Crafting and flying kites brings back childhood memories. It brings back the days when I was just a boy and running the countryside in the beautiful parish of St Ann, Jamaica West Indies. Making bamboo kites is an achievement in the sense that you can make something that really works. It’s a work of art that you can actually enjoy, not like a family heirloom that is only touched once a year when its time to clear the dust.
At age seven I made my first kite from palm stick, plastic bags and from my mom's bed sheets ripped in pieces for the tail. Yes I received several beatings for ripping up my mother ’s bed sheets. At this age my kite’s was not the best design or craftsmanship but they always flew. By age ten my design skills became more refined due to annual kite making and the availability of materials. During each Easter I would make my own kites and fly them during the Easter weekend starting on Good Friday. Kites can be seen in the skies over Jamaica all year but during Easter the skies are filled with the buzzing sound of bamboo kites.
In Jamaica, where I lived for many years, Easter is associated with bun and cheese eating. The Easter Bun is a loaf sized and spicy type of bread. Our minds have tremendous associative power. Easter brings images of kite flying, Palm Sunday processions, Good Friday Fish meals and Jamaican Easter Buns. This is a fusion of my years in Jamaica.
My childhood memory of kite flying in Jamaica was getting up at the cluck of the rooster by sun-up so that we could get a good spot on the hillside where the best wind blew. My mind dredges up snap shots of a stark blue sky filled with many thousands of colorful dots swaying in the Caribbean breezes. There are other shots of long kite tails sky dancing, buzzing falling kites, the thrill of reeling out twine, hoisting kites, tangled twine and listening to your kite singing in the sky.
There was nothing more thrilling than feeling the wind and seeing your kite take off in the wind for the first time, while you let loose of the twine on your reel to see how far your kite can go. Some kites flew so far that you could hardly see them beyond the clouds.
After a weekend of kite flying, we would all look forward to Easter Monday, kite enthusiasts call this day cuttings day. Cuttings day is when each kite flyer strapped halves of razor blades to the tail of their kites in an attempted to sever the twine of another kite while in flight. No one likes to see their kite drift away as the twine is cut by another kite razor tail, but this was all part of a long standing tradition in which your agility and competitiveness was always the real test on Easter Monday.
Many societies claim to be the first kite flyers; China, India and the South pacific islanders are among the most persistent claimers. My grandparents always tell of great kite stories but the most famous kite flying story I know about is Ben Franklin’s experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm. Don’t worry I have never tried it or recommend it, this is a dangerous experiment!
For many years in the United States I would build kites for family and friends who were always fascinated by the craftsmanship and time which was put into the creation of each kite. It was from their inspiration that FLYRINGOKITE was created. It gives me great pleasure to see my creations soaring in the summer skies, enjoyed by all ages.