1. Why isn’t my little wooden club the same as the one in the photograph?
    Wood (the principal material I work with) is anything but constant: it varies in color, grain, figure, and structural integrity, even within a single tree. I am also a moving target; the pieces I create are all done by eye and hand, and hence vary in shape, proportion, and length. I want you to be happy with your little wooden clubs – I wouldn’t do this, otherwise – but you must understand that each piece is as unique as you are. Think of the photos you see here as reasonable facsimiles.

  2. Why is my little wooden club fading?
    Many woods slowly change color naturally as they age. Some get lighter, some darken. Direct sunlight will accelerate bleaching; purpleheart turns to brown, and so it goes. This is not my fault; be glad you live in a wondrously fluid universe. However, unless your little wooden club basks in the afternoon sun for hours every day, this shouldn’t happen for the first few decades that you own it. Are you sure it’s not just your imagination?

  3. Are these things toxic?
    As far as I know, none of the wood I use is considered toxic to humans. Nearly all fine sawdust – especially from some exotic species – can be very harmful if inhaled, but that’s my problem, not yours. I finish most of my work with a thin layer of shellac, so you’re not even actually touching the raw wood.  Clear wood finishes, properly and completely cured, are not poisonous – but then there aren’t any shellac or varnish (or epoxy or lacquer) flavored snack foods, are there? In other words, my guess is that if you were to eat a little wooden club, at worst you might get a little sick, but not for long. I don’t know about your infant children or pets, though; they might choke, or experience injury or unpleasantness, from swallowing one whole. I don’t have children, but I do know that my parakeet would’ve loved to chew these things to bits, and some of these woods would have certainly been bad for him. So for Junior’s (or Bowser’s or Mittens’ or Polly’s) sake, you might want to keep your little wooden clubs securely out of their reach. If you keep beavers or termites as house pets, then you’re pretty much on your own here.

  4. What about the Earth’s rain forests and global warming?
    I will not use wood from endangered species. I have turned koa and fossil ivory, which are farmed and regulated, respectively, and which I acquired through established legal channels. I won’t knowingly own or use elephant ivory under any circumstances. Making a little wooden club uses only a little energy, and what waste there is, is naturally biodegradable.

  5. Why don’t you make [insert the name of a popular brand/model club here]?
    There are many different styles of (full-size) juggling clubs sold by vendors worldwide. I have primarily patterned my little wood version after contemporary undecorated one-piece molded plastic props: i.e., those having spherical knobs, curved gradations, and plump-but-sleek bodies (I grew up calling these “Americans”). I occasionally try other shapes, but I haven’t experienced much success. I suspect that this has to do with aesthetic considerations in shrinking the shape down to Lilliputian dimensions: a miniature scale model looks good in silver, but in wood it really seems to lose something. I deliberately give my little wooden clubs a touch of the old-fashioned Indian exercise clubs – somewhat oversize knobs, shorter handles, and slightly longer bodies – because the overall effect simply feels right to me. Little wooden clubs are caricatures, and aren’t meant to be accurate representations: I once made a little padauk Renegade Fathead, and a little clear Lucite® Radical Fish; both are instantly recognizable and look great, but if they were blown up to life size, they’d be ludicrously out of proportion. If I ever find a way to make little wooden “Europeans” that look okay to me, I’ll let you know. If you can’t wait that long, send me a note and we can talk about just how lousy a representation you’d be willing to pay good money for.

  6. Why don’t you make little wooden balls, rings, diabolos or chainsaws?
    Decent little wooden balls are difficult to make by hand - not, in itself, a bad thing – but doing this in quantity simply isn’t worth it: cheap (and remarkably spherical) little wooden balls are widely available in craft shops. Frank Radtke’s House of Fakini used to sell little silicone balls for a magic trick, but that was a long time ago. Little wooden rings would be doable, but I don’t think they leave much room for creative variations; I’ve seen plastic curtain rings that are about the right size, and would serve. Little wooden diabolos would be very tricky to make - not, in itself, a bad thing – but don’t ask me again until I’ve made a few hundred kendamas. Chainsaws are not solids of rotation (as we used to say in calculus class), and hence not well-suited to fabrication by turning. Still, the irony in making a chainsaw out of wood is kind of cool, don’t you think? Y’know… you could take up woodcarving and start a business called “Little Wooden Chainsaws.” The domain name is probably available; I’d buy one from you!

  7. Why don’t you sell bracelets and necklaces?
    I don’t have much of an eye for design, and only a basic feel for fashion. (In the world of art, a person without formal training is called a “primitive.” That’s me!) There is a whole world of beadwork and related resources out there, and I bet you can find what you want without my advice. My interest is in bringing joy and self-expression to the world, and I’m delighted to supply you with little wooden wonders to enhance your finery in any way you see fit. If you’re inspired to create something new out of what you see here, let me know how I can help bring it to fruition.

  8. Why are you doing this?
    Juggling is my main passion in life, though some days playing the mandolin edges it out. I got into woodturning thinking that it might be fun to make kendamas (the yo-yo of Japan); at first, to learn the basics, I somehow started making little wooden clubs, which was lots more habit-forming than I ever would’ve guessed. I still haven’t made a kendama, though I’ve made hundreds of little wooden clubs. Juggling and woodturning are wonderful adventures in learning, and jugglers and woodturners are amazing people to know and be with. I derive incredible pleasure from cranking out these little toys, and if enough of you see fit to buy them (they make excellent presents, by the way), then this venture will enable me to visit more and more juggling festivals, perhaps in different countries, spreading more and more little-wooden-club joy around the world. That seems worthwhile to me.