Craft Tutorial: Palm Torches

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> Hi again! So it feels like forever since I have written a blog and now I feel I have so much to cover! Part of the reason for the lack of blog writing here is because I have been writing for an awesome new website called sexpinion.com. Sexpinion is a fun, judgement free and interactive community to discuss sexually themed subjects both seriously and humorously. (Think pininterest only instead of workouts and recipes attached to those sexy pictures, sex tips and articles on sex and sensuality in modern culture) It is the incredible project of a near and dear friend of mine and I encourage everyone to check it out! Sidenote: to all my grad student, freelance writer and blogger friends, if you are interested in writing for this website please contact me! We are still looking for writers.
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Besides sexpinion, this is also a period grad students fondly call as “grant season”. Basically, my only hope for getting funding for my dissertation project is to turn in applications for several grants that are all due from about 2-3 weeks ago till right before Christmas. This is also why, if you know any grad students or professors, we are all a little short and cruel right now. It’ll pass. But because my time is limited and I am a little tired of writing, the blogs will be more tutorial and lighthearted based, over anything intellectual for awhile, sorry my brain is broken.

Today I want take a moment to talk about prop making, which may become a series if you  guys like it. I am a huge fun of making my own props, not only is it fun but it is also a great way to truly understand and build a connection with your props. When dancing with props, I feel like many dancers tend to lose so much of their beauty and grace because they are not properly trained to dance with props. Props should be an extension of you and your dance, not something just added on top to get attention.

I think the number one reason why a prop may look forced or unnatural with a dancer is due to weak arms. Weak arms can be hidden or distracted from when you are dancing without anything in your hands, but introducing a prop will make this flaw much more obvious. In bellydance and fire dance many dancers come from classical dance backgrounds, but many do not and therefore miss out on a lot of tricks and techniques classical training gives you. In ballet, you are taught to lift from the back and shoulders. To do this roll your shoulders back, stand straight, tilt pelvis to a neutral position and slowly raise your arms by pressing your shoulder blades together. You should feel the weight of your arms in the middle of your back and shoulders, not in your elbows. This allows for your arms to open much more gracefully and to give your whole posture a more relaxed look. Experiment in the mirror and you will see what I am talking about.  Not only will this improve your veil and veil style props work (interesting fact, dancing with veils is actually taken from ballet drills to teach graceful upper body moves) but it will also give you much more room to play with fire close to your body.

By making your own props, or having a close communication with artisan making your props, you can pick and choose and make details that will fit with your own body and dance style. Though this will not fix any technique problems, it will start the communication with the prop allowing it be an extension of your body, not merely a trick. Today, I will be showing you how to make, or at least how I make, small fire props. In the photos I will be making a pair of palm torches, but the same basic steps can be used to make any small fire props. This also works for rewicking old fire props that have lost their luster.

***As with any fire dancing, there is a certain risk you are accepting by lighting something on fire.  Please do not attempt without first learning the in’s and out’s of fire dance, fuel safety, and performance safety. In an ideal world you would have a fire dance teacher, but at the very least please watch a fire dance safety video and exercise common sense. Fire dance gets a bad name by reckless individuals putting themselves and others in harms way. ****


Items Needed:
- Metal wire ( I use 14 gauge galvanized, I wouldn’t go much thinner than this. I like the “invisible” look with my small fire but if you are making fans or something with a longer than 5 inch stick for the wick I would go up a gauge or two)

- Kevlar wicking ( I use a foot per torch and 1.5 inch wide, if you are new to fire, I would not use this much, maybe 6 or 7 inches or I would use thinner wick. The more wick you use the longer your burn time. Using 1 foot 1.5 inches, I get 3-4 minutes with white gas)

- Kevlar thread

- Tape measure

- Wire  cutters, Wire twisters, scissors

 

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Instructions

- Gather Supplies

 

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- Measure your hand. I am not 100% on this science what I would suggest is measuring from outside of palm to center and times that by 4.

 

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Or, wrap the tape measure around as seen.  Add the length you want the torch to be and add one inch for the wick and once inch for wrapping

 

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- Cut a section of wire from your spool, this will depend on the size of your hands and how long you want the torch to be. The closer the torch the more heat you will feel. When you select your length add an inch to it for wick.  I use wire 21 inches and cut excess later.

 

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- After deciding how long your torch will be, make a circle with the remaining wire under it and twist into the bottom of the the torch.

 

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- Fold the circle in half and bend circle more into an almond shape.

- Try the hand part on (pointed side to center of palm) and adjust where necessary for your hands.

 

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- Now take the top of your torch and bend to make a little loop.

 

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-*Optional: Sew up the wicking on the tip to hide exposed metal loop. This will make the torch safer if you jab yourself or others. The metal under the wick is (obviously) hot, while the wick is not.

 

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- Volia! You now have your new torches ready for use with your favorite fuel. Also, Lena, if you are reading this, these are your torches and they are ready to be picked up :)

Note: If you like the looks of these but don’t have the time, energy, desire to make your own props, I sell palm torches for $15-$20 each (depending on size of wick and torch you are looking for) :)

 

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