Montpelier, Vermont - July 25, 2011
He's no Mary Poppins, but he's still blowing people away with his kites.
Jim Thompson made his first kite when he was in his 20s teaching art. But he put his brushes down until this past March when he hurt his neck and had to retire early due to medical reasons.
"It strains my neck to watch them, so working on them is fine but flying them is more difficult than it should to be," Thompson explained.
Now out of work, this kite-lover makes extra money by selling beautiful hand-painted, handmade kites. Thompson's kites have a common theme-- animals. But says he'll paint anything as long as it has eyes.
"I like the faces. I like the eyes looking back at you," Thompson said. "When they're flying they just take on life and they're looking back at you and you actually develop this relationship with them."
Thompson sells the high-flying art in places like the Uncommon Market in Montpelier.
"The nice thing is that I'm not competing for wall space because they can hang them on the ceiling or elsewhere," Thompson said.
One of his favorites is a dog by the air conditioner.
"He's constantly wagging, 'take me out, take me out, take me out,' so it's just great," Thompson said.
A photographer himself, Thompson uses as many of his own pictures as he can. The rest he mixes and matches from photos he finds. He says he gets inspiration from everywhere and everyone. He prints the pictures on a grid and then uses acrylic paint to bring the kites to life.
Jim Thompson: So far, no one that I know has flown one of these.
Reporter Gina Bullard: That was my next question-- can you fly these?
Thompson: You can fly them. They're designed to fly.
So, we, of course, had to give it a try. And after a few of them in different locations-- success!
A Vermont product soaring to new heights.
The kites start at $75. Thompson also takes orders for custom kites. Click here to visit his website for more information.
Gina Bullard - WCAX News
PO Box 4508