Tetrahedral Kites: A DIY Trick for the Soul

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When I was a kid, I would lay in the grass in my backyard and daydream.  The mind of this geeky, skinny 8-year-old was fixated on ways in which I could become the absolute supreme icon for coolness in the 3rd grade.  Check it out.  My plan was that one day, we’d be playing tag during recess on the concrete parking lot that we used as a playground.  There I’d be, running along on my wobbly-kneed pin legs, when suddenly the IT – one of the tall girls bursting of sinew and muscle – would start towards me.  Everyone’s eyes would be drawn to us.  I’d bide my time, wait for her looming presence to grow closer and closer, and right as her fingers reached out expectantly to tag me, I would spread my arms wide and shoot up into the sky.  My secret was revealed in all its glory!  I was the 'œKid Who Could Fly (With No Wings)”!  (The info in parentheses was the ultimate icing on the cool cake.)  I’d do loops and dives and not one eye on the playground would be able to look away from me – even hot Matt in the 4th grade who looked like Kurt Cobain.  I’d sit on top of the school, an untouchable living legend, and be free from any worry, fear, or sadness my 8-year-old mind could imagine.

Course this daydream was one that never came to be, and I suffered through the years of my classmates shouting 'œDan-The-Man' every time I was up in handball like everyone else.  Looking back though, I think my tiny psyche was onto something.  What is more freeing than lifting up into the sky without weight or worry?  More specifically, when was the last time you went outside to fly a kite?

I’m not quite sure how the idea came to us this summer, but a couple weeks ago my friend Heather and I decided to go on a mission to build and fly our own kites.  Anyone remember learning about tetrahedrons in geometry?  Well, a quick Google search of Tetrahedral or Tetrahedron Kite brings up pretty clear instructions on how to make one of your own.

First, you need your supplies:

24 straws (without bendy necks).

Lots of string.

4 sheets of colorful tissue paper.


A 'œgore' pattern (the pattern that you cut the tissue paper into.)

We had an easy time picking up Tissue Paper and Elmer’s glue from Duane Reade, and the 'œgore' pattern can be found online.  However, straws and string turned out to be a real issue in my neighborhood in Brooklyn.  My tip is to forgo trying to buy non-bendy neck straws (even in the summer this was an impossibility), and go straight to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks.  Yes, I’m talking about stealing.  If your conscience is pricking you, then by all means, try your luck at the grocery store.  If you’re cool with this, trust me, Dunkin Donuts straws are the easiest to snatch.  They also are super strong and add a nice orange vibrancy to the kites.  (Interestingly enough, at least two of the Starbucks we visited kept their straws behind the counter' maybe other Brooklynites have been onto this before us!)  String also turned out to be a little tricky.  Planning ahead and going to a crafting store would be best, but we had already opened a bottle of chilled wine and were determined not to let the heat and the last minute effort get the best of us!  If you find yourself in this situation, stop by your local pork store '“ any butcher will do '“ and for less than $2 each, we walked away with a nice long spool of string!

The next step is the crafting.  Unlike Broke-Ass’s own DIY Diva, I am NOT very crafty.  Luckily these kites are not too difficult to put together.  One thing we forgot about is that you have to wait for the kites to dry before flying them, so '“ again '“ planning ahead to make the kites one day, and fly another might be a good idea.  (If you are in-it-to-win-it and NEED to get out and fly em right away, use Rubber Cement glue instead of Elmer’s.)

Finally, the beautiful day comes when you make that picnic and proudly march out to the park with kite in hand for some rejuvenation and thrill.  I can imagine that nothing is more delightful that watching your little-kite-that-could catch the wind and soar up above you against the cumulus clouds and blue sky.  The day Heather and I tried it, though, there was absolutely no wind, and it was so hot and humid that Prospect Park looked like a post-apocalyptic ghost land. (7-15 mph winds are usually good for these little babies.)  Relentless in the face of adversity, we ran and tugged and manipulated our little kites into the air.  They didn’t soar like I did in my childhood fantasies, but these Tetrahedral Kites certainly wanted to.  Next weekend, we are hoping to try again for round two.

There are serious kite people in the world.  There are also people who just want to feel the joy at watching your own creation take off.  In this economy, with so many people unemployed and looking for ways to stay motivated and inspired, kites may just be the solution.   Bottom line is, kites will always be a cheap and fascinating way to spend the afternoon alone or with friends.  Watch your mind unwind, your body get in touch with the wind currents, and for that moment, your life becomes free.

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Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress

Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress

Danielle was raised by a pack of coyotes in the Los Angeles hills. Since arriving in NY in 2001, she has had any number of strange jobs, including back-up singing for JELVIS (the Jewish Elvis), starting the non-profit LYDIA, and writing political cabarets. A huge advocate for travel as a way of life, you can find her at the Brooklyn Public Library when her bank account is empty, fantasizing about where to head off to next.


  1. Dad Verbeke
    August 22, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Glad to see someone is getting Heather out to the Park. I have been trying to get her to take up Bird Watching. You have great Birds there. I started about five years ago and are now 62. I now wish my Dad would of taken me out when I was five to take a look see and enjoy nature.
    Sincerely Heather’s Dad

  2. Danielle
    August 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    YES!! Heather is a fantastic park goer. We have not been bird watching yet, but I hear there is a bird watching club we could join. Next time you come to visit, we’ll all check it out together.

  3. Cousin Verbeke-Vavra
    August 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Hurray for Heather in the park and kites. I’m with Dad-Uncle Verbeke on the bird watching 🙂 Great article Danielle.

  4. October 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    LOL — I’m not very crafty, either, darling!