The Marlinespike: Roped into Art

  • Net Loft Building #6-1666 Johnston St Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2 Canada
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With Tim Whitten

$15 - Doors open at 7:30

“I don’t think of myself as a patient person, but this isn’t something that requires patience for me—it’s something I like doing and it's something I’m good at. If those two things apply, then patience isn’t the right word for what it entails.” 

The arts of the sail-maker, rigger, and fisherman traditionally involved considerable skill in manipulating corded lines. Necessity and practicality were the origin, but form, ingenuity, and beauty were often showcased in the result.

Tim Whitten practices a fibre art known as Marlinespike Ropework: a collection of techniques with origins based on the use of a marlinespike­—a pointed and tapered iron tool anywhere from six to thirty inches in length.

Join Tim as he speaks about the art of rope production, fancy knotwork, and the culture of maritime seafaring that gave birth to these arts and then provided the conditions under which they flourished.

Tim will cover a little of the history of worldwide fibre manufacturing and how qualities of the different plant-based cordage led to different applications. He will then move on to the inspiration for his own craft and the founding of his own chandlery.

This lecture is a must for anyone with an interest in the fibre arts or for those who believe in the importance and future of handwork.

Tim will also teach two workshops.


Tim Whitten is a Connecticut native with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He is a self-taught master of traditional ropework known collectively as "marlinespike." In a 2016 interview with David Roza, Tim explained, “Marlinespike work is really a combination of techniques like knitting, embroidery, tapestry-weaving, and kumihimo (an intricate form of Japanese braiding) that sailors and fishermen borrowed with a nautical focus.” Tim is frequently asked about an arts eduction. "I’ll explain that I didn’t go to art school, I studied engineering...but to be a successful engineer, you have to have an artistic mind so that you can think of problems to solve and creative solutions to solve them.”

Tim runs the Marlinespike Chandlery located in Stonington, Maine, a combination studio workshop, antique store, and museum centred around traditional, nautically inspired rope and fibre work. www.marlinespike.com