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A Beginners Guide to Rope Bondage - BDSM


A Beginners Guide to Rope Bondage - BDSM

A Beginners Guide to Rope Bondage - BDSM


For beginners looking to start their bondage journey, rope from a hardware store is just fine. However, there's more to bondage rope than meets the eye. Finding bondage rope - especially really good bondage rope - isn't as simple as snagging 100 feet of clothesline at the hardware store and putting a bow on it. In this article, I'll give you some insight into what makes rope suitable for bondage and how to choose just the sort of rope you and your partner will enjoy for whatever kind of play you like.

Material

Most hardware store rope is made of synthetic fibers - usually nylon or polypropylene. Occasionally you'll see natural fibers, most often cotton and sometimes jute or sisal (avoid these last two, as they're much too rough for comfort). You can get hemp bondage rope from specialty suppliers - about which more later.


Synthetic fibers tend to feel slippery and look glossy. Natural fiber rope lacks that shiny look and feels more "nappy." This is because natural fibers tend to have a lot of what rope-mavens call "tooth." That means the rope tends to grip itself, so it holds knots better. This advantage of natural fiber doesn't matter for most bondage applications: Most ties work just fine with synthetic rope. But if you want to get into Japanese bondage (Shibari), you'll want to invest in authentic hemp. Hemp is THE rope for traditional Japanese bondage, and the style has evolved with very simple knots because of that natural bite the hemp rope provides.



Structure

As for structure, the rope comes in three primary forms: Solid braid, twisted and braided with a core. Braided with a core is just what it sounds like: a braided sheath over a fiber core for extra strength. It's cheaper than solid braid in most cases. Braided vs twisted is pretty apparent just from looking. The difference between solid braid and braid with the core is subtler: usually, you'll have to check the label for that or cut the rope - you can see the core.

Synthetic fiber rope usually feels better against the skin. I typically recommend solid braid nylon as the most straightforward basic bondage rope. If you already have cored rope, you can make it much softer and more supple by pulling the core out. You'll reduce the rope's strength by about 70%, but that should be fine for ordinary bondage. You won't want to do suspension with it. I have some rope in my toy bag that I've modified this way, and I use it for a few particular purposes. However, if you have a choice, go with a solid braid to start.


Thick, thin, or something in between?

As for diameter, that's very much a matter of taste. The thinner rope is easier to tie but "bites" the skin more. The thicker rope feels more soothing but is harder to tie good knots in. I usually use rope between 1/4" and 3/8". I use 1/4" rope for cuff tie-downs, but if the rope goes next to skin, I prefer 5/16". Some people like rope as thick as 1/2". I don't recommend rope thinner than 1/4" or wider than 1/2". Experiment with different diameters and strike your balance.


Purchasing your rope

You can get most of your rope online; however, it's a good idea to go to the hardware store and get a feel for the different types of ropes. One of my firmest rules is "never buy a rope that you haven't felt." The thing is, rope from the hardware store varies widely in feel. So if you buy from the hardware store, then feel it first. Good bondage rope should feel soft and compressible, flexible, good on the skin. Your best bet is a rope on open coils. Avoid those sealed plastic packages. Look around until you find rope with the weight, suppleness, and softness you desire.


What length should my rope be?

How much of it will you need? Many rope fans like to organize their rope into "sets," each consisting of a single long piece of rope cut into various standard lengths. This allows them to make all the rope in a given tie match, which some anal-retentive types appreciate. The standard measurements you need depend on the sort of bondage you like to do. You can use these guidelines for buying single lengths of rope or for buying a long piece and cutting it down to a set:


  • 40-50 feet: Body harnesses for most average-size people.

  • 25-30 feet: Chest harnesses, crotch ropes, body harnesses on smaller people. Overall this is probably the single most versatile length.

  • 15 feet: Ties on knees, ankles, or elbows. Wrist ties where you want some rope left over for tying off to something. This is also a good length for making rope "cuffs" for each wrist or ankle (aka "Single-limb ties").

  • 10 feet: basic wrist or ankle ties.

  • 5-6 feet: a handy length for securing leather cuffs to a bed or other attachment point.

On the whole, it's better to have too much rope for a given tie than not enough. Using these guidelines, here's how I cut up 260 feet of rope to make a typical set for my bondage work: 1 x 50 feet 4 x 30 feet 3 x 15 feet 2 x 10 feet 4 x 6 feet.



Cutting & finishing

There are two steps to preparing your rope: cutting it to the desired length and finishing the cut ends. Cutting is easy: First, measure off the size you want. I use the fact that my outstretched arms are almost exactly 6 feet from fingertip to fingertip as a handy guide.

Next, mark the cutting point by wrapping the rope with electrical tape or masking tape on either side of the point you plan to cut (leave about 3/4" of bare rope between the tape wrappings). Finally, just cut the rope between the two pieces of tape. The tape will hold the rope ends and keep them from unwinding after you cut them.


You can leave the tape wrappings as they are, or you can finish the ends a little more neatly. I like to use colored electrical tape on the ends of each of my ropes, color-coded to tell how long a given rope is just by glancing at the ends. Other riggers like to use neutral color tape and permanent markers to write the length directly. If I'm feeling very fancy, I will "whip" the ends of my rope with waxed twine to keep the ends neat. It's prettier than tape but significantly more work. Wikipedia has an excellent article on rope whipping here:

http://en.wikiedia.org/wiki/Whipping_knot.


There's one standard method of finishing the ends that I do not recommend. With synthetic fibers such as nylon, many people will melt the ends of the rope with a flame of some sort. This works well enough for ordinary utility rope, but I don't think it's desirable for bondage rope. Even more important, the hard ends this creates may scratch the bottom of who wears your ropes, and they may also catch in the fibers of other ropes when they're stored together. And, of course, melting won't work with natural fiber rope, whereas tape or whipping will. There are so many better ways to finish your ropes that I think melting isn't worth the trouble.

Taking care of your rope

With proper care, your rope should last for quite a long time. Avoid getting it dirty, as grit (from the dirt itself or drawn in by greasy stains) will gradually wear away at the rope fibers, weakening it. Likewise, don't let your rope sit in the bag if it's wet. Mildew will set in.


If you need to wash your rope then the best way is by hand in a sink. If you need to use a washing machine, put the rope in a small net bag such as those used for washing stockings and other delicates. This will keep your rope from wrapping around the agitator in the washing machine. In either case, use a mild detergent, and let your rope hang dry. Please don't put them in the dryer.



To store your rope, coil it in some secure way and put it away in a drawer, chest, or toy bag. Everyone has his favorite way to coil rope. The important thing is that whatever method you use has to be secure enough to keep the coil from coming to lose in the bag. If it does come loose, you end up with "rope salad," which is not cool.


For a very simple storage coil, coil the rope up in some handy way, then tie a single knot in the middle of the coil to keep it from coming loose. There are lots of other forms, of course. My personal favorite is the "chain sinnet," which looks a lot like a crochet, only with rope.

I hope these suggestions and tips have given you a better idea of the kind of rope you might want to buy and how to take care of it. I hope you'll enjoy yours as much as I do.

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