About us . . . and Gothic Design

Anne & Eric on a rooftop in Ahmedabad, India, January, 2004.

First, a little about us . . .

Anne and I have been together for more years than I care to think about. Anne originally trained as a designer (first in glass!) at the Sheridan College School of Design in Toronto, Canada. I was a member of the collective that ran Guerilla, an underground newspaper in Toronto for a number of years after high school, and then took that experience into a period working as an operator of offset printing presses for various companies.

Anne's interest in design focussed more and more on textiles and the dyeing and printing of them and I was willing to move my interests in graphic design on paper into the world of textiles.We founded Gothic Design as a textile printing studio on April 1, 1976, intitially in the basement of our house on Gothic Avenue in Toronto, but eventually in old warehouse space in downtown Toronto.

Now, about Gothic Design . . . and kites

We initially spent most of our time designing and producing items made by screenprinting textiles that we could then sell on the craft fair circuit in Ontario in the winter, and the folk festival circuit in the summer. We designed and made felt hand puppet kits for children, wall hangings, cloth calendars, silk scarves, placemats, tea cozies and other domestic goods, in fact almost anything using printed fabric other than clothing.

In an effort to find something we could sell in the summer that was instantly usable, I hit on the idea of making kites. After many fruitless attempts to fly test prototypes on the roof of our warehouse, I found the Touch The Sky kite store in Toronto, went in to look at their kites and discovered KiteLines Magazine and the world of kitemakers and fliers for the first time. The first kites we sold were small silk deltas, easy for us to print, but extremely difficult to sew together.

Then I got the copy of KiteLines that had the article "Mastering Nylon" by Bill Tyrell. It had a wealth of information about cutting, sewing and working with ripstop nylon for kitemaking. At the very end, Bill mentioned that he hoped to find an easy way to colour ripstop nylon, but hadn't yet.We, being foolish, wrote a letter to KiteLines saying that we had been screenprinting with acid dyes on silk, but knew that these dyes worked on nylon as well and couldn't see there being a problem.We immediately received a package of ripstop by mail from Bill with his request to try printing on it. We tried it out with some dyepaste we had for silk, it worked, and we got good results that we were unable to duplicate again for five years!

It turned out that the brand of ripstop, what coatings (if any) had been applied to it, and a host of other variables were critical. Bill got his fabric as mill ends and bankruptcy stock, and never usually had the same fabric twice in a row. We eventually found suitable fabric, made many changes to our printing techniques, and got colours we were happy with several years later.

We moved from Toronto to an old turn-of-the-century schoolhouse in a small village in southwestern Ontario that had enough space for both our living accomodations and the studio in 1981. By 1984, when we went to our first American Kite Association convention in Nashville, Tennessee, we were making only kites and kite paraphernalia under our trade name, Boreal Kites, and the rest is history.

A Boreal Kites resume

(major festivals and kite events we have attended)