Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Episode Twenty Four: Rakau Kanikani

The other weekend our family went to the Gypsy Fair which was visiting town. Amongst all the stalls was a stand that was selling 'Devil Stick's. I have never really been a fan of the term Devil Stick as it makes zero sense to me. Either way, my boys asked me if I knew how to use them and it turns out I did because we used to make them when I was little. Here's how:

For this idea you will need some bamboo (you will need probably need a couple of metres - if you can get it all the same sort of width/thickness that would be ideal), old car tyre tubes, insulation tape, a staple gun, scissors, a hand saw and a hammer.

You will need to cut three lengths of bamboo. The two 'handle' sticks, about 400mm in length and similar widths (as demonstrated above) and the 'dancing' stick which should be thicker if possible and about 500mm. Using a saw or loppers or whatever tool suits, cut off and spurs which are sticking out. You want to have a pretty smooth surface but still allowing for the natural shape of the bamboo with it's nodes. With the dancing stick, you can decorate it with the insulation tape. Near the middle of the stick get your kids to choose what colours they want to wrap around it for decoration.

The next job is a bit of a bugger but it has to be done. Cut your tyre tube width ways; either side of the valve is best as you can't use the valve or surrounding parts. Then cut off two widths at 100mm wide and put them aside for later. Then start cutting your tube into strips lengthwise about half an inch wide (sorry to go from metric to imperial measurements). This is time consuming and each strip needs to be as long and as straight as possible. You're going to be pulling on these strips so any nicks or cuts won't do.

Next up you want to get a handle stick and staple the beginning of a strip of tyre tube to the top of it (you may need to hammer in the staple if the rubber is particularly thick) and wrap the rubber around itself once before wrapping it down the length of the stick in a diagonal pattern. Your dancing stick will grip on to the rubber on the handles and it will be a lot more effective if you're able to overlap the rubber on itself a little - about 5mm. Once you have wrapped it all the way down to the other end of the stick, staple it to the bamboo, wrap it around itself, staple again and cut off any excess. If your length of rubber is too short to reach the end? No dramas - just staple the end of the first length to the beginning of another length and keep wrapping it around the handle. Repeat the process for the other handle.

For the 'dancing' stick you want to do a similar thing but first we are going to use the widths of rubber we put aside earlier. Cut each one in half width ways and (as modelled above) make incisions about half an inch width-ways but don't cut all the way through - making a fringe type thingy-ma-jig. You'll need two of these to wrap around either end of the dancing stick. Staple the uncut (or in tact) portion of the rubber on to the end of the bamboo: these almost act as fingers which grab on to the handles and keep the dancing stick in the air for longer (check out the picture below to see what I'm going on about). Once you've stapled the two frilly parts to either end start wrapping another strip of rubber down the length of the bamboo. This time, instead of overlapping the rubber, leave a gap about 5mm thick and as you reach the middle of the stick you can increase the gap to 10mm so that you can see the colours of the insulation tape - then decrease to 5mm until you reach the other end of the bamboo.

Once all that is done - you're finished! It's pretty late as I'm writing this and I'm reading back on it really wondering if any of it makes sense at all. I hope it does. If not, I'm sure there are thousands of tutorials online that may explain it better or you can ask for help in the comment section or on our Facebook page. Now what? You have this set of rakau kanikani (or dancing sticks) and now you need to learn how to use them. Here is a tutorial for your convenience:

What did we learn? First of all I learnt to move my hand out of the way when I'm sawing and not cut my finger (the hard way). Secondly I learnt that tyre shops don't have so many tyre tubes hanging around these days. My children also learnt the value of team work and following instructions. However, the biggest take away lesson we got from this idea is that it's very hard to pick up something like a dancing stick or juggling balls and be good at it first go. This is super frustrating but a good lesson to learn. Things like these take time to learn and years to master. 

Have Fun!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! We are doing homemade xmas presents this year so this may do nicely for the teenage brothers :)