Learning the Art of Kite Making

Robert shows Matther Braddock how to tie the bridle onto the kite,Australian master kite maker
Robert shows Matther Braddock how to tie the bridle onto the kite,Australian master kite maker

A highlight of the Otaki Kite Festival for 20 or so people was a workshop held in the Otaki Surf Lifesaving Club room, to learn the art of making a traditional Japanese hishi kite with world renowned kite maker, Robert Brasington. During the evening, with the basic shape already cut, those participating were shown a variety of templates to decorate their kite, which was first spray painted with ordinary household spray paints. Each kite was pre-marked with pins holes to show where the spine and braces went and where the bridle strings were attached. There was a great variety of designs painted on – from single and mass flying crane birds, some in silhouette, others coloured, several oriental designs were used, all very colourful and unique.

The kites were made using washi paper, a special Japanese paper for kite making and other crafts which is shower proof. The braces are made from hand honed bamboo – one side rounded the other smooth. The templates are drawn and hone cut (rather like laser cutting metals) using a special card which is greased to stop the paints absorbing into the paper and the stencils degenerating, Mr Brasington said.

Robert Brasington, left, shows how to attach the final parts to their Japanese hishi kites
Robert Brasington, left, shows how to attach the final parts to their Japanese hishi kites

Under his watchful eye, once the paint had dried it was time to glue on the vertical spine, the centre for all the braces and bridal, followed by the two cross braces, each at a slightly different angle, each had to be glued on a specific side. Next stage was to fold and glue the top edges, before attaching the bridal from the “front” side and pulling it tight to bow the kite. Decorative tassels were attached at the cross brace edges and tails to the base.

“It’s great, a neat thing to do,” Otaki’s David Saunders said. “I feel like a kid again!”
All those taking part, children and adults, were quite excited with their creations, and to end the evening it was down to the beach for a test flight, in the fast gathering darkness.

“The conditions are perfect for flying kites, “Mr Brasington said, hoping the same weather would prevail over the next three days of flying.

Look at my bird kite!
Look at my bird kite!

By Margaret Andrews