Making Chinese Kites

It's Hard To Find The Real Deal

There's plenty of general info on making Chinese kites, if you browse around the Web. Like, you need some bamboo and a sheet of paper, nylon or silk! But strangely, no-one seems to have published any in-depth step-by-step guide to making authentic Chinese kites.

Just about everything relates to simple classroom exercises where children make 'Chinese-style' kites from straws and paper and so on.

Oh! Look at little Johnny's finger-painted Chinese kite! Plenty of school teacher material but very little for someone who wants to re-create the real thing. Me think it 'mazing. :-/

If you're really serious about making Chinese kites, maybe try asking around in the Chinatown section of your nearest big city, and apprentice yourself to a master kite maker. If you can find one. ;-)




What I can share with you are the 4 stages to making real Chinese kites. A typical paper flat kite would use this procedure, for example a butterfly kite.

Firstly, some suitable lengths of bamboo need to be selected. I went to a kite festival recently, and some Taiwanese guys from the Yinlin Kite Club were using Taiwan Makino bamboo. The bamboo is pared off with a sharp knife, thin enough to flex to the required shape or outline of the kite. The kite frame is made by gluing or otherwise attaching together a number of bamboo strips.

Secondly, paper is cut to shape and pasted onto the frame. Not just any paper, it has to be 'tough and thin with even and long fibers'. Probably not available from your local Newsagent!

Thirdly, the paper is hand-painted with the desired design. Some designs also call for chiffon or cotton ribbons to be attached. Either purely as decoration or for a tail in some cases.

Fourthly, the bridle needs to be made and attached to the right spots. If you have made other kites before, a little experimenting should result in a happily flying Chinese kite!

Many Chinese kites use nylon cloth, while the best and priciest use silk cloth.

Imagine being involved in building a big dragon kite. Although they come in a large range of sizes, the construction method is pretty much the same. A complex 3-dimensional head plus a looooooong stack of simple flat kites that give that 'centipede' look when high up in the air. Sorry I don't have any dragon kite plans to offer here just yet.





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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.




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Wind Speeds


Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7