Intro: The Feather Kite: an Experiment in Progress.
Something different from me - an unfinished Instructable.
I thought it would be interesting to document an original project as it went along, adding and editing steps as I go, maybe including suggestions or comments from the community.
There is a chance that this project will finish up in a merely decorative wall-hanging, instead of a flyable kite, but that's a risk I'll have to take.
Step 1: The Background.
Earlier this week, I was walking across the common with my sons when we chanced upon an ex-duck. All that was left was a large pile of feathers and down, presumably after an encounter with a fox.
We collected the feathers with no real purpose in mind, just to "do something with them".
As I rifled through the feathers, laying them out to see what we had, I noticed that we had some matching pairs - feathers from opposite sides of the bird.
The pairs looked ... like ... wings ... sails ... I ought to make a kite!
Step 2: First Thoughts.
I laid the matching pairs of feathers out like a row of wings, parallel to each other, but that didn't look right. More to the point, they would have needed extra framing to hold them together. That would mean more weight on relatively small sails, plus I decided (for no real reason) to make the kite as much "feather" as possible.
I turned to the web for inspiration, and found a single page of a single website, in Italian, with some grainy photos of what we could call "native American kites". As far as know, there is no tradition of kite-flying in pre-colonial America, and the Babelfish translation made little sense, so I assume it was somebody like me, inspired by feathers. Unfortunately, his kites used lots of feathers, fastened to the frameworks I wanted to avoid.
Except for one.
It was made of a handful of feathers, arranged in a rough X shape. I couldn't see how the feathers were fastened together, but it was enough. I laid out my feathers in the pattern you see below, and I thought ... yes...
Step 3: The Problem
How was I going to fasten the feathers together?
The arrangement I had, they barely touched each other. Several were tip-to-tip. But I had banned myself from adding a frame...
Snipping the tip off each feather, I found I could push a cocktail stick in to join pairs of feathers, and the join was loose enough to allow adjustment, yet stiff enough to manage without glue. Serendipity!
Step 4: Binding
I had the feathers joined tip-to tip, and they still looked right. Now I needed something to bind the feathers in their X pattern in an equally-forgiving way.
A quick scan around the shed turned up elastic bands, left over from my forcemeter Instructable. Perfect.
A few quick snips, a few knots, and she's done.
Step 5: Next...
So, that's as far as I've got.
I've tried dropping the kite in a horizontal position, and it stayed level, but spun about a vertical axis. A quick twist of the feathers cured that, just as I hoped.
I need to bridle it up. I'd really like to avoid needing a tail, so I may need to use a four-leg bridle, anchored to each point where the feathers cross. That will be a pig to balance.
Anyhoo, that's where she stands. As they say; watch this space.