Although I made this project on my back porch at home, theoretically it shouldn't be too hard to build during a full day at the beach with the family. It could be a great project to teach younger kids about being resourceful and creative with natural materials.
Step 1: Design the Kite
Step 2: Collect Materials
- 2 thin, hollow, and straight driftwood pieces
- large bucket of seaweed (green & brown)
- green thread and needle
- roll of twine
- metal wire
- small handsaw
- plastic wrap
- olive oil/PAM/non-stick spray
- binding glue (mod podge)
In regards to the seaweed, I found that the green algae made for a better color, and was lighter than the brown algae. The brown algae on the other hand was much more durable, leathery, and stretchy. Read more on types of seaweed here. Also, sometimes driftwood can be difficult to find, but it can easily be substituted with other lightweight sticks.
Step 3: Build the Driftwood Skeleton
Take the twine and use it to tie the two pieces together. I began with a clove hitch, and then proceeded to wrap the twine, and finished with a clove hitch again. I found a great video that provides a demonstration on how to do this. Once you have your two sticks tied together, use the saw to cut grooves into each of the four edges of the sticks for the twine to fit into it. Tie a base for the twine at the bottom of the frame, and then proceed to wrap the twine tightly all around each of the edges until you return to the bottom and finish the knot. You now have a basic kite skeleton on which to attach your sail.
Step 4: Create the Seaweed Sail
*If you over bake your sail when drying, fill a spray bottle with ocean water and see if you can save it. If the leaves are too brittle it becomes difficult to attach them to the frame.
Step 5: Attach the Sail, Skeleton, and Handle
For the handle I chose another piece of driftwood that I had found, and attached a length of twine to the intersection of the kite's frame. Wrap more twine than you think you will need around the handle. The kite is now ready for testing!
Step 6: The Flying Sea Monster
We went out and tested the kite out at Castle Island in South Boston. We had some heavier winds, and the kite was able to flop around in the air, but it did not fly very well. User Kiteman recommended adding a tail to the kite, getting it lighter, and somehow getting the seaweed to spread symmetrically for even balance. Thanks! Once we got home from the beach, rather than keep a smelly kite around, I recycled it into a dog toy for my Golden Retriever Molly.
Improvements for next time around to make it fly like a functional kite
- Find larger sheets of seawood that spread across the entire frame to create symmetry (may require snorkeling in deeper water)
- Use brown seawood because it is more leathery and will sew together into a lighter sail (less colorful though)
- Lose the glue if you use the larger sheets, use thread instead
- Add a tail to the kite!
- Use thicker twine to attach the handle to the kite (broke off one time)
- It would also be cool to experiment with shredding seaweed in the blender and then layering the goop into a pre-arranged frame - that may work much better in creating a thinner and more symmetrical frame
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