Gautemalan Kite for All Saints Day

The tiny town of Santiago Sacatepequez in Guatemala is famous for its annual gigantic kites festival on el Dia de Todos los Santos, Day of the Dead or All Saints’ Day. The gigantic kites, barriletes gigantes, were originally flown as a way to remember and connect to ancestors.

"Up to 40 feet across in diameter, these circular kites are made of hand cut pieces of colored tissue paper, arranged and glued to “construct” a story. Each kite is composed of thousands of tissue papers and gallons of white glue, costing around four hundred dollars to construct." Drachen

I have designed a simplified and smaller version of this craft. The kite is not meant to be flown it is purely decorative. This craft is recommended for middle school aged children on up.

10" or larger wooden embroidery hoop.
2 bamboo cooking skewers (optional)
Colorful Tissue Paper
Mod Podge (or slightly watered down glue)
Foam Brush
Crepe Paper Streamers
Drill (if you opt to use the skewers)
Sand Paper

The bamboo skewers are optional and are purely in keeping with the aesthetic of the original. Although I did find that they came in handy while gluing, they provided something to hold on to. If using drill 4 small holes equidistant apart, so that when assembled your skewers form a cross or X. To trim skewers I just used scissors and then sharpened the blunt end with a pencil sharpener. Sand little bit that pokes out flush to hoop.

Trace a tissue paper circle larger than your hoop. I used a 12" dinner plate.
Paint on glue to the top edge of hoop and sides.

Place circle on top of hoop. Using foam brush smooth down the sides adding more glue on top.
Cut out your shapes/design elements.

Glue onto kite using the classic decoupage method. Thin layer of glue, lay tissue down, coat with top thin layer of glue. The key to this method is that the more layers of tissue and glue the stronger your kite will be.
When working with tissue always be gentle with your brush strokes. Let dry and then go back and glue some more if it looks like it might rip.

Cut crepe paper streamers to desired length. I cut mine in half length wise to make them thinner. Glue to underside of hoop.

Let dry. For more detailed (read, complicated) and authentic kite instructions click here.

Here is a way to do a similar activity with toddlers or special needs children.

White Paper Plate
Tissue Paper
Mod Podge or Glue
Foam Brush
Crepe Paper Streamers
  1. Cut tissue paper into geometric shapes.
  2. Glue tissue to plate by using foam brush.
  3. Cut streamers to desired length. You can cut them in half length wise to make them thinner.
  4. Attach with glue or tape to underside of plate


maryanne said...

Beautiful - love all the colors.

Rachel said...

This is wonderful! I had no idea that some people celebrated with kites, very cool. Thanks so much for this, I'll be linking.

Amy said...

I really love all of the colors.

Adriana said...

So beautiful! I am a high school Spanish teacher so we talk about these beautiful kites. I will be doing a whole week of Day of the Dead activities next week with my boys. Come check it out!

Avilio said...

Im so amazed how in other cultures they connect with other cultures.

Unknown said...

I hope you have some time to visit my site to see how I interpreted the day of the dead.

Katie said...

What a great kite tutorial! I've included it on my website today along with some other DIY kites. I'm sure it will be a hit! Thanks so much for sharing!


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