What do you do when your ropes are past their functional best? Keep them in a tangled heap in the garage, or chuck them away? One man in the US has used his artistic skills to give tatty old rope a new purpose in some stunning reincarnations, from abstract geometric floormats to large-scale portraits and 'rug-ged' mountain landscape designs.
As research for an upcoming article on re-using climbing gear creatively, I contacted Micky Tresemer - based in Boulder, Colorado - to find out more about his work. It may quite literally be 'money for old rope,' but Micky's intricate designs are far from trivial...
When did you first start making rope art?
I first started making the regular coil and woven rugs about three years ago for presents to family members, then about three months later I was well on my way to making "art" with the rope.
When did you realise that you could sell your work?
I realised I could sell the rope art when I began to create words and images and interesting shapes with all sorts of colours. I also realised I could sell the work once I had tremendous support for my new project and folks began to message me about specific designs and purchasing art. As an artist, you don't refuse commissions.
Where do you source your ropes from? (or are you a gear hoarder?!)
The original rope material came from the reused gear shop I work at here in Boulder Colorado, Boulder Sports Recycler. We actually don't resell climbing rope due to liability, so it had been stock piling for years. After that inventory was used up I began to seek it out. In Boulder, as you can guess, everyone and their dog has an old rope laying around, so I began to post fliers outside and on climbing forums on the Internet and the rope began to flood in. I created a great relationship with Movement Climbing Gym and Fitness in Boulder- they give me all their used rope and I create floor mats and wall hangings for the establishment.
Some of your mats are woven, but how do you make the patterns hold shape in the swirly/coiled designs - are they glued or pinned?
Yes, all the flat designs are glued to a mesh backing then an additional amount of glue will go on when I completely finish a piece.
You have made some 3D designs. How do you make these?
I am still working on a secure 3-dimensional piece with the rope but for now I am layering each piece and glueing in between them. I have in the past covered a few pieces of furniture and it holds extremely well, so a solid structure will be used as an under-armature for the ropes in the future.
Which piece of work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of a portrait of Jerry Garcia. It was extremely difficult to create a likeness with small half-inch wide pieces of fabric, so getting the shading and correct placement of facial features just right was really rewarding.
Have you been creative with any other pieces of climbing gear?
Not right now. I am really trying to push the limit of the climbing rope and I haven't found any other gear to be as versatile.
Who'da known, who'd a known:: That it would be rock n roll:: That would terrify and eat me:: That would haunt me so completely:: #climbingropeart #climbingrope #climbing #art #greendesign #sacredgeometry #floweroflife #rocknroll #guitar #gibsonlespaul #reducereuserecycle #tangledupinhues #DIY #painting #floormat #rugs #geometry #pattern
What advice would you give someone who might be inspired to get creative with their tatty old ropes?
I would say use the rope for functional purposes until it is on its last legs then the most simple repurpose is learning a sailor's weave or two and making a doormat. DON'T THROW IT OUT!
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