5 Simple Tips For Taping a Hoop

Supergrip [Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn shares her taping tips.]

by Lara Eastburn

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.

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Lara Eastburn 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.

12 thoughts on “5 Simple Tips For Taping a Hoop

  1. Great blog, Lara! Taping can be so frustrating at first. 🙂

    My tip: For the shiny tapes you can micro adjust the spiral as you go, but how you angle the pressure of your thumb as you push it/smooth it over the hoop. I use my index finger to smooth from the top back around and then my thumb from the bottom up and over. With my thumb if I place it more to the inside of the tape (towards where you’ve already taped, for me that’s the left) the pressure slowly angles the spiral bigger. And if I do the opposite, place my thumb on the outside of the tape (towards the empty hoop, the right) then the pressure as I smooth it out will slowly bring the spiral back tighter.

    Not sure how much that makes sense in words. But if I pay attention and micro adjust as I go along it helps to keep me from cutting and starting over every few spirals.

    xoxo

  2. Lara made my first hoop. It was brilliant orange gaff and orange shiny stripes. I loved it so much! Of course, I hooped it to hell and back. It wasn’t just nasty, it was nas-tay. The SuperHooper bus had taken Lara out of town by then, and I was on my own for the re-tape. So, that’s when I learned what a tape master Lara really is. The whole frustrating process has helped me grow, of course. I learned to make hoops and started playing around with sizes. Four years later, I still can’t tape as smoothly as SuperHoopers, but maybe with these tips, I’ll finally get that “machine finish” look. Thanks!

  3. My buddy Shannon asked today about those pesky seams where the hoop connects. That’s a really good point that I left out of the article. Boo me. The seam is always super tricky. It will NOT ever be perfect there, but here’s how to help it out. 1) Start the tape one spiral above the seam. 2) Angle the spiral so that the gap is tighter than it needs to be around the seam to get good overlap with the second layer. It will help cover up the bumps and ridges when you get to the 2nd layer. 3) Then you can widen the spiral as you move away from the seam.

    1. I’m still a N00B, but I found that using half width electrical tape (1/4″ or how ever wide your seam is) at the seam to fill in the gap works nicely. Keep wrapping until the gap is relatively flush with the rest of the hoop, this works great for the seam problem. Then just tape over it like you will tape the rest of the hoop.

  4. its is nice to know im not the only one who had a temper tantrum over the shiny tape! i taped my 1st hoop with some really awesome red and gold glitter stuff and it left no room for mistakes plus it left a layer of very sticky glitter that i would have to scrub off with a brilo pad! lol easy peasy from there thanks for the tips 🙂

  5. Call me geeky, but to make a perfectly spaced spiral that wraps on itself at the end, I rely on measurement.
    I start by measuring my repeating pattern width, for example alternating a 1″-wide glitter tape and 3/4″-wide gaffer tape would make 1 3/4″. Then, with a permanent marker and a measuring tape, starting from the joint I mark a dot every 1 3/4″. I rarely end up wrapping on my starting dot, so I go backwards, crossing existing dots and putting new dots one or two millimeters closer to each other until I end on one of my first round dots—which always happen quite fast, less than 1/4 round. I use the dots as a guide to apply the glitter spiral, and the glitter spiral borders as guides to apply the gaffer tape. Because the spiral’s angle is greater than 90°, they overlap a little bit, happily.
    A perfect hoop is well worth the extra work!

  6. I am taping my first hoop as I type this! I am having trouble keeping my tape at an angle for the spiral shape. I’m starting with 2″ duct tape as the base and it seems that every 7 or 8 turns of the tape around the hoop it ends up straight up and down instead of continuing at an angle. What am I doing wrong, or what can I do to make sure my tape stays at an angle all the way around the hoop? Thanks so much!!

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