Project 8 – Stage 2, Exercise 3: Ropes

Here we have been introduced to twisted rope making.  This is something that I have been doing for a number of years.  The manual suggests that we cut our thread length, tie the cut ends together, put one end over a door knob, create a tension and twist the other end with our fingers until it is taut and springy.  At that point, keeping the tension, go back to the door knob, release the end and allow the cord to twist back on itself.

This works very well but I have been doing it slightly differently and would like to share that here.

I bought a gadget called a Spinster and started the twisting part with this.  It worked very well for quite a short period of time until, being poorly manufactured , the hook at the end kept jumping out of position and jamming the twisting mechanism.  Obviously I shouldn’t really be saying that this item is expensive for what it is, doesn’t work with anything much thicker than Perle 5 because of the strength of the fibre which pulls the hook out of place and is fairly irritating when you’ve spent time organising your fibres to make a decent rope and it doesn’t work.  However, I’m irritated enough to say it!!!  So, what next?

Off I went to my local hardware store and bought a hand drill and a packet of cup hooks – for about half the price of the Spinster.  I stuck a cup hook in the end instead of a drill bit and it works perfectly.  This cost just a few dollars and does the job effectively and fast.

The other addition to the instructions we have been given is that I always have a hair grip (aka bobby pin, kirby grip) on hand.  Once I have done the twisting, as per the instructions, I slide a hair grip over the centre point of the cord before keeping the tension as I take the drill end back to the coat hook (I don’t use a door knob either – way too hard to get the tightly twisted threads off).  I insert the drill hook into the thread ends that are around the coat hook before removing them.  I then hold the hair grip and gently lower the drill so it hangs down with both ends attached via the cup hook.  Finally, I allow the weight of the drill (whilst I’m holding the top via the hair grip) to help keep the tension in the rope length as it twists back on itself.  I find that this helps to keep out any kinks and I get a very even twist.

Here are a few of my twisted ropes.

They go from very fluffy and thick down to a few strands of stranded cotton.

I also make ropes with fibre and wire (below).

When doing this I use the same method but do not continue to the part where the hair grip is inserted and the rope is wound back on itself.  There is no need because the wire will hold the fibre in place along the length very well.  However, it is important to secure the ends properly when doing this because the fibre can easily jump out of the rope if the ends aren’t knotted or glued well. 

Here is a picture of a basic coiled bead made after forming a twisted wire and fibre rope.  The twists can clearly be seen, unlike the white fluffy one in the previous picture.  The same technique but two very different results.

I have a separate gadget when just winding wire together which allows me to attach 5 wires at the same time and gives a beautiful effect as they come out so evenly twisted.

If you haven’t had any experience of rope making this way before I hope these tips are useful.  Enjoy!!

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About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 4: Textile Structures, Project 8, Textiles 1: A Creative Approach. Bookmark the permalink.

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