Roller Kites

by Tamika


Hi, my name's Tamika and I need to make a Roller kite out of recycled materials but I don't quite get what I should make it out of. I know that the heavier the materials the less chance it will fly. I was wondering if you could help me with this enquiry and list some materials.

Thanks a million!


The easy part is getting material for the sail. This can be just about any old plastic sheet. As long as it is reasonably light. For a small kite, the cheapest (and hence thinnest!) garbage bags on supermarket shelves are good. But it needs to be recycled doesn't it...

Recycled Sail Materials

There should be plenty of clear plastic bags around the house that have been used for carrying grocery items. Pick a clean one and open it out by cutting down one side with scissors. That takes care of small kite designs - such as anything in my 1-Skewer range, on this website.

Some bags, for example plastic shopping bags, can be somewhat larger when opened out. If you get at least 60cm x 60cm out of one of these, you can make most of the 2-Skewer kites described on this site.

For large kites, you could look around building sites for discarded drop-sheet plastic. Painters use this stuff to keep drips of paint from getting on the floor inside buildings. A used drop-sheet really would look recycled :-)

Old shower curtains are another possibility for large kite sails.

It's a bit hard to use recycled garden bags or rubbish bags, since they tend to disappear down the road in a truck after being used for their intended purpose...

Have you or anyone else had a birthday recently? Id the item was large enough, you might be able to salvage some of the wrap. Printed gift wrap or colored cellophane perhaps.

Lets see - there's always newspaper! Many kites of all kinds of shapes and sizes have been skinned with ordinary, inky newsprint. Of course, these kites will not be very resistant to tears or, even worse, water. But a carefully made and cared-for newspaper kite will certainly fly very well, provided the spars are not too heavy. Which brings us to spars...

Recycled Spar Materials

The spars are the sticks over which the sail is stretched and attached. All my smallest kite designs used bamboo skewers for spars. The ideal size are those 300mm x 3mm ones that come in packs of 100. So next time you are at a BBQ, try to save some of the used skewers. Perhaps dry them out a bit in an oven on very low heat, and then get most of the gunk off with sandpaper. Or, just use fresh skewers and pretend they have been recycled!

Old bamboo blinds can sometimes be found, which are constructed of many thin narrow strips of bamboo. Perfect for small kite spars. You could make 100s of kites after taking apart one of these blinds or roll-up shades.

Finding recycled materials for larger kite spars is a bit more difficult. Lengths of old fishing rods have been used. If the spars don't have to be recycled, then you can just go to a hardware shop and get round dowels of Tasmanian Oak. There are plenty of sizes available.

Roller Kite Plans

I hope this gives you some ideas. Have a quick look at my 3 Roller kite designs in case one of them might suit your purpose.

Comments for Roller Kites

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May 15, 2012
Recycled Material
by: Tony Sangster

One time I found a discarded bamboo and paper umbrella in a recycled depot next to the dump - the bamboo umbrella spokes kept me in bamboo spars (taped ones) for years, similarly old bamboo blinds might be found there and rolls of plastic or other material. I guess there is the usual caution about silver mylar products (often used as gift wrap) as the material might conduct electricity.

May 14, 2012
by: Meakieal Kung

Good question Tamika and great answer Tim. Thank you.

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