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June 27, 2011

Swallow kite construction

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Learn more about the upcoming kite festival at U-M!

U-M School of Art & Design faculty member Anne Mondro, guest blogger:

1. No engine
2. Only wind
3. Person to hold string
4. Kite is heavier than wind

Master Ha started today's lesson defining the characteristics of a kite. Building upon this foundation, we dove headfirst into the swallow kite construction. The swallow kite is the traditional kite of Beijing. A stylized representation of the swallow bird contains symbolic imagery of dragons, phoenixes, bats, and other creatures to depict wishes for luck, happiness, and fortune.

Understanding the necessity of creating a balanced and level kite frame to fly straight and high, we carved and bent over and over again hoping for Master Ha's simple, direct, and oh so important gesture, the thumbs up. Gluing, splitting, threading. The construction is complex, precise, and elegant. Master Ha is a skilled surgeon at work as he splices and joins the bamboo. I fumble with what I consider to be skilled hands for hours and hours. Finally, my swallow is done and now it is time to test it. I anxiously watch as Master Ha swings his arm up and releases the string.

It flies.

Posted by zzhu at June 27, 2011 11:39 AM