Learning the ropes: A Toy Box Tease
The first time I saw pictures of rope play was looking through Tumblr images. I remember marveling over how beautiful and artistic the images were and thinking it was way too complicated for me to learn. I learned that what I was looking at was a specific type of rope play called Shibari. Shibari refers to Japanese rope bondage, basically tying someone up with ropes. The word “shibari” means “tying,” while the word “kinbaku” means “tight binding.” This can include sex, but it can also be a form of meditation, trust building, and relaxation. Sometimes it includes suspending a person off the ground, but Shibari does not have to include suspension.
Midori, a kink educator, who wrote The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage, says that Shibari is ultimately about consensually tying each other up for fun and sexual pleasure. “It shouldn’t be intimidating or aggravating.” There is nothing wrong with giggling your way through a scene as you learn together.
I recently enjoyed a rope play/Shibari scene at a play party at my local dungeon that was exactly this combination of meditation, relaxation, and giggling fun for me. So naturally, I wanted to write about how rope came to be a fun part of our toy collection and share some resources with you. This post is less of a toy review and more of an overview of how rope adds to our sexual exploration.
The first time I saw a Shibari suspension scene in person was at my local dungeon in 2019. I remember watching in awe as the Top or “rigger” wrapped and tied up his bottom or “rope bunny.” In what felt like moments, he had her arms tied to her chest with ropes wrapped in an intricately woven design around her chest, hips, and one leg. The next thing I knew, she was sideways, hanging like a tangled marionette with a relaxed and euphoric look on her face. He had a satisfied smile as he gently spun her and rocked her in her suspended state. After changing up her position a few times, he lowered her to the floor and began untying her in a very slow and sensual process.
I talked with them both after the scene and asked if they would be willing to do something very basic with me to give me a taste of rope play. I knew I wasn’t ready for any kind of suspension, but I was curious to know what the body harness would feel like. The bottom for the scene had also learned to top in rope, and I felt comfortable with her topping me, especially with her rigger as an observer and safety monitor. She gave me my first taste of rope when she tied me in a basic chest harness that also secured my arms. I found it a very sensual experience, and I enjoyed learning and talking through the process with her.
My husband and I have long been into using restraints in our sexual and kinky play. We had mostly used the wrist and ankle restraints with our bed system, that I’ve written about in other posts. Hubby wanted to explore complete immobilization, and I wanted to explore more ways to feel a dominant energy with him that were quieter than impact play. Exploring rope play seemed to fit both of our needs.
One of the things that I love about my local dungeon is the variety of classes and events. In 2021, they did a wine and craft night where we could learn to treat and condition our own lengths of jute rope that were included with the class. I had the best time learning how to use mineral oil and beeswax to soften and condition the rope. I love the essential oil scent that I used to infuse the rope with a scent that would help both of us relax and make it a full sensory experience. I left the class with six lengths of just rope, each measuring approximately 30-35 ft in length with a 6mm diameter, which is a good starter set for full body immobilization.
I am by no means a rigger or rope expert. I am barely beginning, and I rely heavily on both in-person classes and online tutorials. My husband and I were fortunate enough to attend a class together and learned many of the basics needed to explore, especially safety information. We always have safety shears close at hand, whenever we play. We can safely tie a single column and double column tie, and we learned how to keep tension on the ropes and secure them. This has been perfect for doing sensory deprivation play with my husband where I completely tie him to the bed, blindfold him, and plug his ears. His senses are reduced to smell, taste, and feeling.
The jute rope we use, while softened through the conditioning we did, is still rougher than other types of rope. It is also a light tan color so there isn’t much contrast on our light skin when we are tied. I really want to buy some softer nylon or bamboo rope in some darker colors to use on my body for sensual body harness ties that have that beautiful artistic look. I am loving how versatile this kink is. It can be sensual, sadistic, playful, and meditative. I can self-tie and practice this solo as well. We still have a lot to explore and learn with our rope play.
Rope play should be a fun way to explore different aspects of our sexuality and communicate with our partner. But it can be very overwhelming and intimidating to get started. My advice is to start by watching others. Attend a live demonstration. Watch online tutorials. Read books, articles, and websites that offer this information. I highly recommend reading Midori’s book and attending her classes. I also like the viewing and trying some of the ties on the YouTube channel, Rory’s Brainworks. Other great websites for education are the Shibari Study, the Kink Academy, and Dating Kinky. Some vendors that sell rope also offer some great education on the care and maintenance of your rope as well as getting started in rope play. I love Twisted Monk for their detailed website. Chromaknotz is also a trusted vendor. There is a lot of great information out there to help you learn the ropes in your own kink practice. Like any kink, there are risks, and the best practice is to start slow, communicate, and educate yourself about the risks involved.
As usual, here is my quick disclaimer that I am not a licensed health or sexual expert, all opinions are my own and do not constitute medical advice. Join me on the Mōn app to discuss this review in more detail. If you enjoyed this review, reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram with more ideas. If you want to support more reviews and other articles, please consider buying me a coffee!