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Hollow torches

Okay, so we posted our first hollow torches today. I mention a bit of the back story, but here’s the whole deal.

I’m a fire-breather. I’ve been one for 30 years. All I’d ever seen anyone do were basic pops. Then I became active in the fire performance community and started working on new tricks alone, and with Dalmacio and Mykl from Inferno Inc. Before long, I had a crapload of new material that have become the standard book of fire-breathing stunts. See SoFB#1

For as long as I’ve been doing fire eating, I’ve been frustrated that there were only like 8 tricks you could do and most of them were essentially fleshing.

Then one day, I saw an aussie from the Flamewater circus doing the most amazing stuff with fire eating. I mean, this guy was not just a master, he had a whole new line of things to do. In short, he’s done for fire eating what I did for breathing.

I knew I had to support this. Yes, they are selling torches. And if you can find their store please support them. But if you must have this now, or you want a shorter wand for whatever reason, our 12″ hollow torches may be right for you.

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3 part staves.

Shortly after we introduced our basic staves, people started asking for something that would fit in their trunk, or in a backpack, or in a toolkit. The requests kept coming, so we had to innovate a new kind of tool. The multi-part staff was introduced. We went through several models but the first to make it to the website was our 3-part staff. The simple design of the 3-part staff has made it a very popular tool since it’s introduction. Essentially, it’s 3 pieces of equal length, with wicks and connectors. For the connectors, we went through a large variety of types: screw-in, crutch, quick release, slide and click, progressive tension, rotational tension, gravity grip … I could go on. But, in the end, we chose the “crutch” style. Each connector has it’s problems and strengths. Pool cue connectors pull out of the wood, and form the weak point of the stick, anything that depends on friction will fail, quick release eventually release too quickly, etc. And the “crutch” style connectors are no different. First they’re directional: if you push one direction they’re secure, but go the other way, and they can release. In actual crutches, they make sure the secure direction is the one you depend on. Same with these, we wanted to make sure that in normal spinning, the connectors would be most secure. The down side is that you can’t use these staves for vaulting, or jabbing motions. On the flip side, the 6″ overlap we install makes the joints stronger than the main tubes alone. This overlap allows for a certain amount of “rattle” if you shake it right, but such noises rarely occur during spinning. They are based on the tolerance of the telescoping tubes and can generally be prevented with a single wrap of scotch tape. Following the 3-part staff, came the Great Staves. Scaled up tubes and wick options, the great staff introduced variable length staves. The great staff can be assembled and shifted from 6 feet to 8 feet in 6 inch increments. Otherwise, it has all the strengths and features of the 3-part staff. Next, we introduced the All in One kits and wanted a staff that could fit inside one of those cases. Unfortunately, a 3-part staff that would fit in an 18″ toolbox would only be 3.5 feet long. More of a baton, really. So, we added another level of connectors (which looked a lot like one of the original prototypes), and came up with the 5-part staff. Again, same strengths and features of the 3-part, just 18″ pieces and a 5.5 foot length. Grand finale’ in this line of staves is the Instructor staff. No real innovations, but we finally embrace the “crutch” heritage of the connector. Unlike the rest of the multipart staves, the middle tube is a bit longer (see picture). What this allows is a staff that can be any length from 4 feet to 6 feet in increments of 3 inches. So, a staff instructor, or spin jam operator with this stick can hand it over to someone who’s interested in staffing and adjust it until their perfect length is found. Then, the newbie can order their preferred size staff with confidence.

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Fire Torches

Spinning TorchesOften, I have thought that these legitimately should have been named Spinning Torches, but the search engine guys assure me this would not be a great move.  *sigh*.  Spinning Torches, you see them everywhere… now.  In a way, this was one of the tools that launched Bearclaw.

I was in a troupe with people who danced with torches.  But since only juggling torches had been available since club spinning ceased to be an olympic sport, they were forced to dance with tools not meant for the use they had in mind.  Juggling torches are center weighted to give nice even spins, and they have a rubber grip to reduce the impact on the hand when catching.  Nothing wrong with that… nothing until you want to spin them more than toss them.

Spinning torches have a smooth ball instead of a sticky rubber grip.  This allows them to slide around the hand easily and extensively.  The weight is off center, pushed farther out, to feel more like poi.  You can still do light juggling with these (lets face it, if you can juggle pins, you can probably juggle bottles, golf clubs, or just about any appropriately shaped object), but there’s so much more.

Okay, so, I don’t “get” poi.  Specifically I don’t understand why so many people in the fire community thing that you have to start with poi.  I know where this came from.  Years ago, when people wanted to get into fire when it was still underground and edgy, experienced performers gave people poi to discourage them, since so few people are wired for them.  Now it’s like a college requisite: You must complete 3 semesters of poi to qualify for fans, swords, staves, double staves, or torches.  *sigh*

I find torches to be MUCH easier to learn, easier to control, with an availability of moves that dramatically outmatch poi, yet they’re still considered something of the underclassmen of the fire world.  Plus the durability of the design means you may never have to replace them (though, you’ll probably want bigger wicks at some point… :)

Take a look at the Bearclaw Fire Torches. Don’t just think of them for fire breathing, nor for juggling. They can do almost everything you see a poi spinner do and so much more.  Unleash your expressiveness today.

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Economy Poi

Economy PoiEveryone sees the word “economy” and think “flimsy” or “cheap”. That’s why we were reluctant to use this here (and why we didn’t on our “lightweight” fans).

There’s basically two ways of economizing a construction process:  cheaper materials, or easy construction.  Shaving construction costs is pretty much the whole point of the factory line.  And that what we did here.

First, only one size.  That way we can make them, set them on a shelf and have them ready to ship.  Next, eliminate pricey connectors.  Modularity is wonderful, but we noticed a LOT of people don’t make use of it with their poi.  They buy them, use them, dispose of them: whole as originally purchased. Also, this is the first set of poi to ship without our famous 4-in-1 kevlar grips.  A small percentage of spinners are required to have self-cinching grips to perform some shows.  They’ll know not to get these; everyone else can use what they want.

Add this all up and you get an easy-to-build set of Economy Poi that are still made of the same tough stuff as our other options.  Even the heads are not a compromise: they’re identical to our basic staff heads.  So you should get lovely flames and long life.

You won’t ever see these on sale, because, of course, the price is as low as we can make them, but they’ll be easy on your pocket.

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The fire parasol was one of those things that kinda sat on the back burner for quite a while. It’s always been a problem getting ahold of an all-metal body for fire tools of this nature. But I never imagined how popular this tool would get. So, I never made it a real priority until there was pretty much an actual order for it.

So, like I said, the problem with most umbrella bodies is that they have plastic parts at the hub.  So, even if you’re very careful to use only small wicks and keep them far away from the hub, there’s still a good chance that they’ll heat things up enough to cause the whole assembly to fall apart in just a few uses.  This produced the need.

I got inspiration for the construction of the hub from a beach umbrella.  But it took me a while to get it all figured out. First, we had to build an 8-sided hinge. Next, it had to be all metal. Then, we played with buttons for a while, and they had two real problems. First, they are vulnerable to heat, all springs are, so they slowly fail over time. Second they require a certain kind of precision that isn’t really necessary for this tool. Ultimately, we just learned how to make them metastable, so there’s no hard stop buttons it just stays open. Now they very much resemble bamboo parasols from china.