By Kevin Woolridge
Illustration by Tara Fleming
Who doesn’t like kiting? Well my dog doesn’t show any interest in it, but unless it’s a cookie or his own butt he doesn’t show much interest in anything. As a species, though, humans have been fascinated with the idea of flight for thousands of years. Probably invented by the Chinese nearly 3,000 years ago, kites have been used for various applications ever since, from military use and scientific experiments (remember Marconi? And despite common belief, Ben Franklin never attached a key to a kite in a lightning storm, he just wrote about the idea) to festivals both spiritual and playful.
Kites have been a part of us for almost as long as we’ve dreamed of being in the sky.
For many of us, flying a kite as a kid is our first real experience with the idea of flight. Although my memory is a little hazy, I’m pretty sure we had more than one kite from Pipers when I was little. Probably with Spider-Man or the Hulk splashed across its cheap plastic. I guess Superman would have made more sense—at least it would have matched the Underoos. As an adult, kiting can do much more than connect us with our inner child, it can be a great recreational and social activity. It can be a great workout.
And at the very least it’s a good excuse to get out and ‘get a bit of air on ya.’
Nowadays there’s a great variety of kite styles— from parafoils, deltas and boxes to bowed and stunt or power kites—and it can be daunting to someone just starting out. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s say it’s a rainy day and you’re looking for something to do that doesn’t include mopping your floors and cleaning the bathroom.
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Tape (of the transparent type)
• String or twine
• Two wooden dowels (bamboo
skewers will do in a pinch, but will make for a very small kite)
• Paper (a large brown paper bag or some nice wrapping paper, or, in a pinch, this page)
Take your dowels and put them in the shape of a cross. These are the spars of your kite. Your horizontal spar should be about 12 cm shorter than your vertical spar. Use string to keep these together with a dab of glue. With a sharp knife cut a slit at the end of each dowel. The slit should be level with the kite.
Grab your string (or twine) and tie it to the top. Feed it through the slit and around the frame. If you like, you can loop it around the end of each dowel after it goes through the slit. When you reach the top you can go around again for good measure. The strings should be taunt. At the bottom tie a little loop and then again at the top.
Lay your frame down on your paper and cut around it, leaving a bit of extra paper. Fold the extra paper over and glue or tape it to the other side. The paper should be nice and taunt on the frame.
Wow, you’ve almost got a kite!
Now take a piece of string, roughly 20cm longer than your vertical spar and tie each end to your loops. This is your kite’s bridle. Tie your flying line to the bridle about a third of the way down.
Add some extra glue to your edges to be safe. Take another piece of string and tie ribbons to it. Then tie the string to the bottom loop of your kite for a tail. You may find you need to adjust the length of the tail once you try it out. Grab some crayons and/or markers and decorate the thing.
Viola! You’re holding a kite.
There are lots of resources online for kiting, and a quick Googling will come up with hundreds of pages.
My only advice is to pack sunglasses/sunscreen, gloves, extra string, tape and a knife or pair of scissors, and with that you should be able to handle anything that comes up.
As part of the Association Communautaire francophone de Saint-Jean, the Festival Du Vent (Festival of the Wind) Sunday, October 16 is Kite Day in Bowring Park. There will be wind-themed crafts happening from 2-4pm, and a kite judging contest at 3pm. Follow the signs from the Waterford Bridge Road/Park Road parking lot. For more info, visit www.acfsj.ca