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.

 

Materials:

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....

INSTRUCTIONS:

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.
The cloth tape does not like getting damp or wet. It peels off the hoop. So for water filled hoops or hoops that are going to be outside on the beach etc or in damp grass and so on, maybe consider using minimal tape that you can replace easily. Or tape over the ends of it with strapping tape or other waterproof tape. Or use various kinds of tape available from www.identi-tape.com such as decorative metallic tape, identi-tape, vinyl tape, etc.

COMBO HOOPS
You can also make one of these water hoops out of the translucent material described below in "Lighted Hoops" . That has the advantage that you can see the liquid, and you can add fluorescent paint etc so that you get a glow out of the hoop. You can also then pour the liquid out of the hoop and insert some glow sticks as described below and you have a lighted hoop!

WEIGHTED HOOPS
You can play with different weights in your hoop to see how that affects the style and performance. Taping the outside is one way to add weight. You can put on a lot of tape if you like! Adding water is another way, though the water moves as you hoop and that gives it a different feel. Try it though, it is interesting, and you will be able to hoop slower and do different things. You can also add weight to the inside of the hoop by filling it with beans or plastic beads etc. You could use thick buss wire, or wire intended for hanging paintings etc and cover that wire in tape before inserting it all the way around inside the hoop. If you use fluorescent tape to cover the wire, you will have a hoop that glows a little in black light (but not much cos the tubing material absorbs UV light)

HUGE HOOPS
If you have a big backyard or live on a quiet street or happen to have a warehouse or big dance studio at your disposal, you might want to try a LARGE hoop. I make mine out of thicker tubing..1/14" ID (internal diameter) 100 psi. This makes a 6 foot diameter hoop if you like. I then wrap that in foam pipe insulation ( a 2" strip of foam with an adhesive backing). There is no need to have the foam tape tightly wrapping the tube, you can leave 1" or slightly more space between the foam as you tape.. I then cover the foam tape with cloth tape, either the 2" or 1". This is partly to support the foam tape because it tends to fray and crumble, particularly at the edges. The foam tape gives extra traction and comfort. Important if you are going to have a heavy large hoop going across your windpipe etc. The large hoops are fun especially for beginners, but interesting for anyone, and a good place to start learning the double hoopster thing (2 people in one hoop).

LIGHTED HOOPS

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
You want the necklace ones, they are about 23" long. I order them by the 300 cos its cheaper. They come with connectors so you can string them together to make a nexklace, or in this case a lighted hoop. Make sure you ask about connectors if you order them from someplace else.

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)
2/ Cut the tubing vertically to the tube so that it will join back closely.
3/ Get a connector ready. (If you are making a small diameter hoop you may want to cut a bit off each end with the PVC cutter so that the hoop stays rounder - doesn't have a flat part due to the longer connector inside it) I usually leave the connector full length for stability. I trim off the middle raised bit of the connector - some don't have this, but it is designed to keep the two ends of the tube slightly apart and firmly connected - you don't need that. I use a sharp utility knife, with a glove on the hand that holds the connector in case I slip. This saves time and money in getting the disinfectant and bandaids out, or going to the hospital. Its not difficult, just pay attention, cut away from your body and wear that glove or have some protection for that hand.
4/ Heat the end of the tubing with a hair dryer. Helps to wear a leather glove to keep from roasting your hand. With the low density flexible tubing you will need about 20 seconds of high heat, either with the hair drier pointed down the tube, or moving it around the outside of the tube slowly all the way around. Push the tube and the connector together firmly (with the high density material this may take more heating and a few grunts, but don't melt the tube or the hair drier!) till the connector is half way into the tube.
5/ Wait a few seconds for the tube to cool and set. With the utility knife cut the ridges at the end of the connector so that they are mostly gone..(dont cut them all the way off. You are trying to get that side of the connector to fit snugly into the other end of the tube. If it is floppy you will lose power and connection with the hoop. If its too tight you will struggle each time you have to replace the glow sticks. You may want to practice first with another connector, cutting, filing and sandpapering it down till you see what works). Then file and/or sandpaper the end of the connector till it fits snuggly into the other end of the hoop.
6/ Hey, you just made a hoop!
7/ If you would like to increase the variety of patterns from the lights, or give it more traction, or make it more interesting by day without the glow sticks, then you should tape it. If this is your first hoop, dont worry about getting everything exact, you can remove the tape easily and the creases in the tape are not noticeable by anyone else and actually give the hoop more traction. A lot of the aesthetic effect is in the taping, and you can try out many designs.
8/ Take 6 glow sticks and bend and shake them till they are activated fully. Snap on the connectors to make a long chain and slide them into the hoop...the last one doubles up a bit over the first, and that is ok. They last for an evening of hooping. Save the spent ones, because if you want to hoop with just two or three in the hoop, you can alternate new ones and used ones to give some dark spaces between the glow..this is also a good effect. You can of course dispense with the connectors and just put one or more glow sticks in the hoop and let them float around.
9/ Fasten the hoop together with some 2" tape over the join. ..... tra la...

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.

SWIMMING POOLS

What do these have to do with hoops? Last night I went to a friend's house for a barbie (australian for barbeque). He has a swimming pool in an outdoor greenhouse. Its on the coast in California and at this time of the year the water temp is in the upper 80s and low 90s, which means you can stay in there forever. I took one of my glowhoops with vinyl taping on the outside, and six 23" glowsticks inside. I also took a bunch of separate glow sticks and 15 small pieces of copper tubing that I had cut (the tubing has a large enough diameter to slip over the glowstick). I bent glowsticks into a circle with the ends just overlapping and used vinyl tape to secure the ends, making little hoops that could fit over your feet or up your arm. The copper tubing provided just enough weight to sink the glowstick, and it comes to rest on the bottom of the pool, upright so you could swim through it if you were a goldfish. With 15 of these standing scattered all around the pool numerous games became possible. People liked to wear them and swim underwater, I enjoyed collecting all fifteen in one breath, they were used as finger hoops and hung over peoples ears and thrown around etc. I also used a number of glowsticks without the weights, and held them together with their connectors, and they got used as headbands and projectiles and wands and all kinds of things. Two of them connected together into a circle makes a decent soft hoop for a kid. Weave different colored glow sticks together so that when yo spin them they create different patterns. Lots of fun, and quite beautiful as well. The big hoop was great to spin around the arms and neck and dive through and dance with and so forth. If the tape is not tight around the join, a little water will get inside but that is fine. I even had some cloth tape on it that survived the 3 hours in the water.

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!

merlin