The first part of the week was very interesting.
Monday it was off to one of the elementary schools to meet up with the YMCA and a spring break day camp. Here Greg Greger talked to the kids about some history and background of kites, and his history and background with kites.
(For those that came in late, as it were, Greg Greger is contributor and photographer of Kites for Everyone and More Kites for Everyone, two books that made his wife “The Kite Lady” Margaret a minor legend in the kiting community and earned her an entry in the International Kite Museum Hall of Fame.)
I’m sorry I don’t have photos of this event (no, the photos I’m using are from the festival that was last Sunday). As this was a YMCA summer day camp, I wasn’t sure if I could get permission. I had to present photo ID just because I was there and my daughter wasn’t part of the day camp. It would have been very nice, however, to take pictures of some of the kites Mr. Greger had, especially since he brought ones I had not seen before, nor have I shown to you, dear readers, before.
About the history he told the children: he told many stories about how kites were used throughout the world.
Kites are used for fishing (especially fishing for deep-sea fishes beyond coral reefs). The kite essentially acts as a bobber and extends the line farther than the fisher can cast. It is a square kite in most instances. When the kite comes down to the water line, it’s time to set the hook.
The one application he mentioned that I hadn’t heard about yet was hunting fruit bats, which reach the size of small breed dogs. Hooks are put on the kite and the line, maybe with a little bait.
He mentioned the fighter kite traditions of the Asian nations, which I know Purplesque has specifically vouched for (in India). Participants use kites of certain shapes and often glue crushed glass to the line, with the purpose of cutting an opponent’s kite out of the sky. The kites are usually flown with two-person teams (one to feed line, one to steer) in excess of 1000 feet, and usually off the top of buildings with flat roofs. Kiters sometimes must be hospitalized after falling off those buildings.
Mr. Greger said that in Pakistan, the government tried to ban kite fighting, because of the dangers of fallen lines. Many get around by motorcycle, and laws already mandate that helmets must include neck guards, because kite lines that have fallen along city streets might cut a driver’s throat.
There are ways to compete in kite fighting without glass shards, but it is harder. Generally speaking, he said, such methods are discouraged in the U.S. anyways.
Here is an example of a fighter-style kite that showed up at the festival yesterday:
As far as Greg Greger’s personal history, he told us that both he and his wife came from Nebraska, originally, where winds are much more constant. The first kite he ever made was a three-stick kite, and I’ll share a photo of one someone made and also flew at the festival:
After learning to properly make and fly this kite design, he was hooked. In Nebraska, he found that he could leave a kite out overnight, and that it would be flying still the next morning.
I told you that he showed us some kites he made and explained a little bit about their construction. The Gregers like to use spinnaker sailcloth, which is used on sailing boats for spinnakers and smaller sail riggings. It is only 0.75 ounces in weight and they especially favored it making kites to fly in our area because of variable, gusty winds. (He did also tell us about how winds on the plains and on the beaches of coastal areas are much more steady by comparison.)
The rest of the week involved kitemaking activities. which I have mentioned previously. He usually teaches the children how to make a Conover Eddy from wooden dowels, a tall kitchen trash bag, labels (or masking tape), and embroidery thread.
Here is the kite I helped Princess make at the CREHST museum: