Rope Making with Sound UAL Thinkers.

‘Crap-tech ‘ was a name given (usually by non-believers) to some of my early textile engineering projects.  Crap they might look, and low tech they always are, but here is proof that high tech has to start with the low.  On Monday, I jointed the UAL ‘High Tech Low Tech Community’, to help  investigate how sound could travel through rope.

Here is a draft film featuring the Rope Making Machine Mark 1, cobbled together with one end of an old 3 ply rope making mechanism bought in Huddersfield, an industrial trolly,  a wheel made from a revolving cake stand, some ply wood and two cupboard handles, and two ply controlling tools cut out of scraps of pine.

Sound effects on film to be improved upon soon…

Clamps were also essential.

The group consists of Anne Marr Course Leader BA Textile design CSM, Tom Gardner, Senior Lecturer in Communication at LCC, Kevin Walker, Head of Program in Information Experience Design RCA, Colin Priest, Course Leader, BA Interiors and Spatial Design, and Nicholas Marechel physical Computing specialist from LCC.


These UAL tutors really love their investigation work.  Here they are recording everything.  I now refuse to accept Crap – Tech as an applicable adjective.  The most simple tools can enable big thinkers to come up with beautiful ideas.  The discussions after we made rope, gushed. July 2015 063

Rope Making becomes really interesting when you mix the materials.  The thin rope on the right was made with paper and copper wire, which came in thin strips, which we then knotted together.  The Paper yarn, which was twisted before we started, remained strong through out the process. The Copper however became very loose with the first twists, and then as the plying together happened, it became very tight, to the point of us wondering whether it might snap. It didn’t snap. July 2015 073Usually when you free the newly made rope from the machine, it behaves as we all do when let loose from a tight situation – it bounces, dances a bit, likes to untangle itself and feel a bit free. A Rope needs to be giggled about a bit before it finds it’s true nature.  The wire and paper rope didn’t do this – it just stayed the same, happy to do as it was told.  The Group gave this rope the working title of  BT/Infinity/Virgin.bluepompom

Colin bought some pom pom yarn from the pound store, which made some interesting effects when mixed with flatter yarns.  Here it is twisted with jute and cotton.  Working title name ‘Referendum’.

knot2Anne had a fascinating sample of rope  which could withstand the heat of a kiln.  Anne had covered a knot in slip and fired it; no burn effect on the fibres at all.  This could lead to amazing works, but a big hinderence is that it costs £4,000/m, which makes this sample worth at lease £1000, possibly more if you add the value of Anne’s genius and simple idea. July 2015 057Nicholas Marechel’s  edition of a ‘We’ enabled the collecting of data, which could later be used to guide composition.  Here it is bound to one ply of cotton rope, and below the information being gathered as Colin wound the handle,July 2015 068




I really liked Tom’s idea that the Rope Making Machine has 3 ply, and in music the basic Chords,  have 3 notes.  That got me thinking about 3’s and I was led to a Wikipedia page about Philosophical Trichotomies!

Yes! Everything fits into 3’s for philosophers through the ages.

Including my favourite philosophers, the low tech Punks.  Here are the 3 chords you need to start a band, as seen in ‘Sniffin’ Glue ‘ magazine 1976.


The High Tech Low Tech community have asked me back to work on a sound piece with them in September.  Watch this space for the next installment.