a Barak & Sheba Article

Just Getting into Rope?
Saturday Feb 21, 2015

Want to know where to grab your first hank or dozen? You might be interested in reading this…

Now, this question was asked from a newer person to rope. So, we will share a little bit with ya. We all had to start somewhere… and the first place that came to our mind when picking up some rope…? Was Lowes. So please don't laugh at us. We were brand new, and wanted to have fun trying to tie each other up…

We bought twisted nylon, both 1/4in. 5/16in. and 3/8 in... tried them all. These vary in price from about $0.05-0.15/foot. While they work good for beginning rope bondage, we have found that they have a very fast burn rate - meaning they cause rope burns even when moved at a slower rate across the body. Furthermore, if it is taking actual weight, there is an amount of stretch, which can change the position of your ties. And finally, nylon doesn't "bite" into itself - meaning that knots and cinches will/can slip.

Now, your rope choices will depend on your budget and your skill level. Nylon is fine for starting and learning, especially if you have a $50 or less rope budget - cause you can get several hundred feet for that amount. Add a couple bucks and a pan for Rit Dye? And... voila! Inexpensive pretty rope!

When you are starting to tie, especially with groundwork and light ties, Nylon is fine. Using hardware store Nylon is good to get an idea of what to tie, where to tie it, and how it lays across a body. Normally, this stuff has a rating of about 75-300lbs working load (depending on the weave and thickness)… but is specifically marked – not for use holding up people. It's great if you want to jump in without significant expense - as long as you are mindful of its faults.

The next step up in budget would be what's called MFP – Multi-Filament Polypropylene. You can get this in varying sizes, and locations – some kink vendors sell this, or you can order it online. This should run you between $0.20-1.75 / per foot. It comes in various colors and can be multi-colored stranded. Now, not all of these ropes are actually MFP – some are braided, some are twisted, some have a core… and their amount of polypropylene/nylon/synthetic material varies. Needless to say, all composition of ropes called MFP are synthetic.

MFP can be used for groundwork, heavier ties, and (with multiple strands and/or thicker rope) for suspension. And… this is rated pretty well. 3/16 is rated at approx. 75lbs, up to 1inch at 2500lbs working load. It does stretch quite a bit, and also has a pretty fast burn rate. But again, with every type of rope, you have to be mindful of the characteristics.

Move up one more level? We get into synthetic climbing ropes. Now… these tend to be as (or more) expensive than many of the custom woven / made natural bondage ropes like Hemp and Jute. The price range for these depends on the climbing/sports store you get them from. As you move up in diameter to over 5/16in, these are actually rated for holding people. Depending on the fibers woven together, the load rating of these can be amazing. Many of these are rated in what's called KiloNewtons and pass a UIAA test - (a certification for climbing ropes & gear)

Speaking of climbing gear… I tend to prefer climbing equipment when I rig – carabiners, rigging plates, swivels, Oh My! Aside from the ease of use of many of these, they come in all sorts of colors, configurations, and are easy to replace. Plus, they are load rated in KiloNewtons with most of the ratings being enough to hold a small car.

There is a lot to say about synthetic rope – including the fact that you can just throw it into a mesh bag, then into the washing machine to clean it.

But with all that being said, you have lots of money to spend on kinky stuff and want to be “traditional” in your style and application of rope bondage? The rope for you is Hemp or Jute. Being that most of this is hand spun, weaved or fabricated from natural fibers, there isn't really a reliable system for rating this rope. While this is something to keep in mind when doing suspension bondage - many people have done this safely for years.

Hemp has a very distinctive scent, and a very slow burn rate (you can move it fast across the skin without rope burns) and it also can be dyed lovely colors. Personally, I have used rope from several different makers. I have hanks (pieces of rope of a length) from AjaRope, Boss Bondage, Maui Kink, Renaissance Rope, and Twisted Monk and all of them are quite nice in the hands and across the skin.

Some of the issues with natural fibers? Well… you can't reliably wash blood or body fluids out of the rope without damage to the strength and longevity of the rope. They aren't able to be rated, and sometimes the construction/strength of the rope can vary from foot to foot. Plus they tend to wear out quicker. But they do feel great in the hands, are mostly strong, and have “character.”

Please note, this account is my experience, and is obviously limited by my history and preferences. To that end, this is a brief account of entry level to mid-level rope use. Aside from the above, I don't have a lot of experience with Jute, although I hear there are many people who swear by it. Sheba happens to have a pair of hanks of hand-woven silk rope that are amazing. We have four hanks of a very luxurious bamboo that rarely leaves our bedroom… and if you must know, these days, I use a 6mm twisted hemp when tying.

Hopefully, this is a good start for your self-discovery of rope bondage!

Barak & Sheba

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