Introduction: How to Make Homemade Practice Poi

Picture of How to Make Homemade Practice Poi

Welcome to my little tutorial on how to make some poi.
First of all, to those who don't know what poi is:

Quoted from
""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"

Picture of "The Ingredients"

First of all, sorry for the bad pictures, I really need a new camera!
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

Picture of Two Fabric Squares Plz

If using scraps:
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

Picture of Snip Those Ziplocks

If your using ziplock baggies like me, snip off the ziplocks so the bags will tie easier.

Step 4: Fill 'er Up

Picture of Fill 'er Up

Now take your baggie and fill it up with rice or sand until you think you've found a desirable weight.
If you end up not liking the feel of it later on then it's an easy fix.

Step 5: Twist and Tie

Picture of Twist and Tie

Once your happy with the weight of the baggies, give them a couple twists and tie them nice and tight with some string. Or if string isn't your thing try some small pieces of duct tape. Just make sure it's tight, you wouldn't want to be swinging and all of a sudden *poof* rice everywhere.

Step 6: Folding the Fabric

Picture of Folding the Fabric

If using scraps:
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

Picture of Finishing Touches

Your almost done!
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!

Picture of Lessons and Learning!

I hope you like your practice poi as much as I do, this is just a simple process for a simple pair. As you progress you might want to go a little more complicated, watch out for more tutorials on more refined poi!

New to poi? Well there's plenty of guides and lessons online to get you started.
Here's some helpful links: (Traditional Māori poi performance) (One of the largest poi communities in the world, awesome lessons!) (A very heplful poi community) (Fire poi basics) (More lessons here!) (A very nice resource for glowstringing!) (A very welcoming forum)

Spinning fire and making stunning walls of color is a long way off, but practice makes perfect!

Until next time


00101101 (author)2012-10-05

How long should the shoe laces be? >.< Or rather, how long should it be BETWEEN the handleloop and the ball itself?

onenomadwoman (author)001011012016-01-10

The best length is usually measured from your finger (where the strap goes) to your armpit- this will allow you to do maneuvers behind the back, etc without tangling your poi ;)

onenomadwoman (author)001011012016-01-10

The best length is usually measured from your finger (where the strap goes) to your armpit- this will allow you to do maneuvers behind the back, etc without tangling your poi ;)

Lilium. made it! (author)2015-10-10

Yay, I made poi!

I spontaneuosly "needed" them and now I have a pair to start practising.
Only took me a few minutes. Thank you for this simple and quick tutorial!

DevilishConcept (author)2012-03-21

Nice Post, im actually looking for some content contributors, to posts tutorials and other articles on my website, i cover subjects such as poi, fire spinning, twirling , circus skills, flow lights and loads of other stuff that makes you jump in the night.
for any avid contributors i will be sharing the advertising income depending on what they have submitted, if any of you guys fancy it hit me up on my site, if your not but you still like poi and fire spinning etc head over and check it out an join the forums :) much love

hippiedoll80 (author)2011-11-11

Ijust made my first set of practice poi balls! Thanks for your inspiration!

CosmicBrambleclaw (author)2011-07-11

Darn exercise thats fun? Whats the world coming to? XD :3 congrats now I'm craving some poi and Maori carvings X3 although I always did want to use fire >:3 XD thanks

AnarchistKid (author)2007-05-13

What did you use to get the colored flames? i know a few things but I'd like to know what you uses

Rjeff (author)AnarchistKid2007-06-08

Might want to hold off on that and learn the glowsticking first. Don't jump straight into fire, its dangerous.

ravebot (author)Rjeff2008-09-14

fire dangerous? no fire is your friend smoky the bear told me

Lol Dustfinger told me it was my friend (Dustfinger from Inkheart)

AnarchistKid (author)Rjeff2007-06-20

lol, fire dangerous?? never

home of poi now sell tribal neon coloured fire that changes the flame colour rather cool

Hydra (author)AnarchistKid2007-07-07

Those colors were created by glowsticks or LED stick lights/glow sticks (which you can pick one up for, often, under $10).

PaganMoon (author)2008-11-17

balloons would make a good alternative to the baggies

deaf258 (author)PaganMoon2008-12-25

How about condoms?

PaganMoon (author)deaf2582009-03-07

could make for an interesting shaped poi

dragonsniper (author)PaganMoon2011-05-17


wiillii (author)2009-09-02

why don't you make this stuff from a lamp led or something like that. ıts gonna be cool and look like real:D

AznDonut (author)2009-06-09

My poi is just a long pair of soccer socks with water bottles in them

HDM528 (author)2008-09-14

how can you make it glow so brite???????

J_SCAP (author)HDM5282009-05-07

in the pictures there using glow/fire poi these are jsut regular fabric poi

pluish (author)2006-07-30

this would make a great weapon, a poi, i mean, if you set it on fire and swing it to your enemy, or wrap it around him, it wil maybe set his clothes on fire! xD

Eimii...x (author)pluish2008-11-24

But The Thing Is, Your Not Supposed To Hit People With The Poi. Its Considered Disrespctful

AnarchistKid (author)pluish2007-06-20

but if your enemy was on fire, what if he just hugged you?

adjk94 (author)2008-09-14

shouldnt the plastic melt while doing the poi i just dont see how u can get it to work without the plastic melting or the fabric burning off

mohawk93 (author)adjk942008-11-18

not this type this is "practice" poi not "fire" poi. that means no fire.

kittensox (author)2007-11-13

Good one. My first practice poi were small chains and tennis balls. I had the injuries on my skull to prove my skill level. I finally made something like yours only they are bean bags. I think having the sand or whatever to provide weight is really good!! Another way of practicing CAREFULLY without actually moving onto fire is to use water filled plastic cups with no lid or those squishy spongey pool toys that kids throw at each other. The water spins out and looks really cool and it also shows you what happens if you don't tap out your wicks.

bustedit (author)kittensox2008-06-20

yea, or have u seen those rubbery stretchy transluscent toys that look like a stress ball and a sea urchin's love child? usually they're in walgreens or wherever cheap, and they usually have a loop or leash that is longer than the other protuberenceseses, i'm sure u could swing 2 of those around and not hurt yourself too much.

Rolla (author)2008-06-18

did you use a camera setting for that picture?

Rolla (author)2008-06-18

what camera setting is that?

glassspider2142 (author)2007-07-07

i live in newzealand and iv never seen a man use them or even heard of one , traditionly they were not set on fire that is a more recent development. iv put bolts and washers with citronela wicks wraped around bolts on the end of my nunchuks and use two at once, cool party trick and iv never burnt myself, but i do recomend you get good first or shave your head!

ps poi is most defnatly a girl thing, in newzealand a male would get laughed at!

Where I live (Boston, MA, USA), there are WAAAY more men doing poi then women. I only know of one other girl besides myself that can do poi. Most girls I've seen that attempted it have given up after getting hit in the face or back with a tennis ball.

Easel (author)radiobath2008-05-06

Hmmm... i live in New Zealand and do firestaffing and fire poi and to be honest i also believe there are far more females doing it.....however..... the females kinna do it while being social with each other and such while the guys go crazy learning new stuff and using fire and are generally way more into it I guess girls do it a "sterotyped girly" way and guys do it the "stereotyped guy" way lol

mega destroyer (author)2007-07-06

hey can you use flour instead of sand or rice?

Also, if you decide to use flour, avoid doing it near fires (campfires, barbeques, etc.), if it bursts, the cloud of flour can flash burn. While it would look cool, it is not something you'd want to be standing in the middle of... ...unless you're trying out for the next run of Jackass. lol :-P

Hydra (author)mega destroyer2007-07-07

I don't see why not! If you can get the desirable weight out of four, go for it. Just be careful of how you package it, flour can get stinky if open to moist air. (This is why I stick with rice and sand.)

zamirii (author)2008-02-19

anybody interested in learning to make a set of fire poi for about $10 u.s. ? the heads are good for a couple burns but easy and cheap to replace. if so email me and i'll work on putting together an instructable for it. down here in south florida, poi and bellydancers go together like PB&J; ;)

twoleftfeet (author)2006-07-20

It's too bad that "poi" means something totally different ( in Hawaii.

Nothing to do with fire. Poi - the food - is definitely an acquire taste.

Hope Google sorts this out.

buchd (author)twoleftfeet2006-10-22

Poi--this type of dancing--might have come from the tuber as well. Hawaiians did similar dances, as they would tie a pouch of poi on astring and dance with it, rhythmically hitting it on their forearms and legs, etc., to mash it so they could more easily cook it.

Just FYI! =n.n=

radiobath (author)buchd2007-11-07

Glowstick/LED poi is done like that. As you're spinning, you do a "wrap", where you hit the middle of the string or chain on your arm (or leg, ankle, neck, shoulder, etc), making it wrap around and smacking it against your skin and bounce back. If pictures are taken during this move, it comes out like a spiral. It looks really amazing when done in front of you as well.

Bran (author)2007-06-26

Not only would I like to know how to make the fire poi, I'd also like to know what shutter speed you used for those photos, that's is awesome!

AnarchistKid (author)2007-05-13

or....wait, they are probably lights huh?

pyro13 (author)2007-05-13

hey i want an instructible on making a fire poi please? that would be wicked awsome

mspark400 (author)2007-03-07

cool, good instructable, im into glow sticking and stringing myself.PS PYROFREAK, im working on it;)

egadsman (author)2007-02-18

try adding a secon layer of material and onto that layer tie some long strips of coloured material preferably around 2-3 and have fun watching the swirling patterns you can make.

kinawera (author)2007-01-17

We had to make these at school when we were kids (in NZ). Our version were more like the traditional ones, where the plaited string is only about the length of your forearm, rather than the considerably longer ones people commonly use for twirling and firepoi now. Ours were made out of plastic bags, wool and scrunched up paper, but for the more violent among us, a rock in the middle made for the perfect Swinging Poi of Malice. Good wholesome fun for kids of all ages! The best part was that only girls do poi, so the boys had no counter-weaponry.

kennytatheguy (author)2006-10-06

i agree, these pictures are hella cool

zamirii (author)2006-08-29

a cheap and easy way to make glow poi is to get a pair of nice long socks and the soft rubber covered led flashing toys from your local stores. drop them in, knot the ends, and have fun! was playing with them recently on the beach at night and had several cute girls come up wanting to try em! (too bad i've got a gf!)

About This Instructable




Bio: I love being creative!
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