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. ;-)
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.
Now, here's a few books on making Chinese kites. Mainly kiddie stuff, as I have warned you. :-)
|Title||Kites: Magic Wishes That Fly Up To The Sky|
|Publisher||Crown Publishers, New York 1999|
Re-tells the story behind some kite-flying traditions in China, and talks about the Chinese festival of kites called 'The Double Ninth Festival' or Ching Yang. Also provides simple instructions for making Chinese kites. Definitely kiddie stuff, as you can probably tell from the title!
|Publisher||Foreign Languages Press 2001|
|ISBN Number(s)||7508504151, 9787508504155|
A great book, if you can read Chinese! Actually, it is beautifully illustrated with color photographs as well, a good 'coffee table book'. If you have any Chinese friends, note that it contains a short introduction to the craft and history of kite making in China. Contains instructions for making a Swallow kite. 158 page paperback.
|Title||Chinese Kites: How to Make and Fly Them|
|Author(s)||David F. Jue|
|Publisher||Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1967|
This book about making Chinese kites and flying them is aimed at older children or teenagers. Covers several topics, namely 'The History of Kites', 'Making Your Own Chinese Kite', 'General Techniques', 'Kite Designs and Instructions'. 51 pages, with color illustrations.
|Publisher||Knopf Books for Young Readers 2002|
A 32 page book aimed at young readers aged 3 to 8. It's all about a family bonded by the Chinese tradition of kite making and kite flying. Here's a sample... 'The whole family makes a trip to the local craft store for paper, glue, and paint. Everyone has a job: Ma-Ma joins sticks together. Ba-Ba glues paper. Mei-Mei cuts whiskers while Jie-Jie paints a laughing mouth.'
|Publisher||Tuttle Publishing 2004|
Contains full-color illustrations and photos. An introduction to the art of Asian kite making, via a series of projects, for children. Covers a variety of oriental kites, such as the Butterfly kite from China, the Thai Cobra kite and the Mini Wau kite from Malaysia. Wayne Hosking is a world renowned kite authority, collector and designer.
If you're getting into making Chinese kites I hope you can find something useful here!
Never made a kite?
Child wants one?
Check out the...
MBK Beginner E-course
Are the e-books good?
Find out by trying...
'Simplest Dowel Kites'
(wait for cover page to appear)