Sunday, January 11, 2009

DIY: Making Natural Rope

My friend Bort came by yesterday and taught me how to make rope from the Yucca plants in my yard! Making natural rope is not hard once you get the hang of it- it's just a magical formula of twisting it the right way and oh so tightly... and you will pick up speed as you go along.
You can use the Yucca plant to make some really strong rope, but there are tons of other trees and foliage you can use such as the poplar tree. In the pic below Bort is cutting some of the dried leaves to make strips that will twist into rope...

Once you have your dried leaves you will want to rub it down over your fingers to 'break up' the fibers, then make strips by pulling pieces as shown below. You can pull bigger pieces if you want thicker rope, and small pieces for dainty rope.

To begin your piece of rope you will need two long strips that you pulled from the plant, holding them together evenly.
Then twist the two strips together tightly as shown above... but keep twisting the small segment between your fingers tighter and tighter... Till it starts to buckle and forces itself to make a loop.
Hold your loop between your fingers, and then begin to twist the two strips furthest away from yourself. Twist them AWAY from yourself (this is crucial and does something magical which I can't explain)...

Take the little twist and cross it over towards yourself, then repeat the twisting & crossing over and over.
You repeat this pattern until your rope is done. When adding in new strips, simply twist them into the existing rope very tightly and continue on. My rope shown below had several pieces twisted in and is still super strong!!! :)
It can hold rocks!!!! Yay Baby!
Thanks to Bort, pictured here swinging from a tree vine - for being so patient and teaching me this awesome skill.


Susie Collins said...

I know how wonderful it is to do projects like this. In Hawaii, string and rope can be made from the bark of the Hao tree: you strip off ribbons of the bark, soak and then strip into smaller ribbons to make string and rope. I have always found that the process of making your own products like this is a very magical experience. The collecting of the raw materials (asking permission of the nature fairies and sharing in their kingdom), the preparing and nurturing of the material during the process, and then the satisfaction of having made your own products. We are so removed from that experience in the modern era of commercial consumer goods. It's a tonic for the soul to connect with nature and create the products we need without harming the environment. Thanks for sharing how to make rope with Yucca!

The Oko Box said...

Hey Susie, thanks so much for leaving your thoughts! I really do think that because everything is made for us, that it is causing people to feel a little empty inside. Creativity really is the hub of excitement and inspiration, and feeling like you can take care of yourself, provide for youself, and make things you need I believe is a biological MUST for our mental health.

Jeanette Gibson said...

I included a link to this tutorial on my blog.

Go to
Go to SkillsLog
Navigate down to R
The link is under Rope Making

Warmest Regards