For the last 11 days I’ve been on vacation and sure enough I managed to run into a bunch of bullwhips along the way. Whips are fairly common to see when you are visiting unfamiliar places, you just need to know where to look. The first place I looked for whips were in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and found a really tiny three foot bullwhip:
The next batch of whips I found in a street market in Cabo San Lucas.
Then I found some a whip, quirt and bosal in a museum in Cabo San Lucas.
And then a couple of days later I was at Disneyland and got to see the whips they sell outside the Indiana Jones ride.
One thing that amazed me was that they sell these bullwhips to kids and there is no disclaimer of any kind with them.
Here’s a the Indiana Jones Role Play Set that comes with a bullwhip:
One thing I remember from my last visit to Disneyland (probably 4 or 5 years ago) was that at least one of the Indiana Jones’s on the ride used to hold one of the cheapo pitch whips they sell outside the ride. Now all of the bullwhips they Indiana Jones has on the ride look much more screen accurate. Unfortunately because of low lighting and the ride being bumpy I couldn’t get any pictures of the whip that Indiana Jones has on it.
Also during my vacation I made a new friend named Sideshow Bert. Bert does juggling and stunts and one of the things that he features in his show is a bullwhip! Here’s Sideshow Bert’s demo reel and at the 2:04 mark you can see parts of his bullwhip routine.
His bit with the “Visor Cam” is very funny and very original. I think it’s a brilliant idea to show the audience another view of the newspaper trick!
Now that I’m back home and back to work all the orders of in stock whip will ship out today!
Last week I was on the road performing and I drove through Pendleton Oregon. One of the cool things about Pendleton is that Hamley’s is there. They have some of the top rawhide braider’s working there. It’s always fun to stop by!
Every time I stop by there it makes me wish I have a years to devote to really learn how to braid rawhide.
Lately I’ve been busy around the “shop” working on plaiting projects. My current bullwhip project is an 8 foot, 12 plait bullwhip. For this bullwhip I didn’t have a natural tan skin in stock that was big enough, so the inner belly was made from a whiskey colored roo skin and other belly and overlay is from the natural tan skin:
I probably could have gotten the whole whip from the natural tan skin, I like to have my skins for an 8 foot at about 62dm and this one was 59dm. I really didn’t want to run out of kangaroo a few inches short of an 8 foot whip.
Here are the cut out bellies:
The whiskey skin was 56dm, and I think I might use the leftover for a 5 foot 8 plait bullwhip. Here’s the 8 foot bullwhip as it is right now (with both bellies and bolsters completed):
And here’s the 12 plait overlay that has been stretched and split, but still needs to be pared:
I should be able to get the paring finished and plaiting started later today…depending on how I feel, I’ve got a bit of a cold and have to fake my way through a gig this afternoon.
Also a few months ago I started work on a 24 plait bosal and did a bit of work here and there. Well it’s finally finsihed:
And the other night I did some messing around with doing a ridge plait:
This bracelet was interesting, it’s 6 plait at the loop, then 14 plait at the main body and 12 plait at the end with the turkshead.
Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I’ve been busy performing, fishing and living life. today I did a bit of work on the bosal that I’ve been working on:
The nose button is finished and I’m debating whether to leave the black knots black or to cover them with red knots to match the rest of the bosal. I think I’m going to leave them black (I guess I’m lazy). If you compare this bosal to other bosals you can see how being a whipmaker and an urban whipmaker has influenced the look of this bosal.
Up next for me is to work on a 6ish foot bullwhip. I already have the bellies cut out so until I get to the overlay it’s not too much work. Also sometime I’m supposed to start work on a 5 foot bullwhip for underground magic legend and friend of mine Steve Dobson!
I’m still working on the nose button of the bosal. I’ve redone it three times and haven’t been happy with how it turned out. Then it hit me…why don’t I just braid over the knots foundation? Honestly I can’t think of a good reason why not, so that’s what I’m doing. For me braiding is faster than tying a knot, and I have a lot more freedom in patterns by braiding versus doing a turkshead.
I wish I had taken pictures of my attempts at the nose button knots. Here’s what it currently looks like:
I’m braiding the nose button as a 24 plait with an under three – over three – under three – over three pattern. I thought about doing it U2 O2 type pattern to match the rest of the bosal, but I like the slightly wider look of the U3 O3 pattern. Hopefully I can find a bit of time today to finish this part of the bosal.
Lately I’ve been working on the nose button knot of a bosal that I started making a while ago. These long knots are a lot of work to make, this will have 12 bights when I’m finished.
I found that while tying the knot using twist ties to hold the strands in place really helped while I was doing the beginning the knot.
While rereading Whips and Whipmaking by David Morgan, he mentions that the long knot can be used to strengthen the transition of a bullwhip. The knot was used for that in traditional Argentine whips. Most modern bullwhip makers don’t use a knot to build up the transition of a bullwhip…however Joe Strain in the past has made a couple of unique whips with different plaiting styles at the transition.
Also a few days ago someone posted an article from an old Popular Science magazine about how to make a plaited snake. You can read the article here. I happened to have some scrap kicking around that was about the right size so I banged out a quick snake:
And about a week ago I got a new strop in the mail:
Hopefully this will help me keep the edge on my blades!
Yesterday I was in Oregon performing and visited the Oregon Leather Co:
Aside from sides of leather they also had a lot of braided goods:
The braided stuff they had was made in India and pretty cheap. From talking to the lady there the quality of the imported rawhide tack from India has improved greatly in the last year or so.
The rawhide looked much better than the bullwhips did.
Now that’s got me thinking about imported bullwhips. There’s a company in India that is making “Indiana Jones” style bullwhips and selling them to resellers in the USA. The bullwhips they are selling are bone dry, and people buying are having to put multiple coats of leather dressing on the whip when they get them. In my opinion if you have to spend a week putting grease into a new bullwhip before you can use it should come with leather dressing, and I’m not aware of a reseller in the USA that includes dressing with their imported whips.
A bullwhip from a good maker will have grease / leather dressing in it from making the bullwhip, so you shouldn’t have to put any dressing on your new whip before you use it.
Today I’m planning on making at least one 4 plait bullwhip…
Right now I’m working on a 20 plait kangaroo bosal. This one is thicker than my first one. I made the core out of twisted rawhide, then twisted another piece of rawhide over the top of it to build it up in size. Here’s the bosal as it is right now:
I need to build up the area between the knots in the middle of it. I’ve read in several places that a lot of people use tape to do it. Personally I don’t think that tape belongs inside anything braided. For example a lot of people use tape in the shotbags of their whips or to splice bolsters. I’ve figured out other ways of making shortbags, etc so that I don’t have to use tape in my whips…it just doesn’t seem like it belongs in a quality whip.
In my first bosal I built the knot shape up by wrapping the bosal with waxed thread, similar to shaping or building up a bullwhips knot foundation. That’s what I plan to do with this bosal.
I think the reason a lot of people use tape to shape the nose button of their bosal is that it’s faster or easier than building it up with thread or string. Easier and faster doesn’t alway mean better…