Drachen Foundation Newsletter: January 2006

Featured Archive Item: The Blue Hill Box Kite

Is a replicate Blue Hill Box kite part of the DF Archive? No. It hangs at the Museum of Science, Boston. But the DF Archive contributed crucially to the kite’s construction, and the experience of Chuck Donaldson illustrates how kite makers can benefit from Drachen’s archive.

Engineer Chuck Donaldson, working with Don McCasland of Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts, had taken on a project: to build a replica of one of the types of kites used at Blue Hill for meteorological data collection and research. Where to turn for help in assuring their work’s authenticity? Don and Chuck began by e-mailing Scott Skinner, DF’s board president, to solicit his ideas. Scott knew exactly where to start, but the resource he suggested was not readily available. Chuck responded, “Scott, you refer to the big book, Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, 1887-1902, as having a lot of specifications for the type of kite that we plan to construct. My problem is that I cannot find a copy of this book. Any assistance that you may be in helping me gain (buy or borrow) access to the data in this book is needed ASAP.”

Skinner knew that the DF Archive had a photocopy of the “big book” (made originally at Harvard); he could even specify the pages needed for the project. He asked the DF Study Center in Seattle to assist. Within a week, Donaldson and McCasland had pertinent photocopies in hand and could proceed with the drafting and construction of the kite on schedule. Two hundred hours of painstaking work later, their replica was mounted in a new Weather exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Science. As for Donaldson, this project is only the beginning. He reports, “I found the patent on the Eddy kite and may build one of those next.”

Link to the DF website for a description of the DF archive and its special collections. Drachen has recently completed cataloguing the books in its archive, and is formatting the information to make it available online.


New at DF Online Store & DF Website

The single most exciting addition to Drachen’s store? Efficiency with quick turnaround, and secure online shopping. And DF Board members Dave Lang and Scott Skinner both invite reaction to their new postings on the DF website.

Among Renea Nielsen’s responsibilities as DF program specialist is fulfilling orders from the online store. She is able to send out most orders on the day she receives them. Now back in stock: Artisti fra cielo e terra, evocative photographs of art kites in flight by Hans Silvester, with introduction by Caterina Capelli (translated into English by Drachen). And don’t miss The Treasured Album of China: Weifang’s Kite Culture, available only in limited quantities and selling fast. You can find hardcover copies of Bolt of Fate at the DF Online Store. 


News for Educators

Drachen has begun to make lessons about kites for K-12 students available on its website. Lessons are keyed to kite templates (free download) or to inexpensive DF kite kits.

First up in a series of kites for free download is the Trépanier Trapezoid. This kite is designed by Canadian kite maker Robert Trépanier; the accompanying lesson plan includes readings for younger (grades K-3) and older (grades 4-8) students and suggestions for integrating this kite with literacy and math activities. Children from Taiwan to Israel have made the Trépanier Trapezoid, and the kite was recently featured in Vlieger 2006/1, a Dutch magazine about kites that is distributed throughout Europe. Click here for the lesson: for primary and intermediate grade levels. Please alert any kite-interested teachers, and use the materials for community workshops. Let Drachen know how they work out.

Planning for next school year? Include the Guatemalan kite making tradition in your class celebration of Day of the Dead at the beginning of November. Kite kits assembled in Guatemala, with accompanying teaching materials, are available through the website and online store. Read more about the 2005 project at schools in Salt Lake City and Seattle, and contact info@drachen.org if teachers in your district have interest in a group training.



DF Board & Staff Notes

At the beginning of December DF Board members Joe Hadzicki, Dave Lang, and Scott Skinner met with Paul MacCready to discuss recent developments in power generation using kites; the meeting was recorded and photo-documented for the DF Archive. Watch for a profile of MacCready and an account of the meeting in Kite Journal #22

At about the same time Martin Lester was observing a workshop to which Drachen had contributed kite making supplies. The workshop, called Tiramisu, focused on creativity in school curricula and was organized by Infinite Arts, in collaboration with Creative Partnerships, both in the U.K. Jose Sainz translated Drachen’s Remembering the Ancestors into Spanish for its school-based Giant Kites of Guatemala project. Having recently retired from his longtime position at Woodland Park Zoo, Keith Yoshida has had more time to advise DF staff on media matters. Stuart Allen, fresh from an exhibit of his photographs at CSU, Stanislaus, California, has pointed DF staff toward a possible photographic resource for its upcoming project about fighter kites. And Bonnie Wright is working with staff media technician Simon Bond to produce a system for wireless data entry of our archival materials. 

DF Administrator Ali Fujino, besides overseeing absolutely all things DF, has been actively conferring with both Lesley Dill of New York, (art kite) and Bruce Lambert, of Yakima, Washington (fighter kite) on kite construction and engineering. DF graphic designer Kiyomi Okawa has finished panels for the upcoming Japanese Kite Prints touring exhibit and for the display of kites at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. DF Educational Programs manager Cathy Palmer got her feet wet at the Taipei County International Kite Festival and is planning for a slew of 2006 pilot projects in schools. DF program specialist Renea Nielsen has spent time out of the office in California, walking the beach with Mike Rymer and preparing for DF’s project with Scott Haefner to commemorate George Lawrence’s famous 1906 KAP photograph of earthquake-ravaged San Francisco. Simon Bond took a break from his studies at University of Washington to record the DF Board members’ meeting with Dr. MacCready. Jeannie Holland has finished archiving the Leland Toy collection and numerous photo files. DF Kite Journal writer and editor Ben Ruhe has just returned from a tour of Eastern Europe (watch for issue #21). Honorary staff member Jack Masashi Fujino has not only helped with a number of DF workshops but has also carried out the once-every-two-year-inventory of DF stock with an industry and grace that no other staff member could have mustered.