Take Flight – Build a Kite

When I was a child—maybe six or seven years old—I wanted a kite so badly that I simply decided to make one. I built it with spare materials I had on hand armed with the certainty kites were vaguely diamond shaped with some stick-like bits in a cross—as I’d seen in Charlie Brown. As I recall, I used newspaper, drinking straws, magic tape, and thread.

It never flew. Frankly, it never stood a chance. But a week ago I decided to try my hand at it again—partly to conquer the memory of me running fruitlessly back and forth in my backyard dragging a sad bit of newsprint across the grass, but also to cement in my children’s minds that fun things like kites can be built instead of always bought. We can choose to make them how we want, by our own hand, and enjoy them doubly as toys and as trophies of making.

Having said that, I started the project without much more understanding of how kites are constructed than I did when I was seven. Thankfully, the internet is significantly more helpful now than it was back then and with minimal effort you can find countless kite-building websites, videos, and free kite plans for all types of kites. The type of kite I built is called a “delta.”

I constructed my kite out of blue and white ripstop nylon, which is both lightweight, has some flex to it, but is also fairly strong. The structural bits are small wooden dowels.

To achieve the striped pattern, I cut equal-sized triangles of the blue and white nylon, and then stitched them back together into a single rectangular sheet of nylon. From that, I cut out the kite’s two wings which are, in turn, stitched together to complete the pattern and final kite shape.

What probably took the most time was stitching and attaching little pockets for the wooden dowel skeleton. I’m not sure how long it all took me, but 5 hours is a safe bet. I’m torturously slow at sewing, apparently.

I’ve been chasing the wind ever since. Every day after work I look to see if there is enough action in the trees and then grab the kids to hit the schoolyard. So far, the wind has been sporadic—nothing sustained enough to really take the kite. So, I’ve inevitably ended up running back and forth across the schoolyard with my homemade kite in tow. I suppose I haven’t changed much in all these years after all…

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About Karl

Product designer. Game designer. Wolverine.
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4 Responses to Take Flight – Build a Kite

  1. monet says:

    it’s a pretty magnificent handmade kite.

  2. jaimigadaix says:

    what a great post, Karl! your kids are so lucky to have parents like you & Monet…both of you are so creative! i hope to meet you soon!

  3. Karl says:

    Aaaannnnnd I’ve already broken my kite.

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