Introduction: Lamy, NM Kite Festival Winner

Almost 25 years ago the town of Lamy New Mexico had one of it's annual kite festival.
It was during that 8th annual Lamy kite event that I won ‘Most Beautiful Kite’ award.
This Instructable will show you how to build a version of that kite for almost no money which will fly great.
During the process you will learn how to use this simple technique to build this kite and to create any design you wish.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Tissue paper:  Amazon has 20 multicolored 20" x30" sheets, enough for 9 to 10 of these kites,  for approximately $5.50
Dowel 2 each: 48”x3/8”: approximately $.75 each
Kite string: approximately $2.00
White ( elmer’s ) glue

Either a razor blade or X-acto knife, a fresh sharp blade makes it easier.
Straight edge ruler
Thin blade saw

The total cost for a kite is about $4.00. This first kite will take two to three hours, the second one less than half that.

Step 2: Building the Frame

  • The frame consists of  two dowels joined together.
  • The 'Upright'  first dowel should be marked at approximately 20%(9.6 inches) from one end. This does not have to be exact, and I rounded on this kite up to 10 inches.
  • The 'Cross-member' second dowel is marked in the center. Be sure to measure this dowel. They are often not the stated 48'. It is important that this measurement be correct.
  • Small notches should be placed on these measurements to help with placement.
  • The dowels are then tied together at the notches.
  • A notch is cut into the end of each dowel. The notches in the Upright dowel should be parallel to the Cross-member, and the notches in the Cross-member should be parallel to the Upright.
  • A loop of kite string is strung around the outside of the frame in these notches. It must be drawn tight. I used a slip knot, passed the loose end through, and then drew the slip knot closed. Then pulling the loose end will tighten up the string around the kite.
  • This should be tighter than you think. Even if it causes a little bend in the cross-member it is acceptable.

Step 3: The Art: Aka Sail

This kite uses a patchwork pattern, but any pattern, shapes or silhouettes will work great. If you wish to create a flying 'painting' I recommend using Tyvek instead of the tissue paper.
  • This  kite example uses a  patchwork of 6.5 inch squares, but any size will work.
  • Use a straight edge and a sharp blade. If your straight edge is cork backed, use the non-cork side against the paper for better results.
  • The line of glue should be as small as you can make it(mine are bigger than they need to be), and an 1/8 of an inch overlap is fine. If you use to much glue it is messy and adds nothing. If you have too much overlap there is no harm done accept for the appearance.
  • I find creating long strips and then gluing them together the easiest method. You will have greater overlaps here.
  • Once you have a large enough sheet you can place your frame over it and decide on orientation, enlarging the sheet as needed.
  • When the orientation is to your liking and the sheet covers the whole kite you can start attaching it to the frame.
  • Starting with one string edge, fold the sail over the string and create a crease at the string.
  • Using your razor and straight edge cut off the excess paper about 3/8 of an inch from the crease in the paper.
  • Run a small bead of glue on the string and inside of the sail, fold over the edge and glue down.
  • Repeat on opposite side, being sure to pull the sail snug against the string before folding over to form the crease.
  • Repeat on two remaining sides.

Step 4: Bow and Bridle

Your kite will need to be bowed and bridled. The bow helps with stability. The bridle determines how the kite faces the wind. If you see people running with a kite( you should never run with a kite) and the kite isn't climbing, then the kite is bridled incorrectly.
  • The bow starts with another loop of string, using the same technique and the frame string, between the notches on the cross-member.
  • Holding one side against a wall gentle press the two ends towards each other. This is the nerve wracking part: too much and you break the cross-member, too little and the kite won't be stable.
  • When the bow is where you like it tie off the loop. I used about a 4 inch space between the center of the frame and the loop.
The bridle
  • Cut a small hole in the sail where the Cross-member and Upright come together.
  • Cut another small hole about 20%( about 10 inches) from the bottom.
  • Create a small notch on the Upright behind the hole in the sail.
  • Pass one end of a 6 foot piece of string through each hole, tying around the notch in the Upright on the bottom and Cross-member and Upright at the top.
  • Holding the 'bridle' tie a loop in it so that if the bottom of the kite is on the floor the Upright form about 20 degree angle with the floor.
  • Your flying line will be attached to this loop. It can be tied directly to the loop, of you can use a fishing swivel to easily attach and detach your line.

Step 5: Flying

  • This kite will fly with very little wind.
  • When carrying the kite, carry it edge to the wind, parallel to the ground.
  • Start with a large open area. Wind acts like a 'river'. As it goes over trees, buildings or/and other obstacles it create eddies,back flows and down drafts, all of which will negatively impact your flying.
  • Start with your back to the wind and let out a little string.
  • Do not run. You can not fly a kite if you can not see it, and you can not run if you are not looking where you are going.
  • The wind should catch it and it will start to tug, gently let out more string.
  • If you tug on the string, the kite will go in the direction it is pointing: if it is pointing up it will go up, if it is pointing down it will go down..
  • If there is a breeze and the kite doesn't want to climb, shorten the top leg off your bridle.
  • A four foot kite is a lot of sail area, if the wind is strong it will give you a nasty burn/cut if the string is yanked through your fingers. Remember the kite only costs a couple of bucks and you can always build another kite if this one gets away from you.
Video of this kite:

Step 6: Conclusion & Misc

This kite will fly just fine without a tail. I like long flowing tails so I added one. I used the same technique for the tail as I did in making the sail, glued thin strips of paper together until I got the length I wanted.

This kite scales up and down very well if you keep the same proportions. Note that the larger kites need less wind. When you double the dowel length you quadruple the sail area, and only double the weight.

This kite is fixed, but with a few modifications it could easily be made to come apart for transportation.

  • Use two rubber band to hold the Cross-member and Upright together
  • Use two loops at the bridle connection points, and fishing swivel to connect the bridle line
  • The sail will come off the frame if you gently take the frame loop from the notches in the dowel.

This is a paper kite, how long could it last? A long long time. I have flown paper kites just like this in 25 mph winds( and adjusted bridles) with no ill affects. If it tears, slap some tape on it and it will fly good as new. Tired of the sail art, add a new one.

Want more fun? While you are out flying, give it away to the seventh person who tells you how attractive it is.

Want to paint your sail, use Tyvek instead. It glues and handles like paper, but is as tough as fabric. And paint-able.


Kite Contest

Finalist in the
Kite Contest