Experimenting with Cordage

I mentioned last week that, inspired by @alicefoxartist, I had collected dandelion stems for making cordage. This week I thought it might be a good idea to practice making cordage before I started using the dandelion stems which are in short supply. I had some old corn husks —saved for making paper— so I dampened them and tried it out.

Here’s my first cord. (The ends have not been trimmed where I added new husks.)

I took a Japanese sandal-making workshop decades ago. We learned to make cord by hand as part of the process, so I have done this before. It took a little while to get a feel for the material, but improvement came fairly quickly. Here’s my second strand after trimming.

I tried out different ways of adding new husks. Not surprisingly, the cord is thicker if you end up with the overlaps coinciding in both strands!

Most of my tests were done with split husks, but I made one cord using full husks. The advantage was that I was able to tuck the ends inside the twist so no trimming was needed.

Hand making cordage is an old process and has been used for everything from straw sandals to baskets. The storage basket that sits next to my seat in the living room is constructed of cordage made from some kind of reed or sedge woven over a metal frame.

I even tried some paper cordage. The bit below is made from strips cut from a page of an old Encyclopedia Britannica. (It was extremely fussy to make.)

Experimentation will be ongoing.


I am participating in the monthly Book Arts Community Challenge again for July.

I saved the margins from a dictionary that I cut up for another piece, so I have a nice starting place.

More will be revealed in a future post.


Progress on The 99 Dreams of Euclid’s Wife continues. Here are this week’s dreams.

In other book arts news:

If it is as hot where you are as it is here, staying inside somewhere cool is likely the best plan. While you are doing that, you could check out this online exhibition of artists’ books.

You will find the virtual exhibition here.


I discovered a new online craft site this week: Decorating Dissidence.

Decorating Dissidence is an interdisciplinary project exploring the political, aesthetic & conceptual qualities of craft from modernism to the contemporary.

The project brings together art practitioners, makers, curators, activists and academics to break down disciplinary boundaries and find new ways to critically engage with feminist art history. It opens up a space for intergenerational dialogue between contemporary and modernist makers, in order to reveal the lasting legacies of marginalised women artists who worked at the dissident intersections between established mediums and modes of modern art.

One of their ongoing projects is an online journal where I found this article by book artist Briony Hughes: Making with Archival Material: ‘ONE PORTION LIES REVERSED’

If you are interested in reading about a book made from “found” letters and exploring the various meanings of the word “fold”, you can read the article here.


If you are interested in the history of words, this article might be for you.

To learn more about the word “what” and where it came from, go to this page.

In other news:

David has been busy with haying —between showers— over the last two weeks.

This was all cut with a string mower and hand raked.

The hay is now safely stored, waiting to be picked up and fed to @graphics_and_gophers donkeys.

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than thirty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
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2 Responses to Experimenting with Cordage

  1. gmovassaghi says:

    Thank you Cathryn for another update on your ongoing pursuits. I have many of the same interests but do not get to 1/100th of what you do. I appreciate the examples, testing and tutoring as you forge ahead. Gratefully yours, Greta


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