After an hour of quiet concentration, snipping, gluing and tying, it was made. My youngest child was delighted. Slow time spent with a parent is precious to a seven year old, and the feeling is mutual.
Warning that it might not fly – might crash and fall to pieces – I took her out the back gate, over the meadow, our pockets stuffed with tape and string and crepe paper for running repairs.
My kind of kite-making, I admit, is not an exact science, and there may be better kite designs out there than the diamond on the following page. But I wanted to start with something easy. I lack the patience to learn new knots and to untangle knotted instructions.
Our diamond, with coaxing, took jerkily to the skies and hoisted itself up, where it bobbed and trembled, nervously, like a puppy on a leash.
To my daughter, it was a kind of miracle.
After a while, the wind dropped and it came crashing to earth. We scooped up the bedraggled remains and walked home, hand in hand and happy. At the back door, the little one announced to her mother: “It flied! It flied!”
Making your own kite:
1. Make the sail of your kite with a large sheet of paper 60cm long by 45cm wide. A reel of brown paper will do, or buy coloured paper from a craft shop. Fold the paper in half lengthways. On either side, measure 15cm down from the top. Use ruler or other straight edge to draw a line between these marks and the top centre. Draw two more lines from the marks at the side to the bottom centre, to form a diamond.
2. Carefully cut out your diamond.
3. Thin 60cm bamboo plant supports from garden centres make good, lightweight spars. Using secateurs, cut one of them to a length of 45cm. Tie the two spars together with twine – checking that the spar-ends still line up with the corners of the paper sail – then knot firmly. Trim the twine.
4. At each corner, use something sharp (such as a cocktail stick) to pierce two holes on either side of the spar. Thread twine through each hole (this is fiddly!) and tie it to the spar, leaving some loose ends for attaching ribbons. Glue the spars the paper and allow to dry.
5. Attach a piece of twine firmly to the spar at the left and right corners, allowing plenty of slack – there should be about 60cm
of twine loose between the two corners. Fix your flying line firmly to this twine. (I reused a reel of old twine from a tangled kite in the cupboard.)
6. I cut two 2m x 2cm strips of crepe paper, and tied them to the bottom of the kite. Then I tied two more strips, this time around 1m long, to the sides. You could use ribbon instead.
7. I waited for a dry, breezy day – strong winds might damage your fragile kite. When you’re ready for your kite’s maiden voyage, find a patient, excitable person to help you launch the kite. Stand upwind of the kite, and ask your helper to stand directly downwind. Launch and enjoy the sight of your kite fluttering in the breeze!
Kite festivals this summer:
Beeston Castle Kite Weekend (17-18 June)
Learn to fly kites and see the experts in action. Plus kite-making classes for kids. Adult entry £8.10, children £4.90.
See here for more information: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Brighton Kite Festival (8-9 July)
One of the UK’s longest-running kite festivals. From 11am to 5pm. Free entry.
See here for more information: www.brightonkiteflyer.co.uk
Barmouth Kite Festival (8-9 July)
Kites of all types, colours and sizes, set against the backdrop of Cadair Idris. Free entry.
See here for more information: www.barmouth-kite-festival.com
Leominster and Hereford Kite Festival (15-16 July)
Billed as an informal fly-in – fly your own kite or watch the experts. Noon to 5pm. Standard NT admission charges apply.
See here for more information: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Portsmouth International Kite Festival (12-13 August)
Hundreds of kite-fliers from around the world, with displays, kite traders, food, and children’s entertainment. Free entry, 10am to 5pm.
See here for more information: www.portsmouthkitefestival.org.uk
Kite Festival at Old Sarum (12-13 August)
See the skies awash with colour this summer. Learn the art of kite flying, make your own kite and see live kite demonstrations from experts.
See here for more information: www.thebathandwiltshireparent.co.uk
St Anne’s International Kite festival (2-3 September)
Team kite flying to music, with giant inflatable kites, children’s funfair and donkey rides.
See here for more information: www.visitlythamstannes.co.uk
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