johnny February 21st, 2010
I’ve been juggling off and on since I was fourteen, but I never learned much more than a three ball cascade or two balls in one hand. Sure, I could juggle that way indefinitely, but it was kind of boring. This summer in Alaska, I had the good fortune to pick up a juggling book behind a second hand book store free of charge. Suddenly, there were lots of new things to try and a few tricks I had even forgotten about! Combine with lots of free time and stir well.
These days, I’m up to four balls in a fairly solid pattern. But my three ball juggling has gotten a lot more interesting… at least for me. I learned a handful of new patterns and techniques and then started mixing and matching them, which lead to a few things invented on the spot. I drop things a lot more, but at least I’m not bored!
The other day, we were in Wal-Mart and found a really nice, big super bouncy, brightly colored ball. It was a little bit light, but I thought, “Wow, this would look great!” A little hint, any time you’re looking for small, round, bouncy things and there’s only one on display… check under the shelves. Jenn grabbed a wiffle ball bat and rounded up another ten or twelve balls in a few minutes.
They’re a little bit light and a little big, but they are highly visible and have an incredible bounce. It took a few days, but now, they’re pretty comfortable to juggle.
Ok, so I can juggle four balls and make 3 look fairly pretty… but what about torches and knives?! Fear not, I’m working on those next. The thing about torches and knives is, they’re balanced like juggling clubs. So, first I have to learn to juggle clubs before I go around setting myself on fire and sticking pointy bits in my head.
Professional quality juggling equipment is actually rather expensive. I just couldn’t see spending $60-120 on a set of clubs only to find out I couldn’t get the hang of it. Or for that matter, to learn at the cost of abusing some fairly expensive (for me) equipment. Luckily, I ran across the Green Club Project, which was designed to make a very cheap juggling club from primarily recycled materials. To top it off, they also juggle better than some commercial clubs.
It took a few days of scavenging out here at the Slabs, but the cost to build a set of clubs was pretty minimal! I spent $5 on dowel rods and I had a couple of spare tennis balls that I had not yet turned into Russian balls. I wasn’t able to find any furniture tips that were the right size, but my neighbor suggested golf balls, which have worked out pretty well other than a few bruises.
I spent an afternoon putting these clubs together and I think they’re working out pretty well. I’ve spent a few days now abusing them and am starting to get the hang of three clubs. I think it’ll be at least a year before I feel ‘good’ with them, but Jenn already likes them more than balls since they’re even flashier. Once these are abused to death, I may even make a new set rather than buy commercial equipment. They really do juggle pretty well and it’s nice to be able to pick up ‘garbage’ and turn it into something functional.
Yes… I have plans for homemade torches. I think it’ll be a while before I’m feeling comfortable enough with the clubs to move up though.