I'm finally publishing this blog post I wrote *almost* one year ago.. Update - I have taped the sum total of ONE more hoop since...
This week I decided to retape one of my (many) old and battered class hoops. You know the ones.. the grip tape, once gloriously bright and exciting is now, well, universally dull brown with scuffs and encrusted with a varying amount of hall floor mixed with the sweat of many tricks learned. They are either scuffed or have peeled revealing the blue pipe below or the once helpful grip tape has become so shiny with use that it might as well be untaped. And, let’s be honest, they have a certain smell that you can’t quite put your finger on. They are the unathletic, unpopular kid waiting in vain to be picked for the team (I speak from experience).
I didn’t make this hoop. I’ve made *one* hoop since I started my hoop journey.. an ‘LED’ hoop to use for a group gig a few months after I started hooping.. 25mm MDPE pipe taped with grip and the most fragile of all tapes – photoluminescent – which broke every few turns and made me cry with the level of difficulty I hadn’t forseen, holes drilled by my dutiful boyfriend for little red LEDs to poke through. It was no Atomic Evoke. My class hoops I have either inherited from my time teaching for Emma of Hooping Mad, I’ve bought new from hoop making friends or bought second hand batches.
Why don’t I make hoops I hear you ask? Simply, I am equal parts impatient and busy. Add to that my recent downsize from a three storey house to a two bed and the fact that my entire family have developed a hatred of hula hoops from tripping over them in the hallway, finding them in their bedroom or sitting underneath them in the car.. I don’t think I’d have a strong case for adding coils of pipe to the already shaky camel’s back that is our living environment.
Back to the hoop I retaped this week. I had ordered 2 rolls of grip tape from the fabulous Sue at Fancy Tapes. The hoop in question had a coil of purple and a coil of *I have no idea what to call this colour’. When stripping the unknown coloured tape I discovered two things: 1) It used to be UV pink 2) There was no way I was peeling both tapes off the hoop.. the purple was staying. It took me a painful 45 minutes to peel and retape one swirl of tape from the hoop. I felt pleased that I had done it but also incredibly glad that there are only two others in my batch in need of the same treatment. It also made me think about the hoop makers. The ones that do this professionally. I had a newfound respect and gratitude for them. Why?
Aside from having to learn their craft, buy in bulk, store pipe of different widths, buy and store all the tools and tapes, measure and cut, create connectors, and tape the new addition to your collection or.. *gasp* your very significant and much awaited first hoop? How long must it take from having a conversation with a potential buyer that isn’t sure whether they like ‘Unicorn Golden Shower’ or ‘Tears of a Leprechaun’ holographic tape and then if the teal grip tape will go with their outfit or if they should go for powder blue to match the sadness in their eyes. How long does it take to argue with the post office because they just changed their parcel rates and it doesn’t fit through the plastic mock letterbox?
Think of the investment of hard earned money into equipment, storage, websites, computers, the need to eat and live somewhere.. and then the hourly rate. And then think of your brand new beautiful hoop that makes your heart dance and other hoopers go ‘OOoooOOOOOOoooOHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh’.
Guys. These people don’t do it for the money. Value the hoop makers. They are angels who walk amongst us.
Let's hear from a hoop maker:
Debby Earle (Debby Trubble) runs Hulala Hoopers and lives with her two children in Wiltshire.
“For a beginners hoop it takes me about half an hour to tape, and 10mins to measure cut and connect, and three years of making hundreds to get to be that quick. In the beginning it took me about an hour or an hour and a half. The most expensive hoops I sell are reflective colour change, the reflective tape is the hardest tape to work with, thick like the glow one you mentioned, breaks easy and has absolutely no flexibility to it. That's then taped with a colour changing one which is almost as much of a bitch to use and then clear protective tape. I like to make all three tapes overlay each other exactly so the finish is neater, those take me about three hours from start to finish. I have cried over reflective hoops before and often wondered what the hell I am doing! It took me 6 months to build my website. (And I'm still constantly adding things!) Then you've got the costs of buying a camera to photograph things and a drill, rivet gun, pipe cutters, and all the other tools you need. I do love making hoops though, and making them is making a piece of art, when they come out perfect it's all worth it.
I probably spend about 4 hours a week talking to people about what hoop they should choose and what size they need, before my website was live it was probably double that! I have pretty much invested my whole life and all my savings into hooping and hoop making. I don't regret it one bit. I love hooping and the more new people I make hoops for the more I feel my choice was the right one."
For legal (and friendship) reasons, other hoop makers are available ;)
If you're Bristol local and after a hoop you could try posting in Bristol Hula Hoop Sales on Facebook