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Rope Bondage performances

 

 

This page details the differences between various types of rope, and their suitability for bondage, as well as giving information about the length and diameter of rope most commonly used, and details on how to prepare and treat your own natural fibre rope.

 

Types of Rope

Both natural fibre ropes, and synthetic ropes can be used for bondage, though each has their own properties and may be more suitable in certain situations. In the images on this website, hemp and jute ropes are most commonly used, with nylon being used for photoshoots involving water.

Natural fibre ropes:

Natural fibre ropes are twisted, rather than braided, and are preferred by some simply due to the aesthetically pleasing marks left on the skin after being tied. Hemp, jute, and linen ropes are also very strong, yet soft enough to be used for bondage, and with enough friction to hold any knots securely.

Hemp: Hemp fibres come from various strains of the Cannabis sativa plant, and produce a strong, reasonably soft rope, with high enough friction to hold a knot securely. The rope can be fairly rough when untreated, but boiling, washing, and oiling as detailed below will result in a soft rope that is perfect for our purposes. Hemp rope has a very distinctive odour, and just smelling the rope is often enough to get a rope bottom in the right frame of mind for a rope scene. Hemp tends to be the most common rope used for shibari in the West, as it is generally easier to obtain than Jute. For more information about hemp, see the Wikipedia entry.

Jute: Jute fibres are produced from plants in the Corchorus genus. Jute rope has very similar properties to hemp rope, though it is a little lighter, smoother, and has a different smell. Jute rope is the most common rope used for shibari in Japan, but is relatively difficult to find in the West. For more infomation about jute, see the Wikipedia entry.

Linen: Linen fibres are produced from the flax plant, (usually Linum usitatissimum).The rope produced is very similar to hemp rope, but tends to be a little softer and 'fluffier', and lacks the distinctive smell of hemp. Linen ropes are not that commonly used for bondage, but are perfectly suitable for the task. For more information about flax, see the Wikipedia entry.

Manilla, sisal and coir ropes are often easier to find than the above three types of rope, but are not suitable for bondage as the fibres are thicker and likely to splinter, making the rope very scratchy, and hard to tie securely.

Cotton: Cotton is also a natural fibre, but cotton rope is very different from the types of rope listed above. It can be made into twisted or braided rope, which is much softer on the skin than other natural fibre ropes, but it isn't as strong. The rope doesn't have as much friction as hemp rope, so knots are more likely to slip, and when under tension it has more of a stretch, meaning the knots can tighten and be more difficult to undo easily. Cotton rope can be used for the majority of bondage positions, but isn't recommended for suspension or partial suspension. For more information about cotton, see the Wikipedia entry.

Synthetic ropes:

Nylon is the most commonly used synthetic rope for bondage. It is very smooth and soft on the skin, it is strong, and easy to work with. However it has much less friction than natural fibre ropes, so extra knots or wraps are often required to hold the ropework firmly in place. One advantage it has over natural ropes is that it doesn't shrink when wet, so can be safely used in rope scenes involving water. Nylon rope is generally braided, although twisted rope can sometimes be found. It is easy to dye, so a wide variety of colours are available. For more infomation about nylon, see the Wikipedia entry.

Parachute cord is very very strong, reasonably soft, and holds knots well, but is of too small a diameter to be useful for anything other than decorative bondage, or male genital bondage.

Polypropylene rope is widely available, but is unsuitable for bondage, it is very hard and scratchy, and doesn't hold knots securely. Likewise, climbing ropes, while very strong, are generally too thick to use for bondage, and form bulky knots.

Length and diameter of rope.

Diameter: For a good 'all-round' bondage rope, a diameter of 6mm is generally preferred. This is large enough not to put undue pressure on the body (though several wraps are needed), and aesthetically looks 'right' on the vast majority of body types. 8mm or larger diameter ropes are sometimes used for simple bondage involving fewer wraps, or on people with a larger build. 4 and 5mm ropes can be used for decorative bondage, face/head bondage, or male genital bondage, but are too small and tend to dig in too much to be useful for many other ties.

Length: In Japan, all the ropes used are 7 metres long, and have knotted ends to allow additional ropes to be joined easily when the tie requires more rope. In the West, people often have a selection of lengths of rope, and pick the right length for the particular tie they are doing. Generally lengths used are 5 and 10 metres. Longer ropes are used for certain ties, such as rope corsets, but can be a little unwieldy to work with. The Japanese method of using shorter ropes and joining them means the bondage is slightly easier to perform, as you don't have very long trailing lengths of rope.

Why treat your own rope?

Some people enjoy preparing and treating their own rope, as they enjoy the feeling of working with something they helped to produce. It also allows more freedom over the finished product; if its not soft enough, boiling for longer will soften it up, if you want a length that isn't generally commercially available, you can cut the rope to that length yourself.

Another reason you may wish to treat your own rope is cost. While the procedure is simple, it is time consuming, and paying for someone else to do this means that treated rope ready for bondage is considerably more expensive than untreated rope.

How to treat your own rope:

You will need: Your rope (hemp, linen, or jute), scissors, some waste yarn or string, a washing machine, a tumble drier (optional), a gas stove (optional), waste canvas or other heavy cloth, oil (mink oil, jojoba, or baby oil).

Boiling and washing the rope  

1) The first step is to cut your rope into the desired lengths. While it is possible to prepare the rope then cut it afterwards, shorter lengths are a lot easier to work with.

Once the rope is cut, the ends need to be finished to stop them fraying. The easiest way is to tie a simple overhand knot, though more complicated knots, whipping with twine or thread, or wrapping with tape may be preferred.

2) The ropes should then be wrapped into loose coils (around the same size as the base of your pan), and tied with waste yarn or string. Knotting or tightly wrapping the rope is not a good idea, as it contracts when wet, so will be very hard to get undone.
3) The rope is then placed in a large pan and covered with water. The temperature of the water doesn't matter, although using warm water will mean it comes to the boil quicker.

4) A lid is placed on the pan and it is brought to the boil. As the water soaks into the rope it becomes hard and twisted, and may protrude from the water, so you may wish to move the ropes around with a wooden spoon to ensure they are fully immersed, although keeping the lid on will allow the steam to penetrate any rope that does not stay submerged.

 

5) Once the water has come to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for a couple of hours. Then turn the heat off and leave the pan until the rope is cool enough to handle (usually takes around 12 hours) 6) Drain the water, and put the rope though the washing machine on the delicate cycle, with half the amount of washing powder/liquid you'd normally use.
Drying the rope
Method 1: In a tumble drier

You can use a tumble drier to dry your rope, on a medium heat setting, with no adverse effect. However this method does mean a lot of fluff comes off the rope into your drier, so you may need to empty the lint trap, and run the risk of getting bits of rope fluff all over the next set of clothes you put in it.

Once you take the rope out of the drier , it'll probably be pretty tangled up and will have shrunk in length. After cutting the yarn/string bands of each coil of rope, you will need to stretch it to set the twist back into it, and restore as much length as possible. The easiest way to do this is to wrap the rope around a smooth pole attached to the wall or ceiling, and pull hard a few times. You'll feel the rope stretch as you do this. If you don't have a secure point to do this from, then getting someone else to hold it, or looping it under your foot works fine too. As you stretch the rope out you'll notice that it becomes less twisted up, though you'll probably have a couple of unwanted twists in it which you can remove by holding the rope and letting it dangle and spin out the extra twist.

Your rope is now ready to be treated.

Method 2: by hanging it up

When you take the rope out of the washing machine, it'll have shrunk in length and will probably be pretty tangled. Cut the yarn/string bands of each coil, and give each bit of rope a firm tug to restore some of the lost length. The easiest way to do this is to wrap the rope around a smooth pole attached to the wall or ceiling, and pull hard a few times. You'll feel the rope stretch as you do this. If you don't have a secure point to do this from, then getting someone else to hold it, or looping it under your foot works fine too. Now hang the rope up to dry, if you have a secure point you can hang it on and use for stretching it too, great, if not, hanging it on a clothes airer or over your shower rail is fine.

Once the rope has dried, which will take about a day, it'll have unwanted twists in, and will still be rather short. Stretch the rope again as before, pulling hard until you can feel it doesn't 'give' any more. As you stretch the rope out you'll notice that it becomes less twisted up, though you'll probably have a couple of unwanted twists in it which you can remove by holding the rope and letting it dangle and spin out the extra twist.

Your rope is now ready to be treated.

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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