I never thought I’d get “into” blogging, but I found that I keep other blogs like a public journal. So, when I was looking for a little writing inspiration, I thought about blogging the things that have become my life: Bearclaw fire tools.
I’ve been working Bearclaw full time since 2000. It is, in fact, the longest running job I’ve ever had (take that, Army). What a long strange trip it’s been too. When we first started, there were two distinct pressures: people needing something other than Poi, Staff, or clubs. Really, that’s all you could find online. The other pressure was the concern that a local tool maker in LA would cause a “wave of bad poi spinners like in San Francisco.” I’m not sure I see how that could be the case, I think people are gonna do things whether or not they’re facilitated. If people are going to do fire, they’ll build fire tools themselves, even if done badly. Or, they’ll find someone (like me) to make tools for them. Why not me?
Okay, so, I responded to both in approximately the same way. I sat down and honed out several designs. When we opened, we offered Torches (swinging, not juggling), eating torches, countach torches, a variety of staves, hybrid poi, triple poi, swords, naganata, fire hoops, fire fingers, and even a rudimentary folding fan. Most of these designs had never been seen in the fire community, some completely new. Local spinners went crazy for the new tools, and other tool makers fell over themselves to knock off the designs.
To this day, we still set the standards in innovation. But bearclaw isn’t just about the tools. We were also the first company to distribute safety information with each order. Then we became the primary financial support for the North American Fire Arts Association. We started the Los Angeles Fire Conclave and found it’s home, Burn Club. The safety methods there carried to Burning man, and became the de-facto standard of safety for the community.
Most recently, Bearclaw members joined together to start up Red Swan Entertainment. The theory behind Red Swan is not to be just another performance troupe, but to be more of a talent agency. Red Swan gathers data on fire performers, helps get them training, photographs, video, costumes, etc. Then, presents the information to performance venues that are generally out of reach to individuals, and small troupes. With hundreds of people to choose from Movie casting agents, party planners, etc can really zero in on what they want, and be assured that they’re dealing with a professional.
Yup, we’ve come a long way. And with the new website we put up last April, I noticed that the text was a little thin. So, I decided to take my blogging habit and put it to use. About once a week, I’ll be discussing the history, the specifics, or just blather about one tool at a time. Maybe this text will return to the site to help bolster the content of the main site, maybe it will stay here, alone. I don’t know. But I imagine this being like a little secret corner of the web. So, curl up, drink some cocoa, and listen to some [hopefully] interesting stories….