A Barre!

Phase 1 of my home studio!

Over the weekend, Boyfriend and I built me a ballet barre! Well, it was more like Boyfriend built it, but it was my idea, and I helped.  I did such useful things as find the instructions online and hold on to the freshly-cemented pieces while they were fitted in with the other freshly-cemented pieces. Oh, and I tested it out!

For the longest time now I’d been wanting a ballet barre to practice with.  I’ll just say right now that practicing with a barre is so much more fun than using a countertop or the wall (which is what I’d been using for the past 2.5 years)!  Like, every single time I pass by it I can’t resist doing a whole bunch of plies and releves, or port de bras. I’m as excited as a kid with a new toy!

At home we took some rough measurements (I wanted the low barre to be at a good height for me to get my leg on to stretch, and the high barre to be a comfortable height for placing my hand without my shoulder riding up), and then headed to the hardware store.  We’d already decided that we were going to make the whole thing out of PVC pipes, to keep it lightweight, portable and – most importantly – affordable. So, we get down to the hardware store, and I’m so excited, probably the most excited I’ve ever been at a hardward store.  Though I’m sure the day we go get my mirrors I’ll be real excited too.  The hardware store has nice floors to practice turns on, by the way, and I couldn’t resist doing a bunch of pique turns and soutenus. Fun!

The barre-making supplies... and my nosy little cat

The barre-making supplies… and my nosy little cat

We added up the measurements, and decided we needed to get 2 10ft long 1 1/4 pvc pipes. It just added up to 20 ft perfectly. We needed to get it cut though, so we asked the guy working there if he could cut it for us, since the store had already confirmed that they do offer the service of cutting. He gave us such a hard time! He asked us “What are you trying to make?” (Boyfriend hates it when they ask that, lol), and Boyfriend’s like “It’s called a ‘barre’.” and the guy looked lost, so he showed him a picture.  The guy’s then asks “What are you going to hang from that?” and Boyfriend’s answers “Legs!”. I couldn’t help butting in and saying “No! If you’re hanging off the barre you’re doing it wrong! Go back and try something easier and build more strength first!” LOL. Anyway, Boyfriend just told the guy he was going to mark off the different sections at the various measured lengths, and then the guy could cut it. So without any further delays we bought or cut lengths of PVC pipe, the elbow and t-shape connectors and a small bottle of cement glue. Total came out to the very reasonable price of $30 and change – a fraction of what some pre-made barres online are going for.

At this point I think we hadn't glued it together yet...

At this point I think we hadn’t glued it together yet…

Putting it together for a test fit went smoothly.  Then we put it together with the cement glue. The fumes were so strong, even with two fans going at the same time. The instructions had said to do this in a well-ventilated area and he was not kidding!  I think if we hadn’t had the windows open and the fans running we would have started hallucinating little ballet dancing hippos or something…

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to try out the barre the second it was assembled, but Boyfriend suggested that I wait until the glue had time to dry. It was one of those delayed gratification things…

The finished product... and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

The finished product… and my horribly inadequate mirror until we get the home studio all set up

But that was then! Been using it intermittently throughout the days since.  I’ve only had one full-length practice session with it (I don’t like to go all out on the same days I have class), but as I mentioned earlier, I’ve done countless plies, releves, stretches and port de bras. So far it’s been working out great! Boyfriend mentioned wanting to add some non-slip thingies to the bottom of the feet to keep it in place, but so far it’s definitely not the flimsiest barre I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

Some pics! Don’t mind my crappy turnout and unpointed feet…

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height

The bottom barre did come out a good leg-up-on-the-bare-stretching height… though apparently I forgot to point my foot

image

And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

And the high barre for a good releve stretch!

For instructions, I searched “build your own ballet barre” and we mostly went off what I found at a blog called Leotards And The Buns In Them. If you’d like to make your own barre, you can find that here:

https://leotardsandthebunsinthem.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/build-a-barre/

I don’t recall him giving the exact measurements though. We used 4 1ft pieces for the legs (where we attached the feet), held together by a T connector. The T connectors are attached to a 2ft 9in section (on opposite sides of the barre), then to another T connector for the lower barre to come out of.  Between the low barre and the high barre we used a 6 in piece, which when added up to the extar length for the connectors gives about 8 in between top barre and high barre.  For the length of the barre we went with almost 5 ft, which seemed a good length to get to stretch on, while keeping the barre prtable. Like I mentioned earlier, it added up to 20 ft of PVC (2 10 ft pipes), and we used 6 elbow connectors and 4 T connectors.

If you’re feeling fancy and PVC alone just isn’t cutting it for you, I also found some instructions that include wood as well as PVC. It looks nice, but just too much effort (and probably cash, lol) 🙂

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16 thoughts on “A Barre!

  1. meetatbarre

    Nice! I love my at home barre. Mine is DIY wall mounted (wooden dowel + closet brackets), which is a bit pricier, but we wanted something without a footprint. Also, yay for boyfriends who build ballet things. 🙂

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      We considered a wall mounted one, but didn’t want to start making holes in the walls just yet. And the whole portability thing… there’s a huge mirror in a different part of our place that I can use for now, until we get the ones for my practice place.
      But yay for boyfriends who build ballet things!

      Reply
  2. Basia

    Oooh! How nice!! Looks like you both did a super job! Yay for the boys!
    I’d love one too, but will use my chair until we move (one day)

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Thanks!
      For the past year or so I’ve been like “When we move I can have a barre, RIGHT??” Sometimes I’m annoyingly persistent…

      Reply
  3. asher

    This is excellent! Your barre looks fantastic!

    We are planning on doing the same basic recipe — PVC pipe + cement — for our barres for Burning Man. It’s nice to see that they can make such a sharp-looking finished product!

    Reply
  4. beginningballetat40

    Your barre looks great 🙂
    I got one for Christmas last year and I love it. I got a one from Amazon. I do the same as you, stop and do random moves every time I walk by it. My 6 year old daughter also loves it and uses it all the time too 🙂

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Thanks!
      That is so cool! I’m glad to see that the excitement of having a barre and stopping to do some moves doesn’t wear off!

      Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Thanks!
      I’m glad he’s a handy man too. We were joking that if I’d tried to take on the whole project myself I would’ve probably just gotten frustrated and stuck the whole thing together and put duct tape on it or something, lol.

      Reply
  5. Isabones

    Jealous 🙂 I’ve been wanting a bar for the house too, one that’s portable and light. I considered PVC as well but have read (and advised by my teacher) that it’s too light and may not hold my weight…? I know it’s new, but do you think it will hold up for quite a while?

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Hmmm, I do admit it is somewhat lightweight…
      As for it coming apart, I think it’ll hold because we used very liberal quantities of cement glue. However, it does slide a little bit along the floor if I push on it with all my weight (or when I’m trying to do a leg-on-the-barre arabesque stretch). However, I’ve had this happen in class even with regular barres made out of metal. We’re planning on solving that problem by adding rubbery grippy material to the bottom of the barre’s feet. Since the legs are wide I don’t see tipping over being an issue, mostly just slidding. It’s also a little wobbly, but I kind of don’t mind since it makes me have to rely on my muscles way more. Perhaps using a bigger diameter of PVC pipe (we used 1 1/4″), would make the whole thing overall heavier?
      I’ll definitely update after I’ve been using it for a while if there’s any issues that come up.

      Reply
  6. Amy

    Can’t tell the date of this post, but would be curious to know if you’ve noticed any problems with the barre supporting weight since your last post? BF is telling me it won’t hold my weight… I’m 5’8″ and 117 lbs. I feel like PVC is a durable material able to deal with that, but he says no!

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      I believe we made the barre back in August 2015, if I remember correctly, so I’ve had it almost a year.
      Nope, haven’t noticed any problems with the barre supporting my weight, both as far as when I rest my hand on it to do barre work or when I put my leg up on the high barre to stretch. Don’t know if I would use it if I was a brand-new beginner and really needed it to support my weight all the way though. I’m 5’4 and at least 120 lbs, for reference.
      I think PVC is durable enough, but the trick is to use a diameter of pipe that is big enough to hold its shape without being too flexible. At the same time, the bigger the diameter (or the longer the cross-section of the barre is) the more the pipe itself weighs and may warp down, so its just about finding the right balance.
      Hope this info helps!

      Reply

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