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Bondage Rope Work Basics

Bondage Rope Work Basics

by Simon Blackthorne at Wasteland.com

Traditional Hemp Shibari Style Rope

Traditional Hemp Shibari Style Rope

Rope:
Available in many, many types, qualities, thicknesses, strength and colors. For safety and comfort reasons you need to know about ropes if you plan to enter into erotic bondage. So this article is about rope.

Allow us to first of all put an end to the discussion about cotton rope versus synthetic rope (nylon, polyprop, etcetera). It is largely a matter of personal preferences and comes down to the basic preference for natural materials or synthetic materials.

These are the realistic pros and cons:

* Natural ropes (cotton, hemp, silk) simply require more maintenance and are less durable, hence need to be replaced more often.

* Natural material attracts germs (and works as a very fertile breeding ground).

* Synthetic rope is three to ten times as strong as cotton rope on average, hence simply a lot safer to use, especially when it comes to suspension.

Material:
The synthetic material used is actually only a matter of budget, with one exception: NYLON. Nylon rope stretches and you may not want to use this for bondages that are not supposed to come off. However the stretching capability may be very handy in other parts of your bondage, such as in a hog tie where you will want to allow for some stretching between the arms and the folded legs.

Aramid and HMP (High Module Polyethylene) are expensive materials, hence more durable. Polyester and Polypropylene (polyprop) is cheaper and (a little) less durable.

Twisted Rope :Twisted rope is the most popular rope around, however not really suitable for bondage purposes, because of the twisted surface that may cause irritation or unwanted pressure on nerve ends when used directly on the skin. Since it is usually cheaper than other ropes and reliable, twisted rope may be used as suspension ropes as the connection between the on-body ropes and whatever she is suspended from.

Twisted ropes are available in two “directions” (S and Z), which has to do with the production process but is totally irrelevant in an erotic bondage context. The Z-direction is the most common one. Twisted rope is also known as tanned rope.

STRENGTH: 12 mm thick polyprop twisted rope will handle a peak tension of between 1,500 and 2,000 kilograms, which makes it suitable for suspension purposes. Its durability is reasonable.

Braided Rope:
Braided rope is usually more expensive and may sometimes be more difficult to find. Boat shops and sports shops are usually your best bet, as opposed to for example Home Depot or other Do It Yourself shops. Braided rope is the preferred choice for use directly on the skin, i.e. for the bondages themselves.

Choose 5 or 6 mm thick ropes for your bondages. 6 mm will usually be the preferred choice for use on the body, 5 mm is very suitable to tie wrists and ankles. Braided rope is produced with different techniques. Strength is not an issue here since this will vary between 1,500 and 2,500 kilograms depending on the material used.

Hollow braid: Although this is the most vulnerable rope (since it has no kernel its durability is reasonable) it is by far the preferred choice for erotic bondages, since it is very soft. However, you need to be aware that untiring may sometimes be a bit of a problem if you are inexperienced.

Parallel Kernel:
Is the best compromise between softness, ease of use and safety and especially suitable for inexperienced bondage lovers, since it it easier to untie. The only disadvantage is that you will have to put extra effort in securing the ends of the rope, If you don’t, the braid will easily slip over the kernel.

Braid on braid: Is a good choice for those, looking for bondage in combination with discomfort or even pain. The rope is more tough, may be somewhat difficult to tie and again the rope ends require extra attention.

Multibraided:
Is better not used, since it is not very flexible and difficult to tie.

Colors:
Colors are first of all a matter of personal preference. However, most experience bondage masters will use either different colors or different color tips at the ends of the ropes to identify ropes for special purposes (such as ropes that are only to be used in the genital area). You can die your ropes yourself, using textile die for synthetic fabrics.

Please note that the colors used in the illustrations have no specific relevance. Colored fibers, braided into the rope, will usually indicate size and/or strength.

Maintenance:
Maintenance is paramount. You need to wash your ropes regularly to avoid unwanted infections. Simply put them in your washing machine and wash using a mild program. If you wrap them into a blanket first, they are less likely to get entangled.

Ropes, used in the genital area, should be used for the same person only, in order to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

Regularly check your ropes for damaged fibers. A damaged rope is a potential danger, especially when used for suspension purposes. be aware that sudden moves, fighting and suspension may cause considerable peak tension and a damaged rope may break unexpectedly.

Hemp Rope Used In Shibari Bondage

Hemp Rope Used In Shibari Bondage

Tips:
One thing that requires attention are the rope endings, the tips or “tackles”. There are various ways to secure the ends of your rope. The easiest way, suitable for synthetic ropes, is to simply hold the end in a candle flame and melt it together. That is the fastest, easiest way, but not necessarily an aesthetic way.

Boat shops will sell special fluid for your rope ends. Just dip the end of the rope into the fluid and leave it to dry for a little while. Latex based glue will do exactly the same thing and may sometimes be easier to find. Finally, if you wrap the end tightly with a plastic tape and shrink it carefully over a mild heat source you will create a very nice plastic tube that secures your rope end. By using different colors you can easily identify your ropes.

Experienced sailors will tell you there are other – more professional – ways to finish and secure your rope ends as well. If you buy a book about fisherman’s knots for example you’ll find all sorts of examples of such more professional rope tips. However, since most of these techniques are complicated, we will concentrate on the easy techniques here.

Basic Rope Set:
We strongly advise to use sets with different rope lengths. Using different ropes – instead of one or two very long ropes – makes it easier to tie and untie the bondage, allows for adjustments and in general is a lot simpler and safer. There is no telling what your rope set should look like – every dominant has his own requirements and some couples are into more complicated rope bondages than others. But if you go out to buy your first set, this may be your shopping list:

* four 5 to 6 MM (0.24 inch) diameter ropes, each about sixteen feet/five meter long (most frequently used) – the dimensions of these ropes may vary based on individual physique. These ropes are used for many purposes: to tie ankles or wrists or to tie a limb to something else for example.

* two 5 to 6 MM (0.24 inch) diameter ropes, thirty three feet/ten meter long. These are used for intersections and torso wraps for example.

* three of four 10 to 12 MM (0.43 inch) diameter ropes, five to seven meters/twenty feet long that you can use for suspension purposes.

Softening Your Ropes:
Most people will want to soften their ropes. New rope is usually somewhat rough and stiff. A good start is to simply throw your rope(s) in the washing machine, wash them at a standard medium temperature program and use fabric softener. One or two machine washes will dramatically soften your rope and regularly washing your ropes is a good idea anyway, for hygienic reasons.

A laborious technique, favored by many experienced bondage masters, is to buy twin kernel rope (which is considerably more expensive) and pull out one of the kernels. This is a tough job to do, but the main advantage is that your ropes will be softer and more smooth on the skin, without losing strength (double kernel ropes are used by mountaineers for their safety lines, hence removing one of the kernels will still leave you with a very strong and durable bondage rope).

The Proverbial Bandage Scissors:
You’ll see it advocated on the net and elsewhere: have a pair of bandage scissors around for fast cutting of ropes. Our advice: PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. Bandage scissors – unless they are heavy duty, high cost Emergency Shears used in ER’s – will probably not cut your rope but – at best – will break. Do NOT rely on them.

The best safety measure is to make sure there are panic hooks or panic hitches at your critical release points and to have a sail maker knife (available from boat shops) available for the (unlikely) event you need to cut ropes.

Simon Blackthorne is a dungeon master at Wasteland and has been actively involved in the BDSM scene since 1975.  You can see more of his writings and films at Wasteland.com

About Simon Blackthorne

Simon Blackthorne
Simon Blackthorne is a Dungeonmaster at Wasteland.com. With over 30 years experience as a MaleDom, he brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and wit to the BDSM scene. Simon was one of original directors and contributors to Wasteland starting in 1995 and is a respected leader in the New England BDSM community. You can see Simon's BDSM Video Demonstrations and Tutorials at Wasteland.com

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