Carlyle Dainty: A man of kites

The Easter period is Carlyle Dainty’s busiest, as it is during this season that he puts his creativity to work, putting out some of the more artistic kites which are sought after even though there are the cheaper ‘bird’ kites on the market.

The 45-year-old Carlyle boasts of having been making kites for over 28 years. He recalled making his first kite at age seven after learning the skill from an older brother. The first kite he made was what is popularly referred to as ‘Caddy Old Punch.’ He used a page from his exercise book, and ‘pointers’ from his mother’s coconut palm broom. It resulted in him being on the receiving end of a tongue licking compliments of his mother, as she did not take kindly to him using her ‘pointer broom’.

The caddy kite later graduated to the cheese paper kites before he could finally manage the star-point kite. During a chat with The Scene, even as he tended to customers, Carlyle recalled making kites for his sisters, nieces and nephews some of whom were also his age at the time. He now makes kites for his children apart from customers.

“It used to be a set of us friends together making our kites, where I live in Campbellville,” reminisced Carlyle. He even boasted about his first kite flying experience.

In fact Carlyle made and flew so many kites that he was nicknamed ‘Kite’ by one of his neighbours.

“If I could have fly Christmas Day I woulda do it. Every day you see me on the road running [half naked] with my kite, east to west; whether breeze blow or not. Sometimes I have three kites one time.

“I used to be making kites on my verandah. I would go by some a lady who used to sell kite papers, name Ms Lamb. They migrate now,” he shared.

He recalled getting in trouble for his kite once when he tied it to a post and left it flying all night. The following day his aunt received complaints from a neighbour concerning the kite singing all night, which kept her awake and made it difficult for her to get up and prepare for work when she finally did get some sleep. He never left his kite out after that.

According to Carlyle ‘gamma cherry’ tree, whose sticky fruit was used to paste kites, was situated close by where he lived. The tree he said bore almost the entire year round. However, when he did not have any ‘gamma cherries’, he made flour paste.

While he spoke to The Scene persons passed by checking out Carlyle’s kite, some making purchases. At one point, two girls passed by and one said to the other, “Now this is kite, nah duh nonsense we see just now.”

“I make my kites from [scratch]. I cut up the pieces of wood to make the frame—and you got to cut them equally—then I get bamboo from a dam they call ‘Blacka Dam’ to make the head of the kite. Right now we don’t use gamma cherry anymore; we use Evo Stick,” Carlyle shared about the art of his creations.

“My favourite part to make is the inside star. It’s the most complicated piece but that’s the best part to make for me. I enjoy making it. I would do that in six minutes,” he boasted.

Sometimes he begins working as early as 6.30 am making kites and goes as late as 4 am the following day. Instead of making one kite at a time, he usually makes a set of the frames first then once he’s done, he does the designing another time.

“The largest kite I ever make was the five feet kite. But I does make as big as the three feet to sell; persons usually buy up to the three feet. And the smallest I ever make was five inches. I’ve never been in any competition but I know persons who been in competitions with my kites,” he said.

A close look at Carlyle’s kites would reveal that the papers he uses for making his kites are almost weather resistant. It had rained earlier in the day and his kites got wet but showed no signs of damage. All his kite papers are imported. Customers, he said, would buy their kites and reuse them the following year and because of the quality of work he does and the word is passed on about his skill and the quality of his kites.

Carlyle has been selling kites for over 20 years. In fact he has been selling kites opposite the City Mall at Camp and Regent streets nearby to the Republic Bank; even before the bank was built at that location. He has photographs to prove this fact.

He shared that because of his expertise he’s had instances where other kite makers, who admire his work, pose for photos with his kites.

Sharing some tips with persons for this holiday he said, “If the kite siding to the left or the right then it’s usually some fault with the loop but if the kite pitching, then that has to do with the tail; the tail is too short so you add extra tail.”

This Easter Carlyle looks forward to being at his usual spot on the seawalls flying his kite.

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