Introduction: How to Make a Transparent Kite With Text

Picture of How to Make a Transparent Kite With Text

This is a kite that's easy to build and fly. We designed it to carry text in a beautiful way, so that the letters appear to be floating against the sky. We believe it can be useful for carrying icons and messages in demonstrations, or plain old fun.

You will need:

- 1 piece of transparent plastic at least 3ft x 3ft (1x1 meter)
- 2 sticks the same length of your plastic (can be carved out of bamboo)
- box tape
- line - a thick cotton line will probably be enough, but you can play safe and get dacron  or spectra lines

If you use a thin plastic, such as garbage bags, the kite will fly on lighter winds, but it will last less. We used a thicker (but not the thickest plastic), which here in Brazil is very used as table cover. But here's a picture of the garbage bag kite:

Step 1: Cut the Plastic

Picture of Cut the Plastic

Here is how the plastic should be cut. The holes are very important for stability, but they can be cut in other shapes, like circles.

This "sled kite" was patented by William A. Allison. Luckily for us, his patent expired a long time ago. Check other kite patents on this beautiful blog.

Step 2: Add the Sticks and Wire

Picture of Add the Sticks and Wire

To hook the bridle, make a reinforced loop with tape and pass the line through. The bridle should be the exact same size on both sides and each side should be as long as the kite length.

Reinforce with tape the edges of the holes and the places where the bridle is attached to the sled.

The sticks can be attached folding the tape on the edges and in some points along their length.

Step 3: Choose and Draw Your Text

Picture of Choose and Draw Your Text

We used adhesive plastic to make the letters. To make sure they'd look good, we picked a projector to draw the text on it. We had to invert the image to get it right on the other side, but it would work either way.

If you make a big-ass kite, you'll probably be able to carry some more text. I think it would work well with some symbols. You can also use a different sled shape, there's a bunch to choose from.

We picked a text that is a homage to the neightborhood we're doing the kite residency, Brasília Teimosa, in Recife. Teimosa means obstinate, stubborn. The place got its name from the way it was squatted, evicted and stubbornly re-occupied in the 50's, the same time when the country's new capital, Brasília, was being built. It ended up becoming one of the biggest favelas (shantytowns) in Recife. So the kite says something like "hurray to obstination".

Step 4: Cut and Paste!

Picture of Cut and Paste!

We've drawn the letters on the plastic so we'd get them on the right place.

Step 5: Fly Away Your Kite!

Picture of Fly Away Your Kite!

Sled kites are remarkably stable and easy to fly. Just pick a place away from power lines, poles and other obstacles and you're set.

This kite was designed on the Eletropipas residency, part of the "Interações Estéticas em Pontos de Cultura",  from the Ministry of Culture, Brazil. Check other projects on our blog More instructables coming soon!


bobzjr (author)2012-05-21

Cool idea - I never thought of this. Being a student of typography - this is a whole new "canvas". I wonder if sending a kite up with LEDs shining on the kite would work? Aiming LEDs on the kite withought drawing attention to the LEDs themselves might be a challenge. Just a half-cooked thought.

brunovianna (author)bobzjr2012-05-22

hey bob, we did a few kites with led., they work great. it is a good idea to use them for text

also, if you enjoy the text canvas experiences, check this out:

bobzjr (author)brunovianna2012-05-26

Wow those look really cool. I did especially like the last one. How were they doing that text one? Was it an array of leds with some sort of controller?

Thanks for showimg me that stuff!

brunovianna (author)bobzjr2012-05-29

that was a video projector pointed at the empty sky, showing a powerpoint slide with white letters on a black background. then we flew white kites over the projector. simple as that!

bobzjr (author)2012-05-21

My post regarding LEDs - would be in reference to using it at night.

pawelski (author)2011-09-21

Stealth kite like in "Night of the Avenging Blowfish"

Nostalgic Guy (author)2011-09-20

Very nice kite idea.
I will have to remember this one for birthdays & anniversarys.

Kiteman (author)2010-06-20

Nice job.

A sled can also lift a banner as a tail - you could put more text on that.

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