Introduction: How to Make a Ribbon Stick for Your Junior Gymnast.

This Thursday, August 21, 2008 during the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing begins my favorite portion of the gymnastics competition...rhythmic gymnastics! Where else can you observe tiny gymnasts flailing across the mat using all sort of over-sized apparatuses? In honor of this sport and the 29th Olympic games and because my 2 year old daughter fancies herself a mini gymnast I give you instructions for making your very own ribbon stick for your little athlete. Whip one up, flip on the tunes and set that kid loose. Heck, you'll probably make a matching one for yourself just because they're so darn fun. Go ahead, nobody's watching, twirl that baby and bring it on.

Step 1: Gather Necessary Ribbon Stick Materials

You'll need the following to create your very own fabulous ribbon stick:

1 Wooden Dowel (I used a 3/4 x 12in. wooden dowel)

1 Small square of all-purpose sand paper to sand the dowel

Acrylic Paint (optional) to paint the dowel giving it extra pizzazz

1 Small Eye Screw

1 9mm Split Ring

1 Swivel Badge Clip (possibly taken from your Comic-Con lanyard--come on people it was over a month ago. Time to move on.)

1-3 yards of ribbon depending on the size of your rhythmic gymnast (we used 1 1/2 yards of 7/8' Red, White and Blue polyester! USA! USA!)

Duct Tape for a handle

And of course a paintbrush to paint the dowel if you choose to do so.

Step 2: Sand the Dowel.

Using your small square of all-purpose sand paper lightly sand your dowel to smooth out any rough spots.

Step 3: Paint the Dowel.

Paint the dowel with a sassy acrylic color (we chose pure gold because we're so money) using an even stroke from bottom to top and covering the entire circumference of the dowel as well as the top and bottom bases of the dowel. Paint dries in less than 20 minutes on a warm sunny day in a house with no air conditioning. We found one coat to be sufficient.

Step 4: Attach Eye Screw

Attach eye screw to the top of the dowel.

Step 5: Make a Duct Tape Handle

For easy gripping and control of your ribbon stick use duct tape to create a handle which is about 3-4 inches up the dowel by wrapping the tape and securing it smoothly around the circumference of the dowel on the opposite side of the eye screw (think eye screw is at the top and handle is at the bottom). The handle will make it easier for little hands to grasp and control so there aren't any serious accidents resulting from over enthusiastic ribbon stick flailing.

Step 6: Attach Split Ring to Swivel Badge Clip

Simply slip the swivel badge clip ring splitting the split ring open like you would when you place a key on a key ring. Then toss the rest of your Comic-Con lanyard in the trash and be done with it already. It's not healthy to hold on to these things for long periods of time and besides you'll always have your memories.

Step 7: Attach Split Ring to Eye Screw.

After you've attached the split ring to the swivel clip it's time to add the eye screw to the split ring. You might find it easier to do this in reverse by adding split ring to eye screw then split ring to swivel clip but that's entirely up to you. Also, I found my 9mm split ring a bit difficult to open wide enough to attach the eye screw. However, with a little patience it can be done or you could just purchase a larger split ring.

Step 8: Optional Ribbon Sewing

I decided to do a quick stitch finish to both ends of the 1 1/2 yards of ribbon I used for my daughter's ribbon stick after seeing how easily it seemed to fray. This is completely optional. However, by doing a quick finish to the ribbon's ends it might extend the longevity of the ribbon especially seeing how much flinging and twirling it's going to go through.

Step 9: Attach Ribbon to Swivel Clip

Now that your stick and ribbon are completely ready to go it's time to clip the ribbon to the swivel clip. I choose to use a swivel badge clip because it would be easy to replace ribbons for variety and for when the ribbon is totally ripped to shreds. I also liked the small size of the swivel clip.

Step 10: Ribbon Variety Is the Spice of Life

Remember, because you're using a swivel clip it's easy to switch out that red, white and blue ribbon when you're so totally over the Olympics or when your mini rhythmic gymnast decides she wants to be a medieval princess for a day.

This also might be a good time to dig that Comic-Con lanyard back out of the trash and salvage the ribbon for your awesome new ribbon stick. How resourceful of you. See..all is not lost. Wave your geek-hood with pride.

Step 11: Turn Up the Tunes and Set That Mini Rhythmic Gymnast Loose.

With your ribbon stick complete and ready to go it's time to blast some awesome ribbon twirling tunes(we like Aquabats' "Super Rad") and hand the ribbon stick over to the kid. But before setting your mini rhythmic gymnast loose perhaps you might find it helpful to show off a few moves. Caution: showing off your "moves" can be addicting and you might not want to give up the ribbon stick so easily. That's when it's time to make yourself your very own awesome ribbon stick or settle for being the adoring audience/DJ. Either way ribbon stick = fun for all!