Updated Thurs., 5/10 – Ed Grys’ interest in kite-flying goes back some 50 years when his father made his first kite for him. Since, Grys has built hundreds of kites and joined others in kiting as a member of the American Kite Fliers Association.
Recently, Grys was elected Region 6 Director for the five-state area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. He is bringing his experience and skill in kite-flying to the UW-Madison School of the Arts in Rhinelander July 22 to 27.
Grys will teach Flying High With Kites, a five-day course that promises to give the students an opportunity to build kites of their own and fly them.
Times have changed since Grys first became involved in kite-flying. “My Dad made a kite for me from wrapping paper, and it didn’t fly very well,” he said. “That was more than 50 years ago.”
“I began playing with (that kite) until I got it to fly. I started making more kites from paper, plastic, and my Mom’s old bed sheets. My Dad helped by making spars from wood boards on his table saw.”
“I also started putting up instrument packages made from old alarm clocks that would drop things like paper airplanes from kites. It was during the time of the first space flights, and so it was an exciting thing for a farm boy to do.”
Major advances in kite technology changed his kite-flying interests during his college years. “In the late 1980’s, things changed in the kiting world,” he said. “The new controllable sport kites became popular and ripstop nylon and carbon spars became the materials used to make kites. Most of these kites were sewn together so I learned to sew and how to decorate kites using applique techniques.”
Two rules govern the making of a kite, Grys said: “It must fly to be a ‘kite’ and the design should look good from 100 feet away.”
Flying High With Kites is a course that caters to both experienced kite-flyers and novices. “If someone just wants a kite to fly, the class is basic and simplistic. If they want to be more creative and add a picture for design on the sail, the class can be as involved and detailed as they like,” he said.
“Sewing skills are helpful but not required. Having a design or picture in mind will save time so the student can concentrate on construction and not spend time trying to decide what they may want to put on the kite. Kite-making is not difficult but can be detailed and tedious if the design is intricate.”
Because certain kite-making materials are required, a materials charge is included for students taking this course.
While the goal of the course is to produce a flyable kite of individual design, Grys says he hopes to introduce the students to kite-flying as a hobby. “On the kite field, it is not uncommon for janitors and truck drivers to be flying shoulder to shoulder with doctors and lawyers. Kids will be there with their grandparents. It is truly an inclusive, diverse sport.”
“I would hope my students will take away a kite or two that flies and that they can be proud of. I also hope they come away with an appreciation for a hobby that allows for building indoors in the winter and flying outside in the spring and summer and that will give them an opportunity to meet some fascinating people at some extraordinary events,” he said.
Persons interested in this or other School of the Arts in Rhinelander courses will find registration information at soawisconsin.com.