[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn shares her taping tips.]
At some point along our hoop journeys, often near the beginning, many of us attempt the alchemy of transforming a big, blank, black hoop into a joy-producing circle of sparkling vibrant colors. We came up with a vision and we tracked down the supplies and after we put the hoop itself together we were ready to make some magic. And then we discover that creating those adhesive rainbow spirals is, well, not quite as easy as it looks. How many of us have started off with big ideas only to end up with a hoop that didn’t turn out quite like we envisioned it? Whether you’re contemplating taping your first hoop or you make them all the time and just wish taping a hoop weren’t so gosh dang nerve-wracking, here are five simple tips for taping a hoop that will make your hooping life a whole lot easier and prettier!
Before we get into taping the hoop, the first think we need to do is choose our hoop tape. There are many kinds to choose from. Utilitarian tapes like electrical, or vinyl, tend to be the first material a budding hoop-maker will try out. Why? It’s the most accessible, for one. You’ll find it at any local hardware store in basic colors. It’s also the easiest to work with for someone starting out because it’s malleable and lends itself better than other tapes to manipulation, for pulling and correcting our errors along the way. Easy on the tugging, though. It can snap easily. Duct tape is another affordable and accessible tape and it comes in some rad colors these days – seriously, like animal prints and polka dots! Just keep in mind that duct tape uses strong, unforgiving adhesive and is notorious for wrinkling. Shiny tapes like mirror, prism, and holographic tapes are slick and reflective. They add bling to our hoop with the least fuss. Some mirror tapes now come with no paper backing too, which is helpful. But more on that in a minute. Glitter tapes, however, will present some difficulty. Once they’re laid down, they’re difficult to move or adjust. Even if you remove it the glitter and attached adhesive remains behind causing bubbles and raised spots. But, ooooh, glitter, yo! Cloth tapes, or gaffer tapes, provide friction and weight. The friction is helpful when learning to hoop on a new body part causing the hoop to linger for a split second on both skin and clothing. The tape also is good for adding weight – a nifty tool for giving a hoop some heft without upping the tubing psi or adding anything inside which can throw off the hoop’s balance. Both shiny and quality gaffer tapes are online finds and the variety is jaw-dropping. Still, they too can be tricky for the new taper. Now that we know our tapes here are 5 tips for making flawless hoops even with fussy tapes.
1. The Perfectly Spaced Spiral. I nearly fell out of my chair last week when I got an email that asked what machine we hoopers use to get the spirals so incredibly even on hoops. And where could she buy it?! Alas, it’s just a lot of repetition. Though I may add “hoop taping machine” as a special skill on my LinkedIn profile (talk about muscle memory), the perfectly-spaced spiral might as well be a pink unicorn that poots bubbles. In 10 years of hoop-making I’ve never seen one. But making it appear perfect – that’s something you can do.
A good spiral starts with getting the angle of the tape right from the beginning. Do a couple turns and then check with your second tape to make sure it’s spaced how you want it. You’re looking for enough overlap to really anchor the first tape and keep it from buckling or peeling up. I re-check the angle every 10 or 12 loops or so, adjusting it each time. What do you do when you get to the last loop and it couldn’t be more off? If it’s a shiny tape, just cover the 3-6 inches around that spot completely. They lay nice and flat, so it won’t pose a problem later. Then when you bring around the second, overlaying layer, everything should line up nicely. If it’s any other kind of tape, rewind the roll 5 or loops and adjust the angle accordingly.
2. Eliminating Wrinkles. Ending up with a hoop that has tape wrinkles sucks. Gaffers and electrical are more forgiving than others because you can smooth them out a bit even after the job is done. But for every kind of tape, you want to firmly run a finger or two atop it, smoothing it out as you lay it down. Applying this constant pressure will ensure that your tape lays nice and flat and is well-adhered. On the underside of the hoop, you’ll be able to feel the wrinkles before it’s too late to fix them.
3. Cut Shiny Tapes into Smaller Sections. Shiny, paper-backed tapes should be cut into manageable sections. If you’ve been wrestling with shiny tapes, this is probably why. They are hard to manipulate and near-impossible to readjust after they’ve adhered. So cut your paper-backed tapes into sections 18-36 inches long (depending upon your comfort-level with them). When applying each new section, you can adjust your angle ever-so-slightly each time. This tip personally ended my days of cussing and hoop-throwing fits about shiny tapes.
4. Finishing The Job. When it comes time to finish off the top layer of tape, go ahead and tape over a couple of the first loops. If the edges of tape fray or peel up later, you can always snip a little off and still have a covered hoop. If you are using only shiny tape on a hoop and encounter this problem a lot, you can fix it with a little clear vinyl tape at the seam.
5. Maintain Your Scissors. If you’ll be doing a lot of taping, all that adhesive is going to muck up your scissors and give your tape gnarly edges. I start with hefty, quality scissors and routinely clean them with GooGone to keep them in shape.
Mad props to Barry Clement, who taught me these tricks so many years ago. Taping hoops takes patience and persistence, but yields beautiful, fun-inducing wonders for hoopers everywhere. So stick with it! And if anyone else has any favorite taping tips and tricks we’d all love to hear them.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Forum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.