How to Treat Shibari Ropes - Beginner's Guide for Hemp and Jute

 

If you’re just getting into Shibari (Japanese rope tying), there are a few things you should know…

 

  1. It takes lots of time and practice (you’ll never really stop learning or exploring).
  2. There are MANY different kinds of rope
  3. The better kinds of rope can’t be a bit pricy.

 

However, one way to save a bit of money is to “treat” your own ropes (rather than buying them pre-treated). It also allows you to control the conditioning so you can have a result that “feels best” in your hands.

 

Here’s a simple guide to get you started.

 

 

WHY DO THEY NEED TREATMENT AT ALL?


 

It really comes down to one thing – softness.

 

This isn’t to be confused with “weakness”, mind you. Raw jute or hemp ropes can sometimes be more on the stiff or prickly side and treating them helps to counter these qualities as well as makes your knots hold better.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that some Japanese riggers do not treat them at all – and just tie, tie, and TIE them as much as possible. This slowly relaxes the fibers, sheds the extra ones, and gives them a nice, polished finish.

 

The problem is, not everyone has that much time.

 

It also can be very uncomfortable for the rigger and the person being tied up (assuming you’re not wanting a sadistic session). Giving them a little extra TLC beforehand just speeds up the process.

 

 

TREATMENT STEPS


 

There are plenty of arguments in the rope community as to what’s the “one true method”. Personally, I don’t buy into any “one right way”. There’s only the “right way for you” – meaning you condition your ropes to serve the purpose you want or prefer.

 

There are a few options to choose from:

 

BOILING OR STEAMING

 

This serves three functions…

 

  • To remove unwanted materials that were put in during the original processing or construction (even “organic” rope makers don’t always know what the threads were put through before they arrive in their hands). An example would be JBO mineral oil (for jute), which can sometimes cause skin irritation.
  • To remove any smells you don’t like.
  • To relax the rope and make it easier to work with.

 

Whether or not you boil it depends on you, BUT REMEMBER … natural fibers interacting with water will always weaken the structure (especially jute – compared to hemp at least). So, boiling it for hours is not a good idea. I’ve heard everything from less than an hour to less than five minutes.

 

It’s also an entirely different matter if you wanted to DYE them. But we will save that for another day.

 

DRYING

 

If you’ve washed your rope, it’s necessary to dry them under tension to maintain as much of the rope integrity as possible. You can wrap it tightly around something or hang a weight from the ends.

 

RUBBING

 

Take a carabiner ring or a regular metal ring – anything with a curved edge that you can feed your rope through. You then twist it and pull the rope against itself to release any of the stray fibers. I’ve included a couple of videos at the end for you to see how different people do this.

 

However, no matter what, do this OUTSIDE. It can get really messy.

 

BURNING

 

Now that you have all these hairs standing up, you’ll need to burn them off! The best choice is a gas cooking range (the one with the fire) or a camping alternative (like a small stove or open flame). There are some that use a candle, but it can take forever.

 

You simply pass the rope through the flames and let the little bits burn off.

 

After you’ve done this, you’ll need to wipe or rub off any soot.

 

OILING

 

This will help condition your ropes and give them a shine. It also helps create a barrier between the strands and any moisture or dirt. There are many options…

 

  • Baby oil
  • Beeswax
  • Jojoba oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Camellia oil
  • Tsubaki
  • Coconut oil
  • Human sweat (just tying your partner over and over)

 

Which one is up to you and personal preference – just don’t use anything that could go rancid. There’s also the “beeswax and other oil” combination that some riggers like.

 

Put a few drops on your hands and run them through your hands a few times until it’s coated. Using a cloth is also an acceptable avenue.

 

BAKING

 

If you’ve used wax and it feels a bit tacky, or you just want it to penetrate further, baking the ropes at 225 for 20 minutes often helps.

 

 

EXPERIMENTATION


 

If you’re not sure what works best (for you) ask yourself a few questions…

 

  • Are you going to do suspension or floor work (or both)?
  • Do you want to be gentle or sadistic?
  • Do you want to take photos of your work?
  • Do you like a heavy feeling or light?
  • Do you want it stiff or with a tiny bit more give?

 

After that, get a few lengths of hemp and jute and spend some time experimenting with different treatments until you find the one that feels fantastic in your hands (and on the bottom’s body). Some people take years to find the best match, so don’t worry if it also takes you a while.

 

INTERESTING: Some riggers are very protective/secretive of their style and formula for their rope treatments.

 

 

RESOURCES


 

Here are some videos and links that might also help.

 

 

 

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If you want more useful articles, you might like these…

 

 

Have a sexy day!

Robyn

 

 

 

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