King of the Microminis

Ben Ruhe
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With the microminiature kites Leng Shi Xiang, of Beijing, makes, seeing is believing. Some are half the size of a housefly.

The kites are so tiny a viewer without Leng’s amazing eyesight needs to use a loup to really see and appreciate their detail. Made of bamboo and silk, they take him days to make, he says, and a half day just to bridle. “The hardest thing is to saturate the silk,” he says. Flying line is a single fiber extracted from a nylon cloth. All of his creations fly, he says.

He hasn’t made many and the few that he has sold over the years repose in museums and collections around the globe. He recently turned down $1,000 for one of his creations from a British admirer, he reports.

Why does he make them? “I like to do challenging things, unusual work,” he says. “And I don’t like to repeat myself.”

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