kite decoration

In article <C2p9Aq.qs@rokkaku.atl.ga.us> kml@rokkaku.atl.ga.us (Kevin Lahey) writes:

>I have a really hard time coming up with designs for my kite skins.
>I mean, after a few kites, the single color rokkaku or flow-form is 
>just a bit boring to make and to fly.

You mention a Cody as being a simple kite to sepearate into several colors.
I'd also say that a FlowForm is too.  Different color front and back, ribs,
keel, and sides.  And that's without any panels or appliques!

>I don't mind a little simple applique or piecing together several parts,
>but I'm still careful to pick designs for which I can be a centimeter or
>so off on all of the parts.  Where can I find this sort of design?

I, too am terrified of trying some of the cool quilt designs I've seen,
though I'm completely fascinated by many of those I've seen.  I don't
trust myself to sew straight enough, or even to have the patience to cut
out all the little bits and and get them lined up correctly.

There _are_ ways to do paneled kites without worry about pieces being off by 
too much.  You tend to waste a little fabric, but I tend not to worry about
that too much--I can always use scraps for applique!  

What you might want to try is taking some basic pieces of fabric and
sewing them together and _then_ tracing the pattern of the kite piece
onto it.  This way, you don't have to worry about being off by a centimeter
when you sew the panels together--they're already sewn before you cut
the final shape of the sail (or piece of sail).

Something that ties into this, and can be used to make very effective kites,
is what many folks call the "trashcan" look--which I usually prefer to 
refer as "calico."  Basically, you take all those scraps that have been
sitting around and just start sewing them together in a random, yet
pleasing pattern.  You can either do this in a flat fell seam or like 
an applique (overlay one piece on another, do a row or two of stitches, 
and cut off the excess on the back).  When you've got pieces sewn together
into a hunk of fabric big enough, just trace your kite pattern onto it
and go from there.  There can be an art to this, and I'd recommend sitting
down with your pattern and your box of scraps, and fiddling around 'til you
get something you like, rather than sitting at the sewing machine and
reaching into the box like a scrabble bag.  Getting a basic layout first
will also allow you to confine the scraps you're sewing into the basic shape
of the kite so as not to waste too much.

>I realize that this is sort of a lame question, but it seems like I've spent
>weeks trying to come up with a good design for a largish flow-form, and
>the best I can do is a couple of stripes...  Am I aestetically impaired,
>or what?

It's not a lame question, and I think it's something that plagues a fair
number of kitemakers.  "Okay, I've got the skills--now what do I do with
them?"  (I really feel like I'm being immodest and perhaps arrogant by
typing this, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I really
don't see myself as a wonderfully artistic kite maker.  There are *so* many
folks out there doing stuff that just blows me and my kites away!)

One thing I'd suggest is to just look around you, look at the things that
interest you.  I've been dying to do a rokkaku with a simplified version
of an album cover I really like.  Computers can be your friends--this
album cover I'm doing is a photograph of a complex painting.  Thanks to 
scan of that pic, though, I've got a version of it that's been broken into
4 or 5 shades of grey.  It still looks good at a distance, but this will
make it possible to create an applique with the image.

Another suggestion for use of the computer:  I often work out geometric
patterns on paper, and then do a quick-n-dirty mockup in a paint program.
It doesn't need to be perfect.  I can then experiment with different
color schemes 'til I find one I like.  I have a 16 panel Rev II, for
which I spent an hour or two on the computer, just swapping colors and
changing the order in which those colors appear.  I love the end result!

Keep your eyes open for relatively simple patterns, icons, or whatever,
that stand out at a distance.  I happened to notice the NeXT logo one
day, and thought "That'd make a cool kite."  The NeXTform was born--an
8 square-foot FlowForm with the NeXT logo, 2' square, appliqued on the
surface.  It was a Christmas present for a friend who's a NeXT fiend.  He's
waiting to develop and scan some pictures of it--I think he's going to mail
one to Steve Jobs.  ;-)

Don't be afraid to experiment and push yourself.  If you're doing an
applique, try to do as much of it separate from the kite as possible--you
can always alter the applique or pieces of it before it's attached to the kite.

My latest kite was a 16 square foot FlowForm that my sister asked me to make.
I considered doing an applique of an orchid on it, and I almost psyched myself
out that it would be way too difficult, and put far too much strain on 
my limited artistic abilities.  Finally I decided to give it a try.  The
final applique has something like 30 separate pieces of fabric, and far
surpasses any expectations I had.  It's not perfect--I have a lot to 
learn about designing graphics for view from a distance.  Once in the
air, the flower loses a fair amount of definition, though it still creates
a colorful, pleasing sight.  I've thought of ways I could have improved
the graphic, but I'm not willing to take the kite apart to try to fix it.

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