Ken Conrad
Seattle, WA














­I have had the good fortune to live a life in kites and kite flying. Like many kids of the 1950’s I made and played with kites. In the 60’s I moved to Seattle, WA to attend the U of W and eventually I fell in with some amazing Seattle area kiters. In the early 70’s we started the Washington Kitefliers Association. About then, I began to eke out a living as a kite maker – selling kites at street fairs and teaching kite programs. In 1976 I bought a struggling kite gallery, renaming the shop Great Winds Kite Shop and turned it into a full service kite business. In ‘78 Suzanne Sadow walked into my shop and life and in time she became my kite partner and wife. 1982 - 83 I served on the board of the AKA then led by president Jack VanGilder in Seattle.  In 1983 I was a founding member of the Kite Trade Association (now KTAI) and served on that board for 6 years. In 1985 I attended the second Weifang China kite festival as part of the US delegation. There I started to develop relationships with traditional Chinese kitemakers whose kites I imported to the US for 15 years. In 1993 Suzanne and I joined with friends to form the curriculum committee for the Fort Worden Kitemakers Conference, serving in the group for 13 years.

In 2000 we decided to close the kite shop, relocate Great Winds Kites and devote most of our energy to manufacturing and selling our Tyvek kite kits, which we continue to do. While establishing our kite making workshop, I acquired equipment and learned the craft of heat transfer digital printing onto fabric. Since then we have printed custom fabrics for a host of artists and kite businesses along with sails for our own kites.

I have taught kite classes at the Ft. Worden Kitemakers Conference, Oregon Kitemakers Retreat, World Kite Museum and in many schools and institutions. Now I find reward in enabling my kite making students to express themselves using their own digital art.

Besides the unending joy that comes with flying our kites in a nice breeze, I’m happy when inventing and tweaking kites to fly better and more reliably. When time allows, I like to do kite aerial photography using custom built kites and rigs. When not kiting, I love creating fractal patterns and tinkering with early digital electronics to upcycle for reuse in techy amusements.

 

-Ken Conrad