Plastic Kites - Safe Decorations?

by Kathryn
(OK, USA)

Q:

I've begun a new venture working with teens with problems who live in a group home. I'd like to attempt some kite-making and kite-flying. I'm hoping to follow your plans for a simple, basic kite.

My question: How can we individualize the kites? Are there permanent markers whose ink won't smear or rub off the plastic with handling? Is it safe to put decorative "stickers" on the plastic, or does that affect their flying? Any ideas you have will be welcome!

Thanks!

A:

Decorating plastic kites is a little more limiting since many of the techniques used on paper or cloth sails won't work on plastic. However, there are a few things that can be done.

Probably the most practical idea is using large permanent markers to draw line-graphics on the kite. Or any design in which the areas of solid color are fairly sparse. Markers are not designed for filling large areas of color! Think 'logo' or 'motif'.

Go to some clip-art sites on the Net for inspiration, searching specifically for 'line art' or 'illustrations'.

Markers designed for laundry use are OK, otherwise, any marking pen with the word 'permanent' will work ok on plastic.

Blick and Sharpie are 2 brands that offer a range of waterproof, solvent-based permanent markers in a range of colors. Perfect for plastic kites! With a little care, you could apply the design after the kite was constructed, if you wanted to.

Stickers are fine on kites of similar size to my Simple Series. Just be sparing with the amount of sail area covered. The only concern is the added weight. Area for area, stickers weigh many times more than thin plastic sheet. So just try to keep the covered area down below an estimated 10% of the total sail area. Also, weight added near the tail end will enhance stability while weight added near the nose will have the opposite effect.

Another idea is to used various colors of plastic, and stick them together with sticky tape before marking and cutting out the sail outline. For example, a Diamond kite with top-left and bottom-right in one color, and top-right and bottom-left in another color.

An advanced technique is to actually weld plastic sheets together, but you might have to go somewhere like kitebuilder.com for more info on that.

Hope some of this helps!

P.S. Tails are pretty easy to individualize! Just knot together streamers in various colors and configurations. For example, 2 ribbons side by side, or one from the kite with 2 or more knotted onto the end, as so on. The kite will be stable as long as there is enough plastic hanging out there. Add more as required, if the kite seems to need it.

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May 02, 2011
Permanent Markers
by: Gary Crenshaw ( Hampton, Ga. )

The best marker I have found to write on plastic kites is called MARKS-A-LOT ... I still find them in small department stores but you can search on line to find a retailer in your area.

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