Archive for the The Basics Category

Fire Quotes

Posted in The Basics with tags , , on April 3, 2012 by jimmycush

This post is just for fun. Here are some quotes about fire that I found inspiring, insightful or just fun!

A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him. -Mae West

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. – William Butler Yeats

If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that’s what really throws you into a panic.  ~Jack Handey

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. – Robert Frost

The most tangible of all visible mysteries – fire.  ~Leigh Hunt

Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.  The reason?  Because he alone has learned to put it out.  ~Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr.

O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention. – William Shakespeare-Henry V act 1 prolog

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. -Arnold H. Glasow



Why Kevlar?

Posted in Safety, The Basics with tags , , on September 27, 2011 by jimmycush

At almost every show I have someone ask what it is that I am burning. Kids are convinced it is a marshmallow! The answer is unfortunately not a marshmallow, although they do taste better. I am using Kevlar. If you have any fire props then the odds are that you too have Kevlar. But why?

The What is Kevlar?

Kevlar is a fabric invented by Du Pont in the 1970’s. Originally it was used to replace the steel in radial tires. Today Kevlar is used in many applications including Fire performance equipment.  The type of Kevlar that is used for fire props is known as Grade 49 Kevlar. There is also a grade 29 and 149.

The makeup of Kevlar:

Kevlar is an aramid, the chemical composition of Kevlar is poly para-phenyleneterephthalamide, and it is more properly known as a para-aramid. Aramids belong to the family of nylons. Common nylons, such as nylon 6,6, do not have very good structural properties, so the para-aramid distinction is important. The aramid ring gives Kevlar thermal stability, while the para structure gives it high strength and modulus.

“The Molecular structure of Kevlar”

The reason Kevlar is used for fire equipment:

First Kevlar can be made into both a fabric and a thread. That means that you can sew together a Kevlar clothe with Kevlar thread.

Kevlar by composition is absorbent! This is a down side in other uses of Kevlar but works to the advantage in the case of fire props.  This combined with the woven threads of fabric Kevlar make it excellent for retaining the necessary fuel to perform.

Kevlar is 5 times stronger than steel by weight, which means that it will not tear when snagged or dropped on the ground between light ups.

Kevlar also does not melt, however it does start to decompose at around 900°f. I know that many of you reading this know that the heat put off from the fuel used is much hotter than 900°f. The reason the Kevlar does not quickly disintegrate is that the fuel is what is burning and it is slightly off the surface of the Kevlar. I also said “quickly disintegrate” because the heat does affect the Kevlar as well as the soot from the fuel. The soot slowly builds up and finely grades on the fabric. Look at an older piece of fire equipment and you will find the outer exposed Kevlar white and fraying. That is the Kevlar disintegrating. . If you were to take apart an old fire prop. You would find all the Kevlar inside the first layer to still be yellow and undamaged.

These properties make Kevlar an amazing fabric for fire props!


Posted in Lessons, The Basics with tags , on September 29, 2010 by jimmycush

A Transfer is when you move the fire from one wick or object to the other. A hand transfer is just that you take a hand and light in on fire with one wick and move it to the other. This is demonstrated by my video called Hand Transfer. Another transfer is a tongue transfer. This is done much like a hand Transfer but you light your tongue on fire rather than your hand. This transfer is in my video called Tongue Transfer. Other transfers are clothing, ground, and air.

Sock and Fluffy Poi

Posted in Lessons, The Basics on September 7, 2010 by jimmycush

What are sock poi in my last blog I wrote about them and you might not know what they are. Sock poi are exactly like it sounds… poi made from socks. I have found that clown socks tend to be the best; they are well made, thick, and long. I personally practice with sock poi before trying any new moves out on fire.

But where do I get them?

The answer is that you make them. All that you need are two tennis balls and clown socks. Take a sock and put one ball in it and push it to the bottom. Next measure the sock to be the right length and tie a knot at the top. make sure that you give yourself a good bit of give on the length because the socks tend to stretch out when being spun.

What are fluffy poi.

Fluffy poi are poi made out of artificial feather and are fluffy so that when you hit yourself with them they don’t hurt much. The pair I own cost me $30. The benefit of fluffy poi over sock poi is that they have finger grips just like fire. This will make the transistion from non-fire to fire much easier.

Training for fire

Posted in Safety, The Basics on September 5, 2010 by jimmycush

When watching a professional perform fire, it is often assumed that they are just born naturally good at it. That could be the case but more likely the performer has worked hard to become confident with the fire. But how does one become good with out burning him self in the process?

The answer is to start without fire. this is how i teach my students.

1. Learn the basics before trying the hard stuff. I realize it may look cooler but it is also hard and the beginning stuff make the more complicated possible.

2. Start with sock poi or fluffy poi. ( next post will talk more about those)

3. Practice with your dominant hand, then your other hand, and then backwards until you can perform the move with your eyes closed and without hitting yourself.

4. Practice with unlit poi, because the weight might be different from your sock poi.

5. Light them up and make sure to have others around you for safety and general applause.

Contact Info

Posted in Contact us, The Basics on April 1, 2010 by jimmycush

Here is my contact info. If you have any questions or to book me at an event, just give me let me know. Thanks for following my blog.

Facebook: Energemata Poi

Number: Jimmy- 404-543-9340

Costuming and Fire?

Posted in Lessons, Safety, The Basics on March 14, 2010 by jimmycush

When performing your costume could make or break a character. There are things you must consider to make the costume complete. Is it the right type for the show? Is it appropriate for the audience? Is it practical for the performer? Is it safe? All of these questions make come into play when picking a costume.

The type of show could determine the type of costume, for example; during Halloween wearing demonic clothing is acceptable. To a 5 year olds birthday party it is not. Wearing pants and no shirt is fine at a pool party but not at the Christmas holiday party.

What makes a costume practical for a fire performer? When using poi you don’t want loose ends swinging about. That means no extra ribbons, chains, and even too loose of clothing. These all could get caught in the chains of the poi and end the show in a hurry. Just as if you are going to light your arms on fire while fire eating  you must have them exposed and that is not easy with long sleeves.

What is safe? I know we are talking about fire so safe is a relative word in this industry, but safe clothing is very important. Firs,t most all clothing can burn, but not all burn the same. Petroleum-based fabric (nylon and plastic based) don’t quite burn as much as they melt. This is important to note because in the case of an accident it will continue to burn the skin even after the fire is put out. The plastic heats up and can even stick to the skin. Cotton is wonderful for fire shows, like most all cloth it can burn but unlike petroleum-based fabric it burn away. When using cotton it is important to also look at the thickness of the fabric. Cotton sheer will burn very easily but denim does not. The other type of fabric is animal skin or leather. Leather looks cool and essentially does not burn because it is  animal skin. Seasoned leather is even harder to burn. The down side to leather is that is expensive and sticks when it get hot and sweaty.

For most of my shows I use cotton/denim because it is the right balance between cost and safety. The only real rule is to be safe and have fun.