Finished shark skin handle whip

Finished shark skin handle whip

Yesterday I finished the 24 plait bullwhip with the shark skin handle:

bullwhips
bullwhip

I gave it a couple of flicks on my deck and it’s got a nice crack!

I really like making these whips with “exotic” handles.  I think they look cool and no one is really making whips with different non-plaited handles.  Terry Jacka at one point offered whips with simulated alligator and simulated leopard handles.  While they are different they aren’t actual exotic leather for the handles.   Oh, for what it’s worth the sharks skin that I used for this whip was from sharks that were caught for food…not just their skins.

I’ve got enough of this shark skin left over to make two or three more bullwhip handles.  Also right now I have a line on  getting some other interesting exotic leather…

My next project is  going to be making a 6 or 7 foot Indy style bullwhip.

Louie
P.S. This bullwhip is for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

8 thoughts on “Finished shark skin handle whip

  1. The question isn’t really whether they were caught just for their skins but whether they were really caught for more than just their skin and fins (due to the popularity of sharkfin soup, sharks are harvested for just their fins, and often the fins are cut off and the rest of the fish thrown overboard). Naturally if you’ve got skin, the sharks were caught for more than just their fins, so that’s good. But sharks are increasingly threatened, and one of the most common harvested for their meat is the spiny dogfish (very frequently the “fish” in fish & chips) which has led to them being listed as “critically endangered” in the northeast atlantic. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiny_dogfish ).

    My point is that though sharkskin is a very interesting leather, and has been used for handles for centuries (frequently in samurai swords, which is pretty cool), using it now, even in limited quantities, does create a few ecological and ethical issues that you should be aware of. I’m not telling you not to use shark skin, I’m just want to make sure you’re armed with enough info that you can be sure you’re doing so responsibly.

    All that said: Nice looking whip!

    1. Mark,

      I’m aware of many ethical issues with using shark…or pretty much any other leather. I did a lot of thinking before getting this piece of sharkskin and while the supplier tells me that it’s from a shark that’s not threatened, there’s no real way I can confirm it. In my head using something that’s a by product of food is better than using something that’s harvested specifically for its skin. I’d rather that the whole animal gets used.

      There are people that would say I’m horrible for using kangaroo….actually I’ve had people after shows express interest in my whips and when I tell them it’s kangaroo they are appalled! By making whips from leather and not a man made source I’ve already crossed one big ethical line, but having some rules with where the exotic leather I use comes from helps me sleep at night. Keep in mind that kangaroo is considered and exotic leather. While not endangered there aren’t as many huge skins as there were 5-10 years ago, and to me that means something…

      I guess my point is that I do have a line that I won’t cross, which is better than someone not even thinking about the ethical/moral issues.

      Louie

  2. Louie,

    Thanks for your reply. I’m very impressed that you’ve thought through the issues here and that you’ve inquired about where your skin came from. Really, I can’t ask for anything more.

    Anyhow, the good news is that demand for shark skin is relatively low compared to demand for shark fins or shark cartilage (and the uses to which it is put are substantially less ridiculous than medical supplements that don’t work and a tasteless soup thickener). So as long as sharkskin doesn’t become the next big thing in whips, you’re likely not contributing significantly to shark population decline.

    1. Mark,

      Finding sources of exotic hides/skins is a bit of a challenge because a lot of people selling them don’t know where they came from (or won’t tell). For example not too long ago I had a source for some elephant hide, but the guy couldn’t tell me where it came from. Honestly short of it coming from a privately owned elephant I’m not sure where you’d get it. I had to let that pass, I still think it’d make a cool whip handle, but from that supplier it wasn’t for me.

      Louie

  3. Yeah, I could see how that could lead to a vague Lisa Simpson-ish feeling of “His boots are ivory, his hat is ivory, and I’m pretty sure that check is ivory.”

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