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“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.” ― Thomas Merton
Step One: Gather the materials. For this set I went to a marina hardware store, but you can find these items in your local hardware store to make fire poi. You will need the following:
Two pieces of chain 75-90” in length (this is what I prefer)
2 bolts 5” in length
(make sure the bolts will fit in the chain without falling through)
2 nuts to fit the bolts
4 – 1″ Washers that fit the bolts
2 Keychain Rings slightly smaller than a quarter
2 Keychain Rings the size of a quarter
A pair of old jeans (or welders cloth)
Some fabric scissors
Tape to hold the jean material together
(optional) Webbing for additional finger holds
You will also need chain cutters (unless you have the chains cut at the store as I did), and a power drill with a bit that is slightly larger than your bolts to make your fire poi.
Optional – a heavy duty hand stitcher and thread to sew the webbing for handles.
Step Two: Start by laying the chains out and counting 5 links from one end and then place the bolt in this link. Add 2 washers and the nut to the bottom of the bolt to avoid it falling out while you work. Do this to both pieces of chain. (see photo below)
Step Three: Use the 2 slightly smaller keychain rings to attach the bottom of the chain in a triangle form above it (see photo below) One keychain ring per each chain.
Step Four: Measure the chain length needed for your specific body/arm. I am comfortable using a chain length of 75” which reaches roughly 20” past my fingertips. This point is where you will place the other 2 quarter sized keychain rings. I found it easier to measure one, then count the links and make the other one based on this number so that they are the exact same length. Some people prefer they are shorter (around only 26 – 30″), but I like them longer (just make sure when you hold them in your hand they don’t drag the ground – mine hover about half an inch from the floor).
Step Five: Use chain cutters to remove excess chain from the top keychain ring, as this is where you will “spin” the poi from and won’t need extra chain flying around bashing up your hands and wrists. You can also have the chain cut for you in the hardware store where you bought it usually.
Step Six: Now it’s time to build the fire heads. You can use welding cloth which does last a bit longer, but it can cost you around $20. Or you can recycle the bottom of those jeans you made into shorts (or pick up a pair from a second hand store for 50cents) as I chose to do. I cut 8” strips of jean material and then roll them up until they are 4 – 4 1/2” thick. You want to leave room to place the final washer and nut on the bottom of the bolt, but not so much that you leave an excess of metal exposed.
Step Seven: After rolling the jeans up, place two strips of tape on each end to hold the material together as you prepare to drill the hole in the center. Be very careful when you do this step. I have known some people to hold it with their feet which I feel is dangerous. Imagine the drill bit slips and bam. There goes a toe or two. I used two small boards to stand on each side of the material when I drilled so if it slips the boards get it and not my feet. There are other ways to do this, just be cautious with your body and the power tool.
Step Eight: Once you have drilled the holes in both fire heads, you can put the bolts in. One washer will be on the top, the bolt goes through the material, and you end with the other washer and finally the nut. Be sure to tighten the nut as much as possible as it tends to loosen with play. Also, I recommend removing the tape before lighting your poi on fire as depending on which kind you used, it can interfere with an even burn of the poi material.
Step Nine: (optional) You can use the keychain rings to spin your poi, or for a softer feel, you can add webbing (or any other material really- even the jeans) to the rings. To do this just cut a 14” piece of webbing and insert it in the ring. Then you sew the 2 pieces together and waala! You are all set.
Step Ten: Fuel selection. You can use many different things to soak your poi in and light them on fire, but remember that each one has a different flash point and burn intensity. For example, gasoline or lighter fluid burns very brightly, but will eat up the jean material in under 20 minutes. I recommend lamp oil such as kerosene as it has a high flash point but burns much slower.
Finally, please exercise caution when playing with the fire poi. The metal ends get very hot (naturally) and precautions should be taken such as bringing a wet towel and a friend along in the very least. For more protection you can wear kevlar arm sleeves if you choose. Also, as mentioned above, the nut tends to get loose after some time playing, so bring along a pair of needle nose pliers to tighten it after it has cooled down of course. Above all, be safe, and have fun with your new poi!
If you would like to leave any feedback or suggestions, please do so by clicking on the comment button below. Also, if you would like to try some other poi (LED, Scarf, Childs) you can click on the link below to be taken there.
Here is a short video clip of these homemade poi in action (they were only soaked slightly hence the short burn)
Her unkept hair and boys jeans moved ungracefully as she stomped across the yard carrying a hammer and skill saw. Cussing and laughing as she entered the little wooden house, she pulled a pencil from behind her ear and pushed back her white paint stained hair from her face as she began marking her next lines. Watching in wonder as she skillfully built an entire seating area that converts into a queen size bed if need be, I thought to myself – that’s one interesting girl. I must meet her and know more.
With one earbud jammed in her left ear playing songs from the XX, she began to tell me stories. Remembering all the pain from her past, the long roads she has traveled in search of herself, her truth, her inspiration; she openly shared these feelings with me. Adventurous she was indeed, seemingly crazy at times with her wild impulses, her fearless nature and her immense capacity for love fascinated and scared me at the same time. Listening patiently to the rhythm of her emotion as it ebbed and flowed I started to feel mesmerized by this girl. No, she was not a girl anymore- she was a woman with girlish playfulness and a touch of tomboy. I must know more about her.
Watching her at dinner as she attempted to sit straight and turn her badly aching neck and back, I thought it would be nice to invite her to relax in the sauna and hot tub and sit in silence and let the water and heat caress her sore body. She gladly accepted and this was and is the beginning of the night I went on a date with the hottest girl I know. As she undressed and let out a long sigh of what appeared to be relief and exhaustion, I knew this was the perfect thing for her this night. After spending a couple of hours jumping from the hot tub to the sauna and back, I thanked her for accepting the invitation to continue to take care of herself, and wished her a good night’s sleep. Pulling the blankets over my head I thought to myself, it’s so nice to meet you lovely girl. It has been a long time since you have observed yourself and recognized your worth… welcome back.