Drawing, Inspirational Source Material, Portfolio, Projects

Traditional Chinese Paper and Bamboo Kite

Last week, I experimented with making a kite in the style of a traditional bamboo and paper, Chinese model. I was working from the one photo I was able to take of my friend's kite before her dog ate and destroyed it. I think the lightness, colors, design, size and shape are amazing.

Splitting the pieces that would become the rigid framework of the kite from a single stalk of bamboo that was left over from my posts that I used to hold up my tent from a few posts ago. I was able to get a set of more or less uniform members (as it turns out, more uniform would be better), and splice them together into longer pieces. I attached the framework together with string, and created a heavy weight paper pattern to use as a guide to cut out the final kite material from sheets of tracing paper that I'd taped together, not having any sheets large enough for the entire pattern. I brushed glue onto the frame and paper and joined the two together. Once the glue dried, I strung up the kite and took it outside to fly. It has been very windy in the afternoons, here in LA for the past week. The kite definitely wanted to fly, but couldn't break out of a deathly clockwise spiral into the ground.

I'll be re-working the design and cleaning up the execution on the framework, making the pieces more uniform and lighter from a different kind of bamboo with a longer span between nodes which will allow for longer individual pieces.

After my initial failures, I've been doing some research into kite making and found out about this University of Michigan trip that happened to China to learn the necessary techniques for making these traditional kites. I got a little daunted, so I ordered the book written by Ha Yiqi on these types of kites and hope it will give me some insight into fabrication.

I'm dreaming of the sky out in the poppy fields absolutely full if these tiny kites shaking around. I want to create a pattern and print a few thousand of the same design and have them fabricated here in Los Angeles.