11 Nov 2014

The Lee Toy Award 2014

Nomination letter:

Lee Toy – the name carries the creativity, the enthusiasm, and the sheer joy of life that Leland wore and shared during his much- too-short life. To do anything in his name requires one’s very deep consideration, a direct intention, and a respect to his path – and to his passion. He’s truly a legacy; and this is an award to not be given lightly – without due examination. It demands the respect due to such an incredible spirit as Leland Toy.

A few years ago, I became familiar with the art of a European kite maker. Having been responsible to a specific AKA Region for so many years, I hadn’t travelled to any kiting events outside of the U.S. That, coupled with the fact this artist was based in Europe and hadn’t attended more than a few events in the U.S. over the years, I’d simply not been exposed to his history of kite making or to his art. In addition to the geographical challenges, this particular kite artist is extremely quiet. He’s very humble and unassuming, which means that he’ll never be able to blow his own horn. 

Even questioning him on his achievements over the years as a kite maker is a challenge! The niche he’s carved is quite deep, much deeper than is immediately apparent; but it’s not yet as wide as it should be. You may know his name but, until very possibly quite recently – maybe even at this convention, you may not have had the opportunity to see the depth and the detail of his art.
In the same dear spirit as Leland Toy – the Kite Vagabond, this award nominee possesses that meticulous attention to detail and the determination to share a passion for kite flying; through his art, through his words, and through his actions. A lot of us in this country may not have realized it but, across the ocean, the bar of excellence has been repeatedly raised, and this nominee for this extremely special award has done so… very quietly.
Lee Toy – the name, the legacy, means creativity, originality, dedication, inspiration, innovation, generosity, and humility; a willingness to teach and share, to be innovative, to selflessly promote kiting – technically and artistically. I can think of no better recipient to be honored in his name than kite maker Christian Baden Powell.

For well over 25 years, Christian Baden Powell has been challenging the structures and techniques of kite making and refining the art of appliqué in numerous forms and types of kites. The various venues for his creations have included stunt kites, Suruga Dako, Yakko Dako, and Sode Dako, flowforms, and Rokkaku, to name a few; plus he has an extensive collection of individual freestyle creative designs. In addition to the detail of the varied construction, diversity, and creativity of the artwork and the complications of varied framework; the sheer size of many of his pieces is absolutely staggering. This inventory is expansive and quite impressive, and may be sampled at his web site (www.levitor.de).
But wait – there’s more…
He recreated a specific modification to the classic Rokkaku. Earlier, I mentioned his generosity and willingness to share both the technical knowledge and the art of kite making. Within his appliqué blog (www.levitor-kites.blogspot.de), he included extremely detailed, step-by-step, illustrated instructions – including all technical specifications and measurements, and even the materials inventory and supplier recommendations for his appliqué technique. This tutorial opened the door for him to institute an easily accessible on-line workshop for his creation, which has come to be labelled the “CBP Rok”. Therefore, he was – and IS – able to share his knowledge freely, with no regard for compensation or notoriety. This distinctive Rokkaku feature incorporates a unique three-point bridle and four spars, two of which are diagonal. This particular type of framing allows for more airborne manoeuvrability.

To be nominated for the Lee Toy Memorial Kite Artist of the Year is quite an honor; it’s an honor shared with many other prestigious artists. Neither the award, nor the nomination, are to be undertaken without due consideration of the person, the legacy, and the honor. I’ve given that consideration to this nomination. I see that same spirit and dedication that Leland Toy carried, and bestowed. The same level of enthusiasm and creativity; the meticulous attention to detail; the innovation and the joy; the stern determination; the unselfish generosity; the challenging originality; and even the humility… they’re all apparent in Christian Baden Powell.

Nomination submitted by Gayle Woodul (AKA 117718)

Endorsed by:
“I’m delighted to add my endorsement to this nomination.  I’ve been impressed with Christian for several years now via Facebook. The time lapse appliqué videos and Roc workshops are wonderful, and certainly demonstrate his willingness to share new ideas. It takes a lot of hard work and time to share techniques long distance. It’s obvious that he loves kites and the kite community.”
- Alexa King

Keith Boxall
Peter Hulcoop
Mel Hickman


6 Nov 2014

Christian Baden Powell is a well known kite builder, not only in
Germany. His kites are just wonderful and it is not a big surprise,
that Christian won several kite championships. This timelapse shows
Christian when building his "Flaming Skull".

18 Oct 2014

Taranis - A kite is born.

It was toward the end of the last century, an image in an airbrush magazine caught my eye, very strong, very powerful and I imagined how much better it would look on a kite.
Many thoughts went into how this should be constructed, how the appliqué should be done, and what size the finished kite would be to accommodate the necessary detail.
The image was scaled up using a grid, square for square it was enlarged,
I envisioned a kite made out of three circles containing ten panels, this design being something completely new, at least for me…Having cut out and sewn two of the panels,Taranis went into hibernation… the time was not right, other things took priority.

Now, it is the year 2014…resurrection, time for Taranis to come out of hibernation, the moment is right!

Having found all the drawings, and then getting an overview of the thought processes that I had at that time, I found that the enlargement from days gone by were not complete. This is something to be considered at a later date, there was still enough to begin.

Colours to be cut out…

Pieces to be put together…

Pieces to be sewn…

… and the back cutting…

Panels have to be joined…

Getting the missing drawings completed…

more sewing…

... and…
a bit of sleeving…

... almost done, just a few tails to be sewn…

... and the date is… 05.09.2014!
Tomorrow, Gayle and I drive to Dieppe, Capital du Cerf-volant, one of the world’s largest kite festivals. Okay… "Bound to be able to find some corner to get the rest done"… I thought, hopefully.
After a nine hour drive, we met up with friends in Dieppe, got our hotel room sorted, had a few beers and a bit of chill time. The Sunday started, after The Full Croissant, with the parade of the kiters through the streets of Dieppe.
The Monday… it is as it was… I found a corner in the Kite Village restaurant and sat down and got the sparring cut to size.

The Tuesday… got the spars fitted…

… and on the Wednesday…

….time to get the bridle sorted, many thanks to those who put up with my presence in this tent, robbing them of their exhibition area, for me, a perfect area in which to work.

This is all that was left of 100 Meters of bridle line…

...and then, all of a sudden, it was Thursday.

All hands on deck…….Flip-Flops a running….
camera on the go…

Thank you to Barry for the footage, here is the maiden flight from Taranis.

Best watched in full screen & HD

An incredible experience, the years of accumulated knowledge of kite building, the perseverance to get a job done well, the love of the sport that we share, a kite builders dream was fulfilled to the utmost on this morning of the 11.September.2014…

but the story does not end here…

After a successful maiden flight, admittedly with almost zero wind, the bridle had to be tweaked to gain more stability in the higher wind speeds forecasted for the rest of the day in Dieppe…

… and for the forthcoming competition “la luminescence".

Due to the strong gusts, which had already caused a few minor damages to Taranis, it was decided not to fulfil the criteria for said competition.

That did not hinder François from Cerf-Volant Club de France from presenting Taranis with the title:
"Coup de coeur".

Well, Taranis does pack up into a neat package to travel with.

Did I mention travel?
Three and a half hour drive, nine hour flight and another six hour drive and we are in
Nag's Head, Outer Banks, North Carolina...Yeah!!
Hosting this year's American Kitefliers Association Grand Nationals.
Taranis is to be a part of a kite exhibition held in the ballroom of the Comfort Inn...

... also participating in the competition for "Bowed Kites" and has to undergo the scrutiny of the judges...

... which also includes a flight demonstration at a height of 100'.

A perfect Ground Crew: Gayle, Steve and Cass helped with the launch, dodgy at best, because the wind speeds had caught up...

... and it was either fly or fold!
The 8mm horizontal spars had been replaced with 10mm and extra tails were added to compensate for the higher wind speeds...

Perfectly commented by Kevin: "The kite was anchored for the full height and then staked again at the bridles. The ground crew held it steady for initial launch. Then when Christian was ready he unhooked the bridles and allowed it to climb. It was a good plan for limiting damage should the wind prove to be uncooperative".
Taranis rose to the occasion and also raised the bar of my achievements.

Best watched in HD

AKA Kite Making Special Awards:
2014 Craftsmanship – Christian Baden Powell – Taranis
2014 AKA Grand Champion: Christian Baden Powell – Taranis