It's only very recently that I've discovered poi: those weighted balls on chains or ropes that are swung around the body for fun... and boy are they FUN. If not to try yourself, then at the very least for onlookers to watch :) I first saw these a couple years ago when I was being introduced to the rock climbing culture and quickly learned that such activities like poi, firesticking, slack lining, and the like are all commonly practiced around the world!
So enough dilly dallying, allow me to show you a nifty instructable in making your own beginner set of poi for very cheap! And for a limited time only, I'll be breaking down these steps into 5 very easy but unnecessary parts!
Here are the materials you need:
♦ 2 Tennis Balls (about $1 each)
♦ 1 Nylon Rope (50' for about $6)
♦ 1 Pocket Knife (If you don't already have a knife I feel sorry for you)
You don't need these next ones but then again you don't really NEED poi either... they're just nice to have :)
♦ 1 Lighter ($0.50 recommended)
♦ 1 Regular/Super Glue ($1-2, recommended)
Step 1: The Slit and the Ball
Let me first say that I think a smaller blade would be better rather than a large blade (like say a kitchen knife) because you want to minimalize the hole in the ball. Hold the ball firmly against something (NOT THE PALM OF YOUR HAND) and carefully push into the ball with your knife. You want to have the knife cut a slit about 3/4" long into ONE side of the ball.
With that, part 1 is complete. Go make yourself a cup of tea and procrastinate for a month.
Step 2: Knots!
Back already? My grandpa can procrastinate TWICE as good as you. Anyway...
The rope I used was a 3/16" x 50' nylon rope. On hindsight I think a slightly smaller rope would be better but if you intend to change the rope size, you'll want to either make the knot bigger or the slit in the ball smaller to make sure that in Part 3 the knot actually stays in the ball.
Anyhoo, the knot I used was similar to the Heaving Knot but instead I only wrapped around one of the lines on the loop rather than both. The difference is that the Heaving Knot is more secure (i.e. the end is less likely to be pulled out and undo the knot), but the one I used (whatever it's called) forms a larger knot when tightened, so when I push it into the tennis ball, it will be a little harder to pull out. I ended up wrapping around about 6 or 7 times before pulling the knot tight.
Finished? Awesome. You're awesome.
Step 3: Use the Force
There's something I need to tell you that I've been sort of neglecting, I should have said so from the beginning really but who the hell uses the backspcae key? The thing is... I'm your father.
...no wait, I lied. I'm a liar.
Back on topic, we need to steal George Lucas' idea and use the force... to shove that knot you made into that hole you cut and create that poi you wanted! You can place the ball firmly in the palm of your hand (it's safe this time!) and with your other hand just sort of wedge the knot as hard as you can into the slit. It won't feel like it's going in very much but just jiggle-n-wiggle it for a bit and it should slowly slide in. Give it another push and the sucker should pop in no problemo.
If you tied your knot anywhere near as unprofessionally as me, you'll have a ton of little strands or fibers from your rope still popping out. I just took a pen* and shoved those little guys in there. A few jousts should set that issue straight. Ta-da! You have a Tennis Ball with a Rope in the Middle. Not to be confused with my other instuctable on making a Rubber Chicken with a Pulley in the Middle. The optional glue would come in right now, you can squeeze the ball a little bit to make the slit open up and apply glue to the inside of the cut and a little bit to the rope going in. Let the glue dry overnight before testing tension.
*oops, forgot to mention a pen would be nice to have. Backspcae is still for wimps!
Step 4: You Have to Burn the Rope
Hopefully you haven't cut the rope yet, I think it's important to determine the length AFTER Part 3 because the amount of rope used in the knot and such varies. Take the Tennis Ball with a Rope in the Middle in one hand and stretch your arm out to your side and with the other measure the rope to about the center of your chest or even opposite shoulder and cut the rope there. For myself this works out to about 33" and because I like playing on the safe side, I just rounded up to 3' (36"). You can always cut off excess later.
With a cut rope, you'll get that ugly, pesky fray with the fibers... this is where that lighter would be nifty to have on-hand. Torch the end a little bit and the rope will melt into itself, securing the end so it doesn't unravel.
CAUTION!!! If you do burn the rope, please realize that the rope had just MELTED and therefore you probably shouldn't touch it. I ran mine under some tap water real quick (like a split second) to speed up the process.
Step 5: Better Than Step 4
Put a bite in the rope and tie a simple overhand knot. Voila! You've completed 50% of your set! Now scroll back up and do Parts 1-5 again to complete your set.
Step 6: Credits
My friend Doug Emery and I actually made these together on the fly. The weight is very nice, soft enough to accidentally hit yourself without injury, yet heavy enough to swing around comfortably. This happens to be my first time doing an instructable, so if you're inclined to mock me or have any issues, it's Doug's fault. Compliments however may be messaged to me :D