Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Adventures in hoop making.

These are the hoops that Anne-Marie made. Well, a few of them.

Not long after I began teaching, I started to think about making hoops. I expect a lot of hoop teachers have these thoughts. My first class had ordered their hoops online from a company I recommended - because I'd used their hoops as a beginner myself and found them good - but this time they weren't good. My students' hoops didn't actually fall apart, but they came close to it.

There are a couple of hoop-makers in New Zealand but none of them sell hoops I consider suitable for beginners. [You can read my post about choosing a beginner hoop here.] With a tiny population and hooping still very much a fringe past-time here in New Zealand, there's not much on offer. The hoop situation was starting to look rather difficult for my students ... and that's when I wondered, "Could I make my own hoops?"

Turns out, it's not that easy to make hoops in New Zealand either. I read with envy tales American hooping bloggers tell of going down to their local hardware store and coming back loaded up with HDPE, connectors, deco tape and gaffer tape. That is not the universe I inhabit. I must have clocked up hundreds of hours on the internet, researching the right materials and how to get them to my door as cheaply as possible.

Because, you know, I can order anything I want online but boy do those American companies charge to post anything to New Zealand. And I'd like to offer at this point a brickbat to the Australian company that wanted to charge me A$45 to send one roll of deco tape. That is definitely not an example of Anzac spirit from our trans-Tasman cousins!

Any way, I am at last making progress. I have wonderful suppliers of wonderful tape. I have connectors. Pipe has been something of trial and error. The first material I used was lovely to hoop with but the hoops would not keep their shape. Now I'm experimenting with something more rigid that is holding its shape better. My more experienced students have been test-driving this new material, and they like it.

Hoop-making does put me in some funny situations, though. Last weekend I went to watch John play football and I was chatting on the sidelines with one of his best mates, who is a plumber. So he knows a bit about pipe. Never did I imagine myself having a 20-minute discussion on the pros and cons of alkathene versus blueline MDPE, but that is what happened.

"Geez, girl, you know what you're talking about!" said John's mate, with a grin.

I love making hoops. It's a really satisfying feeling to finish taping a hoop and look at this beautiful thing that I have made. I love seeing the delight on someone's face when I hand them the hoop I've made just for them. [I've sold 14 hoops in two months, which isn't a bad start.] And it's fantastic to be earning a little bit of extra money to supplement my family's slender income.

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