If you’re just starting out your journey into the world of Flow Arts, you may not yet be ready to spend money on a professionally made prop just yet. The good news is that you don’t have to! We’ve collected instructions on how to make a few of the most common props at home so that everyone can access the amazing benefits of practicing a Flow Art.
What’s a Prop?
Props are the objects that are manipulated into spinning, twisting, rolling or looping around the artist’s body. A prop you’re probably most familiar with is a hula hoop which can be spun or rolled over pretty much ANY part of your body! A staff is also a fairly common sight as manipulating a stick (usually for fighting) can be found in almost any culture around the world. Less familiar are props such as poi, levi wands, fans, diabolo or contact juggling balls – and the list is almost endless! This is because, if you put your mind to it, ANY object can be manipulated into flowing patterns if you just put in a little time and practice.
Check out this video by DrexFactor that explains the history of Flow Arts and where some of the most common props originated.
Make your Own Props
Below are instructions for making three of the most common props used in the Flow Arts: Poi, Staff and Hula Hoop. If you’re able to, make more than just one of your chosen prop so that you can experiment with size and weight. There are no correct measurements for these props – it’s all up to you!
‘A weight on a tether’ is the simple meaning behind the Maori word ‘poi’. It could be your keys at the end of a lanyard, or your groceries in your shopping packet! If it can swing in a circle, it can be a poi. By the way, it’s one poi, two poi – and sometimes even three poi!
Below are three of our favourite Flow Artists’ designs for making several different types of poi.
3 Designs for DIY Poi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpKjdft5lSQ
3 Easy Ways to Make DIY Poi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_V5mWnShus
How to Make Basic Sock Poi: https://fb.watch/3x_L2yMe6x/
- Try to avoid stretchy materials. If you’re using socks, choose ones that have been all stretched out – like your old school socks. Stretchy poi mean that your spinning circle will keep changing its circumference as you spin slower or faster. Some people do like this feeling, but for beginners it can make things a bit more challenging.
- Keep your weights on the soft side. This seems obvious, but we thought we’d mention it anyways. If you’re filling your socks/bags with food stuff, then bird seed is softer than rice which is softer than beans!
- The length of your poi is TOTALLY up to you. However, a good starting point is to have them reach from your finger tips to half way up your upper arm.
Again with the simple meaning: a staff is a stick. So, your broom, the stick you picked up in the forest, or even your knobkerrie can become a practice staff. Of course, you are going to want something that is even, balanced and preferably weighted on the end in order to create the spinning momentum needed for Flow.
How to make a practice staff for flow arts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKFG_y0XEB0
- No length is the correct length, and only once you’re experimented with different lengths will you get a sense for which one is best for you and your style.
- Heavier is better. Using a hollow aluminium tube, for example, can bounce out of your control much more easily than a solid wooden stick.
- Keep the ends safe! An alternative to inner tubing is fabric (like grey dog blankets) wrapped up with insulation tape. This is especially important if you are using a metal rod that can be very sharp on the cut ends.
Because these are a common kids’ toy, it’s usually easy to find a cheap hoop in any department or toy store. They’re bright, light and easily bent – but they’re a great place to start! However, heavier and bigger hoops are much easier for learning how to hoop so constructing one out of irrigation tubing allows you to create one exactly to the size you would like and it’ll a much weightier, more durable than what you can buy from the kids’ section.
How To Make A Hula Hoop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz5G4maL4fw
- If you can’t find a plastic connector then the alternative is to use a short piece of wooden dowel rod. Cut it to the length of the connector shown in the video and use panel pins (those tiny nails) to keep it in place once you’ve got the tubing on both ends.
- As with the staff, there is no correct size for your hula hoop. Everyone prefers something different, and as you become more experienced you may find yourself wanting a smaller and smaller hoop to do more technical tricks. Keep experimenting and soon you’ll find your own style and size.
We hope that these DIY instructions will get you going on your quest to discover what the Flow Arts are all about, and allow you to access the amazing benefits and joy that come with moving and flowing.
When you’re ready to commit, our online shop stocks professionally made practice props and fire props that can be customised to your exact specifications – which you would have figured out by experimenting at home!
Lastly, learning about your prop and your Flow is a never-ending journey. Explore the YouTube world of tutorials, attend one of our Flow Arts classes or come along to one of our community gathers (like the Clifton Fire Jam or a Park Play Session) where everyone is always happy to share what they know with others.
Till next time: Happy Spinning!