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. From rec.kites 199X Date: 22 
Feb 93 10:18:46 GMT From: pat@cs.strath.ac.uk (Patrick 
Prosser) Subject: Re: kite decoration 

I suppose I also have problems trying to find suitable designs
for applique of kites. By problems, I mean that a design
does not just jump out at me. This is what I do for inspiration:

(1) keep my eyes open. In particular, look at modern sports clothes,
    kit bags, swimming suits, etc. These are now a good source of
    ideas, if only because of the variety of colours. These should 
    open your eyes to colour!

(2) Art galleries, and books on art. Look at some of the work done 
    by the surrealists, etc. Again, great inspiration. My flowform
    has an applique based on a painting by Miro, called Blue II
    (mine is Green, therefore Green II)

(3) Motor racing. Many of the F1 cars have fabulous colour schemes.
    I have a beautiful delta in the Minardi colour scheme.

(4) Finally, and most obviously, I use a graphics terminal (SPARCstation
    IPC) and tgiff, and draw my kite and play with colour combinations
    and patterns.

Generally, it can take me months to come up with an idea. 
When I build a larg(ish) kite, it will take maybe a month to plan 
it, before I actually cut cloth. Basically, keep your eyes open 
(I'm not being funny, or cheeky), and be patient with yourself. 
That is one of the nice things about building kites: it should 
open your eyes to colour. 


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