Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rigging 101

When one hangs aerial apparatus from the ceiling in whatever form, one is rigging.  Hanging a trapeze, a swing, a rope in a garage, aerial studio, bedroom, a tree - all would be technically rigging.  Most people, of course, don't refer to it as rigging when they hang their kids' tire swing from their tree, but it would fall in that category.

Indoor rigging is easiest when you have an exposed beam.  We've done this two different places we've lived.  Sadly, I can't find a picture at all of the first, so I found some images of the equipment online.

The two things you need to buy for this are a swing - whatever you like is fine, but something along these lines:

And the swing hangers - they should look like this:

We used items like these to put a swing for Davan in the basement of a house we had when she was little.  It was her 4th (I think) birthday present.  So, it was just a matter of putting the screws in the exposed beam and hanging the swing, just as if it were the beam of the wooden swing set.

When we moved, we did something a little different.  We put up a  pull up bar in a door way and hung things off of it.  Forgive me - not all the pictures are that demonstrative of how it was done, but I had a little trip down memory lane.

Here Davan is sitting on the swing in the doorway - she was dressed up for Halloween.

On this one, you can see how we just wrapped the chain around the pull up bar.  When Davan would swing on it, the chain started making groves in the pull up bar, so we put in rags to ease the friction.  This, by the way, is Davan on her 6th birthday.

The swing in action.  Davan would also sit on it and swing normally and I was sure I had a great picture of that, but I couldn't find it, so these will have to do.

We would switch the swing and rings out, depending on mood or what the needs for passage through the doorway were - more people in the house meant the rings or nothing at all.  Not all company was as easy going as we were about maneuvering around a swing in the doorway to the kitchen.

And here is a view from the other side of the door.  And, as another by the way, here's Davan on or about her 11th birthday.

When Davan was doing gymnastics, I got the idea of putting a bar in her room.  That didn't seem to be possible, but we came up with the idea of a trapeze so she could at least do some things - pull overs and the like.  And then left it Anthony to make it a reality.  It was her 10th birthday present.  In these pictures, she had just discovered it in her room.

Again, you can't really see the rigging, so I'll just have to tell you what I know about how Anthony did it.

 He went up into the attic and somehow put something like this:

through the beam.  Then, the trapeze - just one, once again, from a wooden swing set - attached with the carabiners it came with.

The next project was Anthony's idea.  Davan had been doing Do Jump for a while and was wishing for an at home trapeze - a real one, not a metal play one.  She and Anthony built this together and hung it in the garage.

Yes, the garage is a mess.  Can you believe that we managed to pare this all down to what would fit in our 800-some square foot condo?  It's a true story, though.

Yet again, the pictures were taken without giving priority to showing the rigging, but this was a pretty easy one.  Anthony put one of these puppies

or something like it in a beam and then they used a carabiner to attach it to a loop in the rope.

Just for fun, here's a little video of Davan on this trapeze shortly after it was installed.  It's not my best filming work, but I can sure tell that she's come a long way.

You Tube was giving me fits with embedding this video on the blog (again!), so I uploaded it directly.  If you'd rather watch on You Tube, here's a link.

Then we moved again.  Davan's main request for the move was that she have something in her room to hang on.  Anthony got an idea and she ended up with more than something, as the regular readers know.  Turns out all of the things she's collected over the years to swing/hang/climb on have all come in handy.

We got three two by fours and Davan painted them to match her room, which she also painted pretty much by herself, if you didn't know that story yet.  Then Anthony screwed them onto the ceiling, making sure to screw into the beams.

Here you can see the head of the screw he used.  The support one is the little one.  We got a bunch of these U bolts from IKEA - they were something like $2 a pair, so none of this broke the bank.  I believe the screws were the most expensive item and they were still reasonable.

Davan got to choose where to put the U bolts, and spread them out, some close, some more spaced, among the three two by fours.

Some of her apparatus have ropes (or are ropes).  These are either looped through or she uses a carabiner. Others are chains and those mostly came with carabiners.

The white and blue rope is new.  We tried to make her a hand loop (again, we spent about $4 that project, so it definitely isn't breaking the bank, which is very easy to do when one is looking at aerial apparatus), and we did, but it hurts her hand, so I don't think she's using it very much.  Oh well, it was worth trying.  To buy an actual hand loop

costs about $50!!!

Any-who, there it is.  If you have specific questions, I'll pass them along to Anthony who is the one who really did all of the rigging and is more likely to be able to answer them.

The main issue seems to be:  make sure you are screwing into a support beam in some way shape or form because otherwise, you'll rip out the drywall or plaster or whatever your ceiling is made of and your kid will end up crashed to the floor.  Both things to avoid.

And remember - I'm not an expert or a professional, so employ these methods at your own risk!


  1. I love this how to. Unfortunately Keilee and I are living in my Mother's house since she died. Dad remarried. He would have a stroke if we wanted to do something like this. :/ Of course if this had been something my brother needed for baseball when we were younger he would have done it in a second, but that's another story for another day. :)

  2. Oh...LOVE the pictures of Davan when she was younger. Look at her long blonde hair! :)

  3. This post has been mentioned in the Safety in Aerial Arts Facebook group, where there is some concern about the rigging depicted, and that a reader might inappropriately use this post as a guide to doing their own rigging.

    The facebook group is one of several places online where you can communicate with experts, get a sense of what your rigging will need to handle for various activities, and find professional riggers in your area.

    The group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/622174321133562/
    The mention: https://www.facebook.com/groups/622174321133562/permalink/919207438096914/

  4. I too am an aerialist from the above mentioned group. My concern is for the well being of your child and you as parents. The rigging on the various pics would not be considered to be safe and even at such a low height a fall whilst upside down could cause serious consequences. You seem so proactive as parents in supporting your child's hobby and if she plans to continue you might want to take a rigging course. I wanted to mention that cheaper is never better. Rigging holds your life in it's hands so quality always trumps price. Please take this as a supportive post. Best of luck on this aerial journey.