6 Ways to Make Poi out of Household item

Posted on February 15, 2016 by

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Artist: Nova Photo: Alan Rosnov

Artist: Nova
Photo: Alan Rosnov

Are you just starting out with poi and want a quick, cheap way to practice without making a huge investment? Or are you starting our Intro to Poi Drop-in class or  Beginner Moves series and need a set of poi to use in class? This article is a do-it-yourself quick start guide for those new to poi to help get them started in a no-nonsense manner, especially if you’re looking to go on to our free downloadable beginner poi lesson.

Anatomy of Poi

Poi are made of three basic elements, each of which can have different configurations.

  • Head – the weighted object at the point farthest from the handle. For example, the head can be the kevlar and cotton wicking used for fire poi, the LED weighted object for lit poi, or a ball or beanbag used for practice poi.
  • Leash – the cord, rope, chain, string, cone or other object that connects the head and leash. The head may go inside the leash (as with a cone poi where the weight is at the end of the cone and the handle at the other end) or be attached as a tether to the leash (as with fire poi connected to a chain or technora).
  • Handle – the primary grip point for the poi from which the artist controls the poi, attached to the leash, traditionally at the opposite end of the leash from the head. It can be a loop, knot, knob, ball or other object the artist grabs or tethers to their body.

Here’s 5 ways to make poi from household items.

1: Quarters in Socks

You will need: 3 pairs of tube socks, $4 in quarters (possibly more)

How to assemble:

  • ball up a pair of socks, placing 8 quarters in the center and rolling the socks around them. This will becoming a head.
  • take the rolled up ball of socks with the quarters in the center and place them inside the foot of one sock. The sock in which the head resides becomes the leash and handle.
  • tie a knot at the top — this will become your handle to grip
  • repeat for the other poi

2: Balloons in Socks, Water version

You will need: 1 pair of tube socks, 2 balloons, water

How to assemble:

  • fill a ballon with water to desired weight. You may need to experiment with this but you can begin by filling the ballon to the size of a tennis ball and work larger or smaller from there. This will becoming a head.
  • knot the balloon securely and place it in the foot of the sock. The sock in which the head resides becomes the leash and handle.
  • tie a knot at the top — this will become your handle to grip
  • repeat for the other poi

3: Balloons in Socks, Flour version

You will need: 1 pair of tube socks, 2 balloons, flour

How to assemble:

  • this is essentially the same as the water version only you replace water with flour. It is harder to get the flour in the balloon  However, balloons are more likely to pop with water in them than flour.
  • For the flour version, start with a golf ball sized balloon rather than tennis ball as a base for measuring the weight if a scale is not available. This will becoming a head.

4: Rice* in Socks:

You will need: 1 pair of socks with a tight weave, 2 plastic bags, 1-2 cups of rice.

How to assemble:

  • measure out the rice into equal parts based on the weight you think you want. Start with half a cup of rice/115g as a starting point for each poi.
  • secure the rice in plastic bags (knots or rubber bands, optionally). This will help prevent the rice from getting wet and sprouting inside the poi and will also provide an extra layer of protection from the rice spilling out of the sock. Note the plastic bags are an optional level of protection. (This will becoming a head.)
  • Place the rice, either in the plastic bags or directly, into the socks.
  • Tie the socks closed. The knots will be your grips.
  • *Replace rice with dry beans if that’s what you have available.

5: Belt, Scarf & Rope knot version:

You will need: 2 flexible belts, scarves or other thick enough rope to provide enough weight when tied.

How to assemble:

  • Determine which end of the material you will use as the handle versus the weighted end. Considerations might include buckles which, while they may make excellent weights, may also hurt a lot when they hit you and thus may be better as handles.
  • determine how you will best grip the handle end of the material. This could be a by making a fist, pinching between thumb and forefinger, wrapping around your hand, arm, fingers or some other way you feel secure with. This will become your handle.
  • looking at the remaining length of material, measure out how much length you want the leash to have and knot the rest together to become the weight at the end acting as a poi head.

6: Shirt & rice

You will need: 1 long sleeve shirt, 2 plastic bags, 1-2 cups of rice.

How to assemble:

  • Cut the two sleeves off the shirt.
  • On the wrist end of each sleeve, make a knot.
  • Measure out the rice into equal parts based on the weight you think you want. Start with half a cup of rice/115g as a starting point for each poi.
  • secure the rice in plastic bags (knots or rubber bands, optionally). This will help prevent the rice from getting wet and sprouting inside the poi and will also provide an extra layer of protection from the rice spilling out of the sock. Note the plastic bags are an optional level of protection. (This will becoming a head.)
  • Place the rice or rice in plastic bags inside the sleeve.
  • knot the shoulder end of the sleeve to create a handle.

7: Mix & Match

You will need: an item to act as the head and an item to act as the leash from any of the examples above. Mix and match to create your own quick and easy poi.

Additional resources can be found when you subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek business training or guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly:gg