Paper Airplans

By J. R. Tolman

A kite teacher takes a page from his kids' workshops

From American Kite. Fall 1997 P19-21


The sode, or kimono kite is a favorite of mine. It can be made in many sizes and with many types of paper. A 9-by-12-inch 50# weight watercolor paper works well. I've built thousands of these up and down the West Coast in assembly-line style. I've used 8.5-by-11 bright-colored 60# weight bond paper and available artist-paper pads.


This kite is made with a 50-count 9-by-12-inch 50# weight watercolor paper. A crisp paper works well.
The artwork is applied at the workshop; it's usually a rubberblock print. Cut the shape of your design from quarter-inch-thick foam rubber and mount it on a wood block with dryline mounting adhesive or double-stick tape.
I print with tempera paints. I brush the paint onto another sheet of the same foam rubber and use this as an inkpad. Keep it moist with a spray mist of water, respreading the paint with a small trim roller. (Don't simply keep adding paint to your pad or it will cake up and dry.)
By the time you've printed your fifth or sixth kite the first one should be dry.


I usually take a 50-sheet pad and cut out all my kites at once with a band saw. I cut the pages so that they're still stuck together at the bottom of the kite. This makes them easy to handle outdoorsÑjust tear off your kites one sheet at a time.
I drill all the bridle holes at once, using a quarter-inch or 3/8-inch drill bit. (You can get faster workshop results with a larger bridle hole, up to half an inch.)
Take a kite and fold it in half lengthwise. Attach the spine stick top and bottom with stickers. Fold half the sticker around to the front of the kite, covering the ends of the stick.
Attach the spreader stick at the upper corners of the kite. Align the top edge of each sticker with the top edge of each wing. Place the stick ends in the middle of the stickers. Fold the stickers evenly so that half of the sticker is on each side of the kite, front and back, covering the ends of the stick. Keep the stick ends even with the outer edges of the wing to maintain the kite's dihedral shape.
Take 12-feet of 1.25-inch adding-machine tape and fold it into two even 6-foot lengths. Attach the folded end to the bottom of the spine with one sticker on the back of the kite.
Tie the string to the spine through the front of the kite. I use 50 feet of cotton crochet string wound on a 3-inch square of cardboard.



This is the same shape as a fighter kite from India. I wanted to design a kite for the kids' kitemaking workshop at the 1996 Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach, Washington. I chose this design because it tied in with an exhibit of fighter kites at the World Kite Museum (also in Long Beach).
I've used the kite in many more workshops since. This version of the tulka shape is not a fighter but is a steady little performer.



I've fit the kite design onto an 8.5-by-11 bond paper. I like the bright-colored 60# weight that is commonly used in copiers.
The sticks are from roll-up matchstick bamboo window shades.
The tails are made from 1.25-inch adding-machine tape-a 12-foot piece folded in half.
The kites are assembled with 1-by-3-inch self-adhesive address labels cut in half to 1 inch by 1.5-inch.
For line I use 50 feet of cotton crochet string wound on a 3-inch cardboard square.


Fold paper in half and cut the outline of the kite. While the kite is still folded punch a quarter-inch hole for the bridle point with a hand hole-punch.
Unfold the kite, lay it facedown and attach the spine stick to the back with two stickers, one at the top, one at the bottom. Fold the stickers over and wrap around to the front of the kite.
Attach the spreader stick at each wingtip. The alignment of the stick is critical-the stick should be even with the outer edge of each wingtip. Fold the sticker over square (don't worry about matching the silhouette of the kite).
Attach the tail, a 12-foot piece of 1.25-inch adding-machine tape folded into two equal 6-foot lengths. Stick the folded end to the base of the spine.
Tie the string to the spine stick through l the hole you punched earlier. Make sure to tie the bridle through the front of the kite, not the back. Happy flying.

J.R. Tolman is a well-known kite workshop leader. He lives in Hayward, California.