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Build Your Own Kite DIY

Updated on October 25, 2017
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.

Fun for the whole family

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Kite History

It is believed that kites were flown in China more than two thousand years ago. A Chinese general even used a kite flown over the walls of the enemy fortress to gauge how far his troops would have to tunnel to break through and surprise the enemy to become victorious.

Eventually the kite spread across Asia to India and then monks brought them to Japan were they were flown to ward of evil spirits. Among other things Marco Polo brought kites back to Europe with him in the 13th century, but they were regarded as little more than curiosities.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, kites were used for scientific research. Men like Ben Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell used kites to explore wind and weather and possibilities of airplane flight.

During World War 1 kites were used to observe enemy armies and for signaling. Pilots lost at sea would raise a kite to be more easily spotted and rescued. Ingenious.

North Pole Kite

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North Pole

In the past 60 years kites have been made stronger and lighter but using new materials such as nylon and fiberglass. They are more durable and maneuverable. Hobbyists use them for races and competitions, while the average child still flies them just for fun. They are not readily utilized for military uses anymore but in 1999 a team was pulled to the North Pole using kite power. Fascinating.

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Create and build your own kite.

Materials:

Strong lightweight paper such as wrapping paper, butcher paper, newsprint, drawing paper

Framing sticks (1/8 inch width balsa wood or thin bamboo sticks)

Braided nylon twine for the bridle

Poster paint or colored pencils

Pencil to draw design before painting

White glue

Scissors

Scotch tape

300 feet of lightweight flying line or nylon fishing line

Flying High

Do you like to fly kites? With or without your kids?

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Step 1

Fold the paper in half and draw a diamond or triangle shape for the dragon’s face. The dimensions can be the choice of the individual but it is best not to work too large on the first kite. The suggested dimensions are 18” x 12” (not including the tail).

A “dragon” kite can be anything with a long tail such as a caterpillar, or snake, or flag. If you decide to make a dragon, it doesn’t have to be like any dragon you have ever seen before. Make your own.

A good breeze

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For a “dragon” kite, start with a long piece of paper about 9 feet long and about 12 to 14 inches wide for the tailpiece. The tail can be decorated with paint and then taped onto the kite face or it can be part of the kite face, whichever is the easiest for the artist. The face should be cut in the shape of a pentagon with the point up and the flat side down for the tail. Use bold colors and outline the features of the face with black so it can be seen from far away.

Diagram 1
Diagram 1 | Source
Diagram 2
Diagram 2 | Source

Step 2. Tape the sticks on the reverse side

The face should be painted or decorated before taping the sticks to the other side. Once the face is as desired, tape the stick spar one inch from the bottom edge of the face, then another across the widest point of the pentagon and one vertical from top to bottom as shown in the diagram.

Poke holes for the bridle cord one inch from the top and bottom of the spine and reinforce the holes with tape. Then attach the bridle cord and the towing ring.

Step 3. Test

Test the kite in the breeze for the best possible placement of the bridle ring. In strong winds, it should be moved up a little; in light winds, the ring should be slightly closer to the midpoint of the string.

Diagram 3
Diagram 3 | Source

Trouble Shooting

Have fun flying your kite. If you find that the kite spins like a top in the air, it means the tail is not heavy enough. To add weight you can glue or tape another piece of long paper to it for more length or add another thickness of paper to the tail. If the kite has trouble lifting off, it could mean the tail is too heavy and should be shortened.

Kite-eating Tree

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Beware kite-eating trees

One of my favorite ongoing jokes was the one in the Peanuts cartoons where Charlie Brown is constantly harassed by a kite-eating tree. He could never fly his kite without that tree chomping on it. I had a few run-ins with kite-eating trees myself as a child. So beware. It is always best to find a tree-free zone to fly your kite. One of our favorite places as kids was the horse pasture. You had to be careful of horse droppings or landmines as we called them, but there were no kite-eating trees.

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Memories

The photo was taken in the pasture during one of our kite flying days. In the background you can even make out one of the neighbor boys still running with his kite.

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Hi-flying Comments Wanted

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Then it's time you got in touch with your younger side and fly one again. *smile*

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      I haven't flown a kite since I was a kid. It was really fun.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      I loved making them myself, I think you will too.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      I have to give this a go when my boy is older. Saved to my favourites so I can come back soon. This was very detailed and you make it sound so easy that it's too tempting to not have a go

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Bill, a really good breeze is essential. It just can't be done on a calm day. Thanks for visiting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I like that you gave a history of kites before you began the lesson. Nice touch. This is one of the great regrets of my childhood. I was never able to get the darned things in the air. :)

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Twodawgs, wow. I'd love to see those patterns. Maybe you should consider self-publishing a book or at least write a hub about it. I'll keep my eyes peeled for it!!

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      twodawgs 3 years ago

      I was sooo into making and flying kites as a kid. I took it to a whole new level when I was in college, and started making them out of sewn ripstop nylon and fiberglass rods, and putting on workshops for kids to teach them kite-making. I'll have to publish my patterns one of these days.

      One really excellent material for kids' kites is tyvek. It works just like a lightweight paper, easy to fold, cut, glue, decorate with color markers, etc., but is extremely strong and tear-resistant.

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      twodawgs 3 years ago

      That would probably make good content for a hub, I think. I've got a few other projects going on right now, but when I get a chance, I'll see what I can come up with.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Twenty years ago, i used to fly kites with my hubby, it was fun

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