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Hand-Made

Hand-Made Summer Camp: Go Fly a Kite!

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With the Fourth of July holiday weekend coming up, what better time than now to make your own kite and get out of doors for some summer fun? This kite is based on a project in Steven Caney's Toy Book, a kid-friendly introduction to DIY fun that's worth getting to know if you like to make stuff, no matter what your age. Caney's City Kite is perfect for urban dwellers, because, as he explains, it "will fly just great in a big open space, but it will fly just as well in a vacant lot, from a sidewalk, at the playground, or out a window." Keep reading below for the scoop on how to make your own kite.

  

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 6 drinking straws
  • 7-8 yards of lightweight string — you'll use about 3 yards for creating the kite frame, and remaining 4-5 yards you'll use as a flying line (I used a couple of skeins of embroidery floss)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • a couple of sheets of tissue paper 

STEP ONE: Build the Kite Frame

Measure off a length of string that's four times as long as one of your straws. Feed the string through three of your straws, and tie the ends together to create a triangle. (I'll pass on to you Caney's smart hint for feeding the string through the straw — "start the string in one end of the straw, and suck on the other end" — because it really works.)

Next, take another length of string that's three times as long as a straw and feed it through two of your three remaining straws. Attach these two straws to the first triangle of straws so it looks like two connected triangles.

Take the remaining straw, feed a piece of string about two times the length of a straw, and tie each end to the double triangle you've made, creating a tetrahedron (a three-sided pyramid).

STEP TWO: Cover the Kite Frame

Cut two triangles of tissue paper, each slightly larger than the size of one side of your kite frame. Carefully glue the triangles of tissue paper in place to completely cover two sides of the kite frame, wrapping the extra "margin" of tissue paper around the frame edge and gluing it inside the frame to secure it. (Because I couldn't help myself, I also cut a small strip of tissue to glue around the "crossbar" of the kite frame, but you can skip this step.)

I'd advise following Caney's wise advice on glue: "A little bit of glue works much better than a lot." So true! Let the glue dry.

You can repurpose sections of plastic bags to cover the frame instead of tissue paper, but keep in mind when choosing materials that your kite should be as lightweight as possible so it flies easily.  

STEP THREE: Add a Bridle

Use the tip of your scissors to poke a small hole through both sheets of tissue near the framework adjoining the two covered sides of the kite, about a third of the way from the open end of the frame. Feed a 10 inch piece of string through it, tying it off at one end and leaving the long tail hanging free.

Take a 12 inch length of string and feed one end through the joint at the pointed end of the frame, tying it off and leaving the long tail hanging free.

Tie these two long tails together, to create the bridle.

STEP FOUR: Add a Tail and the Flying Line

Cut a strip of tissue paper about two to three feet long and two inches wide, and use a bit of string to attach it to the pointed end of the frame (where the second bridle tail was attached).

Tie one end of your extra length of four to five yards of string to the bridle. This is your flying line, so if you have ambitions of flying your kite really high, you'll want to make this line longer. Your kite is now ready to fly!

Enjoy this bit of handmade kite play, whether you head to the park or settle in for a stoopside social hour this holiday weekend. For more great ideas check out Caney's books as well as the Library's many books on kites. And if you make a kite or anything else inspired by the Library, please share a picture of it here! More Hand-Made Summer Camp coming up in July!

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