Aerial Silks Rigging: How To & What To Avoid

Perhaps you have bought your first pair of silks or you simply want to know a safe rigging practice. What is imperative is that if you are going to train in aerial arts you need to know what safe rigging is! Why you may ask? There is a lot of unsafe rigging out there. Whether you are checking aerial silks rigging or hoop, you need to be able to identify hazardous situations.

Before we get started I just want to add that I am not a professional rigger. With that being said I have been educated in safe and unsafe rigging practices. This post is to help you keep your practice safe. Always consult a structural engineer when installing and rigging equipment in your home.

Aerial Silks Rigging Equipment

Carabiner:

Carabiners are strong yet they are not durable. What that means is that the load must only be on 50% of the base in order to not overload it. It can not be loaded three or four ways and it has venerability points at the gate and sides.

When buying a carabiner you want to look on the spine and see who the manufacturer is, what is the breaking point is, and the load. Don’t buy them from the hardware store!!

Oval carabiner:

It is great for when you are connecting hardware to hardware such as a swivel and a rescue 8. The oval carabiner connects the hardware with an even weight distribution compared to a D carabiner.

D shape carabiner:

The D shaped carabiner has a longer basket that the top point giving it the shape of a D.

Delta Carabiner:

Can be pulled upon four ways and is appropriate for larger spansets as they overload normal carabiners.

Quick Link:

Is a great connector for larger spansets in conjunction with a carabiner.

Minimum Breaking Strength:

The industry standard is 5,000 pounds minimum for a carabiner.

Trilink:

A triangular durable link that is great for rigging double point hoops. The trilink connects to the carabiner.

Carabiner gate:

The gate of a carabiner is the level and screw where the carabiner opens.

Single function gate:

This is a manual screw lock. Always ensure that the lock is upside down due to fluttering and vibration.

Double function gate:

Takes two actions to open the carabiner.

Triple function gate:

Takes three actions to open the carabiner.

Carabiner locking styles:

Manual and automatic locker.

Manual locks can be affected by gate fluttering which is when the movement of the fabric or lyra creates a harmonic vibration in the carabiner causing the gate to slightly open and close. This could be caused by drops when the rope enlists a lot of weight on the carabiner. Drops carry a tremendous amount of working load that is impacted on the carabiner.

Swivel:

Swivels can be use to rotate the dancer on silks, lyra or slings. Not only are they for increased drama in your performances, swivels can handle a three way load depending on the rating of the gear.

Aerial 8 also known as a Rescue 8:

The Rescue 8 descender is a type of descent device commonly referred to within the technical rescue industry as a figure eight descender and is used for rappelling and descent maneuvers in the field in search and rescue (SAR), urban search & rescue (USAR) and is used to rig aerial silks.

Where To Buy Aerial Silks Equipment.

Not all aerial equipment is equal. With aerial arts and aerial yoga becoming more mainstream we are seeing more stores pop up selling equipment they have no idea whether it is safe or not. Any one can buy aerial yoga gear on the cheap from China and sell it on Amazon.

You want to have quality products that you know will keep you safe. This is your neck and life here we are literally talking about. There are a few industry leaders in equipment that are trusted by instructors and performers.

Here I have reccomended three providers not only because they are leaders in the industry, I have worked with their equipment

Coggs Circus:

Coggs circus provides hand made lyras and aerial rigs. I have one of their Lyra’s and I can say it is the best lyra I have ever trained on. All of my students used to fight over it too! So that’s saying something. With so many lyras out there with different diameters that are either too thin and they hurt (aerial essentials), or too wide you can’t get a good grip. Coggs aerial hoops are far superior to any hoop I have ever used.

Even better you can choose how many tabs or lack of tabs you like!

Aerial Essentials:

Aerial essentials is a trusted brand across the circus community. I have used their silks and loved them so much that I ended up buying a pair of silks for myself.

Not only are they safe, and come in multiple stretches they are also the most reasonably priced professional silk I found.

Vertical Art Dance

Vertical art dance has superior service and expertise. Scott got back to me at lightning speed with solutions for my rigging options. With a displayed level of safety and expertise above all the rest, Scott works with you to give you the best-tailored options to meet your needs. I look forward to working with vertical art dance more. (FYI, I was not paid to say this, they are really incredible.)

Just incase you are not sure here are some examples of when people use other retailers.

How To Rig Aerial Silks

Do not attempt to rig your silks if you have not been shown. This material is meant for a refresher on your own knowledge.

  1. Find the center point of your silks.
  2. Bring it through the larger circle on your rescue 8.
  3. Split the tails of the silks and continue to bring the center loop through until it reaches the large circle once again.
  4. Continue to bring it through which can be a little tight since the fabric is already taking up room.
  5. Continue bringing the center loop through until you have enough room to bring it over the top of the figure 8.
  6. Pull down on the tails to tighten the knot.

Unsafe Aerial Rigging

Cross loading:

Cross loading reduces the effectiveness of your carabiner by 70%. Why? Because the majority of the strength lays in the spine of the carabiner.

Overloading:

When the fabric is over 50% of the base (aka basket) on the carabiner.

Triple loading:

The loading force is compounded on the carabiner making it very unsafe.

The difference between aluminum and steel rigging equipment.

I personally am a fan of steel rigging equipment. This is thanks to Sally Shaw my very first and awesome aerial instructor and rigger educating me in the difference. If you’re in the Sydney area look her up at Sydney Trapeze School.

What is the difference? A lot actually. Steel equipment is heavier and stronger than aluminum. The main reason why I choose steel is because of the difference between how an aluminum and break.

Steel warps before it breaks which gives you a warning sign that it is time to change your gear.

Aluminum simply breaks. When using carabiners you should always inspect your equipment each time to see if there are any cracks. If there is do not use it.

How much weight can aerial silks hold?

5,000 pounds. If you are alive and breathing you can do aerial silks at any weight.

What Do Aerial Silks Cost?

Aerial silks start at around $110. You can get them cheaper as they are sold by the yard although they will probably be too short. You need to account for yardage in your tails and the rescue 8.

Can You Wash Aerial Silks?

Jose Ruiz from fire toys advises that you:

  • Only wash one silk at a time.
  • Use a mild detergent.
  • Wash on a cold, delicate wash.
  • Never tumble dry your silks, even on the lowest setting. Tumble drying your silks will damage the fibers making the silk weaker and therefore no longer safe to use.
  • Avoid drying your silks outside or in direct sunlight. UV rays can also damage the material compromising their strength and making them unsafe to use.
  • So, dry your silks inside, away from sunlight.
  • If your training space is well ventilated you could even hang them from a point and let them dry there. To speed up drying you can direct a fan at the bottom of your silks.
  • Make sure your silks are completely dry before using them again. So there you have it. A simple, safe, and effective way to restore the glamour to your aerial silks or aerial yoga hammock.

Now that you know what safe rigging is, it’s time to learn some tricks try my 15 simple aerial silks tricks for beginners.

In happiness and health,

Jadore Vanessa Aerial Artist

Related Articles:

How to rig Lyra/Aerial Hoop.

Aerial Silks Moves For Beginners

How To Do An Angel Drop On Silks

How To Do Bungee On Silks

Pin Me!

Recent Articles:

Take it to the next level with my flexibility classes and online coaching.