Circus Prop Making

The following is a simple guide for how to create D.I.Y circus toys from the comfort of your own home. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your BFF Tech Director. Have fun and get creative! 

 

HOW TO MAKE A STAFF or DOUBLE STAFF:

Find your stick. This can be a wooden dowel, a sawed-off broomstick, PVC pipe, etc. It should reach roughly your chin in height. The straighter the stick the better the staff. 

Add end weights. There are various possibilities for end weights depending on what you have and/or what weight you want. However, be sure you have two of approximately the same weight and size.

  1. Tennis balls –  These are a great option for a lighter staff. Cut an X in the bottom of the tennis ball with an Exacto-knife so you can fit in onto the end of your stick. Secure with duct tape. 
  2. Washcloths – Waded up washcloths can be wrapped around the ends of your stick and secured with duct tape or rubber bands.
  3. Bike tires – These are great for heavier contact staves. Cut each so they are straight lines rather than circles and wrap them tightly around each end of your staff. Secure with Duct Tape.

Add grip. Any form of grip tape (tennis, hockey, staff, etc.) can work great for contact staves. You can also use electrical tape, duct tape, or athletic tape (what you use to wrap your wrist) in a pinch but these will be harder to use for high-level contact moves and may require a coating of chalk or cornmeal to keep them from making your staff super sticky.

Decorate! Use colored tape to make your staff unique by decorating your end weights. Colored electrical tape works great for this. 

 

HOW TO MAKE POI:

Find your fabric. If you have a sewing machine, you can use any non-stretch fabric. If you do not have a sewing machine, you can use a cut-off shirt sleeve, or, in a pinch, socks, lanyards, or shoelaces. If you don’t have fabric, you can try filling balloons with ⅓ cup of water. 

Make/find weights. Hackey-sacks or juggling balls can work as ok poi weights. However, if you can, I would recommend you make your own by filling a balloon, condom, or sturdy plastic bag with roughly ½ cup of rice or birdseed (or enough to fill an unblown-up balloon). Make two of approximately the same weight.

Make your sleeves. 

  1. Sewing – Print out the poi pattern and directions in the Public Documents folder (which can be found at the bottom of any BFF email). Use the pattern to measure and cut out the appropriate pieces with roughly ½ inch of seam allowance. Sew the main pieces to each other so they can then be turned inside out so you don’t see the thread. Leave a gap on the side large enough to fit your weight through. 
  2. Improvise – If you’re using a shirt sleeve tie the fabric on one end, turn it inside-out, add your weight, and tie a knot/handle on the other. If your using socks, add your weight and tie a knot/handle on the other. If you’re using a lanyard or shoelaces, just attach your weight!

 

HOW TO MAKE MONKEY FIST POI / ROPE DARTS:

Find your rope. Monkey fists are best tied with heavy-duty rope. But you can also tie clothesline/thinner rope around a tennis ball. If you do the latter, be sure to cut an X in the bottom of the tennis ball and add weight (sand, rice, rocks, etc.). 

Tie a Monkey Fist. Directions can be found here and tutorials can be found on YouTube.

Attach to handle. You can tie a Monkey fist so you have enough slack line for a poi handle. However, for a rope dart, tie your monkey fist to a long piece of smooth rope or ribbon. 

 

HOW TO MAKE FANS:

Find your materials. Plastic or metal coathangers make good impromptu fans. You can also cut more intricate grips/patterns out of cardboard. 

Add grip. You want the handle of your fan to be smooth. If it isn’t inherently smooth, try adding electrical tape to the handle. 

Decorate! Use colored tape to make your fan unique. Colored electrical tape works great for this. 

 

HOW TO MAKE JUGGLING BALLS:

Get Materials. In a pinch, you can fill balloons or condoms with rice, sand, or birdseed. However, if you can find them, hacky sacks, stress balls, or even bean bags are great substitutes. 

 

HOW TO MAKE JUGGLING CLUBS:

Find the body of your club. I would recommend finding 3+ plastic water bottles or liter soda bottles. 

Find and attach your handle. Find/cut wooden dowels, broom handles, or PVC pipe to your ideal handle length and width (~0.75”). Fit your handle inside each bottle and secure it with duct tape. 

Add grip. Tennis grip works best to provide handle cushioning as well as grip. Athletic tape (what you use to wrap your wrist) or duct tape can also be used as grip but may require a coating of chalk or cornmeal to keep them from making your hands sticky.