Introduction: Contact Staff

Here's a quick and simple contact staff you can put together with things you might have lying around the house.

Contact Staff is a form of object manipulation derived from contact juggling and traditional staff. It involves lots of moves done using your torso, rather than just your hands, to manipulate the staff. It's pretty sweet.

Contact staffs differ from regular staffs in their weight and handle type. From what I gather, the best contact staffs have solid cores, weighty ends, and sticky handles.

I wanted to learn contact staff after seeing members of the Vulcan (see vid below). But I didn't want to shell out $40-65 for a professional rig, and I wanted to see how much I liked spinning it before buying (or building) a fire rig. So I spent a few hours putting together this simple staff, and the weight and balance turned out pretty great!

Step 1: Supplies

A broom handle or solid wood dowel. Length is up to you, but it will likely fall between 3.5 and 5 feet. Check out this thread for a discussion of contact staff length. (Summary--your contact staff will probably be longer and heavier than your regular staff.)

Old bicycle tubes - I used 4 road tubes and 1 mountain tube. You could experiment to find the weight that works best for you. My staff is pretty heavy but I find that keeps it slow and helps me learn the moves.

Bike handlebar tape and electrical tape
Flat head thumbtacks
Duct tape

Step 2: Cut Down Your Bike Tubes

Cut off the section around the valve, then cut down the length of each tube so you can lay it out as one flat strip.

Step 3: Roll Tubes Onto Handle

Carefully roll the strips of tube onto the handle ends. It helps to wipe off some of the white powder that coats the inside of your tubes. Once you've got it started, make sure to roll really tight.

When you've gone as far as you can, cut a nice straight end and tack it down with your flat head tacks. Then cover that with a piece of duct tape for extra security.

Step 4: Finish Ends

Take your mountain bike tube and cut out the valve section. Procure a muscle-bound friend to stretch the tube around your staff end, leaving about 1" of excess at each end. If you yourself are of the muscle-bound variety, procure a lovely assistant to hold onto the staff while you stretch the tube over.

For a smoother look, we added 2 layers of covering tube to each end.

Step 5: Finish Ends

For a finished look on the ends, I trimmed each end of the covering tube to fit flush, then added a circle of black duct tape under the cover.

Because I thought of this after the fact, I rolled back the cover end to expose the raw end, covered it with the little duct tape disc, then rolled the cover back over for a finished end.

Step 6: Balance!

Find your balance point by balancing the staff on your finger. Mark this with a Sharpie.

Step 7: Add Handle Tape

Just like wrapping your bike bars. Measure equal distances out from the center line and mark those. I made a 20" handle, which used almost exactly one roll of bar tape. Wrap tightly from one marking to the other, finishing with electrical tape.

Step 8: Balance... Again!

Find that center point again and add a strip of bright electrical tape to it so you can see it while you spin.

Happy contact staff adventures.. you're done!