Gayle Smith
Gering, Neb.

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March 23, 2011
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Needens finds New Uses for Old Ropes


Chele Needens used to watch fondly as a family friend took an old, worn out lariat and manipulated it into a useful masterpiece. During all the years she watched her friend work, she never once learned how he created his works of art. So when he passed away and his widow asked Chele to take over for him, she was somewhat surprised. But never one to back down from a challenge, Chele picked up a rope one day and decided to try making useful items from lariats.

The first pieces Chele created were challenging, frustrating and time-consuming. But eventually, the Buffalo, Wyo., crafter created some nice pieces of rope art that she has built on over the last several years. "I have been fortunate that my husband has also helped me by making some specialized equipment, like a special jig, to help me get the right twist to the rope," she explained.

These days, Chele creates many items from lariats to baskets, clocks, outdoor thermometers, and birdhouses, to mirrors, crosses, lazy Susans, and footstools. "Most items that are circular can be made with a rope," she said. "If I can visualize something round, it is just a matter of making it look right with a lariat rope," she continued. "For the bigger pieces, I like to start out using a softer rope to get a good, tight twist in the bottom of the basket, or whatever it is I am making. I use stiffer rope up higher to give it more strength and stability."

Chele makes her rope items by soldering and melting the nylon together. She doesn't use glue. "Most of my burning is done on the inside of the basket, not the outside," she explained. By melting the nylon together on the rope, it creates a durable product that can withstand a lot of use. "I have made footstools that you can sit or stand on and they will stay together. I like to overburn when I make something like that, so I know it can withstand being used."

Although she makes many different items, she has a few that are her favorites. "I really enjoy making mirrors because I do glass etching, too," she explained. "I like to make rope mirrors, then put western and southwestern themes on them." Chele said she cuts her stencils by hand, so she can create most any custom design someone would want. She has etched the mirrors with brands, feathers, and cowboys scenes, just to name a few.

Her newest creation is a rope birdhouse. "The first one I made was pretty hard," she said. "I had an idea, and when I finished it, it didn't look like a birdhouse at all," she said, laughing. "It was more like a tall rope basket with a hole in it. The ones I make now look more like an acorn.

"Most of the pieces are hard the first time I make them," she continued. "The first one always tests your patience and ability. It doesn't always turn out, but I always learn something from the first one, and I see what I could do to make it easier."

Finding new creations to make with lariats is a challenge, Chele said. "I like to have something new to offer my customers each year," she explained. "I can make custom items for customers if they have an idea, and want me to try making it out of a rope."

One of he most unique items Chele has made is a wall sconce. The body of the sconce was made from rope, while the center section was made from rawhide to allow light to show through. She embellished the sconce with hair on hide and conchos. "It was really neat when I finished it," she said.

This winter, Chele said she hopes to create a bird feeder from rope. "I have a design, but I haven't actually developed it yet. I know that in addition to rope, I also plan to incorporate antlers into my design," she said.

Many people in her area enjoy Chele's creations and supply her with lariats. "I go to Thermopolis to White Horse Feeds and purchase ropes. I also purchase ropes from local ropers and ranchers. I also barter for ropes with products I make," she said.

Chele mainly markets her rope designs through her website: lastloopropeart.webs.com. She also consigns some items at the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, the Sheridan Wyo Retail Store in Sheridan, and from May through September at the Story Art Station in Story, Wyo.

In addition to her website, Chele Needens may also be reached by phone at (307) 684-7843.

Chele Needens used to watch fondly as a family friend took an old, worn out lariat and manipulated it into a useful masterpiece. During all the years she watched her friend work, she never once learned how he created his works of art. So when he passed away and his widow asked Chele to take over for him, she was somewhat surprised. But never one to back down from a challenge, Chele picked up a rope one day and decided to try making useful items from lariats.

The first pieces Chele created were challenging, frustrating and time-consuming. But eventually, the Buffalo, Wyo., crafter created some nice pieces of rope art that she has built on over the last several years. "I have been fortunate that my husband has also helped me by making some specialized equipment, like a special jig, to help me get the right twist to the rope," she explained.

These days, Chele creates many items from lariats to baskets, clocks, outdoor thermometers, and birdhouses, to mirrors, crosses, lazy Susans, and footstools. "Most items that are circular can be made with a rope," she said. "If I can visualize something round, it is just a matter of making it look right with a lariat rope," she continued. "For the bigger pieces, I like to start out using a softer rope to get a good, tight twist in the bottom of the basket, or whatever it is I am making. I use stiffer rope up higher to give it more strength and stability."

Chele makes her rope items by soldering and melting the nylon together. She doesn't use glue. "Most of my burning is done on the inside of the basket, not the outside," she explained. By melting the nylon together on the rope, it creates a durable product that can withstand a lot of use. "I have made footstools that you can sit or stand on and they will stay together. I like to overburn when I make something like that, so I know it can withstand being used."

Although she makes many different items, she has a few that are her favorites. "I really enjoy making mirrors because I do glass etching, too," she explained. "I like to make rope mirrors, then put western and southwestern themes on them." Chele said she cuts her stencils by hand, so she can create most any custom design someone would want. She has etched the mirrors with brands, feathers, and cowboys scenes, just to name a few.

Her newest creation is a rope birdhouse. "The first one I made was pretty hard," she said. "I had an idea, and when I finished it, it didn't look like a birdhouse at all," she said, laughing. "It was more like a tall rope basket with a hole in it. The ones I make now look more like an acorn.

"Most of the pieces are hard the first time I make them," she continued. "The first one always tests your patience and ability. It doesn't always turn out, but I always learn something from the first one, and I see what I could do to make it easier."

Finding new creations to make with lariats is a challenge, Chele said. "I like to have something new to offer my customers each year," she explained. "I can make custom items for customers if they have an idea, and want me to try making it out of a rope."

One of he most unique items Chele has made is a wall sconce. The body of the sconce was made from rope, while the center section was made from rawhide to allow light to show through. She embellished the sconce with hair on hide and conchos. "It was really neat when I finished it," she said.

This winter, Chele said she hopes to create a bird feeder from rope. "I have a design, but I haven't actually developed it yet. I know that in addition to rope, I also plan to incorporate antlers into my design," she said.

Many people in her area enjoy Chele's creations and supply her with lariats. "I go to Thermopolis to White Horse Feeds and purchase ropes. I also purchase ropes from local ropers and ranchers. I also barter for ropes with products I make," she said.

Chele mainly markets her rope designs through her website: lastloopropeart.webs.com. She also consigns some items at the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, the Sheridan Wyo Retail Store in Sheridan, and from May through September at the Story Art Station in Story, Wyo.

In addition to her website, Chele Needens may also be reached by phone at (307) 684-7843.

Chele Needens used to watch fondly as a family friend took an old, worn out lariat and manipulated it into a useful masterpiece. During all the years she watched her friend work, she never once learned how he created his works of art. So when he passed away and his widow asked Chele to take over for him, she was somewhat surprised. But never one to back down from a challenge, Chele picked up a rope one day and decided to try making useful items from lariats.

The first pieces Chele created were challenging, frustrating and time-consuming. But eventually, the Buffalo, Wyo., crafter created some nice pieces of rope art that she has built on over the last several years. "I have been fortunate that my husband has also helped me by making some specialized equipment, like a special jig, to help me get the right twist to the rope," she explained.

These days, Chele creates many items from lariats to baskets, clocks, outdoor thermometers, and birdhouses, to mirrors, crosses, lazy Susans, and footstools. "Most items that are circular can be made with a rope," she said. "If I can visualize something round, it is just a matter of making it look right with a lariat rope," she continued. "For the bigger pieces, I like to start out using a softer rope to get a good, tight twist in the bottom of the basket, or whatever it is I am making. I use stiffer rope up higher to give it more strength and stability."

Chele makes her rope items by soldering and melting the nylon together. She doesn't use glue. "Most of my burning is done on the inside of the basket, not the outside," she explained. By melting the nylon together on the rope, it creates a durable product that can withstand a lot of use. "I have made footstools that you can sit or stand on and they will stay together. I like to overburn when I make something like that, so I know it can withstand being used."

Although she makes many different items, she has a few that are her favorites. "I really enjoy making mirrors because I do glass etching, too," she explained. "I like to make rope mirrors, then put western and southwestern themes on them." Chele said she cuts her stencils by hand, so she can create most any custom design someone would want. She has etched the mirrors with brands, feathers, and cowboys scenes, just to name a few.

Her newest creation is a rope birdhouse. "The first one I made was pretty hard," she said. "I had an idea, and when I finished it, it didn't look like a birdhouse at all," she said, laughing. "It was more like a tall rope basket with a hole in it. The ones I make now look more like an acorn.

"Most of the pieces are hard the first time I make them," she continued. "The first one always tests your patience and ability. It doesn't always turn out, but I always learn something from the first one, and I see what I could do to make it easier."

Finding new creations to make with lariats is a challenge, Chele said. "I like to have something new to offer my customers each year," she explained. "I can make custom items for customers if they have an idea, and want me to try making it out of a rope."

One of he most unique items Chele has made is a wall sconce. The body of the sconce was made from rope, while the center section was made from rawhide to allow light to show through. She embellished the sconce with hair on hide and conchos. "It was really neat when I finished it," she said.

This winter, Chele said she hopes to create a bird feeder from rope. "I have a design, but I haven't actually developed it yet. I know that in addition to rope, I also plan to incorporate antlers into my design," she said.

Many people in her area enjoy Chele's creations and supply her with lariats. "I go to Thermopolis to White Horse Feeds and purchase ropes. I also purchase ropes from local ropers and ranchers. I also barter for ropes with products I make," she said.

Chele mainly markets her rope designs through her website: lastloopropeart.webs.com. She also consigns some items at the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, the Sheridan Wyo Retail Store in Sheridan, and from May through September at the Story Art Station in Story, Wyo.

In addition to her website, Chele Needens may also be reached by phone at (307) 684-7843.

Chele Needens used to watch fondly as a family friend took an old, worn out lariat and manipulated it into a useful masterpiece. During all the years she watched her friend work, she never once learned how he created his works of art. So when he passed away and his widow asked Chele to take over for him, she was somewhat surprised. But never one to back down from a challenge, Chele picked up a rope one day and decided to try making useful items from lariats.

The first pieces Chele created were challenging, frustrating and time-consuming. But eventually, the Buffalo, Wyo., crafter created some nice pieces of rope art that she has built on over the last several years. "I have been fortunate that my husband has also helped me by making some specialized equipment, like a special jig, to help me get the right twist to the rope," she explained.

These days, Chele creates many items from lariats to baskets, clocks, outdoor thermometers, and birdhouses, to mirrors, crosses, lazy Susans, and footstools. "Most items that are circular can be made with a rope," she said. "If I can visualize something round, it is just a matter of making it look right with a lariat rope," she continued. "For the bigger pieces, I like to start out using a softer rope to get a good, tight twist in the bottom of the basket, or whatever it is I am making. I use stiffer rope up higher to give it more strength and stability."

Chele makes her rope items by soldering and melting the nylon together. She doesn't use glue. "Most of my burning is done on the inside of the basket, not the outside," she explained. By melting the nylon together on the rope, it creates a durable product that can withstand a lot of use. "I have made footstools that you can sit or stand on and they will stay together. I like to overburn when I make something like that, so I know it can withstand being used."

Although she makes many different items, she has a few that are her favorites. "I really enjoy making mirrors because I do glass etching, too," she explained. "I like to make rope mirrors, then put western and southwestern themes on them." Chele said she cuts her stencils by hand, so she can create most any custom design someone would want. She has etched the mirrors with brands, feathers, and cowboys scenes, just to name a few.

Her newest creation is a rope birdhouse. "The first one I made was pretty hard," she said. "I had an idea, and when I finished it, it didn't look like a birdhouse at all," she said, laughing. "It was more like a tall rope basket with a hole in it. The ones I make now look more like an acorn.

"Most of the pieces are hard the first time I make them," she continued. "The first one always tests your patience and ability. It doesn't always turn out, but I always learn something from the first one, and I see what I could do to make it easier."

Finding new creations to make with lariats is a challenge, Chele said. "I like to have something new to offer my customers each year," she explained. "I can make custom items for customers if they have an idea, and want me to try making it out of a rope."

One of he most unique items Chele has made is a wall sconce. The body of the sconce was made from rope, while the center section was made from rawhide to allow light to show through. She embellished the sconce with hair on hide and conchos. "It was really neat when I finished it," she said.

This winter, Chele said she hopes to create a bird feeder from rope. "I have a design, but I haven't actually developed it yet. I know that in addition to rope, I also plan to incorporate antlers into my design," she said.

Many people in her area enjoy Chele's creations and supply her with lariats. "I go to Thermopolis to White Horse Feeds and purchase ropes. I also purchase ropes from local ropers and ranchers. I also barter for ropes with products I make," she said.

Chele mainly markets her rope designs through her website: lastloopropeart.webs.com. She also consigns some items at the Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, the Sheridan Wyo Retail Store in Sheridan, and from May through September at the Story Art Station in Story, Wyo.

In addition to her website, Chele Needens may also be reached by phone at (307) 684-7843.




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The Fence Post Updated Aug 14, 2012 05:00PM Published Mar 23, 2011 02:24PM Copyright 2011 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.