How To Make An Octopus Kite

Step-by-Step - Page 1 of 5

The MBK Octopus

Learn how to make an Octopus kite with these easy-to-follow instructions. Fully illustrated with close-up photos, every step of the way.

How to make an octopus kite - MBK OctopusMBK Octopus
How to make an octopus kite - MBK OctopusMBK Octopus

These instructions will take you step-by-step through making a 84cm (35”) wide Octopus kite. Height? Over 5m (16ft) including the long tentacles! This 6-cell inflatable kite performs best in gentle to moderate wind speeds. That's 12 to 28kph or 8 to 18mph. Towards 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 30cm (12”) 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 time.

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 kite...

The kite described here will do well with just about any fairly robust plastic sheet. Only slightly stretchy when handled and slightly see-through is a good guide. For example, heavy-duty painter's drop-sheet or drop-cloth plastic. That would be around 4mil thickness for those buying or re-using plastic sheet in the US.

However, for the outer 6 tails, I suggest using as light a plastic as you can find! So see-through you could read a book through it. :-) There is no point in weighing the kite down unnecessarily.

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 1.8cm (3/4”) wide variety to ensure adequate strength.

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 throughout.


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.




On this site, there's more kite-making info than you can poke a stick at :-)  Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small. Every kite in every MBK series.



How To Make An Octopus Kite...
Making Upper Surface

Measuring Upper Surface

The Octopus kite - measured and dots marked.Measured and dots marked
  • Place your plastic sheeting on the floor. Fold it in half from left to right and run a sharp, straight crease down the left hand side.
  • Starting from near the top-left corner, measure and mark dots on the plastic. Just follow the arrows marked on the photo. Dots have been highlighted in yellow.

Judge the horizontal directions by eye. If you're careful, there's no need for a T-square.

 


Completing Dots For Upper Surface

The Octopus kite - plastic flipped, dots traced.Plastic flipped, dots traced
  • Flip all the plastic over. Smooth out the 2 layers of plastic, double-checking that the vertical crease stays in place.
  • Make dots over all the dots showing through the 2 layers of plastic. Keep checking that nothing has slipped! Most of the traced dots are visible in the photo.

Hint: If it's too hard to see through the plastic, just lay it up against a sun-lit window!



Drawing Lines For Upper Surface

The Octopus kite - all lines marked.All lines marked
  • Open out the sheet of plastic and lay it flat.
  • Connect the dots with marked lines as shown in the photo. Some lines are the sail shape while others are 'internal guide lines' – like the line drawn over the central crease.

Note: The photo has been edited to make the lines darker and easier to see.



Taping Upper Surface

The Octopus kite - where to put sticky tape edging.Where to put sticky tape edging
  • Lay down 1.8cm (3/4”) sticky tape where indicated by yellow rectangles in the photo above. Note that most of the tape is stuck inside the outline.


Cutting Upper Surface

The Octopus kite - upper surface sheet cut.Upper surface sheet cut
  • Take your scissors and cut all around the outside of the shape, along the black lines. When you are finished, the plastic should look like the photo up there, with internal guide lines still intact.    



Making Lower Surface

This ends up looking very similar to the upper surface. In fact, rather than doing the measuring all over again, it's simpler to start by tracing...

Tracing Lower Surface

The Octopus kite - dots traced onto lower surface plastic.Dots traced onto lower surface plastic
  • Lay out the upper surface plastic on the floor, with the black lines facing up.
  • Lay out enough lower surface plastic to fully cover the upper surface plastic. A fairly light-colored plastic for the lower surface is a good idea, so you can see through it!
  • Make sure both layers of plastic are laying down smooth and flat.
  • With your permanent marker, make dots at all the corners and line ends. That's 18 dots in all. See the photo up there, where all the dots are just visible.


Drawing Lines For Lower Surface

The Octopus kite - all lines marked.All lines marked
  • At this point you can remove the piece of plastic that is closest to the floor.
  • Connect the dots with marked lines as shown in the photo. Notice how some dots are at corners while others show where to draw the vertical lines.



Modifying Lower Surface Outline

The Octopus kite - extra line drawn across the lower surface.Extra line drawn across the lower surface
  • Draw another line now, between those two corners near the top of the shape. See the photo up there to get it right.


Taping Lower Surface

The Octopus kite - where to put sticky tape edging.Where to put sticky tape edging
  • Lay down 1.8cm (3/4”) sticky tape where indicated by the yellow rectangle in the photo above. Note that most of the tape is stuck below the line.


Cutting Lower Surface

The Octopus kite - lower surface sheet cut.Lower surface sheet cut
  • Take your scissors and cut all around the outside of the shape, along the black lines. Note: Cut along the taped line! This is where the lower surface plastic shape is different to the upper surface plastic.
  • When you are finished, the plastic should look like the photo up there, with internal guide lines still intact.


OPTIONAL: Drawing Eyes

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 an be achieved with a black permanent marker.

The Octopus kite - the eye outlines drawn onto the lower surface plastic.The eye outlines drawn onto the lower surface plastic
  • Place the lower surface plastic with the guidelines and tape edging facing the floor.
  • Using an object that has a diameter of roughly ¾ of the distance between the vertical lines, trace a circle as in the photo on the left. Position the object carefully, with reference to the guidelines showing through, before putting pen to plastic.
  • Using an object that has roughly twice the diameter of the first object you used, trace a second circle. Note where it touches a vertical line and where it comes close to the first circle. This should be clear in the middle photo.
  • Now copy your work so far, across to the other side. See the photo on the right.



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...

The Octopus kite - the completed Octopus eyes.The completed Octopus eyes

 

 



As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making on this site than you can poke a stick at :-)  Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?

The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small. Every kite in every MBK series.



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