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Bob went to sea in the 30's and learned the knots from other old hands and from books and pamphlets of the time. He's made
belts, hangings, and more macrame than most of us can imagine. Many of his belts are directly from the "Encyclopedia of Knots
and Fancy Ropework" by Raoul Graumont and John Hensel, as well as later books on the macrame arts.
Bob retired from the sea, went back, retired again and took up farming "Beefalos" in north-central California. He retired from that a
few years back and now lives in Manteca, about 50 miles from San Francisco in one of the nicest areas of California.
As he sends me more pics of his work and explanations of what's here, I'll be posting them for you.
Examples of square-knot and half-hitch belts in Dreadnaught (Belfast) cord and small nylon stuff. The larger
pictures (click on each one) will show better detail. Excellent work with true attention to the detail of symmetry.
Half-hitching is one of the more difficult styles of beltwork to keep even and these really show Bob's skill.
A Portuguese wine bottle covered in a
square-knot "compass" pattern. Bob notes
that the bottle was full of wine and to do the
knotting, he HAD to empty it first, of course!
The bottom is a rather unusual treatment of
the finishing procedure.
Rather an interesting piece of macrame,
mostly done in the "half hitch" method.
Some sort of wall decoration.
A "Sailor's Cross"
These five belts in particular show the combining of the square-knot and half-hitching
methods in a truly masterful manner. The blue/white and red/white show many
variations on the half-hitch (crossings, "snakes", etc.) while the green/white and
grey/white are pure square-knotting. Each of the fancy carrick bends in the green/white
takes up a large amount of line. The usual formula is 3.5 x finished length for the raw
material needed and this belt probably runs more like 9 or10 x finished length: a VERY
considerable amount of cordage!
Beautiful work, as is the all white belt with Solomon's bar inserts and "capped" crossings
on the left side (half-hitching).
Probably one of the most attempted items and one of the least-completed in the old days was the Lady's Handbag, and Bob's
made up a beauty! These things usually take over a month to finish up and some(like this one) probably took two or more due to
the complexity. The pattern is very reminiscent of the "smoke curtains" made (usually) by the Captain of a whaling ship for his wife/
sweetheart in the mid-1800's. They were made of heavy sail thread and hung along the front and sides of a fireplace's opening in
New England as decoration and to keep smoke from the fire from coming into the room on blustery days. It also satisfied the
Victorian ethos of, "It Don't Move, DECORATE It." That pattern and this one convert to a handbag quite nicely and the coloured lines
make it really festive and cheery. Bob has also lined the bag with matching fabrics to re-enforce the line colours. As soon as I get
the scanner working, I have several other photos of Bob's work to put up here, including two more lady's purses. Impressive stuff!
Especially note the handbag strap construction!
Some "button" knots right out of The Ashley Book of Knots that could have been done by Ashley himself.
Some Chinese "Priest-Knot" bell-pulls (wall-hangings) that Bob got in his travels thru the Pacific... he writes of watching the young
chinese ladies of Pusan, Korea (where he purchased these) doing these totally freehand and of being astounded by their skill and
nonchalant attitude towards it. Well, when you do the same thing day after day from the age of six, you get pretty damn good at it,
but they can't tie a bowline or do a half--hitch belt, betcha.
The priest-knots at one time had religious/political significance but now are just very pretty works of art, and these certainly are.
I hope that in the very near future Bob will send us more pics of his work as well as of items he's collected in his travels!
Smoke curtain/Mantle hangar done by a
Stonington, CT. whaling skipper ca. 1850
On display at Mystic Seaport.