Making Chinese Kites

It's Hard To Find The Real Deal

There's plenty of general info on making Chinese kites, if you browse around the Web. Like, you need some bamboo and a sheet of paper, nylon or silk! But strangely, no-one seems to have published any in-depth step-by-step guide to making authentic Chinese kites.

Just about everything relates to simple classroom exercises where children make 'Chinese-style' kites from straws and paper and so on.

Oh! Look at little Johnny's finger-painted Chinese kite! Plenty of school teacher material but very little for someone who wants to re-create the real thing. Me think it 'mazing. :-/

If you're really serious about making Chinese kites, maybe try asking around in the Chinatown section of your nearest big city, and apprentice yourself to a master kite maker. If you can find one. ;-)

Giving up? Look at this Large Chinese Gold Fish kite on Amazon, or something similar. Attempting to re-create one of these would probably be an excellent exercise. Holding a sliver of bamboo over a jet of steam is the way to form permanent bends.



What I can share with you are the 4 stages to making real Chinese kites. A typical paper flat kite would use this procedure, for example a butterfly kite.

Firstly, some suitable lengths of bamboo need to be selected. I went to a kite festival recently, and some Taiwanese guys from the Yinlin Kite Club were using Taiwan Makino bamboo. The bamboo is pared off with a sharp knife, thin enough to flex to the required shape or outline of the kite. The kite frame is made by gluing or otherwise attaching together a number of bamboo strips.

Secondly, paper is cut to shape and pasted onto the frame. Not just any paper, it has to be 'tough and thin with even and long fibers'. Probably not available from your local Newsagent!

Thirdly, the paper is hand-painted with the desired design. Some designs also call for chiffon or cotton ribbons to be attached. Either purely as decoration or for a tail in some cases.

Fourthly, the bridle needs to be made and attached to the right spots. If you have made other kites before, a little experimenting should result in a happily flying Chinese kite!

Many Chinese kites use nylon cloth, while the best and priciest use silk cloth.

Imagine being involved in building a big dragon kite. Although they come in a large range of sizes, the construction method is pretty much the same. A complex 3-dimensional head plus a looooooong stack of simple flat kites that give that 'centipede' look when high up in the air. Sorry I don't have any dragon kite plans to offer here just yet.




E-book special of the month (25% off)...

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 120cm (4 ft) tall Parafoil kite. This 4-cell kite performs best in gentle to moderate wind speeds. That's 12 to 28kph or 8 to 18mph. Even in light winds, this kite will hang in the air, although at low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parafoil kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.



What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Multi-Dowel Rokkaku Dusted Off

    May 26, 17 01:32 AM

    Having flown nothing for a while and with winds rather light - or so I thought - it was off to a field in Noarlunga to fly the big 2.4m span Rokkaku...

    Looking around, the trees weren't doing much so I…

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