Currently I’m working on a two tone bullwhip. This bullwhip is going to be 16 plait in black and saddle tan with some patterns plaited on the 12 inch handle. Yesterday I got all the internal plaiting done:
and both bellies attached:
For those of you keeping score at home you may notice that I’m doing something a bit differently that I normally do. Look at the above picture…did you spot it?
The last few whips I’ve started adding the lead on before the overlay. I used to do this a long time ago, but then switched to adding it after the overlay a year or two ago, but now I’m back to adding it before. There’s no major reason why I’m doing this, it’s basically procedural…however I do have a reason why I switched back to doing it this way, it’s just not a major thing.
Currently I have both plaited bellies finished. Today I have some morning shows and should be able to at least get the outer bolster cut out and attached. Realistically I’ll probably be able to get the overlay cut out today.
While I was making the bellies of the bullwhip I kept hearing in my head something that Joe Strain told me years ago when I visited him the first time: “I like a hard hitting whip, so I…” Well it’s not my place to say how Joe makes his whips, but it’s something that he told me years ago and it’s only started to make sense to me in the last 9-12 months.
That’s one of the things that I think makes whip making an art. Someone can tell you something simple, but you may not really understand it until years later. Where for something like changing the oil in you car, it’s step one, step two, etc.
Today I did a fall replacement on a bullwhip that I made awhile ago. It’s one that was made with no bolsters, but 4 plaited bellies (I think it was four…but it might have been three). Here’s the bullwhip with the old fall:
And the new fall:
This bullwhip already on its way back to South Carolina to it’s owner.
Right now I’m working on an 8 foot Indy bullwhip. I had a couple of hides show up yesterday morning from Paul Nolan:
The natural tan one is 66dm and that’s the one that I’m using for this Indy Bullwhip. I trimmed the hide:
The core and wear leather are attached to the handle foundation:
Then I cut out the bellies and wrist loop:
You’ll see that I have all three parts being cut at the same time, I do that to use up the “ears” of the hide which are very stretchy in one direction and it’s a part I’d usually trim off. But cutting this way allows me to use the for the yoke of sets.
Here’s all the internal kangaroo parts cut out:
With Easter tomorrow and a full performing schedule today, I don’t think any more work will be done on this bullwhip until Monday.
Yesterday I got back to making some whips after my vacation. My current project is working on a 4 foot signal whip in 12 plait black kangaroo. Yesterday the kangaroo arrived for this whip (along with another kangaroo skin):
Currently the signal whip has it’s shot bag and plaited belly finished. Today I’ll work on the overlay. With a bit of luck it will be ready to ship out tomorrow.
Also if you are in the Seattle area, I’m performing tonight at a Jazz Club called Egan’s Ballard Jam House. It’s a cool little 45ish seat club that normally has Jazz music, but is doing a magic show tonight. Here’s the write up from the local newspaper about the show:
Magical night to come at Egan’s
By Steve Shay
February 1, 2010
Egan’s Ballard Jam House
Egan’s Ballard Jam House, known for its jazz performances, will do a bit of hocus-pocus Feb. 2, as it offers “That’s Impossible!” a magic/comedy show.
Rick Anderson and Louie Foxx join Ballard performer Tony Comito for an evening of close-up magic with audience participation.
“Louie Foxx does a trick whip-cracking act which is probably something you would not see on stage in Omaha,” said Comito. “You can’t go wrong with whip-cracking.”
Foxx also does unusual hand shadows.
“Things you’ve never seen before, not a crocodile or rabbit, but quite phenomenal things,” said Comito. “That’s true of everything you’re going to see.”
Anderson will involve the audience with his close-up, slight-of-hand.
“This is a great venue for performing magic,” said Comito. “With seating for 45, the magicians have the attention of the audience. Often we perform at parties, walking around and performing to small groups of guests that can become easily distracted.”
Reservations are encouraged. There is a $10 cover. Egan’s, located at 1707 N.W. Market St., will be open for dinner and they offer a full bar.
I’ve been doing some thing about the right way to make a bullwhip and in my opinion there is no right way. There are: Bad Ways, Good ways and Better Ways.
An example of a bad way using a handle foundation that can’t take stress, like a very weak wood.
A good way to make a bullwhip would be to use leather inside instead of something like nylon rope. One of the things that leather does that non-porous materials is that it will hold leather dressing and add more density to the whip.
A better way would be to use a plaited belly inside the bullwhip. That will give more durablilty to the whip over just leather filler. also it will make a more dense whip that transfers energy better.
A lot goes into a bullwhip maker’s decision to how they make their bullwhips. For example adding a plaited belly is usually more time consuming than making a bullwhip with just leather filler inside, so if a bullwhip is made with just just filler and nothing plaited inside, the whip maker probably picked a faster method.
Sometimes doing things a better way isn’t the best way to do it for the project. For example you could resize every strand every couple of inches and measure the andle of the braid ever couple of inches while plaiting to give the bullwhip’s overlay plaiting at exactly the same angle. Is it worth the time spent…probably not.
Are two bellies better than one? Not always. For example in my current batch of budget bullwhips I use one plaited belly. If I added a second one the whip would be very thick due to the thickness of the hide that I use for them. When I make budget bullwhips out of very heavy leather I use leather filler (core and bolsters) with no plaited leather because the overlay is heavy enough and to balance out the whip I’d need to add a ton of lead to the handle.
So using the right technique for the job and the goals of the project is better than getting bogged down with a specific RIGHT and WRONG way to make a bullwhip.
This is the first wood handle bullwhip that I’ve made (that didn’t have plaiting over the entire handle):
This bullwhip has two plaited bellies, leather bolsters, and a 4 plait cowhide overlay. The handle for this bullwhip is a Muddler (used in bars for making mixed drinks), and I drilled it out, filled it with lead, and stuck the inner bellies inside it. I didn’t have a drill bit wide enough to have the overlay start inside it, so the overly starts on the outside (where it’s firmly tacked and bound in place).
Because the overlay starts on the outside the bullwhip has a heavier look to it. In the future (if I do one like this again), I’d find a bigger drill bit so I could have all the leather layers start from inside the handle.
I was very surprised at how well this bullwhip cracks…it’s a bit nose heavy…but when I was cracking it, it felt like all I had to do was point it forward and it took over and did all the work!
Personally I prefer the look of a plaited handle on my bullwhips, so I don’t know if I’ll do another one like this again.
Honestly I’m surprised at how many of the bullwhips are being sold. Seller’s on ebay hype the crap out of their bullwhips, now I haven’t tried their bullwhips and I’m going to assume they are fine bullwhips.
For example, someone right now is selling a bullwhip that hasn’t been made and their wait time is 12 weeks! The problem with ordering from someone one ebay where the wait time is 12 weeks is that paypal only gives you protection for up to 30 days and on ebay I think you have a 90 day window to leave feedback. So if you end up getting a clunker you have now way to dispute it with the seller.
The same seller also claims his 6 foot whip which sells for $300 takes takes about 150 hours to do! Now that breaks down to $2 per hour. Honestly do you think that someone that has spend some time learning a skill and is a craftsman or artist is going to work for $2 per hour? And that’s $2 per hour is assuming he has no cost of materials…subract another $75 for the materials (that’s a low estimate for material cost) and this whip maker is making $1.50 per hour. Way below the national minimum wage! I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing I was hiring someone to do something at a wage soo low.
This seller currently has 7 bullwhips of different lenghts listed on ebay and each description says the whip takes about 150 hours to make. That’s a red flag because a 6 foot should take a lot less time than a 12 foot. Lets assume every bullwhip sells this week. Do you think you’ll get your bullwhip in a timely fashion? Let’s say the whip maker is working on whips 10 hours a day 7 days a week. That’s a heavy work week since the average work day in the USA is about 40 hours, and remember they are doing this at $1.50 – $ 2 in wages per hour, it will take 15 days to make your whip. So if you are the last 6th whip ordered your bullwhip will take longer than 12 weeks to make!!
The seller of this bullwhip also has a picture of the internal construction of a bullwhip on their listing, but it is incorrect for how they describe their bullwhip. The picture shows a twisted core, two belly and two bolster. The bullwhip they sell has 3 bellies and two bolsters and the listing specifically says he doesn’t use a twisted core…so why show a picture of one???
Remember I’m not saying the bullwhip is bad (or good) because I’ve never handled it, but I think that the description is very misleading and in my opinion downright incorrect.
I guess the moral of this is that before you buy a bullwhip on ebay, really read the listing and decide if you are paying for hype or a good bullwhip.
Currently I’m on the road performing in Spokane, Washington, which is about 4 1/2 hours from home. I’ll be back home around midnight tonight (makes for a looong day!).
Yesterday I got to visit Joe Strain and as always I’m amazed at how beautiful his work is! If you are on the fence about ordering a bullwhip from Joe, get one…his whips are amazing!
In the near future I should be having more cowhides come in for the beginners bullwhips that I make. I have some of the cowhides that I use for the belly in my beginners bullwhips in stock and took one side with me on the road. This morning I cut out the sets for 6 or 7 bellies:
Hopefully that will give me a bit of a jump start on those bullwhips when the cowhides that I use for the overlay arrive. I’m hoping to have time this week to braid a bunch of the insides for the beginners bullwhips so all I have to do it the overlays when the other cowhide shows up.