Kite Making in Bermuda

by Mary Trott
(British Columbia, Canada)

Good Friday kites in Bermuda...

I am a 68-year-old presently living in Western Canada. The kite tradition in Bermuda is central to my own early kiting experience. Kitemaking is a pastime that is basically seasonal in Bermuda, in the Spring specifically around Easter Weekend. On Good Friday, to be exact. The wind was usually perfect for kiting at that time of year.

In my childhood, my father, a cabinet maker, would salvage orange crates, made at that time of pine, in which the fruit used to be shipped from the United States. He would cut the crates into strips which, with string, were used to construct kite frames. Little bundles of 12 strips, each about 24 inches(60 cm)long - enough for three basic Bermuda-style four-stick kites, were sold from his workshop, other similar workshops, and in retail stores. The frames were covered with multi-colored patches of tissue paper to produce a light, buoyant kite with a "headstick", "hummers", a three-string bridle, and a long tail for stability. They were flown traditionally on Good Friday.

The tradition started in the 1800's and grew, we are told, out of a Sunday School teacher's lesson on the Resurrection. He took his students out on a windy hill and flew a kite in the form of a cross. When the string was cut, it continued to ascend.

In our neighborhood we vied for the most beautiful, the noisiest, the largest, the smallest, and the highest-flying kites, and when one awoke on Good Friday one would think that a hive of bees had collected outside, due to the noise from all the kites in the air, humming in the breeze. The "hummers" - essential features on a Bermuda kite, filled the air with sound all day.

In our home, the tails, used for stability, were made out of my Dad's cast-off neckties, strips of old clothing, and old sheets. It was a magical time.

Because of this background, store-bought kites never held much appeal for me, and most children acquired basic kite-building skills through making their own kites.

The art is waning today, however, as families spend time watching TV, or on computers, or playing video games, and of course there are all those imported factory-made kites to buy!

There are sites on the Internet showing resources for Bermuda kite construction. Look specifically for sites with these words in the title.

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Bermuda kite tutorial
by: Tim P.

Thanks for your offer Richie. If you want to, make a video and post it on the My Best Kite Facebook page. Then I'll do a web page on Bermuda kites (remind me pls!) and embed your video. I can't host my own videos at this point, sorry.

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Tuturial on Bermuda kite making.
by: Richie

Hi Tim. Your site has a lot of information on building kites. I am trying others methods and styles of kites, some I have learnt here.

You are sharing your knowledge and it may be good for me to share some of mine. There is in my opinion no wrong or right method to building kites as long as they work and provide fun for folk that's great.

The next time I build a Bermuda kite I hope to video it so other folk who may be interested can have a go at it too. Whilst there are good tutorials on google I may add mine as well. If you would be interested in a tutorial from me I can try to do one and it will be free. Thank you for doing what you do it spreads happiness in the world.

Keep on flying and may fair winds be with you forever.

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I just love building the Bermuda kite
by: Edward King

Hello, I just started to build the Bermuda kites they look so beautiful in the big blue sky and they are very good flyers and I just love them. I build them with 5 pine wooden sticks and string and white glue and different color tissue paper for the sail.

I have found a good website on building Bermuda Kites, www.spittalisgreat.co.uk it has helped me a lot to build my kite and also, www.kiteplans.com and videos on www.youtube.com has help as well build my Bermuda kite. I just love the Bermuda kite because it is a kite builders kite.

I plan on building a few different sizes of kites of the Bermuda kite. Thanks Edward King and have a great day.

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Flying bermuda kites today
by: Richie Bermuda born Aussie

I seem to get a few bystanders hanging around anytime I fly Bermuda kites here in Australia. They are struck by the sound of three hummers going flat out buzzing like a swarm of bees. It dawned on me the other day that the vibration of hummers can be felt through the string especially when jogging the kite to gain altitude.

I have flown other kites but they just don't feel the same. It may be a crime but I am looking at using graphite and ripstop nylon on my next kite. Not too sure about nylon hummers though.

I currently use the traditional method wood sticks 1 nail string and tissue paper. I find the more coloured panels you put in the frame smaller number and size repair patches are required. Dad once said to me if you don't get the odd hole in your kite you ain't flying kites.

I vividly remember Good Friday kite flying in Bermuda. The sky was a show of multi-coloured kites. Each one looking like stained glass from a cathedral. If you have never experienced it it is awe inspiring.

Build em fly em break em and go out and do it again.

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Bermuda kites in Australia
by: Anonymous

Just finished making another Bermuda kite. I now have 2. Don't see them in Australia much but being a Bermudian I just got to do it. My Australian grand children love making Bermuda kites with Grandpa. Only flew one so far and it flies great. No other kite feels like them.

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Bermuda Kite
by: Jose Blanco

These are beautiful kites. The type of kite flown in Bermuda is similar to kites that are made and flown all over the Caribbean. I know that Bermuda is not in the Caribbean, but the kites are so similar and also flown during Easter.

I made one for the first time recently. Here is a video of the flight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsIdiHeIuyw

All the best,

Jose (Florida, USA)

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Bermuda Kites
by: Anonymous

I have been making them for some time. They are high altitude and fly well. I do not see them at many Kite Festivals.

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Great post
by: Tim Parish

Thanks for educating us all about Bermuda kites...

It's true that a lot of kites are sold these days, as opposed to being made at home. But kite-making is far from dying out - most people coming to this site are interested in making their own, judging by the keyword searches that bring them here. Long live homemade kites - Bermuda-style or otherwise!

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