:: Bondage Rope Basics

When it comes to thickness of rope there are a few considerations. The wider the rope, there is more displacement across the skin. Wider rope needs to be used when doing suspension work – and can be used around upper arms and thighs. Thinner rope is excellent for more intricate work. When using thinner rope as the base, more wraps will be required. 8-9m or 5/16”-3/8” is fairly standard. Anything larger would be considered wider, anything smaller would be thinner. You won’t be able to use 8mm around fingers and you couldn’t use it for suspension either.

Another way to increase the distribution of thinner ropes is to double back turning a 5mm rope into a 10mm – the point is you want to cover the same amount of surface area on the skin. Obviously with thinner rope you will be required to use longer lengths as well. Larger rope is also harder to tie off.

When it comes to the type of rope, there is a lot of personal preference involved. Hardcore shibari riggers will not use synthetic ropes, but there is nothing wrong with them. It’s just a preference – a particular look and feel they desire from natural rope.

Natural fibers do have some good qualities. They have more tooth – or the ability to grab, and stick onto itself. This is due to the friction between the rope, and in many cases you don’t need to actually tie natural rope, just a few wraps and then tuck the end.

Cotton isn’t a good idea for suspension, because it is weaker and tends to jam up in the knot. Braided and twisted rope offer different aesthetics though twisted rope can twist apart (though twisted rope does leave beautiful patterns on the skin afterwards).

There are also different fibers to choose from. Natural fibers include hemp, linen, cotton, jute, sisal, and silk. Synthetic materials include nylon, polyester, polyethylene, and multifilament polypropylene (MPF). Again, it’s a personal preference and what you can afford. Don’t be afraid to go to the hardware store and find some inexpensive rope to use as a test – still, try to get something in a good diameter and feel. The stiffer the rope, the harder it will be to tie off and lay properly across the skin. Remember, you’re not trying to secure a grill in the back of a pick up truck.

You will also use personal preference regarding the color of the rope. Some people like natural colors because of the warmth, others prefer black because of the contrast, or using bright colors like red

Length is another important factor and different lengths are often required depending on what you are doing. Just securing wrists will only need a length of about 5 feet while doing  body harness may require lengths up to 70’ (depending on the complexity of the harness). Different body sizes will require different lengths. Just remember, it’s better to have a rope that’s a little too long than too short.

A good starter kit should include:

(2) 1/4” – 6 feet – wrists and ankles

(4) 1/4” – 23 feet – breasts, arms, legs, partial harness

(4) 1/4” – 10 feet – multi-use

I like to have several pieces handy that are about 10’ in length as well – I can use these in a variety of ways from securing Kasai to furniture or stretching her body out.

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