Drachen Foundation Newsletter: May 2008

New Publication Coming in June

The Drachen Foundation is happy to announce that there is another interesting in-depth and exciting online publication on its web site. "Discourse: from the end of the line," is the Drachen Foundation’s successor to its Journal. Having published the Journal for almost ten years, the Drachen Foundation is bringing this new format to its loyal readers, to focus more thoroughly on single topics and to offer more quality imagery on kite subjects.

We hope to bring fresh insights, as well as spark active discussion on a variety of topics. We invite reaction, feedback, and constructive criticism both on our own website and through the sites of our writers. For more information, contact discourse@drachen.org

We would also like to introduce our new editor, Katie Davis.

A native of the Northwest, her personal and professional wanderings brought her to the attention of Drachen.

Coupling her education and professional projects in media/film, and her keen ability to put keyboard to written words, her refreshing ideas and edits made her the likely candidate to work with the tethered mind of our board president, Scott Skinner.

Enjoy the mix of efforts and don’t be afraid to email her on your kiting thoughts! discourse@drachen.org


The Ingredients for a Successful Kite Workshop Tour Throughout the United States

One traditional Japanese kite maker:
Nobuhiko Yoshizumi

Funding sources to support the tour:
Utah Arts Council
State of Washington
Japanese Gardens of Portland, Oregon
Whidbey Island School Parents
Tieton Arts and Humanities
Islandwood Environmental Center (Bainbridge Island)

Materials for Classroom kites:
estimated need of 6,000 kites

4 week period tour, 8 months of pre-programming

Transportation/room and board:
hotels, family stays

Kite Makers accompanying Yoshizumi:
Scott Skinner/ Ali Fujino and Greg Kono

Put all these ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Create and the results:
Kite making experience for over 6,000 people in a four week period which featured:


The Yoshizumi Kite tour started in Salt Lake City Utah, with a week of scheduled kite workshops, lectures and walk-in kite making to celebrate the Japanese festival with the sister city of Matsumoto, Japan. Staged at the new main branch of the public library, residents were allowed the opportunity to attend and participate in several workshops, making Japanese shibori dyed and Koi kites. Our hosts provided the necessary foundation which makes it easy for us to concentrate on the content of the kite making.

Special thanks to Etsuko Freeman and her able and dedicated volunteer staff. While we were there, the staff was trained to go on and carry on a year’s programming and events in the Utah area without our presence.

A special one-day, two session workshop on fighter kites was done by Scott Skinner and Brolly Arts of Salt Lake.


Despite weather conditions, and the two days to get to Dillon, Montana, we were hosted by Eva Mastrandrea, Director of Art at the University of Western Montana. This was an intensive week of university lectures, workshops and exhibitions. We featured two new exhibitions; SkyArt: the works of Yoshizumi, Skinner and Sainz as well as The Artist and the Kitemaker: Nancy Kiefer and Greg Kono.

Our contacts were so pleased with our work in Dillon, that 2009 dates are being confirmed for our participation with the Montana Teachers conferences and the National Art Educators Conference in Minneapolis.

Back to Washington State

Yoshi and Greg Kono worked two days in a school in Eastern Washington, funded by non-profit, Tieton Arts and Humanities. Organized by ESD (Educational School District) and with the help of parents and teachers, we managed to do kite making for 460 students within a two-day period.

Western Washington, Bainbridge Island

Next stop was Islandwood, a non-profit environmental school founded by Aldus software creator, Paul and Laurie Brainard. Using the creative force of flight, Greg and Yoshi help teach environmental concepts with the making of animal kites and bring the appreciation of Japanese style decoration to the sails. Islandwood was so impressed with the use of kites in their programming, that more is planned in the future!

Portland, Oregon

In conjunction with Children’s Day and the Japanese Garden of Portland, funding for Yoshi and Greg to demonstrate and make Koi kites for the public on this day was coordinated with Diane Durston, program director. Over 300 families experienced a no-charge event and koi kites took flight.

Whidbey Island, Washington

Since the grants procured paid for Yoshizumi’s trip to America, we were able to offer his participation to a Washington state school on Whidbey Island for entire week, engaging 500 students in the school. Teachers and parents raised money to cover the costs of the kites, the fees for the kite makers, and housing was provided by homestays with area teachers. The homestays gave forth to some wonderful area artist gatherings, reaching out to more of the community.

Our many thanks to Yoshizumi, giving us four weeks of his time, energy and creative spirit! A special thanks to Scott Skinner and Greg Kono who split the four weeks to accompany Yoshi and give their kiting expertise to the public! And to the $8,000 raised to make this all possible.


The Year of the Rev

After 20 years of successful development, sales and promotion of one of the most “revolutionary” four-line kites. It seemed only natural that we document this history in celebration.

The annual Japanese Kite Association’s meeting seemed like the place to start, and the iquad team from Revolution Enterprises, went to Japan.

The Rev’s iquad flying team, took to the sky in Aormori and Uchinada Japan. Endless hours of free lessons to learn to fly the Rev, thrilled Japanese visitors to the festivals, followed by a precision team flying. Creating history is making something special happen, and then documenting it. A Drachen film team recorded the flight of the Revs and the people who fly them, we will post film clips on our web coming soon.

There is still time for you to join us in becoming Rev history, join the team in Portsmouth and Bristol England, on August 22-24 and August 28-31


Tracking Down History

The email came in late one night, December 19, 2007. It was from kite enthusiast and collector, Michael Hagen of Chico, California. It was a community email, sent to the three directors of kite museums. It read:

“I have been approached by the family of Edna May Sauls, wife of Honea ‘Harry’ C. Sauls the developer of the Sauls Barrage kite used during WWII to protect ships from aircraft attacks. Mrs. Sauls has stated she thinks it might be fun to sell Mr. Sauls collection of sketches, manufacturing plans and all the other papers he had saved through his 40+ years of experimenting with kites. I would love to have these myself, but they would then be accessible to only a few people again. I have suggested that they might be able to donate them to one of the non-profit kite museums or information repositories and maybe obtain a tax write-off for some family member of greater valued then a sale of the materials on eBay.”

At this time, no one knew the extent of the collection.

Excited about the possibility there was still some stories, documents and history left of Harry Sauls to be recorded, I could hardly wait until the next morning to make a call to Michael Hagen. Unfortunately, I miss calculated the time and called him at the dawn’s crack, 6:45am! A friendly woman answered the phone and assured me that she would find Michael and give him my number.

As a veteran collector and preservationist of history, (I started working for the Smithsonian when I was 19), I realized that wasting time is one’s worst enemy in the preservation of anything important. Quickly calculating Mrs. Sauls age, I realized at 95, she could be gone in a day or week or month. If any of the three museums were interested in investigating what possibly could exist of Harry’s kiting archive, it had to be done quickly.

Since Michael was the contact to Mrs. Sauls through her nephew Ronn, it was up to Michael to talk with him and explain that Drachen was interested in interviewing her and viewing Harry’s archive. Michael had met Ronn through his local bank, and over conversation he discovered that Ronn had an “interesting kite relative.” That relative was Harry Sauls.

Michael was extremely committed to getting the collection, with the consent of the Sauls family, to that of a public organization. After being a part of the largest kite auction in 1996, and watching how bidders took apart the world’s most singly held kite collection of Samuel Franklin Cody and scattered it all over the world, keeping history in one place and making it accessible to all was the most important focus for Sauls or any collection.

Many, many emails were exchanged over the month of December, and although everyone was interested and agreeable to a meeting, the winter holidays made scheduling impossible. It wasn’t until mid January that an appointment could be made.

Michael was the most dedicated of all involved, working through four people (including myself) to get a date secured.

Presenting all my credentials and Drachen’s intent, a meeting was scheduled for early February. For Drachen it meant a flight from Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA, then a one-hour drive north to Yuba City.

The Encounter with Living History

I met Michael Hagen at the home of Edna May Sauls nephew and setting up a video camera, we taped an hour and a half interview. Edna was incredibly sharp and articulate, able to recall most of the life she shared with Harry, and in doing so, detailed the character of a man who in his life, did something extraordinary. It is this oral history interview that gives life to that of Harry Sauls. Through the last 4 decades, we have been able to document his success with the barrage kite, but little was known about the personality and character of the man who designed and built the barrage kite.

For many years, we’ve known Harry Sauls to be:

The designer of the naval Barrage Kite, who died of a heart attack on December 2 nd, 1988 at the age of 90 in North Miami Beach Florida. He was born and grew up in a large family in North Carolina. His formal education was brief, but his natural mechanical abilities were considerable. After his discharge from the Marines in 1920, he raised poultry in California and hung around the car races in Los Angeles, where balloons carried advertising banners. He noticed that they would go down in heavy winds, just when the crowds arrived and decided the cure was a kite. “Having built kites all my life since a kid, I decided to give it a try.” He based his design on examples seen at the Smithsonian. After much work and many mistakes, he developed his methods and began advertising for Carroll’s Follies, Silver Foam Soap, 7-Up, and others. He employed 16 people and 7 sewing machines. The Sauls kite underwent extensive testing by the Navy before it was adopted in 1941 to fly from ships on cables to ward off enemy dive-bombers. The Sauls Vangrow Company was formed in Dayton, Ohio to manufacture the kites. The Navy ordered 3,300 of them at a total cost of $543,000. Production ran from February 1943 to January 1945. The Sauls VKS-1 was 10 feet x 14 feet x 27 feet and used 24 yards of 35” waterproofed cotton over spruce spars and weighed 21 pounds. In 1942 he married Edna May White and in 1946 they moved to Florida where Harry helped engineers survey the North Miami Beach area. Harry then went into building and real estate. He also kept tinkering with kites, and became one of the first members of AKA in 1964. He was active in the Gold Coast Chapter of the AKA along with Jack Aymar, Dom Jalbert, Odell Miller and Walter Scott. He was featured on the cover of Kite Tales (predecessor of kites Lines) for two successive issues in 1966.

In 1983, the Maryland Kite Society awarded Sauls their Honorary Order of the Kite Award for his Naval Barrage Kite, ‘thought to be one of the most important military uses of a kite.’ Notes from conversations then show both the achievements and the modesty of Harry Sauls, who said, ‘I’ve never gone into kites scientifically. I just know I can build a good kite and I do it and that’s it.’ Sauls is survived by his wife and by the trees and flowers of the Harry and Edna May Sauls Park a block from his home.

- Valerie Govig, Kite Lines Magazine, Summer 1989 (Vol. 7 No. 3)

Harry was the true “tinkerer,” one who dreamed out loud and in real-time. He built what he “thought,” inventions which ranged from a special hospital bed, to that kite which was known as an anti-aircraft device flown from merchant ships in World War II.

He held many professional jobs, but his favorite one was his days working about the house “building things.” Edna’s interview gives her own loving perception and account of how she didn’t mind working in order to support Harry and what he did best.

Judging from the sound of her voice, it told me how much she loved and care for this man, and even though some of his ideas did not bring forth much to their account, she knew and appreciated that this is what he did best. She spent her entire life supporting his efforts, and this is why living history is important.

Edna gave to the Drachen Foundation an album of what she personally felt was a profile of Harry and their life together. This collection of photographs is being scanned and entered into the Drachen database and will be released on our web site by the end of the year.

The connection with the kite community has been made and in time, Edna will go through her belongings and perhaps will bring to public light more documentation on Harry’s work.


Two for the Price of One!

Margaret Greger, named American Kite Magazine's 1996 Kite Person of the Year, has taught kitemaking for over forty years and now concentrates on teaching others to both enjoy and teach kitemaking. Her instructions for fabric kites range from the simple Square Kite to the complex Flow Form.

Her step-by-step instructions to make her 39 paper, plastic and fabric kites are a must for any kite enthusiast, and tips on how to conduct kitemaking classes for all ages. Everything you need to know about materials, work site arrangement, flying, safety, history and science. The fabric kite instructions are logically sequenced and, step-by-step, will lead the kitemaker to successful kites.

Now at Drachen’s online store you can purchase both of Margaret’s books for the price of one! Kites for Everyone AND More Kites for Everyone.


Oaxaca's Day of the Dead Takes Flight

The Spirits and Kites will fly in honor of the 20th anniversary of Francisco Toledo's Art Foundation, IAGO And the 10th anniversary of the St. Augustine Paper Factory.