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!
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 in a hotel room in Walla Walla , WA relaxing after a long day of driving, learning and having fun! Today I was out on the road to visit the 7J Saddlery in Starbuck, WA. I was taking with Dave Jones about working with rawhide…and I took home a full hide of rawhide (hair on) that I’ll get to work with when I get back home.
I learned a lot about rawhide and I’m exciting to get this rawhide stretched out and ready to cut.
My partner for this trip is my 5 and a half year old daughter who is currently on spring break. We stopped to pick up a snack at a fruit stand that also had junk shop (antique shop) attached to it. I found an old jockey whip in this junk shop for $10 and I think with a bit of love it could restore nicely.
Here’s some pictures of me making a four foot four plait bullwhip in kip:
This four foot bullwhip shipped out a few days ago. I do have two more of these in the works. I’ve got the cores and bellies cut out.
Yesterday I managed to case some of the kangaroo rawhide and cut it into strips. A year or so ago I was messing around with rawhide, but now I have a much better understanding of the process of preparing rawhide. That comes from having more leather experience, having read more (and understanding more of what I’d previously read) and talking to several experienced rawhide braiders.
I made a couple of key fobs, and one of them has rawhide in a knot:
Yesterday I also bought a side of rawhide and cut out a strip for a bosal core. It’s been drying overnight and I think it came out pretty good for my first try:
To make this core I punched a hole in each end of the rawhide strip and hung one end over my plaiting hook. I put a hook into my drill and put the hook through the hole in the other end of the rawhide. Then I used the drill to twist the rawhide. I left the drill hanging over the edge of a chair to keep tension on the twisted rawhide. Every now and then I gave the rawhide a extra twist to tighten it up.
Having made this core, it’s given me an idea for making a bullwhip core. I could split down 8-12 inches of it and have that part cover a spring steel core Then twist it around the spring steet and then extend out as the core of the whip. I might have to give that a try.
Last week when I was on the road I was performing in the town of Starbuck WA.
Despite what the name would lead you to believe, Starbuck is the only city in the USA that doesn’t have a Starbucks! Starbuck has a population of 130, so it’s a small town. One of the businesses in town is Davey Jones’s Saddlery.
I was lucky to get to spend about an hour poking around Dave’s workshop and chatting leather work and plaiting with him. He renewed my interest in plaiting rawhide, I might be ordering some kangaroo rawhide shortly.
Here’s some of his work:
I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten to visit Dave and spend a some time with him!
Yesterday while driving from Kennewick, WA to Boise, ID I stopped in Pendleton Oregon. A long time ago Joe Strain had shown me pictures of some braided rawhide that they had on display at Hamley’s (a western store and a steakhouse).
I took some pictures with my cellphone camera, so they aren’t very good:
If I remember correctly the rawhide was plaited by a guy named Timothy George.
Today I’ll be finishing up a 4 foot 12 plait signal whip. All that is left for me to do on it is shellac it.
My next project is to make a quirt. Quirts are something that I’ve wanted to make for a while, I’ve just never done it. I remember the first time I’d ever seen a quirt, it was a Joe Strain’s workshop, he had one that he was plaiting an name or initals into. Once again I thought that the looked pretty cool and have wanted to try to make one ever since
I don’t know a lot about Quirts, but after some reading on the internet and looking at a ton of pictures (thank you google images!), I’ve come up with a bit of a plan for one. It seems there are two kinds of quirts: a dog quirt and an horse quirt. From what I can tell the main difference is length. The dog quirts are shorter about 30 inches total and the horse quirts are about 10 inches longer.
From what I’ve read they generally don’t have a rigid handle, however in Bruce Grant’s book he describes one that does have a rigid bit of a handle. My current plan it to do make one with a shotloaded core (no rigid handle). In the future I might put a rawhide core in one to give it a rigid handle.
If you know anything about making quirts feel free to let me know anything that might be useful!
Yesterday I was traveling through the Tulalip Indian Reservation (about 40 mins north or Seattle) and drove by Tulalip Tanning. I stopped in to see what they had (mostly deer and elk), but after chatting with the lady there I noticed a couple of whips on the wall. There was a bullwhip and two stockwhips, all of them were made out of cowhide.
These whips were made by a guy named Rob. They were made of cowhide and personally I don’t like the look of most higher plait cowhide whips because the strands look too thick (chunky?) for the whip…especially around the strand drops. I did get to crack these whips and they threw well.
There was also a quirt made of buffalo(maker unknown):