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Gettysburg College
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The Japanese Kites of Pete Rondeau

The Japanese Kites of Pete Rondeau

Main Floor, Harner Room, Browsing Room
July - December 2006

Pete Rondeau
Kite

Made by Pete Rondeau, these kites are based on traditional Japanese designs, using both ancient materials (bamboo) and recent technological advances in carbon rods and nylon fibers. His meticulously crafted pieces have won many awards, culminating in his selection as Grand National Champion in 1997 at the American Kite Association in Wildwood, New Jersey. Rondeau won with a brilliantly colored 32-foot-long dragon-headed centipede, which has fondly become known as "Elvis". This kite, along with several others, will be on display in Musselman Library.

 

Artist's Statement

I was originally attracted to kites while vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland, during the early 90's.  At the time there was huge popularity in stunt or 'sport' kites as they now prefer to call them.  The kites were rather expensive though and looking at the materials involved, it seemed like I could just as easily build them myself.  So, I purchased some materials and then realized I had no idea how to sew or lay out a sail or pretty much anything else involved in making a kite. So, we backed up a step and bought a kit which took all but the sewing aspect out of the equation.  I handed this off to my wife.  This was a fairly simple kite and didn't do any tricks but it was a good first step to build on.

 Kite
Kite

Sometime later we were in Lewes, Delaware, and happened to come across a kite festival where we decided to enter our kite.  Surprisingly we won a trophy on our freshman attempt and from there I was hooked.  I taught myself to sew and attended every gathering of kite builders I could find.  My initial fascination with sport kites faded as my interest in making more and more elaborate single line competition pieces grew.  It became a rather all encompassing past time requiring hundreds of hours on some of the more elaborate pieces. I believe it was a natural fit for me, there are many different disciplines involved from engineering to craftsmanship to art.

I eventually settled into a niche where I built traditional Asian style kites but used modern materials.  All of my kites are made from ripstop nylon or ripstop polyester fabric on frames of fiberglass or carbon fiber with custom machined fittings.  These materials make them much less fragile than the original kite designs they are based on.

Pete Rondeau
Kite

If you approach a kite as two different entities, the graphic on the sail and the style of kite, you are then free to mix and match from various viewpoints. I have used traditional quilting techniques on Asian style kites, applied original fantasy artwork to very traditional designs as well as just reproducing ancient kites with their original artwork. Some of my inspiration has come from stained glass work, Amish quilting and the works of the master Japanese kite builders of long ago.  I particularly enjoy the challenge of trying to capture in fabric the intricacies of what would have originally been done with one stroke of a paintbrush.

Kite Exhibit - Musselman Library

I'm currently employed as a computer programmer for a company that builds industrial wood working equipment.

Pete Rondeau

 
 
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