Apr 2

To quote a famous songwriter…What a long strange trip its been! :=) After 31 years of designing and producing our own original designed hand sewn footbags and juggle balls, we can honestly say something that not many in the business can… we have blazed our own trail and followed no one in what we created. At first selling one or two footbags down at the Eugene Saturday Market meant we could order pizza that night. After a few years we started getting more and more business and eventually employed up to 10 local sewers not including the partners of Reed Gray, Dennis Ross and Jim Fitzgerald who combined hand sewed more than 100,000 footbags and juggle balls in our “made in Oregon” phase of the business. In the late 1980′s and early 1990′s  Flying Clipper was producing thousands of handmade juggle balls for both Brian Dube and Klutz juggling, every one handmade in Eugene. Did you know that more handmade things come out of Eugene Oregon than any other city in the country? We were part of that movement.  Footbag and juggle ball sales were at full swing for our made in Oregon products. To be truthful I am a living example of someone who has given all to his craft. If I knew then what I know now, I would have stopped sewing much earlier than I did. I now suffer greatly with repetitive motion problems and arthritis in the shoulders and arms. Just ask another famous hand sewer of juggle balls, Fergie about that, I am sure he would agree. However because of the high cost of labor in today’s competitive market, Flying Clipper decided to go offshore to begin producing products under our strict standard for quality for the wholesale market. We still produced our made in Oregon products for craft shows such as the Oregon Country Fair which Flying Clipper is part of and has been part of since 1984. Flying Clipper can also say that our original designs are the most copied around the world. If you go to Wikipedia and search the term “footbag” you will see a Flying Clipper original patented  design offered as what a typical freestyle footbag looks like (the patent has run its course) . There is a good chance that Flying Clipper made THAT footbag!
Its great to be able to say that we are still putting out new products to meet an ever changing market. We can safely say that we are experts in how to design and produce handmade balls. I think we are changing peoples minds about handmade balls and the cross over between footbags and juggle balls is now becoming part of the culture with hands and feet jugglers such as the great Peter Irish and Jorden Moir who both enjoy using Flying Clipper products for their performances. It has been a long strange trip…but there is more yet to come. A big thanks to all of our long time supporters out there, you know who you are and we salute you!  Please join us in saying Happy birthday Flying Clipper!!!

Jim Fitzgerald, Dennis Ross, Reed Gray at the 1984 Oregon Country Fair

Jim Fitzgerald, Dennis Ross, Reed Gray at the 1984 Oregon Country Fair

Oct 14

From the desk of Jim Fitzgerald President and co-founder of Flying Clipper, est. 1983:

Being a craftsman now for more than 30 years has given me ample time to think up new ideas for expanding the horizons in the art of juggle ball design and concept. Lets face it, after hand sewing more than 75,000  footbags and juggle balls one cannot but help to fall face first into some good ideas now and then. :=) Combining a second and arguably a more valuable asset which is listening to jugglers for their feedback has enabled Flying Clipper to thrive in the midst of a very crowded internet marketplace. Our innovation is driven on improving each juggle ball model according to the feedback we receive from our juggling friends.

If you have never seen our products let me tell you this: Every juggle ball or footbag we produce is made from our own designs. (many of  our designs  are the most copied in the industry). Every juggle ball we produce is 100% hand made and completely washable. We use recycled materials in many of our models in the form of the filler materials we use which include recycled plastic pellets, crushed rock and ground up recycled tire rubber. From our Tossaball Hybrid series of balls to our newest rubber filled Phat Tyre series, we make a juggle ball that is just right for all types of juggling. We welcome ideas and feedback from our friends and value all relationships that come our way. When you purchase a product from us, you are not only getting a great washable hand made juggle ball, you are also promoting the inventors and we thank you.

Jim Fitzgerald

jim1

May 28

Flying Clipper is happy to be a part of footbag history.

We pioneered so many styles of footbag along the years here at Flying Clipper. We think this new project by John Stalberger on Kickstarter is fantastic because the history of footbag is so rich with so many stories of good friends.

We’re happy to be a part of that history and happy to support this Kickstarter campaign to see the release of the book about the history of Footbag aka Hacky Sack. The book is called “Hack the Sack.” It will be once it gets funded that is! Go check it out now and help out!

And as a part of telling that story, John is talking on Sunday’s about the history of the sport of footbag on Blog Talk Radio. This is a great service and we’re so stoked to see John telling his stories in a way that you can listen in anytime you like for years to come.

The History of the Footbag Sport

Play this show in your own music player.

 

All this leads up to the Kickstarter campaign! There is a limited time left to get this book funded! Get a custom footbag limited only to project backers at the $30 level, as well as the book of course! You can also get a signed footbag and book for $70! Many other reward levels available, even for $5, go check it out!

 

May 14

 

Apr 15

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A Footbag Golf Story For The Ages

I played professional footbag for 20 years, retiring in 1998 from footbag golf. I had already given up competition in freestyle and net and footbag golf was the last footbag event that I played competitively. I have won more than a few tournaments. As anyone who has played footbag golf knows and for those of you who do not, the golf holes are above ground and have the dimensions of 18” round and 18” high. The holes are cone shaped with a tray at the bottom for roll up puts from outside of a 30 foot putting circle. In my years of playing footbag golf I learned the wisdom of the roll up and would most often position my approach shots to land at about 30 feet so that I could have a “two for one” option of making it into the basket or rolling up into the bottom tray. I worked hard on my 30 foot puts in practice and in my best days I could hit 7 of 10 shots from 30 feet. Most went into the basket but about 25% of them would land in the roll up tray. I learned how to roll the entire 30 feet with some puts when conditions dictated.

I also manufacture footbags and on one of my visits overseas  for production, my hosts would go golfing everyday at about 4:00 p.m.. They would play on a private course owned and operated by the local military. It was a 9 hole course. Being left handed and never once playing regular ball golf, I tagged along with my hosts from hole to hole on their round. When they would finish putting and go to the next tee, I would pull out my three putters that always carried around in my pocket and take a few quick puts before catching up with my friends at the next green. I did this all the way around the course. When we all reached the final hole and as my friends finished their putting, they were greeting by an Army Major who ran the golf course. I saw them pointing at me and lifting their legs as they described to the Major that I played a different kind of golf. They wanted me to demonstrate…

“They wanted me to demonstrate…”

Now I knew that I had not made one putt on any of the eight previous holes I putted but I took out my three beauties and focused on the lie. Remember this is not an 18” round, 18” high footbag golf hole. This is a standard ball golf hole. I determined about a one foot break to the left and downhill from my spot at about 30 feet above and to the right of the hole. I lined up my first attempt and it rolled with a perfect break down the hill and into the cup. They all clapped. I line up my second putt and rolled it to a near perfect putt missing off to the right by 6”. Big sigh from the crowd. I lined up my third putt and rolled another perfect break right into the cup to a rousing ovation. I do not tell this story often because when I do, it sounds to whacky to be believable. This story is true and is the one thing in footbag golf I remember best of all, even in the face of my last tournament where I made two “holes in one” in 18 holes at the Western Regionals at Stanford University.

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–Jim Toes Fitzgerald

 

www.flyingclipper.com

Apr 12

We got a question from a fan on Twitter recently about the co-founder and president of Flying Clipper. The fan wanted to know who is Toes? You may have heard Derrick Fogle talking about him as this fan did, and wondered the same thing yourself.

We decided to clear up the mystery in a definitive way by posting a blog on the topic :)

Here is the story of Toes, from the man himself: Jim Fitzgerald, President of Flying Clipper.

jim1
As a founding member of Flying Clipper (4/2/83) I used to live in a small farming town by the name of Tangent. I would come every Saturday to the Eugene Saturday Market to kick with a circle that was there every Saturday. I used my toes a lot when I kicked. Gary Baker saw me coming to the circle one Saturday and said “Oh look, here comes those toes from Tangent”. I told him, “Don’t call me that, it might stick.”
Of course the name stuck and that is how I became Toes back in 1979. All of the folks in that Eugene Saturday Market circle became my good friends.  Along with Reed Gray, my future business partner at Flying Clipper, there was of course Gary Baker who became my best friend, Will Winget aka Star Cloud, Jack Schoolcraft aka Mirkan and Steve Amundson aka Birdman. The energy was always high and they always welcomed those “Toes from Tangent.”
Incidentally I co-invented a 14 panel footbag with my partner Reed Gray in 1983 and we named it the Tangent. Those early days were about trying to invent a better footbag than the Hacky Sack which tended not to be round. Out of that early circle of friends came the first multi panel footbag (a footbag with more than two piece construction) the 12 panel Soc Sac (Rick Steinmetz/Reed Gray) and that footbag design opened the door to all new footbag designs that followed.