The Compostable Kite

I know this isn't really architecture, but I thought we would showcase the lighter side (literally) of our business for the first blog post!

This is a kite project we created for our son's elementary school fundraiser. It is based on a kite design we encountered a few years back while on the beach in Santa Cruz. 

The original design was only 4 or 5" tall and utilized very thin ripped bamboo bracing. We nearly doubled the width and length, and adjusted the shape to be a bit more aerodynamic. The missing ingredient was something sturdy and light enough for the supports. We had previously used wooden dowels and even paper straws for other kite projects and found them to be much too heavy. As I was looking around the room for a broom to sacrifice, it struck me that some type of grass might work. Since it was early fall, and given our tendency toward laissez faire landscaping I proceeded to the garden to do some harvesting. 

It was obvious once we started that it was really the flower stalks we were after. We tried blue fescue, pennisetum, muhlenbergia, rye and even some dried coriander flower stalks. They all worked more or less, but the smaller diameter stalk of the muhlenbergia and fescue made them a more ideal material. (Note that many of the stalks were too flimsy when freshly cut, so tie up a bundle and let them dry for a few days and they will harden up nicely.) With that seemingly simple design solution our kite was finally off the drawing board and ready to fly.

We ended up making over one hundred of these for the picnic fundraiser and the kids loved them. The lift they provided was so good that many parents thought they were actually attached to sticks. We sold them each for $1 and easily sold out. Had we made more we probably could have sold one to every kid in attendance. As they began getting destroyed a small group of kids formed an ad hoc repair shop behind the sales table. And as fast as the smaller kids would step on them, our repair team would splice in a new brace add a little tape and send them on their way!


1. Cut out the kite and string mounting flap from the tissue paper. (The kite shown in the photos measures 8" along each axis.)

2. Cut and glue the grass stalks to the tissue.

3. Glue the string flap to the opposite side of the kite with the point of the flap level with the horizontal brace.

4. Glue the string to the flap. The string should emanate from the flap point. 

After a bit of experimenting we decided the string only need to be about five feet long. The kids could control this length easily and we never had an issue with knots or tangles.

5. Glue two tales to the bottom approx. 30" long each



The best thing about these kites is that they require nearly ZERO wind speed! No reason to wait for the winds to pick up or spring to roll around. You can fly these kites in the dead of winter!

Go fly a kite! 


Winfield Klein
Klein Residential Design