Recently I’ve talked to several whip makers about the price and availability of kangaroo in the USA. Recently due to many factors including:
Export permits to get the kangaroo out of Australia
Import permits to get the kangaroo into the USA
Strong Australian dollar and weak USA dollar
Increased shipping costs
and other increased misc. charges (like bank fees on international purchases)
The price of kangaroo leather has gone up about 20% within the 6 -12 months! While I’ve notice that the retail price for bullwhips has remained the same…guess what…they are going to change. Right now most whip makers are eating the difference and haven’t raised their prices…yet.
All it’s going to take is one whip maker to raise their pricing and all the others will as well. No one wants to be the first to do it, but it something that in my opinion will happen. It not a matter of if but when price will go up.
I’m predicting you’ll see an increase by January.
What does that mean to the average whip cracker? Well it depends on your needs. If you don’t need a new bullwhip then it probably won’t matter, but if you are in the market for a new bullwhip sometime within the next 12 months it could mean a difference in price of about 20% or more!
Of course the price of Kangaroo Leather could drop, but honestly in my opinion it’s very unlikely that the Australian and United States governments really care that they are driving bullwhip prices up with their fees for permits to import or export kangaroo. One thing that would help is if the USA dollar would make a miraculous comeback within the next year, however I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.
So what I’m saying is if you’ve been thinking about buying a bullwhip, or are planning on getting one in the near future now is probably a good time to buy, whip makers prices probably won’t go down anytime soon!
Right now I’m about halfway finished with the thongs of the both of the Australian Bullwhips that I’m working on.
I should have time to at least finish the thongs today, and maybe do the knots. Even if I do manage to completely finish these bullwhips, I’m not going to get to try them out, it’s very rainy and wet outside.
This bullwhip didn’t come out as nice as I’d hoped it would. If you look at the handle you can see how the pattern twists. I’m not too happy with that, however it’s a purely cosmetic issue. It doesn’t change how the bullwhip handles.
The twist on the handle has to do with how I plaited it. I braid only one color weaving it through the other color, spinning the whip’s handle as I go. Clearly that’s not the best way to do it. In the future I’m going to alternate the colors to keep a straight seam.
Right now one of the things that I”m working on is an Australian style bullwhip. One thing I’m going for with the look of this bullwhip is to not have any taper in the handle of the bullwhip. Many bullwhips have a bit of taper from a thinner handle to a slightly thicker thong right before the transition knot.
There’s nothing wrong with that bit of taper, and in my opinion it’s an important part of the look of David Morgan’s iconic Indiana Jones bullwhip. However for my Australian bullwhip I want a different look.
Typically this bump happens when the bullwhip maker uses yokes on the bellies of their bullwhips. Here’s an example of a yoke:
The yoke is the part where the strands come out of. How you’d use a yoke is you’d bind it around the handle and then braid the belly strands starting at about the last inch of the handle.
Let’s say you are using kangaroo that’s 1mm thick. When you add a yoke you are adding a layer adds 2mm to the total diameter of the handle (it’s 2mm because you are measuring across the diameter of the handle, so the leather gets measured twice). However once you start braiding you are basically doubling the amount of leather you are adding, so you are adding 4mm to the total diameter of the whip. Multiply that by 2 for the second belly and you’ve got a noticable bump.
Another way that taper is added to the handle is from bolsters that don’t run the full length of the handle.
So for this particular bullwhip that I’m making right now, I’m trying something experimental. What’ I’ve done is split my core and bolsters so that they are two thicknesses. They are just a bit thicker of the handle portion of the bullwhip. Now this little bit isn’t enough to eliminate the bump, but hopefully it will reduce it. I’m still going to have to add a mini bolster to the handle to completely eliminate the bump.
Another method that I’ve use to take away the bump is to not use yokes and braid over the full length of the handles. I used that for this bullwhip:
We’ll see how the bullwhip I’m working on turns out. Right now I’m about halfway through the outer plaited belly:
Today I’m going to try to bang out the 40 feet of 8 plait, it’s work for an art gallery that I’m doing. I’ve got all the kangaroo cut out for it, however I need to still do all the strand prep. I’m not looking forward to braiding it, I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it all today before my hands quit on me.
I also have a three sides of a heavier cowhide coming in next week that I’ll be using to make some budget bullwhips.