How to Make a Head Stick Kite?

Frame - You will need: four sticks - 2 x 24 inches, 1 x 22 inches (head stick), 1 x 20 inches (cross stick). The 22 inch stick should be tapered towards the bottom where it will be nailed in the center of the kite. If the sticks are too heavy the kite won't fly. The best wood is strong and light Cyprus and white pine are two good types of wood to use. Make sure there are no knots in the wood 9 inch bamboo bow. This could be a metal one but bamboo or cane is safer.

Covering material - Tissue paper is the material most often used for covering Bermuda kites. You can mix and match your own colours. Newspaper, brown paper or polythene can also be used.

Glue - Any paper glue or paste is suitable. If you are using flour and water glue mix in a little cayenne pepper to keep away cockroaches!

Nails - 1 inch nails will make the kite strong. A disadvantage to this is that if your kite gets caught in wires, metal could be dangerous. You can use string to tie the kite together.

String - Any strong, light cord is good for stringing the frame. Cotton seine cord is very good (this is known as "'fishin' line"!)

Scissors - Long straight sharp scissors are the best.


Head Stick Kite without the extension of the spine.

The hummer is attached to the bow at the top.

Making your kite

1.  Make 3/16 inch holes at the ends of the two 24 inch sticks

2.  Make a groove on the top (only) of the headstick and at the ends of all the other sticks

3.  Nail sticks at center of 20 inch cross stick, 2 inches down from the center of the 24 inch sticks and through the tapered end of the head stick

4.  Stretch the bamboo bow between the two small holes in the longer sticks

5.  Secure it with string to the head stick

6.  String the kite as shown in the diagram. (This string is used for 'hummers' or 'buzzers only. Paper does not go here)

7.  Paper your kite with the tissue paper. First cut out all your shapes. Paste light colours before dark ones. Paper lying over the inner strings lies flat. Paper over the outer strings is turned over and glued on itself.

8.  This shows a side view of the bamboo bow - there should be a 3 inch space between the head stick and the 'hummer' string underneath.

9.  Hummers can be put on this string - these are cut like wings, folded over the strings and pasted to themselves

10.  Notice the way the headstick is bowed.

11. Decorations can be added to make the kite look pretty. Hearts and stars are common. Some kites have strips of coloured paper wrapped around the head stick, others have "tassels" made of strips of paper cut into narrow ribbons and streamed off the headstick and cross stick.

Flying your kite 

12. Tie small loop here to prevent slipping

13. Tie the end of the flying string to this stick in back.

14. Pass string through paper, close to these two sticks

15. This is the tail loop - tie tail to this A. Mounting Loop B. Pulling Loop C. Cross stick D. Tail loop (you will need strong string, and strips of torn-up cloth for the tail)



March 1996, St. George's Preparatory School, Bermuda
Bibliography: Bermuda Kites "How to Make and Fly Them" by Frank Watlington, Island Press Ltd.
Photo by H. Hagg / Amsterdam 2003.