Kite Making in Bermuda

by Mary Trott
(British Columbia, Canada)

Good Friday kites in Bermuda...

I am a 68-year-old presently living in Western Canada. The kite tradition in Bermuda is central to my own early kiting experience. Kitemaking is a pastime that is basically seasonal in Bermuda, in the Spring specifically around Easter Weekend. On Good Friday, to be exact. The wind was usually perfect for kiting at that time of year.

In my childhood, my father, a cabinet maker, would salvage orange crates, made at that time of pine, in which the fruit used to be shipped from the United States. He would cut the crates into strips which, with string, were used to construct kite frames. Little bundles of 12 strips, each about 24 inches(60 cm)long - enough for three basic Bermuda-style four-stick kites, were sold from his workshop, other similar workshops, and in retail stores. The frames were covered with multi-colored patches of tissue paper to produce a light, buoyant kite with a "headstick", "hummers", a three-string bridle, and a long tail for stability. They were flown traditionally on Good Friday.

The tradition started in the 1800's and grew, we are told, out of a Sunday School teacher's lesson on the Resurrection. He took his students out on a windy hill and flew a kite in the form of a cross. When the string was cut, it continued to ascend.

In our neighborhood we vied for the most beautiful, the noisiest, the largest, the smallest, and the highest-flying kites, and when one awoke on Good Friday one would think that a hive of bees had collected outside, due to the noise from all the kites in the air, humming in the breeze. The "hummers" - essential features on a Bermuda kite, filled the air with sound all day.

In our home, the tails, used for stability, were made out of my Dad's cast-off neckties, strips of old clothing, and old sheets. It was a magical time.

Because of this background, store-bought kites never held much appeal for me, and most children acquired basic kite-building skills through making their own kites.

The art is waning today, however, as families spend time watching TV, or on computers, or playing video games, and of course there are all those imported factory-made kites to buy!

There are sites on the Internet showing resources for Bermuda kite construction. Look specifically for sites with these words in the title.

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Bermuda Kites
by: Anonymous

I have been making them for some time. They are high altitude and fly well. I do not see them at many Kite Festivals.

Great post
by: Tim Parish

Thanks for educating us all about Bermuda kites...

It's true that a lot of kites are sold these days, as opposed to being made at home. But kite-making is far from dying out - most people coming to this site are interested in making their own, judging by the keyword searches that bring them here. Long live homemade kites - Bermuda-style or otherwise!

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Sea-sick Barn Door Kite

    Jul 28, 14 05:06 AM

    This was an experiment with mounting a camera directly onto the kite. With winds gusting to over 30kph up high, the Fresh Wind Barn Door kite was selected...

    In a word, it was tricky. I mounted the camera as close as possible to the center of gravity of the kite, but it still ended up quite a few cm closer to the trailing edge than I would have liked. It was only practical to mount he camera - on its bendy tripod (!) - near the diagonal spars crossing point. Electrical tape secured 2 short tripod legs to the diagonal spars, holding the camera upright with the kite sitting on its trailing edge.

    It was a struggle to get enough lift to gain much height, and the kite swung dangerously from side to side. Might try the drogues next time! I did my best to urge the kite higher in mid-swing.

    Eventually, for a few seconds, the kite got to around 100 feet on almost 200 feet of 200 pound Dacron.

    A video clip will of course be forthcoming on Facebook. And only seasoned kite fliers will bother watching it all the whole way through, possibly wrestling with sea-sickness all the while. Hence the title of this post. Still, it was an interesting, if slightly nerve-wracking, outing! At shoulder level, the breeze measured around 9kph gusting to 18.5kph. Some low cloud over the hills was absolutely tearing along, perhaps up around 40kph.

    Huge Homemade Kites And Aerial Photography: This is often the topic for posts which appear here. New things are always being tried so sign up for my newsletter to stay right up to date with the latest developments!

    Read More







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