These instructions will take you step-by-step through making a 84 cm (35 in.) wide octopus kite. Height? Over 5 m (16 ft.) including the long tentacles!
This six-cell inflatable kite performs best in gentle to moderate wind
speeds. That's 12 to 28 kph or 8 to 18 mph. Toward the low end of that
range the kite will hang in the air at low line angles. With more
wind speed, the line angle will increase to 45 degrees or slightly
more, with a firm pull.
Some of the lines are
longer than the standard 30 cm (12 in.) of most rulers. So, a handy
trick is to stretch out a length of flying line, weigh it down at
each end, and then make several dots beside it—less than a ruler
length apart. The dots can then be joined by using your ruler. With
care, you will end up with a perfectly straight long ruled line every
The MBK Octopus kite is
inspired by similar-looking retail kites, but is not a copy of any of
them. For a start, this one uses only straight lines! This tape-and-plastic version works in exactly the same way and has been tested up
to 300 feet off the ground—20-pound Dacron flying line is ideal.
Materials for this
The kite described here will do well with just
about any fairly robust plastic sheet. Plastic that is only slightly stretchy
when handled and slightly see-through is a good guide. For example,
heavy-duty painters' drop sheet or drop cloth plastic. That would be
around four mil thickness for those buying or reusing plastic sheet in
However, for the outer six tails, I suggest using as
light a plastic as you can find! It can be so see-through you could read
a book through it :-) There is no point in weighing the kite down
Ordinary clear sticky tape in a dispenser is good
for tacking seams together before laying down more of the same along
the full length. I used the 1.8 cm (3/4 in.) wide variety to ensure
These instructions illustrate an octopus made with
20-pound (strength) Dacron bridle lines, plus a short length of 50-pound Dacron. This type of line is readily available from eBay and
Amazon online stores. You would get away with 30-pound line
Upper And Lower Surfaces
When this kite flies, one surface of the sail
faces the sky—the upper surface. The other surface is
easily visible from the ground—the lower surface. In
between the two surfaces are vertical panels called ribs.
Judge the horizontal directions by eye. If you're
careful, there's no need for a T-square.
The approach here will be for you to position and
trace out circles, using whatever handy circular objects you can
find. Everybody has cups and saucers, for example! You can use a
non-permanent marker initially, so any little accidents can be
cleaned up. Then the final look can be achieved with a black permanent
Finally, fill in
the "pupils" and thicken up the larger circles until you like the
look. Remember, it will mostly be seen from quite a distance away.
See the photo below.