2 months ago. Wed 03 Jul 2019 05:29:44 AM IDT
Shout out: Hisgoodbunny, here is another recipe for you! LOL!
Like most things we used to do by hand, today bondage rope has become a commodity like most everything else. We go to our favorite site or store, pick the color we want and since most lengths are standard we simply buy it. The off we go to our favorite kink! Nothing at all wrong with that of course. I have many lengths of rope that I purchased fully "prepared" for use. Yet there is a certain mystique to prepping our own rope (what was once called 'breaking' the rope) that has been lost, and I truly miss that. Breaking a length of rope, for me, is a spiritual experience, and connects me with that rope far more than just picking my favorite color.
So imagine my thrill when I spotted a piece of genuine hemp rope in my neighbors garage that he was throwing away. Sacrilege! Fortunately I was able to save that rope, blessed be, and take it on a kinky journey which I want to share with you - if you are brave enough follow what is likely to be a very long blog post. And if you follow it all the way through then my hope is to inspire others to pick up the beautiful art of 'braking' their own rope.
Now how did I know it was true hemp? Why the smell of course! True hemp rope smells like fresh cut grass (not that kind of grass). Even through the dirt and oil that grass fragrance wafts through. (Note: Manila Hemp - also called abaca- is not real hemp! It is a fiber from a species of banana plant). Everyone has their favorite type of rope. Cotton rope is very comfortable and easy to work with and jute rope has a lovely bite to it, but my favorite is still hemp rope. Sadly many of the modern "natural hemp" ropes are rather cheesy compared to their predecessors. Most of the purchased pretreated rope for bondage is nowhere near as dense or as tightly twisted as the "good old days". Yet we do what we can.
What an ugly rope!
Here is the rope as it came from my friends garage. As you can see it is still in pretty good shape which is why I snatched it. Although it is still a little stinky from his garage and had some oil clinging to it. Hence first thing to do is to clean it up a bit. Now before you do anything, and I mean anything, either tie a constructor knot around each end of the rope or apply a strong tape, such as electrical or duct tape, around each end so it does not begin to unravel! You will hate life if it does. I didn't snap a pic of this (I spaced), but it is very important to secure the ends from unraveling before you begin braking your rope.
Here I am washing the rope. This is simply warm water and Dawn dish soap. Should you wash rope that is brand new and clean? If it is either hemp or jute rope then I say yes. Hemp and jute rope are packed full of allergens, especially hemp rope, such that even people without allergies can be bothered by them. So wash it I says!
This is actually a bit more of a complicated of a call. In the old days when store bought (real) hemp rope was used it was very densely packed with a tight twist. The denser and tighter the fiber of the rope required longer boiling to prep it for braking. A tough 10mm (3/8 or 1/2 inch) hemp rope might take 12 hours of boiling to soften it up. The pretreated production quality hemp doesn't need much treatment at all since its fibers are less dense and pre softened. So a good general rule is if a 1 inch section bends easily in half with both halves easily touching itself then it is good to go. This might be 2 hours boiling, 4 hours boiling, or no boiling at all. Again, this is a judgement call that you will get better at making the more you condition your own rope.
Once your rope is done boiling I recommend dumping it into a colander and cooling it with cold water. Remember it is hot until cooled off!
That doesn't look like a lemon.
Take the wet rope, bundle it up and squeeze as much water as you can from the rope. Do not wring the rope! Just squeeze as much water as you can from the rope then lay it out in in a long line. If there are any kinks in the rope at this point simply turn the rope until those kinks disappear. Once the rope is laid out fold it once in half because I want to show you something.
Give it to me straight doc, can I store it?
The next thing to do is to dry the rope. Many rope aficionados will at this point lay the rope out in the sun to dry over night. Ya, that's cool. I however am going to cheat. But its a good cheat because it will allow me to show you a very good way to actually store your rope at the same time. You know those nice little bundles of rope you see all the time even from me? Those are great for transporting rope but for long term storage they are actually not good because they trap moisture inside the center of the bundle leading to bacteria growth that makes your rope stinky. And no one likes stinky rope! Instead, after folding your rope in half, grasp the end of the rope that used to be the middle as in the picture above.
Fold it in on itself so you have a loop like this. Then simply reach down underneath the loop, say a foot or so, grasp the rope and pull that section through the rope. You will end up with something like the pic below.
That is not to bad, right? Now reach down another foot or so, grab the free length of rope and pull it through the new loop you created; repeat, repeat, repeat until you get yourself to the end of the rope.
If you do it right you will end up with a long bunch of self supporting loops like the picture above. The nice part about this loop is that it keeps all parts of the rope exposed to air, and it is damn near impossible to get tangled up. Simply tie a half hitch into the end when you are done so it doesn't come undone and chuck it into your closet, duffel bag, or wherever else you store your rope. In my case I am going to chuck it into the drier because at this point my rope is soaking wet and I can't do a damn thing with it, LOL! In my case I will dry this particular length on low heat for roughly 2 hours. That should do the trick.
When done simply undo the half hitch you did at the end of the rope and pull. The rope will magically pull through all of its loops and you will end up with the single length of doubled rope that you started with. Didn't work for you? Keep practicing. You will get it!
Break it! Break it real good!
Well, not really. Broken rope is pretty useless, but continuing to soften it up can be a very good thing. This is an angle bracket that I have attached to a makiwara (karate stuff) in my back yard. After boiling the rope the fibers are likely still tight and overly abrasive (unless it is preconditioned modern rope), and need to be broken down further.
Slip the rope through a similar bracket or piece of metal and "saw" the rope back and forth vigorously. Now be careful if you decide to take this step because this is going to work the muscles in your back something fierce because you should be ripping on this rope; hence the name 'breaking' the rope! This can take a long time when done properly. Even a short length can take 30 minutes with longer lengths taking me up to 4 hours to complete. This is where you have to dig deep as a rope Dom and show you are worthy!
Fuzzy wuzzy was my rope.
Now if you followed me this far what you will find you have is a piece of rope that looks as fuzzy as a bear! That's perfectly good though; in fact its great because it means you did it right. What to do with this hairy mess? Well, for myself, I crack me a cold one, grab my Zippo lighter and sit back on the deck and lightly singe of the hair while I puff on a stogie. Any ash that stays on the rope will easily brush off. Plus, if you play your cards right you can enjoy a beautiful evening and watch the stars come out.
Dye rope dye!
Now, after all this, are you still with me? Good! Its time to pick your favorite color. Chose any good fabric dye and this will work great to dye your rope. Now me I love purple, but I leave it in so long it damn near looks black. Why? Not sure. Might be because of the cigars and beers from the previous step, LOL! Either way and whichever color you chose use a bucket not your washing machine. You will thank me for this.
Also use a color stabilizer afterwards to help the color set into the rope. The body secretions tend to be acid, and for the first few uses your partner may find their perspiration and skin oils cause the dye to bleed out and stain their skin. Although maybe that's just another added kink.
Do yourself a favor here. After dying the rope it is best to let it air dry otherwise you are likely to be wiping the residual dye out of your dryer for the next couple of hours. Call this a hard won bit of knowledge!
Whip it! Whip it good!
Now that your rope is cleaned, broke, and dyed there is one final thing to do before you go get all kinky with it. Whip those ends! Why whip those ends? So they don't untwist of course. Whipping the end of the rope is super easy. There exist many different ways to do it and I do not think any way is better than any other. I use a sailors whip (commonly called a sail makers whip), but there are scores of others. Try them out and select the one you like. Now I am not going to try and explain how to whip a rope end here, but I did some digging and found a video that explains the sailors whip, which is the one I use, very well (again, its also called the sail makers whip). It is a relatively short video, but they man does a much better job than I can do trying to explain this with pictures over a blog.
Now, I just have to point something out. There are other methods for taming the ends of a rope; fusing which is to use a flame to melt the ends of synthetic rope, and plain old tape. So, I am not going to comment on either of these 2 methods because, in my humble opinion, they both suck. Sure, they work fine and all that, but they are an anathema in my opinion for what it means to prep your own rope. It's a bit like saying you want a really great grilled hamburger then going to a fast food joint. It just doesn't work for me. If you like either of those 2 methods then good for you. For me I find them cheap and tawdry and refuse to use them even for preconditioned rope that I have bought. As for those clamp on silver ends....don't even get me started! And ya, I am an asshole, I admit it, LOL!
To oil, or not to oil?
Personally, I say oil that rope. The benefits of an oiled rope that it is less frizzy (if hemp or jute) and the knots and ties slide much easier. However many people chose to no longer oil their rope. Do what works for you! Just remember that if you do oil your rope do not use a vegetable oil! It will go rancid and become stinky. And nobody likes stinky rope!
The premiere oil for rope has always been mink oil. That is a rather touchy subject in modern times due to the fact that poor little minks have to give their lives for you to oil your rope (sadists rejoice!). For me it is simply economics; mink oil is roughly 4 times the cost of mineral oil. Yes, mink oil is far superior, but if my rope craps out prematurely then I simply get the spiritual joy of making more rope. Its a win-win!
If you do chose to oil your rope (mink oil or mineral oil, my 2 recommendations) simply spread the oil on a cotton cloth and run the rope through the cloth. Go lightly! Less is better than more, and if you want more you can always add it. Once it is on you are not getting it off though so go easy!
Is it the end? No, its just the beginning!
Once you are finished you will feel proud to sport a beautiful piece of craftsmanship that you can lay claim to. Nothing else feels better than using a rope that you put the better part of a weekend into creating along with a little sweat. Call it magick, but a rope that was worked with your own hands beats any perfect pretty rope you could ever buy from some BDSM shop.
And no, I do not store my rope this way! See the section Give it to me straight doc, can I store it? for how I believe rope should be stored.
Its so green!
Addendum: A frequent question I get is "Why are the ends of your rope so obnoxiously colored?" What? You don't like fluorescent green with deep stellar purple? Okay, I don't either, but there is a method to my madness. Simply put, it makes it easier to find the ends of the damn rope. I always make my whips (the thread that secures the end of the rope from untwisting) an obnoxiously contrasting color to the rest of the rope for the simple reason it makes finding the end much easier. Were you expecting something more profound? LOL! I may like making my rope prep hard, but once that is done I like the rest to go smooth you know.