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.

You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...

For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!

So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.

And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Box Kite Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 16, 14 05:51 AM

    A recent bout of sickness has left me with double vision for a while, which rules out driving the car anywhere. So it was time for a return visit to the small grassy reserve where many of the 1-skewer designs made their debut years ago. The easy walking distance from home was the main thing!

    Looking out the window, the breeze shifting the tree tops around seemed capable of supporting the Dowel Box kite. The Fresh Wind version with its smaller sail panels. Sure enough, down at the reserve, the kite managed to grip enough air around 50 feet to stay up fairly comfortably. A couple of times I had to interrupt some movie-taking to coax the kite higher as it threatened to sink right back to the grass.

    After 20 minutes or so of flying near the lower end of the kite's wind range, a period of fresher breezes began. In the somewhat sheltered location where I stood, the wind meter showed around 8 kph gusting to over 12 kph. However, the breeze was clearly over 20 kph higher up. The firm pull on the flying line was one indication!

    Isolated rain showers had been forecast for the area, so fairly low cumulus clouds were everywhere. No rain had fallen all day in our suburb though.

    The cloudy sky-scape made for some attractive footage of the 2-celled Box surging about in the gusts, lulls and wind-shifts. Due to the small size of the reserve, it was wise to not let the kite fly on more than about 45m (150 feet) of line. But that was enough to let it take full advantage of the moderate-strength (20kph+) airflow over the treetops.

    So, some enjoyable box kite flying today, with the 50 pound Dacron feeling like thread compared to the 200 pound variety with which I do most flying these days!

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More





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