Kites, The Art of Using Natural Materials

Scott Skinner
Article type: 

A Review of:
Kites, The Art of Using Natural Materials
by John Browning
Culicidae Press, 2015

Having come full circle in my own kitemaking, finding the beauty and utility of paper and bamboo after years of “festival kites” in ripstop and fiberglass, John Browning’s new book strikes a chord within my kitemaking soul. The use of natural materials is hardly new. The kites of Muna Island, Indonesia, perhaps the first kites in the world, were made with only plant material for both kite and line. But John brings us into the contemporary kite world with his creative use of leaves, seeds, natural papers, and bamboo.

The book is really a picture book of many of John’s kites, but don’t think there is no hard information to be had. John gives a complete list of materials used in every kite, and although his description of material preparation is limited, he tells us the most important thing: it takes time, patience, and experimentation with every material to discover the best way to end with a viable sail material. John’s kite shapes are a mix of creative and traditional and give the reader a glimpse into John’s active imagination. I particularly like his more traditional shapes and those that are evocative of Polynesian and Maori designs.

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