Learning the Ropes

by Johnny Jackhammer

More and more, I am into the “B” that fits into BDSM.

Recently, my eye has been caught by some amazing rope work.  You can see some incredibly intricate designs at fetish events, internet sites, and local gatherings.  They are masterful and can take hours to perform, especially if they involve suspensions.

INTERLUDE:  Before you grab some clothesline to wrap up your lover, be sure to put some thought to safety.  You want to get kinky and have fun, not end up in the emergency room or jail. 

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can put that thumb under any of your bindings.  If you can’t slip two fingers under the rope work, then it’s too tight for safety.  Be particularly careful around pressure points and major arteries.  Watch the tightness around wrists, necks, ankles, and thighs.  Trust me, your bindings do not have to be pulled tight to be inescapable.  And keep safety scissors close by.

Public domain image

What attracts me to rope play?  Three things:  the performance art, the power exchange, and the challenge.

The Performance Art

Rope masters are true artists.  They include multiple ropes of exotic colors.  They often incorporate suspensions and danger in their work.  And they produce amazing photographs of their results.

Shibari is perhaps the highest rope art being practiced.  Shabari translates as “to tie” from the Japanese, and it invokes a Japanese sensibility in rope bondage.  For a treat, browse the galleries of David Lawrence’s Shibari Art Photography website.

The very best rope art creates patterns and utilizes the natural curves and features of the human subject being tied.


Power Exchange

It is hot to have somebody give herself or himself over to be tied up by you.  Be sure to discuss limits and obtain full consent.  Don’t betray their trust.  There’s trust involved in giving oneself over.  And, if you have the right partner, they allow you to take advantage of their vulnerability.  They surrender the power to you.

Don’t ever ignore the established “safe word” – everybody has the right to stop play at any time for any reason.

Do things they cannot see.  Elevate things.  Create wrist cuffs and secure them to furniture.  Take the power.

Take the power by making them harder to access.  If you will fuck them, bind their thighs together to create a struggle for entry.  My lady particularly likes that tight restraint, followed by my weight to pin her down.

Once fully tied, be sure to check in frequently.  Whisper in their ear, tease them.  But make sure that you also check in to make sure they are still enjoying themselves.

My lady, GoodWitchNorth, enjoying the afterglow of a rope scene.

My lady, GoodWitchNorth, enjoying the afterglow of a rope scene.

The Challenge

Anyone can do a quick cuff, but how do you make it appealing as well as functional?  Can you create a corset or decorative tie that restricts and binds your partner so that they can’t escape?  Rope as a craft is a challenge.  But its beauty can be found in its simplicity.  Keep ties simple when you are starting out, and you’ll be very happy.

I have a book recommendation:  Two Knotty Boys Showing You The Ropes.  It’s a nice primer of what rope to start with, how to do basic ties and knots, and ways to play safe.

One helpful point from the book is not to worry about the type of rope.  Your local hardware store has nice nylon or jute rope that is inexpensive and effective.  If you do want to add an extra special element, I recommend a nice bamboo silk rope from deGiotto Rope.  You’ll pay a premium, but the colors are vibrant and the rope is soft, yet strong.

Have fun, and take photos if you can!  We would love to see them.


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