How to Make Your Own Juggling Balls for (and from) Birdseed

20102009218I’ve been thinking about what to present at Trampoline this Saturday. After some consideration, I thought it might be a nice change of pace for the day to offer a short workshop on juggling.

I’m only an amateur juggler and I don’t have a lot of props to share so I thought I’d use some millet I had lying around (ever since a mad fit of optimism when I thought that hand sewing my own juggling balls might be a neat idea) and build some cheap juggling balls that I could give away to participants.

Turns out that millet makes a really good filling for conventional juggling beanbags because the individual seeds are so close to spherical and they flow nicely without clumping. This also means that when you’re trying to trap them in a balloon there’s nothing to stop them flying straight out again as soon as your hand slips, showering you, your cat and every single surface in your kitchen in tiny little seeds. Hypothetically of course.

Anyhoo, just in case anyone is crazy stupid interested enough to try for themselves, I thought I’d include the process below. The end product isn’t nearly as nice or durable as proper juggling beanbags, but they are a good cheap alternative if you’re short on cash or it’s difficult to source anything better.

1. Get all of the things you’ll need

  • Balloons
  • Rice (not millet, are you crazy?)
  • Old plastic water bottle (empty)
  • Funnel (red, because it goes faster)
  • Scales
  • Scissors
  • Vacuum Cleaner (just in case)

2. Measure out the seed

This will depend on the weight you want the balls to be – I went for about 100g of filling (so 105g all up). This is less than the more standard 130-150g that most beanbags weigh, but they are for beginners, so I wanted them to be a bit lighter and smaller so that they’re easier to catch and learn with. Pour the measured rice into the water bottle (using your nifty red funnel).

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3. The Balloon

Blow up a balloon a little (larger than the desired ball) and place it over the neck of the bottle still inflated (it helps if you putting a slight twist in the neck before you open it). You will now be able to tip over the bottle and pour the rice into the balloon.


Carefully remove the balloon from the now empty bottle and let the air out. The balloon will shrink until it binds in all the rice.

Cut off the stem top of the balloon. This is easy with rice, as it’s roughness and shape make it clump at the neck and you can just tip pout the excess with he rest holding together. If you were stupid interested enough to use millet you will need to carefully fold the neck over as you deflate the balloon to trap in the seed (you’ll need to keep it held down during the next step).


Cut the neck from the second balloon and put it over the top of the filled balloon (still holding down the folded over neck if you used millet) until it is completely enclosed (and so that the open hole of the first balloon is on the opposite side to hole on the second balloon.

4. Bask in the glory of your evil glorious creation

[cue crescendo of thunderous orchestral score]



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