Alicja Szalska

Alicja Szalska

Elst, Netherlands (Born Wagrowiec, Poland)

A Yosl Scholarship Instructor thanks to Fly Market Kitemaking Supply

Alicja Szalska

I was born in Poland, where I have spent most of my life. Along the way I lived 5 months in the USA, 2.5 years in the UK, and for the past 2 years I have been living in the Netherlands.

I was raised in a kite family and I literally lived in a kite manufacture, which was founded by my parents in 1989 in cooperation with Michael Steltzer and his “Vom Winde Verveht”, nowadays “Flying Colours” kite store in Berlin. It was the first and only kites manufacture in Poland at that time; my parents thus became the forerunners of a new generation of kites in our country. As a child I flew kites with my family and visited some European kite festivals with them. Since I began to live independently, I always had few kites with me, which I flew occasionally.

Flying and aviation have accompanied me in life in various dimensions. I started my professional life as a stewardess, later worked at an airline customer service, and at Boeing in aeronautical data production department.

2015 turned out to be a breakthrough year. In February in Seville, Spain, during a training for a skydiving license, I met Szymon, my partner, with whom I still share our sky passions.

In August of the same year, on the occasion of the 5th International Kite Festival in Łeba, the kite world I grew up in, revived in me. The following 2 years I was part of the organizing committee of the festival. Since then I got to know closer many international kiters, and I travelled to several kite festivals around the world. In a short period of time love for kites became a way of life.

At first I travelled with kites made by my parents and my brother, and after a while I started to feel a desire to create my own kites.

In the summer of 2017 I spent one week at my Dad’s atelier and participated a private kite workshop with him. And I got hooked from the very first kite I made!

It was the first time I ever sat down at a sewing machine, and it turned out from the spot that I could sew. I believe that watching ladies sewing kites in my parents' manufacture during my childhood has borne fruit.

My first kite was an Eddy with a parachute motif on a white background. The 2 parachutes formed a shape of a heart. The kite was made for the “Love is in the air” theme at Potsdam Kite Festival in September 2017. That first kite is all about love: love to flying, love to kites, and love to Szymon.

One year after making the first kite, I quit my job at Boeing, opened a little Etsy kite shop, and together with Szymon we were focused on various kite activities: kids workshops, lectures, kite festivals, shows, tv appearance, and obviously kite making.

The kites that are created in my atelier are often a combination of modern materials and traditional forms.

The first comes inspiration, a photograph from our travels, a landscape, an image, a piece of art, a color, a shape. Then I arrange in my head how I will combine these images, colors, elements and the shape I will give them. I transfer these thoughts into a graphics software. I print a full size template and then I enter my favorite phase... fabric, scissors, colors, joining, sewing, assembling. It's a meditation, a clearing of the mind. And the maiden flight. Will it fly? Will it fly stably? In a little wind? Does it need a tail? Or will it fly without?

When I look out of the window in the morning I subconsciously concentrate on the leaves of the trees, which indicate the strength of the wind. Me > hand > line > kite: I connect with the energy of the universe ;)

I’ve been AKA Member since February 2020.

Alicja's family is "kite royalty" in Europe. More family information can be found here. Both Alicja and her brother make kites as does her parents. Below is a photo of her dad, her family, and one of her dad's kites!

Alicja Szalska Kite Royalty

Teaching experience

In February 2020, when first two COVID-19 cases were reported in the UK, I had a privilege to run my first kite-making workshop for adults for the White Horse Kite Flyers in Swindon, UK. Few weeks of preparation, efficient correspondence with the workshop organizers, two very emotional days, good food and hard work have led to brilliant results. 15 out of 16 CiQuare kites were completed, kite no. 16 only needed some more sewing on the tail. Among the participants there was one, for whom it was the first kite made by hand and he managed to finish the kite, and the bags as well!

I worked as a business and soft skills trainer for several years in the past, and the combination of my teaching skills and kite making skills seems to be working pretty well, and I very enjoyed it! Definitely a path I want to continue, so I am all the more grateful to be able to teach at U-Make. I’m very looking forward to my American adventure, to meeting you all, exchange experiences and culture!