t come up with the squiggle design – it’s a Skybum signature pattern.
The black and red combo (sometimes with white too) works really well for kites. It stands out well against the sky. And is evocative of Japanese lacquer ware, which is particularly fitting for kites like the 3do, which are evolved from traditional Japanese designs.
John taught one of the classes I took at my first Fort Worden in 2001 (the Bargello Noodle). He was a natural teacher, and combined an aesthetic sensibility with great engineering skills. He reminded me a lot of my own grandfather. I took his class almost every year.
John tragically died in 2010 while he was developing the Bird on the Wire kite. So it was a very bitter-sweet experience to build the kite this year. But I’m glad I did – what better way to remember John than by flying this awesome kite.
More photos available here.