RdL, Renegadesignlab a research and development project that Renegade Juggling is a founding member, has undertaken a study of the solid plastic juggling rings. Currently solid plastic rings, are only made in a couple of sizes. The most common size standard ring for solo numbers juggling made by Babache, Absolute(Beard), Goudurix, Dube, and Play Juggling, is about 12.75 inch (32cm) diameter. With the ring width at about 1.4 inches. Dube’s Airflights are the largest at 33cm and the rest are very close to 32.5cm. A larger size 40cm, is made by Babashe and Play. This ring is used and well liked, but is generally though to be to heavy/large for solo numbers ring juggling. The only other size made is 24cm Babache ring, which is too small for any technical ring juggling. So in summery we only have three sizes, too big (40cm), too small (24cm), and the middle size (32.5cm) the best size available.
As far as we can tell there is no reason for this middle sized ring, it was copied historically from one prop maker to the next. Legend has is that one of the first production ring was made by Juggle Bug and it’s size was based on a jar lid or kitchen plate to make a circle for the drawing.
The other commonality is that they are all round, both inside and outside. A ring. It is thought that the juggling ring was actually an adaptation of the juggling plate. Maybe moving back towards the plate would be better than moving farther away from it, so the shape as well comes into question. Is it really best to be a round ring?
One of the biggest factor is weigh. They cannot be to light, or they bounce out of your hands, and they cannot be to heavy or they hurt your hands. The ideal weight range is between 90 grams and about 125 grams, very similar to a juggling ball.
The next is stiffness, if the ring is too flexible when you throw it, it will flex and cause the ring to wobble on the release. This stiffness is regulated by the type of plastic used, thickness of the plastic and width of the ring. In the RdL study we are going to use 1/8 inch thick polypropylene sheet plastic. The reason being, it has good stiffness, durability and it is no too expensive to buy. The other option would be (ABS) Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene maybe a better material, slightly stiffer, but it is not commonly made smooth on both sides. It always has texture on one side, which would not be good for juggling, one side smooth and the other side textured. Historically the first juggling rings where made of wood, before plastic was available, it would be possible to make them out of wood but it does not have good durability compared to plastics.
Above is a drawing of the first proto-types made for the study. The rings are now going out for testing. Wes Peden, Tony Pezzo, Patrik Elmnert, Erik Aberg and Jay Gilligan are heading up the testing phase. You could also be part of the project, these one of kind proto-types are for sale on the renegade website. This project is dedicated to the memory of Luke Wilson, one the founders of RdL and still a inspiration.