Do It Yourself.. Make your own hoops...
It is not so hard to make a simple hoop, and there are many advantages to the enterprise. You will become more familiar with your hoop, you will be able to adjust size and weight and covering of the hoop. You can select from a wide variety of materials to make the basic tubing. You will have an opportunity for many creative choices and expressions. You may inform the revolution.
I cant say that you will save a lot of money because you will need to get the materials and there will be some waste and trial and error and so forth. But if you have the time and inclination it is worth it. And you can make some hoops for your friends and family, and maybe sell a couple and make up some of the investment.
Basic tools needed:
A PVC cutter..you can get this at Home Depot or hardware stores, or on the web, and it makes cutting the tubing easy. Cost is around $10.
A hair drier. Yes, just any old ordinary hair drier...but don't let her catch you in the workshop with hers... You use this to soften the pipe before joining it. You could also just use hot water in a cup or jug and dip the end of the tubing into this. I use the hair drier mostly because I work with electronics and LED hoops.
A utility knife.
A pair of leather gloves - not essential but very handy to prevent cutting yourself and bruising or burning your hands etc.
A file (rough cut, perhaps 8" long) You could get by without this, but you will do a fair amount of sanding in that case.
Sandpaper. Medium or coarse.
Cloth tape measure.
Tubing - you can use all sorts of tubing to make a hoop. Or you could make one from other material such as aluminum or thin steel, or wood or plastic or binding twigs together or whatever. Probably the most common and easiest to work with is irrigation tubing, around 80 to 160 psi. The less psi the more flexible the hoop. Lots of people prefer the 100 -160 psi range.
3/4 inch internal diameter, which has a 1" outside diameter (OD) - is a good place to start. You can order this from many places on line. Some require minimum orders of 100 feet, others ( e.g. www.mcmaster.com) will allow you to order by the foot. You could also work with 1" ID (internal diameter) which has an OD of 1 1/4". This is thicker than most people enjoy, but works for the very large hoops. For thinner diameter hoops, which are more lightweight and easier to do advanced tricks (though perhaps not quite as easy to spin for beginners) try 3/4" outside diameter or 7/8" outside diameter with a 1/16' wall thickness.
You will need a connector to join the two ends of the hoop. Make sure you ask for one with the same diameter as the ID of your tubing. Get it from the same place you get your tubing. Mine are 3" long, and have bumps or ridges in the plastic for the tubing to hold firmly. They slide inside the tubing. You can cut them back a little with the PVC cutter if they seem to flatten the tubing out too much at the join. (That will depend on the diameter of the hoop and the width and type of tubing you use). You don't want to cut the connectors so that they are too short otherwise the hoop will be weak and wobbly at that place.
I have purchased tubing on the web from Metropolitan Pipe in Cambridge, MA. 800 638 7473. You might try www.mcmaster.com
Cloth tape, fluorescent or regular. This is to cover the hoop. I also use stretch velvet and other material, but you will need to be versed in sewing machines if you go that route. I also use leather strips to bind the hoop. Leather lasts longer than cloth tape and has a nice feel to it. I get my leather from Michaels (multicolored fragments...but I haven't had much luck finding this recently) or cutting up leather jackets and trousers etc from thrift stores. I get my tape at www.identi-tape.com
A NOTE ON SIZE:
An average beginner adult cloth covered hoop is around 132" circumference. If you want it on the larger size ( the larger it is the easier to hoop with it, but harder to do tricks and maintain speed) try 135-140 ". Don't worry about making the hoop too big, you can always cut it again. I have some hoops that are over 200" circumference. But these are hard to transport . One is almost 6 feet diameter. It is made from 1 1/2 " ID thick tubing and I have wrapped it in foam insulation tape to cushion it. Even older heavy set guys who have never hooped before can hoop straight away with this one. The weight gives it momentum, the size means you don't have to hoop as fast. But where to hoop with it? How to transport it? My biggest hoop just fits with considerable squashing and finesse into a VW van. You might want to measure your car's trunk or back seat etc, to know how large you can make your hoop. They will squish a bit without deforming permanently. Of course you can pop the hoop apart and compress it quite a bit, or make it do a sort of Moebius strip move where it folds in on itself and becomes half the size. Then when you arrive where you are going you just tape it together with one round of 2" tape. Travel on airlines is also a consideration. I have taken the 42" diameter hoops with me to England etc. No problem. But that was before security started going crazy. Some people collapse their hoops before travel. Now I travel with 3/4" OD material that you can take apart at the connector will slide all the way round till the ends join each other again with the hoop smjall enough to fit on the back of my backpack and in the overhead compartment. You will need to experiment to find the right material and size. Dancing with a hoop is easier on others if you have a smaller diameter hoop. Smaller hoop sizes are useful if you have a smaller waist and you want to spin the hoop fast and do tricks with it. You can make the hoop with a diameter down to about 32". Below 37" however, you might as well buy a kids hoop in a toy store and cover it with tape....
Measure the tubing. Use a cloth tape. Cut it carefully keeping the cut vertical to the pipe so it will join back tightly all around.
If you are using material to cover the hoop now is the time to slide it on. Sew 2 or 3 feet lengths of material into tubes that are smaller than the diameter of the hoop tubing. You want the material to stretch as you slide it on the hoop, to help keep it in place. If you make it tooooo tight you will have a heck of a time sliding it all the way to the far side of the hoop so experiment with this. If you make longer pieces you will also not be able to make them tight enough cos they wont go on. Material is really nice on the hands and body and looks cool, but it does tend to move a bit on the hoop and makes it harder to do some tricks and maneuvers.
File down the ridges on one side of the connector so that is slides fairly easily into the other end of the hoop. You can use a utility knife to start the job and finish off with sandpaper. If you are going to leave the hoop joined all the time, and not take it apart for transport or to insert things like water or LEDs in it, then you can skip this step. In this case you just join both ends of the hoop as described below.
Use the hair drier around the end of the tubing - you can try just blowing the air into the tube and holding the end of the tube right up to the hair drier, but don't block all the air trying to come through the hair drier, and don't melt the tubing! (hard to do). I heat the tubing with the hair drier on high for about half a minute. Or you can dip the end of the tubing in hot water and this works well. Slide the end of the hoop over the connector and push. (This is one place where the leather gloves come in handy.) It can sometimes take considerable pressure.Do the same to the other end of the hoop and voila! A hoop...your own hoop... a thing of beauty...Try it out and make sure its the right size for you. When you add the tape it will get heavier and less slippery so it will be easier to hoop with. But you don't need the tape really. you can hoop with what you got! Especially if you roughen up the inside surface with sandpaper.
Tape it, in any patterns you want. This does take some practice because for me at first the tape all wanted to crease and bunch up and go everywhere, but pretty soon you will discover how to have it behave. In terms of hooping this is not a bad thing. The more creases and scrunches you have in the tape the more friction it has and the easier it is if you are learning to hoop. But pretty soon you will want a more finished looking hoop,and you can take the tape off and try again...It takes an even pressure and I find that it helps to keep the hoop in the same position relative to my body... in other words I put on several inches of tape (one spiral around the hoop) and then move the whole hoop up or down before continuing to lay the tape on. You can use 2" tape with 1" or 1/2" on top of it, or just play and be creative.
A WATER FILLED HOOP
This is an interesting hoop with an organic feel. The water gives it a fluid momentum. it is possible to spin this hoop really slowly. Try it with 3/4" tubing and about a cup of water. A larger sized diameter hoop works best for this one. I take my water hoop to the beach a lot. i tried painting it but the paint flaked off quickly. Now I have one of my water hoops taped with cloth tape, one with shiny tape and one taped with material. I used velcro to secure both ends of the material over the join in the hoop,so its easy to open the hoop and pour water out or in. You will need some tape at the join. You could try strapping tape or cloth tape, or this velcro fastening, though that takes some skill with a sewing machine and a bit of patience. Water hoops are not about speed, they are about flow and momentum. Its definitely a good place to visit in your hoop skills and awareness. Good to dance with to a more world beat or new age style of music. Not a techno thing. The more water you add the heavier the hoop and that has its benefits in terms of exercise and varying momentum etc. I take this hoop to boogie jams and raves and indoor dance places and everyone seems to have fun with it. It is great for learning things and for a slow groove or meditation. It makes no noise.
At the moment the LED hoops are too complex to make easily, though you can certainly give it a go, with a bunch of LEDs, a soldering iron, some wire and switches. Things should get easier as more hoops get made and when I get the battery compartments molded and the sequencers and accelerometers and chips and pics and circuitry and programming and so forth a bit more sorted, then I will pass that along to you. As of 2006 I dont use a battery compartment any more, because having the batteries all in one place made the hoop imbalanced and wobble when it spins, so now I use rechargeables placed symmetrically around the inside of the hoop.
In the meantime a much easier hoop to make is a hoop lighted with glo-sticks. People have been strapping glo-sticks to the outside of their hoops, but it is easy to put them inside and create a beautiful looking multi patterned cool true revolutionary hoop.
The only different materials you will need are some clear or opaque tubing, and the glow sticks. . I am always looking for better tubing and would appreciate any suggestions as to materials and sources for them. At present I use two kinds of tubing - PP (Polypropylene) and HDPE (high density polyethylene).
Which material is best? That is a matter of taste and function. They are both opaque (light comes through but its more like white plastic than glass). They are both around the same price, though at the moment I pay more for the PP. The thin walled PP (3/4"OD and 1/16" wall thickness) is more flexible, which gives it an organic feel, makes it more comfortable, safer if you smack into people, better for kids of a certain age, and interesting for a slower hooping style. It lets a little more light through than the HDPE. The high density material is more rigid, more like the 100+ psi black tubing the regular hoops are made from, better for larger hoops over 38" diameteer or for smaller hoops if you have a fast hooping style. It is easier to get it to synch with the house/club/techno/rave beat. I get my hdpe from www.mcmaster.com . I get my polypropylene tubing from www.mcmaster.com and www.usplastic.com .
The glow sticks are available from many different sites on the web etc. This is where I get mine: http://glowrus.com/index.html
Here is how:
1/ measure the hoop carefully with a cloth tape measure along the outside. Mark the point or just reach for your handy PVC cutter tool. (see above)
These glow stick hoops are not as bright as the LED ones, for sure, but you will still appreciate the effect. In the total dark they put out a lot of light. See the section on WATER FILLED HOOPS AND COMBO HOOPS above describing putting water and dye and paint etc in your hoop. If you are making a combo hoop that will sometimes be filled with water (or even if you just want a different look and feel) try some of the other metallic or vinyl tapes as described above.
I do sell these hoops from this web site. So, if you dont have the time, energy or inclination to get them together yourself....you may have better things to put your mind and heart to, and god bless you for that!