Fall is The Perfect Season for Kite Making!
There’s something really soothing about flying a kite. It takes a little effort—and a little wind—to get it flying, but once it’s up there it can be smooth sailing for a while.
This handmade kite is pretty easy to make, and can be made out of anything that can be cut with scissors: paper, plastic, or fabric. For a really durable kite, use rip-stop nylon. I used what I had on hand: a very cheap plastic tablecloth, some patterned brown craft paper and masking tape.
The kite frame is made of two 36″ dowels, 5/16″ thick, cotton twine and wood glue.
Cut a foot off one of the dowels so it’s 24″ long. Reserve the cut end.
Cut a 1/4″ notch into the end of each dowel.
Measure a foot down on the longer dowel and mark it with a pencil. Using wood glue, glue the shorter dowel in the center at the mark, and then secure it by wrapping the cotton twine around a few times.
Cut a piece of cotton twine long enough to run around the perimeter of the kite. Tie a knot in one end and wedge it into the bottom notch of the kite frame.
Run the twine around the kite, wedging the twine into each notch. Make the kite’s bridle—the thing you will tie your kite string to—by wedging another piece of twine into the top and bottom of the kite frame. Tie a loop near the center of the bridle.
Use the kite frame as a guide to cut the material for the kite. Since I’m using two different materials, I made the plastic tablecloth a couple inches larger than the kite frame, so I have excess to wrap around the edges.
When wrapping the edges, make sure you make a slit in the top and bottom so the bridle will move freely.
Glue the wrapped material to secure. To further strengthen the kite, and to make it look a little neater, add a strip of masking tape. Tie a kite string, or the remaining cotton twine to the kite. Use the reserved dowel piece as a handle for the twine.
How to fly the kite:
A kite needs at least a 5mph wind to stay up—look for blowing tree branches. If wind is more than 25mph, you may want to avoid flying a paper or thin plastic kite because it may get damaged. However, a kite made from the rip-stop nylon will probably be fine, but it will be challenging to keep it from dipping and crashing.
Have your back to the wind. Hold your kite at the bridle point and let the line out. If the wind is just right, your kite should start to rise. Sometimes, the kite needs a little help, so you may need to jump start it by running with it behind you.
Let the kite fly away a little by letting out some of the kite string. Keep letting out the string to let the kite fly higher and higher.
Make sure you fly your kite in a clear area away from trees and power lines.
If the kite begins to dip, tug on the string or run a little to stabilize.
When finished flying the kite, slowly start to pull it in by wrapping the string around the spool. It helps to have a friend catch the kite, so it doesn’t crash to the ground.
Have fun flying your kite!
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