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Marlinespike Ropework: The Bell Rope

  • Maiwa Loft #6-1666 Johnston St. Vancouver, BC, V6H 3S2 Canada (map)

With Tim Whitten

$395 [Includes $100 lab fee] Class Limit 16. Oct 12-14 (Fri-Sun) 10am-4pm

This three-day workshop will focus on the techniques used in creating the more elaborate covered core bell rope. The range of techniques presented during the extended workshop will be greater than that of the two-day workshop. The techniques presented are those common throughout the range of Tim’s maritime pieces, jewelry, and abstract sculptural objects.

A marlinespike is a simple tool used by sailmakers, riggers, mariners, and fishermen. (The marlin fish is named after this tool.) Marlinespike ropework is a traditional skill with a long and colourful history. The basic principles of marlinespike work are common to hand-weaving, braiding, embroidery, stitchery, knitting, basketmaking, and many other fibre arts. What sets marlinespike work apart is the material and scale.

There are a handful of items traditionally made to display marlinespike skills. These include the sailor’s ditty bag, sea chest handles (“beckets”), and bell lanyards. Pieces may be simple or elaborate but are usually fancy samplers. Finely rendered marlinespike work on sails, rigging, and bell ropes was evidence of an experienced captain and well-trained crew.

Both of Tim's workshops introduce basic and advanced techniques used on a core project. Completion time for projects will vary with individual dexterity.
Tim Whitten joins us from his chandlery on the eastern seaboard of the USA.

Supply List PDF

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.

Earlier Event: October 10
Marlinespike Ropework: Essentials
Later Event: October 15
Material & Process in Perfect Union