Custom Puzzle Craft
Kite Restoration Project - Part 2 - As Found
I took possession of The Dragon Kite in March 2014 and on March 27th, shipped it to my place in San Diego, arriving on April 2. I then did a comprehensive inspection of the kite to get an idea how it was made and the condition it was in. I didn't fully appreciate how it was made until I took it apart later. This section documents the condition of the kite.
The kite consists of a Dragon's Head section and 39 Disk sections, all connected in a series by three strings. The Head has a horizontal extension (spar) extending to the left and one to the right with "Dragon Flame "red cloth suspended from the spars and a green tassel at each end. Each of the Disk sections have horizontal spars with a green tassel on each end.
All of the wood in the original kite was bamboo, except for one thick short horizontal structural piece behind the head. The imagery on the Dragon's Head and the 39 Disk sections was hand painted on a special kind of paper.
The Dragon Kite
The Dragon Kite after being unpacked
The Dragon's Kite's Head
The Head is a fairly complex structure and was in poor shape.
The Dragon Kite's head front - obviously many paper tears, taping, worn spots, missing sections
The Dragon Kite's head back (after disassembly from the rest of the kite) - A large section of plain white paper had been placed on the back to hold the torn pieces together
One of the horns was completely detached and the other one hanging on by a splinter, later became detached during handing. Several spars were broken or cracked, some of the connections bound by thread or wrapped paper were loose, plus there were numerous paper tears and missing sections.
The Dragon Kite's head back - detail
Some wooden spars, shown here, were held together with thread, mixed with an unknown glue
The Dragon's Kites Flames
On each side of the head red cloth representing the flames of the dragon extended to each side. Each piece of cloth was attach to a curve spar, and the spar was attached to the main cross beam and the edge of the head with thread. One of the spars was broken at the point of the curve.
Each of the two flame sections was attached by thread to the main horizontal crossbar in two place and at the side of the head
The cloth was attached to the supporting spars with glue
Broken flame cloth support spar
The other side
Attachment to the head
The Dragon's Kite's Disks
The Dragon Kite has 39 disk sections, connected in a series. The disks averaged about 9 1/2" in diameter with each pair spaced around 9 1/2" to 10 inches apart, with the first section about 10 inches behind the head. The Disk's circle was formed from a single piece of thin bamboo with an overlap of about 2" at the top. Each disk section had a 40" long spar crossing the disk about 6" from the top of the circle, with each 40" spar made from two 22" spars with a 4" overlap in the center. The two horizontal sections were connected with thread, glue and wrapped paper. From the center of the overlap, a short 8" spar connected the center of the horizontal spar with the top of the circle. At about 1 1/2" from the top of the vertical spar, the spar split into two, forming a "Y" and then bent to the left and right parallel to top of the circle where it was connected with string and wrapped with glued paper. The bottom of the vertical spar extended about 1/2" beyond the horizontal spar and was tied to it with thread.
The papers for all 39 disk sections were torn. The last two disk sections had been previously replaced by plain white office paper, each quite torn. The paper was glued to the rim of bamboo circle all the way around and a small roughly rectangular patch of paper was glued to the disk paper, covering a lower portion of the vertical spar.
Of the 39 disks, 11 had at least one break in the bamboo circle and several had cracked or broken horizontal spars with some parts missing.
Some of the Dragon Kite's Disk sections
Back side of a disk section (after being removed from the rest of the kite) with a portion of horizontal spar and the shorter vertical spar forming a Y at the top
The piece of tape covering a portion of the Y was to mark this as "disk number 1".
The disk's paper had been torn and taped in a bunch of places. The vertical spar was not particularly centered nor perpendicular to the horizontal spar.
The Dragon's Kite's Tassels
All 40 of the horizontal spars should have had tassels at their ends. Several were broken off and missing. Some were worn to numbs, particular on the Head section and towards the back of the kite.
The tassels were very fragile and whenever the kite was moved more and more small pieces broke off
The Dragon Kite's String
The kite's sections were bound together three courses of string, one from near the top of the head, through the top of each disk going through the "Y" of the frame, and one along each side the the disks where the disks were connected to the horizontal spar. The first 20 sections were connected with a very thick brown hemp-like string and the last 20 sections with a thinner brown hemp-like string. Each of the three runs of string from front to back consisted of about six shorter pieces tied together at various points.
The "flying string" was more modern, a braided polyester or similar material, wound around a wooden spooling device, which appeared to be quite damaged and would not turn.