First of all, to those who don't know what poi is:
Quoted from Homeofpoi.com
""Poi" is the Maori word for "ball" on a cord
The Poi was used, many years ago, by the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand to increase their flexibility and strength in their hands and arms as well as improving coordination.
Wahine (female) dancers perform the Maori Poi, a dance performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically.
The Poi dance was originally used by the Maori women for keeping their hands flexible for weaving and by the men for strength and coordination required during battle. Poi are also used as a training aid for other ancient weapons like the Mere or Patu (Short club)"
Now days poi is a popular form of entertainment and just plain for fun practice good for cordination.
Glowstringing is a similar art to poi, largely developed and advocated by the rave community, before spreading throughout electronic music culture. It involves spinning glowsticks to make patterns in the air at raves or in the club scene. While often mistaken for poi, it is in fact a separate discipline, and the two styles have had some influence on each other.
Learning the fundamentals of poi make an excellent foundation for glowstringing and advanced fire poi, like in the picture below.
A simple way out would be purchasing a pair of poi off the web. It isn't a bad idea, but as for me, save the $20 or so dollars and get crafty. I personally find I like working with my own crafted items better myself anyways.
But enough of my rambling, lets get started on some basic homemade pratice poi!
Step 1: "The Ingredients"
Onto the supplies.
1. A pretty good sized scrap of fabric
2. Some yarn or string
3. A couple of old(or new, your call) shoe-laces
4. Two plastic baggies
5. Some rice or sand
6. Scissors and a ruler
If all goes well and you don't get rice everywhere (like me) this should only take about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Two Fabric Squares Plz
Your fabric should be decently sized, I stick to around 12" across (yay darth vader!) Cut into even squares.
If using socks:
Cut your socks off at around the heel so you have a nice pouch.
Step 3: Snip Those Ziplocks
Step 4: Fill 'er Up
If you end up not liking the feel of it later on then it's an easy fix.
Step 5: Twist and Tie
Step 6: Folding the Fabric
Place the baggie in the middle of the square and fold all four corners around the baggie. Take your shoe lace and tie the baggie in nice and tight.
If using socks:
Slide the baggie into the sock pouch and tye off with the shoe lace nice and tight.
If you feel your poi might slip, try some colorful electric tape, duct tape or masking tape around tie just incase.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Give them a few test swings, dose it flow well? If it's too light or too heavy go back to step 4 and try again.
If it dose:
Find the right length for you (usually about as long as your arm from the wrist to the armpit) and tie off a handle.
Finish off the handle by wrapping some electrical tape or duct tape around the cord if you want. Add ribbons, puffy paint and just have fun decorating your practice poi!
Some other things you might want to try:
Instead of shoe laces try kite cording (nylon cord) or fancy ribbons found in craft stores (the fabric kind).
Try a tennis ball slipped into a long (knee length) sock and tie it off so it doesn't slip around.
Make a "tail" out of fabric and sew it onto the fabric square or sock and watch it chase the poi around and around!
Step 8: Lessons and Learning!
New to poi? Well there's plenty of guides and lessons online to get you started.
Here's some helpful links:
http://www.maori.org.nz/waiata (Traditional Māori poi performance)
http://www.homeofpoi.com (One of the largest poi communities in the world, awesome lessons!)
http://artofpoi.tribe.net (A very heplful poi community)
http://www.fire-dancing.com/fire-poi.php (Fire poi basics)
http://www.playpoi.com (More lessons here!)
http://www.glowsticking.com (A very nice resource for glowstringing!)
http://www.domorepoi.com (A very welcoming forum)
Spinning fire and making stunning walls of color is a long way off, but practice makes perfect!
Until next time