A Batch of Deliciously Flavored Hoops!

I got to make a whole bunch of fun custom hoops this past week, I will try to keep the chit chat short and get STRAIGHT TO THE PICTURES since I know that’s what you’re really here for. πŸ™‚

We’re not in an apartment with a balcony anymore, and by the time I took these pictures it was dark outside anyway, so instead of being beautifully highlighted by the natural light of the setting sun, they are accented by glowing fluorescents on the stunning backdrop of our refrigerator.

HOOP THE FIRST: Delicious Orange Chicken THE SECOND.

When I first made the delicious orange chicken hoop, I made it as a way to play with some of the metallic bronze tape I had a huge roll of, and I thought no one would really dig the results. Turns out I was SO INCORRECT. It sold almost immediately. When I was recently approached by a new hooper-to-be, she had already perused my Etsy store. I asked her what she wanted in a hoop, and she said, “Orange chicken!!!” with great enthusiasm. So I guess there is a special place in this world for hoops that look sort of like mushy brown Chinese food dishes. πŸ™‚

HOOP THE SECOND: Under the Sea!

I feel like I should come up with a special name for the people who own or will soon own my hoops. This will make them feel special, like they are in an awesome club. But I can’t think of anything.

Anyway, a future hoop-owner approached me and said she wanted a hoop in “sea colors”. I sent her a picture of all the sea-colored tapes I had, and she picked her favorites but said she didn’t mind some surprise thrown in. I am quite pleased with the results!

HOOP THE THIRD: The Donatello Hoop!

This hoop came to be out of a haphazard collection of exchanged text messages back and forth over a series of days between myself and a future hoop-owner. She wanted green and purple, and I only had thin green and purple grip tape. So I layered it over ninja-turtle colored shiny tape, for a hoop that reminds me quite a bit of the weird-mini-Poseidon-esque-weapon wielding turtle. I know those weapons have a name but I never bothered to learn them because I was a Michelangelo girl and Donatello bored me.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like this hoop. I think it’s quite awesome and I kind of want to do an entire TMNT themed hoop set. WE’LL SEE.

HOOP THE FOURTH: The Slytherin Hoop!

Melissa, my good friend who has probably bought more hoops from me than anyone else, wanted to get a hoop for her friend as a SURPRISE. (Hoops DO make great gifts! Just sayin’.) She informed me that her friend was a Slytherin and would like a hoop with a Slytherin theme. I couldn’t bring myself to just make a green and silver hoop, so I added a special little secret surprise to the hoop: A snake head and tail where the ends of the green grip tape met. I love it so much I’ve been thinking of doing an entire Hogwarts house themed hoop set. WE’LL SEE.

HOOP THE FIFTH: The Gypsy Hoop!

This one was made very, very special for my friend Gypsy. I went a little nuts with it because I wanted it to be unique and special, because she played quite a big role in my hooping journey. So I made it like a crack hoop on crack, and I added a bit of fabric wrap to it, just for a bit of extra Gypsy-ness.

Some detail shots:


Metallic tones


Jewel tones


Fabric wrap and Autumn tones


Bits o’crack

My Favorite Hoops I Have EVER Made!

After a drought of hoop orders, I suddenly got five orders all around the same time. All of them needed new tape, so I had to place a HUGE tape order before I could get to the fun part of actually MAKING them.

The tape arrived on Monday and I was like a child on Christmas day. After giggling happily, tearing open the box and examining every roll of the largest hoop tape order I’ve ever gotten to make, I set about taping and spent the rest of the day making hoops. I made four hoops, and I got to do something new and unique with all of them.

It was the happiest and most productive I’ve felt in a while. I truly, genuinely adore the process of making hoops. But these were a particular blast to make, because they had each been special requests, and I loved making them knowing that these hoops were each unique to the people who would soon own them. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the process of creating something special for very special people. I really hope I get to do this more often, because this kind of customization filled me with an incredible sense of joy and fulfillment.

Since I’m the type of person who will leave the mashed potatoes on my plate for last because they are my favorite, I’m going to present these hoops to you in the same way. I love all of them, but I’m saving my favorite for last.

New Something #1: New color combination and a collapsible hoop with only one connector

I was excited about this color combination from the moment it was originally suggested. Blue, green, and brown. Normally, if I heard these colors suggested for a hoop, I’d go for the blue or the green as the shiny colors and the brown would be a grip.

However, my tape supply was dwindling and I had to work with what I had. Luckily for me, I had a gorgeous metallic brown that I don’t get to use very often, so I suggested the brown be the shiny and the blue and green be the grips.

The result, I think, came out GORGEOUSLY (Is that a legitimate adverb? Because it is now.). As soon as I snapped pictures of it, I named it “Electric Chocolate”, because that’s what it looks like to me. Delicious chocolate infused with a zap of bright, electric color.

Again, thanks to dwindling supplies, I had only one connector for a collapsible hoop. My original plan was to go ahead and make the hoop using the one connector (because I was having so much fun making hoops and I didn’t want to let a silly thing like lacking connectors stop me), then when I got more, I would cut the hoop for the new connector, put it in, then trim the edges.

But after I’d finished taping, I remembered seeing a hoop one of my friends had that collapsed with only one connector and I decided to see if it would work with this hoop.

IT DOES. This is incredibly exciting to me, because in my opinion, it makes the hoop look nicer since it’s not broken up in two places, and it also will help keep the collapsible hoops from forming a more oblong shape (as opposed to the circle they are supposed to be). Not only that, but I wouldn’t have to wait for more connectors to deliver the hoop. It could be delivered as-is!

New Something #2: Using two tapes I’ve never used before, but have eyed forever, on the same hoop

One of my friends and favorite clients came up to me at the weekly spin gathering we attend to ask me if I could make her a new hoop. She’d previously purchased the black and yellow hoop from this batch, named it Bumblebee, and proceeded to love it into a beautiful battered pulp. She wanted a new hoop, something special, pretty, slightly bigger, something shiny she could love and enjoy, a hoop to indulge in.

I showed her my sample tape book, which has not only tapes I presently own, but also tapes that I can order if someone wants them. Among those tapes was a jaw-droppingly opulent holographic tape called “Fire Opal”. In the sun, it refracts in the most incredible shades of pink, blue, magenta and orange. (The pictures of it on the hoops above DO NOT do this tape justice.) I’ve seen it on other hoops and have been dying to use it myself for ages, but it’s a pretty pricey roll of tape.

She saw it and immediately said, “That one. I have to have that one.” She then proceeded to point a tape with little hearts on it, slightly raised from the metallic surface. “And that one.”

I don’t normally make hoops with double shinies. And when I do, they don’t usually have two super-special-fancy tapes like that.

Nine times out of ten, when someone is ordering a hoop from me, they will pick a tape they like and when I tell them I’ll have to order it, they drop it and work with what I have. They want their hoops quickly, and I don’t blame them.

Not this girl. I told her I’d have to order her chosen, and she said, “That’s fine!” She also decided she wanted another hoop, with a different grip accent, for her friend.

When I got the tape, I spent a while just staring at it. Then I took a picture of the tapes and sent it to her. I knew she’d be just as excited as I was about it, and she did not disappoint. When I finally got to deliver the hoop to her, she was literally bouncing around with joy. THAT is exactly why I love making hoops for others. She knew exactly what she wanted and I was able to provide it to her. Happiness. πŸ™‚

New Something #3: Drawing inspiration from something special to the owner; new taping techniques

I got a message on Facebook that said, “A little bird told me you make hoops.” She then went on to tell me she wanted a hoop to match her favorite pipe. I’ve never created a hoop design from something specific before, and I immediately jumped at the challenge of doing so. I asked her to send me a picture of the pipe, and she sent me an image of one of the coolest piece of glasswork I’ve ever seen:


Piece by Mike Fro

My initial instinct involved using metallic tapes for the colors and white and black for the grips. After mulling it over more, however, I remembered that the company I order my tape from had sent me samples of a high-gloss vinyl tape in solid colors. Colors that are bright, but also slick and shiny, like…GLASS.

I was so excited about this idea that I went ahead and ordered a roll of tape in every color. I also wanted to capture the way the pipe had swirls, stripes, and solid chunks of black. I decided to try something I’d seen on other hoops but never tried before myself, making stripes of colors.

The hoop that I produced from this inspiration source, tape, and design technique is easily the hoop I am most proud of to date:

New Something #4: Making a big hoop/minis matching set

The same day I got my tape, I also got a message from the girl who ordered the pipe hoop asking if I could also make her a set of minis in the same design theme. I said OF COURSE. I’ve never gotten to make a big hoop/minis matching set before! I made them the next day.

When she came to pick up her hoops, she saw them and said, “Oh wow, they look just like my pipe!” I heard that and knew I’d done my job. Creating these hoops using a unique and creative inspiration, and attempting to make them look like the source material while still utilizing classic hoop designs, I felt like I got to truly be an artist. It may sound strange, given the limitation of having a specific model to work from. But that was oddly freeing. I could create the hoop however I wanted to, and the process of coming to the final result is the most fun I have ever had making something for someone else.

I hope that this is not the last project I get to do that way. In fact, it would be thrilling to do nothing but super exclusive, incredibly customized orders from now on (though I love making hoops regardless of the amount of customization involved). I loved the uniqueness of this hoop, and more than that, it was a rush to know that it would be all the more special to the person that ordered it.

Creating for others is a fantastic feeling. I think there is an extra thrill in making something as simple as a plastic circle into a magical work of art that lights up people’s faces.

Breakdown of an Emotional Breakthrough (and a hoop!)

Let’s do the hoop first, because everyone loves to look at the pretties:

This was a custom order, delivered last night. Very well received. πŸ™‚ Many thanks to my friend Lissa for helping me out to make sure the hoop got delivered on time!

ONTO THE BUSINESS PART OF THIS POST: I haven’t been blogging much the past week or so, and I wanted to explain why. It’s not for a lack of ideas, I’ve got ideas for posts scribbled on random scraps of paper, saved for when I would sit down at the keyboard again. But I felt I needed to make this particular post first, before making any of the others.

You see, I had an enormous emotional breakthrough this week. I mean, with giant, sopping globs of tears and snot and bawling at myself in the mirror while I mentally told myself (and believed) how wonderful I really am.

It happens.

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw some of this breakthrough occurring in real time.

It started with a blog post by Sarah Wilson. The title was “Possibly the most reassuring life advice I’ve been given”, and I clicked on it, figuring some good advice couldn’t hurt.

I didn’t realize I was clicking on a post that would lay out my greatest insecurity, the one I keep under the table and very rarely even admit to myself, in mind-numbing clarity. Nor did I expect it to tell me that the very personality traits that cause this insecurity are to be celebrated, not admonished. And I certainly didn’t expect the post to hand me the title of a guidebook for finally making peace with said insecurity.

The Personality Traits: I find something interesting, I get very excited about it, I commit to it and dive into it headfirst. I do everything I can to try to form a career, a living, off of this new thing I love. But the thrill always wears off and it always become something I do and enjoy, while the sparks of passion grow fewer and far between. And I leave a cloud of frustrated friends and family in my wake, who thought I was really going to do something this time, wondering why I stopped when I was doing so well.

The Insecurity: I’m then left wondering why I’m never happy with the idea of just getting a regular job like everyone else. Why I have to keep searching for something that truly fills me up, rather than just something to pay the bills. Wondering if my failure to be motivated by the paycheck is going to get me in serious trouble one of these days. Wondering if I really am lazy, a flake, a letdown. Thinking that there must be something wrong with me, because I can’t seem to find that one thing that makes me want to get up in the morning. Instead, I jump from thing to thing to thing.

I’ve grown to accept that might just be how I am, that I may never be interested in just one thing, that my passions will change and I’m just along for the ride. But then where does that leave me, as far as making a living goes? How do I do what I love, when what I love is never consistent?

Let’s get back to that blog post. It turns out that I am not the only person with this “problem”. And it turns out that it is not a problem at all. An amazing woman named Barbara Sher has labelled us “Scanners”, and she wrote a book about what it’s like to be a Scanner and how to deal with it, embrace it, and find work that won’t kill you. It’s called Refuse to Choose, and I was able to wait exactly one day before I caved and ran to the closest Barnes & Noble to get my own copy.

I devoured it. And I cried more than once reading it.

Here’s what’s up: Scanners love learning, and they learn very quickly. They tend to get what they want out of something simply by learning as much as they can, then moving on. Bosses tend to be impressed with how quickly these people pick up on their jobs, and want them to stay. But once a Scanner has learned the job, the “fun” part is essentially over, so the job becomes boring. And boredom is like death to a Scanner.

In addition, Scanners are hesitant to commit to any long term career, because they fear that they might be missing out on something else they’d really want to do or learn.

This explains, clearly and succinctly, my entire work history thus far. I find a simple, non-committal job because I want the flexibility of free time and a malleable schedule. I go through the training process quickly, learn the ins and outs of the job entirely, and have a blast doing it. Then the boredom sets in.

Or I’ll get a job because I love the idea of having a job like it: I wanted to work in an office with my own cubicle because I’d never done it before. I wanted to work at a yarn store. I wanted to work for an independent business owner. I don’t really want the job for the sake of having it forever and ever. What I want is the experience of having a job like it. And the pattern is the same: I love the job at first, I soak up every new thing like a sponge, I learn it quickly and make myself almost invaluable. But by then, I’ve had the experience. I now know what it’s like to work at X place doing X job, and I’m done. But I’m still there.

And so I quit. And I feel great relief while friends and family lament. And hearing their laments causes me to second guess myself, am I a failure? A commitment-phobe? Doomed to be a bum stuck in crummy high-school summer jobs for the rest of my life? And my self-esteem plummets, without me even realizing it.

But what Barbara Sher’s book made me realize, what brought me to tears in a fit of self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love, is this: I am NOT a failure, a commitment-phobe, or a loser.

My brain is too hungry to specialize, to curious to settle down.

My gorgeous, beautiful, astonishing brain will never want to stop learning, and why should it? Why should I force it? Why not celebrate it, let it play with its own ideas, let it relish life and all it has to offer?

As for what I should do job-wise, the book was very helpful. I don’t feel like I need to find something and settle on it forever anymore. I have some ideas, but the most powerful came when I read the section on a particular breed of Scanner, the “Serial Master”.

These Scanners love the challenge of learning and mastering a new skill from the ground up. Once they’ve grown competent, however, they’ve gotten their reward out of the process and begin to scan the horizon for something new.

This is me to the letter. I love a good challenge. The reason I’ve got so many finished rough drafts lying around came from the challenge of NaNoWriMo, to write a novel in 30 days (and then, friends who saw how fast I could write and challenged me to complete even greater word counts in even shorter lengths of time). The reason I ran a 5K came from the challenge of interval training myself up to it with Couch to 5K.

I realized reading this section that the same drive for mastery is what pushed my manic, addictive practice sessions with hoop dance, knitting, even Dance Dance Revolution (oh yes, I’m AWESOME at DDR, you should play me one day). With these skills, I saw what mastery looked like, decided I wanted it, and set out to get it.

What happens, though, is that eventually, I reach a point of diminishing return. Once I get good enough, improvements are smaller and more gradual. While some people are content to spend the rest of their lives honing their skills increment by increment, I reach this point and crave the process of learning something new all over again. I realized that I subconsciously set a goal for myself when I start out, an “I want to be good enough to do blah” sort of thing. Typically what happens when I reach this goal is my enthusiasm for practice begins to wane, because I’ve gotten to where I wanted to go. I’ve gotten what Barbara Sher refers to as my “reward”.

When I read the book and realized that all of this is not only okay, but the way I am supposed to operate by my very nature, it unleashed a torrent of emotions and self-doubt that I knew I’d been supressing somewhere but could never identify clearly enough to work on fixing them. It’s amazing how just giving a name to your fears and insecurities can help the process of healing.

Oh, and Barbara had a very specific career suggestion for the Serial Master breed of Scanner: Motivational Speaker. My jaw literally dropped reading that, because it seemed so obvious while being something I might have never given myself permission to think about seriously. But given the amount of people that have come up to me telling me how much they love my blog, and how inspired they’ve been by the posts, and the amazing and unexpected way the How I Didn’t Lose Weight Hooping article has taken off, I think she might be on to something. It’s given me renewed joy to work on this blog, and to look into what small, first steps I might take to trying out some public speaking.

Maybe on the Open Stage?

I’m in a wacky mood, let’s all take advantage of this. (Also a picture of a hoop.)

I’m in a genuinely goofy mood today, you guys. I’m in the sort of mood where I refer to you guys as “you guys”, BRAZENLY IGNORING the fact that some of you might, in fact, be girls.

I apologize for this. I really do, you guys.

Today I realized that there is a great deal of fun to be had with Etsy. A long time ago, there was this guy, Rob Cockerham. Okay, well, there’s still this guy, Rob Cockerham. He had a website called cockeyed.com. OKAY, he STILL has a website called cockeyed.com. He used to have great fun with Ebay, listing ridiculous things with amusing descriptions and pictures. I found the idea hilarious, and started trying to put up listings for abstract concepts on Ebay. One of my listings, “Blame for my history test grade”, got up to $35 before Ebay took it down for being a “joke listing”. (It wasn’t. I was totally serious, the listing was for a letter of written blame depending on the outcome of my grade, in addition for a copy of the test.)

Anyway, as you guys well know because you pay ravenous attention to my every move (I know you do, I caught you catching me picking my nose just a minute ago, ADMIT IT, it will be less awkward for the both of us), you are well aware that I have opened a store on Etsy. I’ve read in several places that a Key To Etsy Successβ„’ is to post items every day, every few hours if possible, because searchable items are shown with the most recently listed first. So the more you spread out the listing of your items, the more visible your shop is, versus listing them all at once and then not posting anything new, like I did with my first Etsy shop which ended in utter failure and I abandoned along with my hopes and dreams and collection of New Kids on the Block albums.

The point is, I’m listing at least one hoop a day, in order to be all Serious about this. I’ve been naming them clever and witty things, mostly using the colors of the hoop and applying some food-based name to it, because I love food, then coming up with some sort of catchy description for it, hopefully evoking images of awesome in the viewer’s mind so that they just can’t stand how cool the hoop is and feel moved to purchase it.

I listed an orange, purple and silver hoop today. I stared at the picture, trying to think what the hell sort of food was orange, purple and silver. I didn’t want to go the obvious route of naming it “ORANGE AND GRAPE PIZAZZ!” or something like that. So I asked Green, “What would you name this hoop?”

He responded, “Heart failure.”

I looked at the hoop. It still looked orangey-purplish-silveresque to me. “Why?” I asked.

“Because looking at it kind of makes me wish I were having a heart failure.”

I paused. I considered his reasoning. It proved entirely pointless and incomprehensible. “I’m putting that on my Etsy store,” I said. And I did.

I present to you, the Heart Failure Hoop.

Now I feel the compulsion to list all of my hoops in a completely ridiculous manner, such as the “This Hoop Will Solve All Of Your Problems! Hoop” and the “Become More Attractive To The Opposite Sex INSTANTLY Hoop” and the “Hoof Of A Magical Unicorn Hoop”.

We’ll see if I still feel this way in the morning.

In the meantime, here’s a special order hoop I made yesterday:

It’s the “You’ll Never Look At Platypi The Same Way Hoop”.

PS: I paid my rent this month ENTIRELY from hooping money, WHAT’S UP.

Hoops & Other Delightful Stuff

First thing’s first: I want to start out with the AMAZING and SUPER YUMMY food Green made us for dinner last night:

All organic, free-range or farm-fresh. The zucchini and green beans actually came from the garden of the hoop student I drove to teach this week! SO. GOOD.

Second: I’ve got a bunch of little bits of spare tubing from the ends of rolls, and I’ve also got little bits of scrap tape, as well as some samples I get when I place orders. I decided to take those bits and pieces and make some mini-samples of hoop sections!

They’re about two inches long. I’m not entirely sure how to carry them around yet. Green suggested putting them on a string. Any ideas? I love the idea of getting to show people an actual sample of color combinations on hoop tubing, rather than just a bunch of random flat samples of tape!

AND NOW FOR THE HOOPS:

This one’s a custom I made for someone that’s getting delivered today!

And the rest are hoops I made for Arts Goggle but haven’t posted yet:


A hoop of many colors!

That’s it for now! Happy Saturday everyone!

Today’s Hoops and Some Gratitude :)

I actually only made this first hoop today:

(It’s a bit dark because it’s rainy out today.) This one’s a special order collapsible.

This one I made yesterday.
I got a text from a friend saying he needed a hoop for a 6-year-old boy, and would leave the colors up to me. This is what I came up with. πŸ™‚

And a third hoop, which I made before I decided to start taking pictures of them:

The owner of this hoop wanted something “foresty”. I liked it a lot (so did she!), so I asked her if I could snap a picture of it while we were hanging out last night!

AND NOW FOR SOME STUFF I’M GRATEFUL FOR:

1. Green. ❀ Also the fact that he has gotten a job at our favorite restaurant. He had his first day today, and his happiness makes me happy as well. I am so excited for him!!

2. The rain today is nice and relaxing, and it feels like the world is telling me it’s okay to just chill out, soak it in, maybe take a nap if need be. The rain always feels like permission, if not a direct order to slow down.

3. My yoga classes are getting stronger and stronger!

4. This song. It’s a mashup of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and Oasis’ “Wonderwall”. I remembered it yesterday and decided to look it up and listen to it again, I still love it!

5. While we’re talking about music, I’m also grateful for Amanda Palmer’s Goes Down Under album, the whole thing makes me so happy! I am also grateful that you can listen to the whole thing FREE on her site. I love the entire album, but my favorites so far are…I was about to try and pick some but then I would have listed at least half the album. Though you should check out “Vegemite (The Black Death)” if you need a good laugh. πŸ™‚

6. Firefly. The show by Joss Whedon. I love it to pieces. πŸ™‚

7. The bacon Green made for us after I got back from yoga today!

8. All the hoop sales I got last night! YEAH! I’m really doing this thing and it feels AMAZING!!

9. My camera, so that I can document all the hoops I make, and look back on them later and realize just how much I’ve created!

10. Wheezy Waiter! Love him!

Okay, I’m off to take a nice, delicious nap. What are YOU grateful for today?