- four 4 foot lengths of PVC pipe, 1" diameter (don't go smaller or they are too bendy, but bigger is probably OK)
- black spray paint
- 16 yards of 2" wide black elastic
- 4 leather strips (optional)
- something to cut slots in the PVC with (more on that in a bit)
- sewing machine, or needle & thread
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Step 1: Cut Slots in the PVC Pipe
Each length of PVC needs a pair of long holes in it, one about 4 or 5 inches from the end, the other about a foot and a half further down. The slots need to be about a quarter inch wide, and 2-1/2 inches long, so the elastic will fit through. Optionally you may also put in a shorter, wider set of holes at the opposite end, through which you will thread the leather straps.
Mark the location of these slots on all the lengths before you start cutting them. The placement doesn't need to be in any kind of precise relationship on a given pipe, but you do want all 4 to be pretty close to the same.
I started to cut these by first drilling a 1/4" hole at each end, and then using my Dremel with a cutting wheel attachment to cut out the PVC between the holes. While this did work, it took a long time and blew dust up my nose. I don't know if PVC dust is poisonous or anything but it does make me sneeze a LOT, so this wasn't a very good solution. Luckily we have a milling machine here at Instructables, and this works much better. If you don't have access to a milling machine (not all of us do) you could do this with a regular electric drill using a routing bit.
Step 2: Paint the Poles
I used black spray paint that was labeled for painting plastic (it still rubbed off pretty easily). To paint most easily, and allow the poles to dry, I hung them up by the slots using hooks made from wire coat hangers. I hung them from the inside of a folding ladder, as I happen to have one. A small tree, coat rack, fence, etc. might work too.
Step 3: Cut Elastic to Size
This will vary depending on how big of a ring you want. I found that three feet of elastic between each pole worked well. This sounds like a small ring, but for best results you have to pull the elastic fairly taut while holding the ring, so we ended up with something about 5' square. Too much bigger and we wouldn't have fit into a living room full of other costumed people.
Important: cut two lengths of elastic for each "rope", as you will double it for strength.
Cut four 4-yard lengths of elastic. Thread two together through the PVC through the upper slots, and the other two, together, through the lower slots. Doublecheck that a) none of the elastic is twisted, and b) that the upper and lower elastics are going through the PVC poles in the same order and direction.
Now sew the ends together. Use at least an inch of overlap, 2 is better. Use several rows of wide zigzag stitch.
Step 4: Add Step-on Flaps
Optional. I added ... flaps ... on the bottom of each pole so the holders could step on the flap to keep the pole from moving, but still stand with feet spread apart for balance. I simply cut smaller slots on only one side of the PVC, and threaded a leather strap through. And sewed it together.