Drachen Foundation Newsletter: March 2007

New on Our Website

Issue #23 of the Drachen Foundation Kite Journal (Spring 2007) is now online here. Please also check out the DF website for additions of Street/lockhart archive, Kite Sailing Symposium podcasts and more.


News for Educators/DF Kite Kits

New two-in-one kite kits by master kite artist, Nobuhiko Yoshizumi are now available at the online store. See Yoshizumi Two-in-One Kite Kit: A (Rokkaku/Sode) or B (Suruga/Buka). Made of bamboo and washi, these inventive kits are made to provide a choice between two traditional Japanese kite forms. Slightly more complex than other Japanese kite kits, these kites are perfect for upper level students and artists.


The Wind in Our Sails

One of the first questions that arises when one encounters the Drachen Foundation, is “how does it fund itself?” This is an honest inquiry—the Foundation has been fortunate recipient of a few individuals who have made it their responsibility to put the wind in our sails, providing 85% of our funding without much effort.

But this 85% is a gift based on our performance; as a private government recognized educational foundation, we must meet the guidelines and outlines established by our board of directors.

Even with this funding basis, we work to bring in more support, applying for grants that fit Drachen’s goals as an educational institution like the First Step Grant with Lockwood Elementary. As more programs get added to Drachen’s list each year, we look to writing and making more national and international solicitations for funding our archival materials, collection and projects. This outreach is time-consuming and all encompassing, and in the future will play an even more important role in what we need to do to stay in the air.

There are many, many ways we are supported. From those personal supporters (some of whom continue to give to us annually—many prefer to be anonymous and are all tax deductible) from year to year, that wonderful card and check arrives without hesitation.

  • James Allen, a retired New Jersey citizen, has not forgotten us for the last three years. Although we know little about James and his interest in kiting, his personal donation comes without fail each year.
  • The South Jersey Kite Club also finds it in their treasury to send a donation.
  • The Historical Kite Workshop, held in Europe every year, donated the entire proceeds from their bag auction to us for use in educational programming.

The list of generous supporters goes on, and above are only a few; no donation, no support is too small or unwelcome. They are all the type of winds that fill our sails.


Flights of Fancy: Gloria Stuart Project

This January, the Drachen Foundation honored actress, artist, and kite maker Gloria Stuart at a reception held at Los Angeles, California ’s Japanese American Community Cultural Center . There, pages of her newest book handmade book were unveiled to the public for the first time. A labor of love, this book, shaped like a butterfly, has eight pages featuring kites.

Gloria’s life-long love affair with kites has come to life in this new book. With vibrant color, gorgeous imagery and delicious humor, Stuart treats the subject as her own. Several of the pages actually feature miniature handmade kites.

Four of the finished pages featuring the theme of kites have been graciously loaned to the Foundation will travel for exhibition. Gloria qualifies as a living archive and we’re happy to call her a friend of the Drachen Foundation.

Scott Skinner


Archive Item of the Month: Cahiers: Au fil des Vents edited by Philippe Cottenceau

The Drachen Foundation recently placed a database of its library archive online for the public to view. With prized volumes and many information-heavy reference books, easily overlooked in the Drachen Foundation Archive are three small volumes of poetry, prose, and pictures lovingly compiled by Philippe Cottenceau. Cottenceau, who recently passed away, was a celebrated kite maker respected worldwide for his interesting and ephemeral flying creations.

Founder of French kite association, Au fil des Vents, ” Cottenceau worked zealously with the ambition to promote what he sees as a magical object, “with all its rich historical associations and its capacity to inspire wonder.” Through Au fil des Vents, he directed the publication of a semi-regular newsletter recording his and others’ kite research abroad as well as three very special volumes.

The volumes Cottenceau published though Au fil des Vents, “Cahiers: Au f il des Vents ” issues one and two (printed in Cottenceau's native language, French) and the special edition of Au fil des Vents newsletter are composed of insight, historical information and commentary and were beautifully laid out and organized by Cottenceau Philippe.

Fiercely independent, Cottenceau was one of the first contemporary kite makers to really explore the Malay and Indonesian kite traditions and traveled throughout Asia to observe and discover kite traditions. His writing attentively written and carefully detailed, he reported on his travels in addition to revisiting the kite traditions of Europe and presented ideas that pushed others to serious research.

The first issue of Cahiers (February 2002) focuses on kites in China, detailing the rise of this country’s popular tradition, includes a survey of the contemporary kite scene in China, the kites of Lingzhi, and recounts the “Legend of the White Snake.” Delightful annotation and stunning photographs add charm to its elegant layout.

In the second issue (April 2003), Cottenceau and writer Jean –Pierre Ollive focused on the significance of the “pear shaped” kites of Europe. First dated around the fifteenth century, the familiar shape of the pear-top shows up in many parts of Europe and was made of paper, sporting a variety of hand painted designs and motifs.

The volume details the origins of this kite in France and the origins of the art and popular imagery used to decorate them. The full color pages, offered in the center of the book, offer a variety of hand painted and printed designs, displaying gorgeous examples with delightful humor.

Once experienced, the innovative painting and story style of these kites and their decorations are difficult to forget. Sometimes advertising popular products of the time, many times political in nature, many printing companies at the time had produced these kite sails to showcase their printing quality. Occasionally, they will surface at antique book fairs and auctions.

Like the Cahiers volumes, Au fil des Vents’ special edition newsletter is also full of gracefully written information and elegant layout. Offering charming poetry about the appeal of the kite, essays on kites in education, and research of kite cultures in Columbia, Vietnam and Indonesia, each page conveys both the magical allure and seriousness of Cottenceau’s approach to kiting.

Small gems like Cottenceau’s publications are the unexpected treasures of any archive. With Philippe’s passing they become even more treasured.

Scott Skinner


DF Master's Grant Reports

The Drachen Foundation recently announced a Masters Grant to match traditional kite artist Mikio Toki with a contemporary kite artist. Grantee Greg Kono reports on his experience.