Ronda Brewer became intimately involved in kiting in 1985 when she went to work at Catch the Wind Kite Shops. Her world of kites greatly expanded from paper Indian fighters, Vic’s Fighters and Grandmaster Fighters to include sport kites: Peter Lynn Stunters, Trlbys, Hyperkites, Peter Powell Stunters, Flexifoils, Windjammers, Hawaiians, Spin-offs and Spiderwings in various versions. And, toss in lots of additional single line kites. She was also involved in the Catch the Wind kite festivals where she initiated the idea of having Kids Kite Making events.
In 1988, she attended her first Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach, Washington where she participated in her first Rokkaku battle. Well, actually it almost turned into a brawl because the rules weren't fully explained on this new event. The announcer got the crowd revved up and before anyone really knew what was happening, there were people joining in from the sidelines. On a positive note, she met Sonny Hamner in the midst of the chaos. It was wild and crazy and most of the participants survived without serious injury. The basics of rokkaku battling appealed to her and she decided she needed to have her own rokkaku to battle with at the next WSIKF.
In 1989, she attended her first kite making classes at the Fort Worden Kitemakers Conference in Port Townsend, WA. Not only was the trip there traveling with George Mauer, Sonny Hamner and Ron Gibian an epic one but her experiences at the Conference would turn out to be life altering. Her main reason for attending FWKC was to participate in Lee Toy’s Samurai Face Painting Rokkaku Kite Kit class. She had no idea taking this class would eventually take her halfway around the world to share her enthusiasm for Rokkaku battling and kite making with kids and adults.
She went home from the Fort Worden Kitemaking Conference to make 25 more sewn rokkakus. Most were used as a fundraiser for the next Lincoln City Kite Festival. She used a few for an art project with local artists. One became the infamous fighting “Taz”. This was her signature battle kite which she used for 20 years earning top honors at various festivals and at the AKA Grand National Championships until it became “lost” on its way back from Gettysburg.
She is a fierce competitor on the rokkaku kite battlefield, where her aggressive and determined style has earned her the nickname “The Taz.” Many competitors have heard her pre-battle words of warning: “I hate to run!!” And during competitions, her no brag, just fact tongue-in-cheek advice is: “In all instances, claim victory!! Let the judges straighten out the mess!!” Her motto is: “I may eventually look my age, but I will never act it!”
Since those early years, she has been invited to countless events throughout the country to fly her kites, run events, judge kite making competitions; or, to teach classes on kite building, knot tying, kite flying, rokkaku kite construction and battle techniques. Additionally, her skills at teaching and leading children in kite making have made her a favorite attraction at festivals all around the country and abroad.
In 2016, Ronda was commissioned to build three memorial kites. The Tametomo was a collaborative project between Ronda and her husband, Lindsey Johnson, which was developed from a basic design concept with elements from the noodle, the edo and comet tails. She had just enough of the background fabric, that she had won in a raffle, to build four kite sails. Lindsey designed 3D printed parts and sparred the kites. Ronda chose to use a cascading bridle to enable quick and easy flight angle adjustments.
Over the years, Ronda and Lindsey have collaborated to create many unique and innovative products and kites. In 2004 they launched their company, PhantomStarDesign.com. Their Tyvek no-sew kite kits are used in workshops around the world by school teachers for science and art classes, for corporate team building exercises, by artists, and as individual kite projects for all ages. These kits allow the builder to enjoy the experience of creating their own kite without the need to know how to sew. Their goal is to bring kite making to the masses.
Ronda is a long time member and Secretary of the Associated Oregon Kiters (AOK) and is a long time member and current Secretary of the American Kite Flyers Association (AKA).
Ronda has attended and taught at numerous retreats including the Oregon Kitemakers Retreat, the Ft. Worden Kitemakers Conference, MAKR and the 2019 Keystone Kiters Summer Kitemaking Workshop.