Ever wanted your own owl? This simple kite will let you make a whole flock.
(The idea of an owl kite is not new, but this is my own interpretation of the idea.)
Step 1: Materials and Tools.
Print out an A4 copy of the attached template. You can just use the Word document, adding any colour by hand, or download the jpeg or Corel files (the Corel file contains the original drawing) and play with it in your image-manipulation software of choice.
Update: I have added a PDF file of the template.
Two spars (that's the sticks). I'm using strips of bamboo taken from a placemat (bought at Tesco for about 50p), but you could use bamboo skewers (cut the points off) or straws (not the bendy kind).
Two cocktail sticks, or trimmings of the bamboo from your spars.
Glue ( PVA or glue stick) and sticky tape.
Tail material (this can be a strip of plastic cut from a bin-liner, a length of narrow ribbon, or you can pinch the tail off that dead kite at the back of the shed that you tried to fly once and then the dog got it).
A bobbin of sewing thread.
You may also need something to cut your bamboo. Oddly, I have found cheap wire-cutters to be the best tool for this job.
Step 2: Making the Kite.
- If you are colouring the kite by hand, do so now. I suggest drawing in patterns (feathers, etc) with bold, dark lines of permanent marker, and shading in with coloured pencils. If you use paint or a lot of water-based ink, you may need to leave the kite to dry before proceeding. If colouring makes the paper cockle (go sort of wavy and lumpy), lay the dried paper under a tea towel and give it a firm iron with a steam iron.
Fold the owl carefully in half down the centre line. Make sure that the two halves match properly. If they are obviously wonky, either re-fold or trim the edges.
Fold the two sides of the kite back along the next lines on the kite, making a small "valley" between the two halves of the kite.
Lay one of your spars in this valley and glue it shut. Trim the spar so that it projects about a centimetre above the head and the same beyond the tail.
Fold the leading-edge flaps over, lay the second spar under it, and glue it down. Trim the spar off flush with the wings if you need to.
Lay the two cocktail sticks (or bamboo trimmings) in a "V" shape, the point centred on the glued-together valley, the points in the tips of the "ears" (yes, I know they're not really ears, just feathers).
If you have used PVA, allow drying time.
Step 3: Bridle and Line.
Tie the rest of your thread to the bridle. Use a simple overhand knot around the thread of the bridle. Pull it very tight, and then add a few more knots. You should end up with a knot that will slide along the bridle, but with difficulty.
- The image of the knot below is from my newspaper kite Instructable. I have used it for clarity's sake, since thin thread does not photograph well.
Step 4: The Tail
Fix your tail to the lower end of the vertical spar. Lay it behind the spar and fix it with a piece of tape across the front of the spar.
This is not the most secure way to fix the tail, but it can save the kite from damage: if the tail snags violently, it will come off the kite, instead of ripping part of the kite off. It is then but the work of a moment to tape it back in place.
In this case, I have used strips of plain white carrier bag. I rolled the bag up, cut it up like a swiss roll, then taped lengths together until it looked ... right.
Step 5: Flying Your Kite Alone.
Unwind about three metres (10 feet) of thread from its bobbin.
Stand with your back to the wind, hold the bobbin firmly in your left hand and hold the bridle in your right hand, out to your side (so that your body does not shield the kite from the wind).
Slide the line through the fingers of your right hand, letting the kite catch the wind and gently lift. As it lifts, you can switch the bobbin from your left to right hands and unwind as much as you need.
Thread can cut flesh. Do not let the line slide quickly through your fingers, and do not be tempted to wrap the thread around a finger. If a strong gust wants to snatch the thread from your grip, let it go.
If in doubt, wear suitable gloves.
Step 6: Flying the Kite With Help.
Unwind about 10 metres (thirty feet) of thread from the bobbin, and stand with your back to the wind.
Hand your kite to your friend, and send them ten metres down-wind.
Your friend faces you, and holds the kite above their head. They do not throw the kite into the air.
Apply a little tension to the line, then shout "let go!" to your friend. They do not throw the kite into the air, but merely let go, take a step backwards, and leave it to climb by itself. You can then unwind more thread as you wish.
For a more detailed description of launching, alone or with help, please check my earlier Instructable.
For a more in-depth discussion of kite safety, please read this other step from the same Instructable.
Step 7: What I Haven't Tried.
I also haven't tried this kite in other materials (oh, come on, I only printed the template out for the first time on Friday night!). Any sewers out there could try one in ripstop (make allowances for hems, and pockets for spars) and post it as a whole new Instructable. Go for it, use my plans - I'm here for the Making, not the money.
- For US readers, "A" sizes are explained in this diagram from Wikipedia.