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 Miniature Kite Sail Material

 

There are many materials available for miniature kite sails. Paper is by far the most common and comes in an infinite array of weights. Don’t restrict yourself to just buying “paper” however, many paper products such as napkins, placements, doilies, package labels, single serving sugar bags, coffee filters, grocery bags etc will make great kites. Just keep your eye out and you will find yourself picking up little items each week to make a kite out of.

 
Popular materials include:

 
* COCKTAIL NAPKINS or party napkins make great kites. Every local grocery store will have a couple of designs with a pretty print on it to try out. Use only one layer of the napkin for your kite. In addition to grocery stores try import stores, department stores or pick-up a few extra from your favorite hangout. Japanese cocktail napkins are usually a little higher quality and often have greater variety in designs. Japanese cocktail napkins are hard to find outside of a Japanese store, so look for the nearest Japan Town to you. Many Japanese napkins have a beautiful scalloped edge.

 
* PRINTER PAPER (20 lb or lighter) will work for larger miniatures and is used frequently for kites designed for kids kite making.

 
* TISSUE PAPER. Ordinary tissue paper from the card store or department store work well (even the kind that comes wrapped around a new pair of shoes). Acid free tissue paper from photo archival suppliers works great for printing your own kite sails. Handmade tissue papers while pretty are heavier than machine made and usually only work for larger miniature kites, if at all. Collect an array of pretty colors and prints to keep on hand.

 
* LIGHTWEIGHT GIFT-WRAPPING PAPER. There are no standards for gift-wrapping paper weights but generally the cheaper the paper the higher the chance of it being lightweight. On many papers it possible to stick your fingers in the center of tube and feel how think the paper is without opening the package. Just get in the habit of checking out all gift-wrapping paper you see, especially if it has matching tissue paper.

 
* LIGHTWEIGHT MYLAR AND FILMS. Occasionally you will find a Mylar gift-wrap paper that is light enough for miniature kites. Plastic food wrap can be used but requires a great deal of patients. Charlie Sotich’s famous “ice cube” clear box kites were made out of a Mylar that came from the semiconductor manufacturing process and was much lighter than food grade wraps.

 
* ORIGAMI AND JAPANESE PAPERS. While most origami papers are on the heavy side there are a few that come in ultra-light weights and can be used for miniature kite making. Rayon Unryu paper is available from Hiromi Paper International in nice weights for making miniature kites. Also check out Papermojo’s selection of lightweight paper.

 
* PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS make great kites in a variety of sizes. Always save the lighter weight bags you get.

 
* ULTRA LIGHT STYROFOAM sheets used by indoor model aircraft builders works for some kite designs and are self-framing.

 
* SILK handkerchief weight fabric, can be used for some medium to large miniature kites.

 
* TYVEK while on the heavy side for miniatures can work for larger kites, especially ones geared at kids kite making. Tyvek is available from many kite stores or just save the Tyvek envelopes you get in the mail (It’s the white envelopes with the really smooth surface that you can’t rip open and have to get scissors to cut it open.)

 
* RIPSTOP NYLON in 1/2-ounce weight can also be used for larger miniature kites. Check with you local kite store.

 
* ORCON film, which is commonly used for fighter kites can also be used for larger miniature kites.

 
A few more comments about paper as it accounts for 90% plus of all miniature kites. Don’t worry if the paper is porous, the kite will still fly. In fact, porous papers make kites that are more forgiving for slight variations in construction. Generally speaking hand-made papers will be too heavy for miniature kites, but there are exception. Paper is frequently sold by weight.


English paper weights (lbs) are somewhat confusing as the weight is determined by the size and quantity for each type of paper. Grammage paper weights are however easier to interpret and always represent the weight of a square meter of the paper regardless of the size and quantity. Grammage paper weights make hunting for light weight paper on the Internet much easier. For Palm-scaled kites ideally you are searching for paper that is 10-12 gsm (grams per square meter). If you want to make Nano-scaled kites then you need paper down in the 5 gsm. For comparison 30 lb ordinary printer paper is about 44 gsm.


There is no end to the source for materials you can use for miniature kite making, from the common recycled item to hard-to-find exotic specialty items. Experiment and have fun

Last Updated (Tuesday, 02 February 2010 16:02)

 
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Tip of the week
Extra-large and mega sized scrap-booking paper punchs can be used to cut out tissue kite sails in flash. Look for squares, circles, hearts and many more!