Selection of Bell Ropes
Quite often, once you have learnt to tie a few decorative knots, you start to think that you might like to put those knots together and make your own bell rope. This post is not about making a bell rope, but instead I want to show some examples of bell ropes that other people have made. I will of course try to list all the knots that have been used to create these bell ropes. I often say, if you can tie a bell rope, you know how to tie a ditty bag handle or a cat or nine tails.
Bell Rope Size and Proportions
When it comes to making a bell rope, one thing to consider is the size of your bell rope, not just the length, but also the diameter. If you want to create a bell rope that has a good diameter, you may want to consider Puddening or using a tapered wooden dowel. However, some very smart bell ropes can be thin, often the diameter of the main core of rope itself.
Before cutting the first set of lines, you need to determine the desired length of the bell rope and whether it should be tapered or straight. Small bell ropes for pleasure craft work well with a straight construction, quicker and perfectly acceptable. For larger vessels and ceremonial purposes, a tapered profile is sometimes preferred, As a general rule of thumb, a 4:3 ratio between bell diameter and rope length. As an example, if a bell has a diameter of 12 inches, then a bell rope that is 9 inches long would be astatically pleasing. Exceptions exist for very large or small bells, requiring personal judgment. Ceremonial bell ropes are longer, often tapered, and elaborately decorated. Creativity knows no bounds in crafting “show pieces” as you will see from some of the bell rope examples below. (Thanks to frayedknotarts for the information). However, after a little discussion on a FB group, perhaps the ratio mentioned before may be the wrong way round. It has been suggested that the Ratio should read: 3:4 ratio between bell diameter and rope length. i.e. a bell diameter of 9 inches = bell rope 12 inches long. Personally, all my bell ropes are greater than the diameter of the bell.
Thin Rope Bell Rope
In the photo below you can see how a length of rope was used as the core of the bell rope. At the top of the bell rope, there is a Turk’s Head covering many strands tarred line, which have been Continuously Crowned to form a simple yet decorative hand hold. These strands are then tied off with our old favourite Constrictor Knot. After this you can see what Worming has been used to follow the valley of the lay of the rope. Then another Turks Head is used to hold the Continuous Crowning and Worming in place. This bell rope was made with tarred line, which gets a wonderful patina over time.
Straight Bell Rope
In the bell rope shown below, if we start at the top right and work our way down. A smallish diameter rope has been used to form the eye of the bell rope, over which the eye has been covered with Cockscombing, the two end have then been brought together with a Constrictor Knot. Next the body of the core has been bulked out with the use of Puddening. Next, Continuous Crowning has been used to along the length of the bell rope At the very top a narrow Turk’s Head has been used to hold the eye together more firmly, then a longer Turks Head for decoration. Further down, two more Turks Heads and then finally the bottom has been finished with a Globe Knot.
Bell Ropes by Sue Pennison
I personally love this bell rope, for it’s simplicity and also not far removed from looking like a fine fender. This bell rope was made with 4mm linen cordage (Sue does make her own rope and cordage). The eye of the bell rope is created using a 4 strand sennit, which was then seized around the metal thimble. The eight strand were then laid together and tied together at the end of the bell rope, giving it it’s actual length. “The eight strands were then crowned in alternate sets of four two-thirds of the distance up the bell rope and seized again.The eight strands were then crowned in alternate sets of four two-thirds of the distance up the bell rope and seized again. Then three strands were middled and tucked through each other to form a loop with six ends. This was dropped over the thimble and tightened and then the six stands crowned until it met meet the other alternate crowning. Then a six strand crown and wall (doubled) covered the join.“
In the image below, you can see a bell rope that Sue made for the bell of HMS King Alfred. It must be a proud moment when you witness Prince Michael of Kent swinging off the bell rope!
Here you can see the bell rope close up. One of the main features you will see is the the main body of the rope has used a form of Grafting or Weave to create the altering blue and white colour scheme. Also another feature is the frayed tassel’s at the bottom.
Finally from Sue’s collection I have chosen this one. It looks like that the top there is some Ringbolt Hitching or Cockscombing to form the eye. Then the strands have been brought together using the Matthew Walker Knot, then a Turks Head and then a section of Grafting/Weave, another Turks Head then the rest of the body is covered with some Coachwhipping.
Ceremonial Style Bell Rope by Roger Banks
Here is a fine example of a tapered bell rope. Again where the eye has been created, it has been covered with Cockscombing, then a Turks Head holding it altogether and covering the the start of the Contentious Crowning, which runs the length of the bell rope. At set intervals there are various sized Turks Heads to add decoration. Then Finally the bottom is cover with a Globe Knot.
Bell Rope by Hope Jeffries
This particular bell rope was made with 3mm white cotton line. At the very top there appears to be what looks like a form of single strand Ringbolt Hitching, then 50% of the handle is covered with a form of Contentious Crowning. Then where the hand is, some Grafting/Weave has been used. Then when you get to the bottom of the bell rope, there is a nice touch of using a Star Knot. It is also good to see how a wooden mop handle was repurposed for the core of the bell rope.
Bell Rope by Luciano Bianco
As you can see a number of features are often repeated from one bell rope to another, but they are never the same. I think a bell rope is another example of being able to demonstrate your current skillset, then when you learn something new, you add it to your next bell rope. I have to say, at the time of writing this, I am not sure what style of Grafting or Crowning is being used. I am sure I will be updated shortly!
Bell Rope by Ronny Goldberg
I must go back and ask the creator what the eye of the bell rope is made from. But as you go down you can see a well executed Matthew Walker knot, which then transforms into a Star Knot. The along the body there is various forms of Continuous Crowning, with a narrow Turks Head to break the pattern. Finally at the bottom is a lovely Globe Knot. It also looks like the cordage used is polished hemp.
Bell Rope by John Trevvett
We all know John for his outstanding Knotting Frames and also excellent YouTube Video Tutorials at Trevvett Knots, but here is a little bell rope that he made. The nice feature is that he used a round thimble rather than the usual ones. Once again the Matthew Walker knot has been used and then followed on with some Continuous Crowning, a lovely pair of Star Knots and a Turks Head add to the decoration.
Small Bell Rope by Armando Tasso
We have previously feature Armando Tasso’s Knot Work, but I just wanted to show you this fine example of a small bell rope. The eye looks like it could be a three strand braid, which then leads into a Matthew Walker Knot, Then a sennit onto another Matthew Walker Knot, some Continuous Crowning. The globe know created at the bottom, looks as though it was created using something similar to ABoK 2921 but using a circle rather than a square template.
Ceremonial Bell Rope by Jérôme Moinet
Jérôme says that this bell rope was based on Vince Brennan’s tutorial from frayedknotarts. I have to say that I personally love the dark colour (possibly tarred line) of this superbly crafted bell rope. As you can see, many of the techniques previously discussed have been used on this bell rope. Once again a lovely little finishing touch of adding a 5 pointed Star Knot at the Base.
Example Bell Ropes to Inspire You
I hope that by showing these photos and describing some of the techniques used, this will inspire you to go on and create your own bell ropes.