How to Make an Octopus Kite

Step-by-Step—Page 4 of 5

The MBK Octopus

Making Tubular Tails

Measuring and Cutting Two Tails

These tails start out as tapered ribbons cut from a long sheet of plastic. Painters' drop sheet plastic is readily available from hardware stores.

Two tails can be started by measuring, marking, and cutting a long thin rectangle of plastic in half along its length. Use some plastic of the same type as you have used for the lower surface of the kite.

The Octopus kite - a plastic rectangle cut to the size required for 2 tails.A plastic rectangle cut to the size required for two tails
  • Cut out a plastic rectangle with a short side length of 20 cm (8 in.) and a long side length of 300 cm (120 in.). If the original plastic sheet is not long enough, just join two or more pieces together with sticky tape on both sides of the join.


The Octopus kite - left and right ends measured up.Left and right ends measured up
  • Using ruler and marker, draw marks as indicated in the photo on the left.
  • Moving to the other end of the plastic, draw marks as indicated in the photo on the right.


The Octopus kite - rectangle cut to 2 tapered pieces of tail plastic.Rectangle cut to two tapered pieces of tail plastic
  • Note how one mark at each end is longer than the others. Draw a long straight line from one of those marks to the other long mark at the other end.
  • Cut along the line just drawn. The photo shows enough plastic so you can see the taper in both shapes.

Taping Up Tail Tubes

Take one piece of tail plastic and smooth out the wider end on the floor.

The Octopus kite - a section of tail tube folded and taped.A section of tail tube folded and taped
  • Top photo. Starting at the edge where the marks are, fold the plastic up from the bottom then down from the top, then crease the folds so the flaps stay down—at least for 30 cm (12 in.) or so. Line up the creases with the marks as shown.
  • Middle photo. To hold the flaps in place, use short bits of sticky tape as shown in yellow. Try to maintain the small amount of overlap along the whole join. Also try to keep the join halfway between the top and bottom of the plastic.
  • Bottom photo. Complete the join by laying down tape over the two small bits of tape.


The Octopus kite - tail taped all the way to thin end.Tail taped all the way to thin end
  • Move along and do another section similarly, using another bit of tape to tack down the plastic before taping the whole section.
  • Keep going, section after section. Right along to the narrow end, as shown in the photo. Keep the amount of overlap about the same, all the way along.


The Octopus kite - both completed tube tails.Both completed tube tails

Do the other tail tube the same way. There they both are in the photo, folded into S-bends.

Constructing Remaining Tails

It's an octopus, so there are six tails to go!

The process is exactly the same, so no instructions are needed here. However, I do recommend that you use as light a grade of plastic as possible for these outer tails. I used the lightest available painters' drop sheet plastic which appears almost clear when unfolded to a single thickness.

Very light plastic is harder to work with, but it will result in a more stable, more efficient octopus kite. Also, near sunset, all that writhing clear plastic tubing will light up and look amazing!

The Octopus kite - all 8 plastic tail tubes completed.All eight plastic tail tubes completed
  • Do the other tail tube the same way. There they both are in the photo, folded double.

Extending Tails

After flight testing, it was discovered that considerably more tail length was needed! Hence, each tail will now be extended by sticking on a plastic cylinder. So, both ends will be as wide as the wide end of the tails you have already done.

The Octopus kite - plastic rectangles 15cm (6”) x 150cm (60”) cut for the 8 tail extensions.Plastic rectangles cut for the eight tail extensions
  • Cut two plastic rectangles from some spare lower-surface plastic. The short sides should be 15 cm (6 in.) long and the long sides should be 150 cm (60 in.) long. There they are near the top of the photo above.
  • Cut six more rectangles to the same size, from the lighter tail material you have used before.

Now to form the cylinders, using the same method as you used for the tapered tails already done.

The Octopus kite - the plastic taped into cylinders.The plastic taped into cylinders
  • Overlap the long edges of a plastic rectangle by about 0.5 cm (1/4 in.) and join with sticky tape—along the whole length.
  • Repeat the process to make another seven cylinders. All eight are in the photo up there.

Joining a cylinder (left) to a tapered tail (right), although over this distance you can't see any taper.

The Octopus kite - extension taped to existing tail.Extension taped to existing tail
  • Bring together one end of a cylinder and the wide end of a tapered tail made of the same type of plastic. See the top photo.
  • Insert the tail into the cylinder by about 0.5 cm (1/4 in.) and tape around the join with sticky tape. See the bottom photo, where yellow lines indicate the sides of the sticky tape.
  • Tape up the remaining seven tails in the same way.

OPTIONAL: Drawing Suckers

Did you do the eyes? To make your octopus look even more "like a bought one," why not take your black permanent marker pen and draw in some suckers.

The Octopus kite - how to draw suckers onto a tentacle.How to draw suckers onto a tentacle
  • Place a plastic tubular tentacle on the floor with the taped join against the floor.
  • Measure 30 cm (12 in.) away from the narrow end of the plastic. Make a dot there, mid-width.
  • Top photo. From the dot you just marked, measure a further 30 cm (12 in.) and make another dot. Keep doing this until you have made eight dots. The photo shows the first three dots, near the narrow end of the plastic.
  • Middle photo. Carefully draw in a circle around each dot with a single stroke of the pen. As shown, extend the circle to the sides of the flattened plastic tube.
  • Bottom photo. Go back and thicken up the circles to your liking, by adding more black to the inside of the existing circles.
  • Now measure and draw eight suckers on the seven remaining tentacles. Whew! Actually, you can save some time by using the first tail as a template. Lay tails side by side to get the sucker spacing right. 

Note: Do you think a real octopus would have perfectly circular suckers? Of course not, so don't fret if your hand drawn ones aren't mathematically circular. It'll still look great in the air!

The Octopus kite - suckers drawn onto the tapered section of each tail – 64 in all.Suckers drawn onto the tapered section of each tail—64 in all


Connecting Tails to Head

If you have drawn suckers, ensure that they are all facing the same direction as the eyes. You don't want them facing random directions, or the sky :-)

The Octopus kite - a tubular tail inserted and taped.A tubular tail inserted and taped
  • The top photo shows how the trailing edge should be marked into eight equal sections. The easiest way is to line up three marks with the middle ribs, giving four sections. Then just divide each section into two, making eight altogether.
  • Insert 1 cm (1/2 in.) of the the wide end of a tail into the head as shown in the middle photo. Apply sticky tape as indicated. The vertical pieces should be about 5 cm (2 in.) long.
  • Flip the head over and apply more tape, in exactly the same way as before. See the bottom photo.

Done that first one? Now add all the other tubular tails, taking care to make the darker heavier ones number four and number five, counting in from one side. Also, take care to keep each tail between the marks. A little bit of space or a little bit of creased plastic doesn't matter at all.

The Octopus kite - all tubular tails taped into the Octopus Head.All tubular tails taped into the octopus head

In flight, the upper and lower portions of the trailing edge separate and the flat tails become circular tubes due to air pressure.



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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