A few weeks ago, I went to a flea market and saw someone selling handmade hula hoops for $30. Instead of buying one, I thought, “I can totally make those!” And thus began my journey to make my own hula hoops. In retrospect, I probably should’ve just shelled out $30 for one of her hoops. This process is both expensive and a little time-consuming, but I suppose it was a learning experience. Plus my color-matching skills are way better than that woman’s. Yeah, I totally aced kindergarten. Ultimately I guess I ended up with a prettier hoop. And then eight more hoops that I don’t know what to do with. If you want to make a lot of hula hoops for a party or some other reason, totally do this. If you want one single hoop, totally don’t do this. Or at least read on for how to do this in a more economic fashion.
Here are your materials. You will need:
- Poly tubing
- PVC cutters
Assembling these materials was harder than you’d think, but luckily you have me to tell you where to find everything. The tubing, PVC cutters and connectors are all from Lowe’s, and I imagine you could also find such things at a Home Depot. You cannot, in my experience, find it at Tractor Supply Company. The connectors are technically called “3/4-inch Insert Coupling” to match my 3/4″ tubing. The poly in poly tubing stands for polyethylene, and you can find this in the plumbing section of your local Lowe’s. I used 160 psi 3/4″ tubing for my hoops, which is the generally accepted type of tubing. Here’s the bad part: It only comes in 100-foot coils. And it costs about $50 for the coil. This will make you eight or nine hoops, but it’s a real commitment. The tape is best found online, and I ordered mine from Discount Hoop Supplies. This site is good for all your hooping needs, and they actually sell kits where they give you everything you need to build a single hoop for about $27. You should definitely consider this option if you just want one hoop. Moving on. Gaffer’s tape and deco tape are the two kinds I used. Gaffer’s tape has a fabric-like surface, and deco tape is sparkly and beautiful. If you’re a theater nerd, you might recognize Gaffer’s tape from its use on stages. It takes about 25 feet of tape for each hoop in each color you use. It could be less, but I find it’s better to err on the side of too much tape versus too little.
Now to actually build the hoop. The first step is to cut the coil into an appropriately sized hoop. I measured the hoop using my body and used my PVC cutters to snip it. You want the hoop to measure somewhere between your belly button and shoulder, depending on experience. The smaller it is, the easier it is to handle. I cut mine so it measures about three inches above my belly button.
The next step is to heat up the tubing using either a hair dryer (pictured) or a pot of hot water.
Next you shove the connector into the tubing while it’s nice and hot. Then heat up the other side and insert the tubing onto the connector to make a complete circle.
Ta-da! Super boring hoops that look eerily like a garden hose.
Now onto taping. This part made me want to die a little inside, but then I got the hang of it. And it really wasn’t so bad. Most of the taping process is trial and error, so I didn’t go crazy taking pictures. Here are my tips:
- Put the deco (sparkly) tape down first, and then use the Gaffer’s tape to cover up the seams on either side. It looks better this way, and it’s more durable.
- If your tape starts to overlap too much while you wrap it, don’t be afraid to cut it (preferably on the inside where it’s less noticeable) and start again with an adjusted angle. But I tried to save this option as a last resort.
- The starting angle is probably the most important part. Take time in the beginning to make sure you have a good angle that will give you the spacing you want.
- Gaffer’s tape likes to stick to itself. Beware of this.
- Remember that it’s supposed to be fun! If you stop having fun, take a break. Return to it when your spirit is rejuvenated.
That’s it! It was actually a pretty fun experience once I understood how to make the tape process work. I just don’t know what to do with all these extra hoops. Learn tricks? Create an elaborate outdoor game that involves hoops? Make goals for Quidditch? Feel free to leave your suggestions.