I don’t often write about kitemaking per se for Discourse, but I’m going to take the opportunity in order to talk about inspiration, mentors, and kite heritage.
I might have chosen to talk about the paper-piecework fish kites that I worked on for most of last year – certainly, they were an homage to Nobuhiko Yoshizumi, mentor and friend – but I’d like to take the opportunity to go back almost 20 years to a time that I had more patchwork quilt books in my collection than kite books. Having learned by the early 90s that the great benefit of most quilt books was to find a single detail that might be used in a unique way in a kite sail, I found a book that would forever change my approach to patchwork.
Pattern on Pattern by Ruth B. McDowell showed me the power of overlapping and enlarging/reducing patterns upon themselves (out of print, but still available on Amazon). I happened upon a simple pattern that would allow me to make swallow – my word, could be any bird – images within a four-block section of patchwork. What I quickly discovered, thanks to Ms. McDowell, was that the image could be enlarged with a 16-piece section. That meant that I could have a large swallow made up of four less-defined small swallows. My sewing ability was the only limit to what extent I might exploit this technique. (The next multiple is an 8x8 square made up of 64 individual blocks; challenging for the best ripstop sewer.) Some of my first paper kites were pattern-on-pattern, four-block swallow designs.