Culture » Visual Arts

Mark Barsocchini shows us the ropes as he goes pro with his knotwork


  • Griffin Swartzell
For Mark Barsocchini, knots and knot-tying have been a longtime passion, far beyond simple utility, like keeping shoes from falling off. Recently, he’s had the chance to turn that into a business. He’s a former IT project manager, and after a brief period learning knots as a Sea Scout in his late teens, Barsocchini went full-on knot geek around 2005, when his son became a Cub Scout: Someone needed to teach the troop about knots.

A few bowline knots and half-hitches turned into parachute cord “buddy bracelets,” and when he bought The Ashley Book of Knots, a 1944 tome by Clifford W. Ashley featuring more than 3,800 knots, it was all over. Barsocchini’s since joined the International Guild of Knot Tyers, as well as several groups on Facebook.

It’s through one of those Facebook groups that he had a chance to go pro. He linked up with a woman from Oklahoma City who sought a pair of knotwork room dividers for a yet-unfinished building, drawing inspiration from a hotel in Austin, Texas. Barsocchini was one of two who reached out.

“She was heading up to go skiing with her family... making the drive from OKC through here,” he says. “So we met up at a Starbucks. I brought a mockup, I brought the material I would use. She said, ‘You’re done. You’re it.’ ... That’s what got me into the idea that I could make a business out of this.”
Currently, Barsocchini says he’s working with San Francisco artist Windy Chien ( on making that happen. She’s perhaps best known for her installation, The Year of Knots, one of many installations she’s done. With her guidance, Barsocchini says he hopes to do larger fiber arts installations down the line, as well as more interior design work. For now, his work will be on display at Local Relic for the month of September.

But Barsocchini will always want time for his smaller crafts: things like zipper pulls, bracelets and cufflinks. There’s an element of conservation in his crafts, as he uses fly-fishing line that would otherwise be headed for landfills. Each is unique, showcasing an uncommon knot pattern or plait. And he gets to share his passion for knots at the craft fairs where he sells his work.

“I can talk to people and get excited about stuff,” he says. “[I can] teach kids knot tricks and keep a dying art alive.”

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