Poi is one of the many manifestations of fire dancing.  It originates (according to legend, at least) from a flexibility and strength training exercise used by the Maori people in ages past and has evolved into a performance art.  As a fire spinning art the performer uses "heads" on his or her poi made out of a fire-resistant wicking material -- often a kevlar blend -- that have been soaked in fuel (people use kerosene, lamp oil, white gas (naptha to people outside the US)  or a blend of those fuels, normally) and lit on fire.

Poi heads can be made out of pretty much whatever you can think of: bright-colored balls, glowsticks, flags, and even socks filled with sand in a pinch.*  I have a rather nice set of glow heads myself, but even though I've spun fire before I've never owned any burn heads.  Some people use monkey's fist knots for their burn heads, but I wanted to go one better and use a turk's head knot.

Spinning fire is a lot of fun and isn't really as scary as a lot of people think, but it's still dangerous.  Always make sure you have someone spotting you when spinning with fire and don't try any moves with fire that you haven't tried and gotten good at in (less incendiary) practice.

*Yes, I have done this.  I was at the beach and used my shoelaces for strings.  I recommend you remember to bring your poi with you, though, because a sock full of sand has another name: blackjack.  It hurts when you whack yourself with these.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

For these heads I decided to use 3\8" (10mm) kevlar wick.  The turk's head is really a cylindrical knot, rather than a spherical one, so you'll need to tie it around a core of some sort that has an anchor in it to clip your chains to.  My materials list was as follows:

  • 3/8" kevlar rope* (20ft) -- about $30 plus shipping
  • Wooden sphere, 2" diameter (x2) -- $1.50 each from a craft store
  • 1/4" x 3" steel Eyebolt with nut (x2) -- About $2 each from a hardware store
  • 1/2" wood screws (x2)
  • whipping twine (optional)
  • Power drill or drill press -- needs 1/4" and 1/2" drill bits and a driver bit for your wood screws.
  • Pliers
  • Marlinspike or Fid
  • Sailmaker's palm and needle (optional)

* I've bought most of my poi stuff from the New Zealand based Home of Poi.  They have some excellent resources for learning the various fire spinning arts, making your own gear, and one of the best shops for buying those things you can't or decide not to make (wick, really cool, durable glow poi, chains).  The HOP shop links in this instructable contain my referral code, Kyle135.  To my knowledge this grants you (if you 're a first-time buyer) a 5% discount on all items in the store and gives me the same 5% of your purchase as a kickback on my next purchase.  You don't need to use it if you don't want to.
Try soaking the balls in a fifty/fifty mix of sodium silicate (water glass) and water. It is a good fire proofing solution for any thing flammable.
That's a good suggestion. I may try it next time if I need to.
awesome pretty cool<br>
Thanks! Let me know how it works out if you decide to build some, and let me know if you have any suggestions for how to make it more clear.
A turkshead knot can be configured as a cylinder, sphere or a flat mat. The sphere you created is correct just chase the cord again. If you are having problems with exposed wooden surfaces you can follow the binding through a second time and cover more wooden area. This would mean you would have to use more cordage but it would accomplish what you want.
Probably true. By the time I realized I had a problem I'd already finished and cut the cord and there's no reasonable way to splice it so if I want to reuse the existing line I'll have to use smaller cores and/or a different knot.
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.<br>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 http://www.aboveandbelow.org <br><br>p.s we dont sell anything and its free to join!

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Bio: I'm a developer for DreamHost. I enjoy working with my hands and building things. I also enjoy working with electronics. Halloween is my favorite ... More »
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