What is Puddening
In simple terms when creating decorative knot work, Puddening is a way of filling or bulking out a section of rope to either, increase the cores diameter and or to smooth out any imperfections along the length of a rope. Often cut off bits of cordage are used running along the length of your work. There may be sections where you want your finished work to look tapered, so shorter lengths of cordage can be evenly placed around the body of your work where you want the taper to start. Often then, the Puddening is covered with a cloth (like a bandage) or a tape. By doing this, it helps to smooth out any imperfections and giving you a smooth surface to cover with your desired decorative weave such as Grafting, Hitching or Crowning.
Where is Puddening Used
I would say that the most common place you would see where an item has been covered with Puddening, would be a bell rope. Quite often a bell rope is tapered, increasing in size from the top to the bottom. Other bell ropes may increase in size by being stepped up to the handhold area. So basically by adding Puddening to a piece of work, you are increasing the body of the work, prior to covering with your favourite decorative knots.
Puddening on a Bell Rope
In this image above, you will see that the core of the bell rope is made up of a single rope folded in half. At the top where the loop is, I covered that with some Cockscombing. The next thing that I wanted to do was bulk out the body of the bell rope and make it round. This was done by covering the original rope with scraps of rope, or Puddening. As you build up the layers of Puddening, the strands are held in place with a fine bit of line, the Constrictor Knot is best for holding those versicle strands in place. As the securing strand is fine and the constrictor knot has a low profile, they will all eventually be covered by decorative knotwork. Looking at the picture above, I could have put more Puddening between the 2nd and third tie off point, giving the bell rope a larger diameter for the handhold. Finally you can cover with tape or long strips of cloth to make it even smoother.
Covering Your Puddening
In the image below, you will see that I have used Continuous Crowning over the top of the Puddening.
I am always so keen to get something looking good and finished, that I completely forget to document the process of each stage.
Completed Bell Rope
In this image below is the completed bell rope. As yo can see I have used a few Turks Heads along the length of the bell rope. This not only gives it decoration, but also helps to cover up all the sins that lurk below the surface. The final knot at the bottom is a globe knot.
3D Printing a Core for a Bell Rope
As I have mentioned previously when Puddening, you really need to ensure that it is as smooth as possible. It is now not unusual to actually print a 3D core that is tapered. This certainly makes tapering a bell rope much easier, it also gives you a firm base to work with. As I do not have access to a 3D printer, I have often thought that an old pool cue would make a good tapered for for a bell rope.
Some people may be shouting that it is not traditional, but I always say that you are the master of your own knots and knotwork.
Bell Rope, Ditty Bag Handle or Cat of Nine Tails
I often say that if you can make a bell rope, then you will also be able to make a ditty bag handle or a cat o nine tails. The main body of each one is pretty much the same, all it needs is your take on what it should look like!