Bullwhips on my Vacation!

Bullwhips on my Vacation!

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:

bullwhip

The next batch of whips I found in a street market in Cabo San Lucas.

Mexican Bullwhips

Then I found some a whip, quirt and bosal in a museum in Cabo San Lucas.

Plaited rawhide

And then a couple of days later I was at Disneyland and got to see the whips they sell outside the Indiana Jones ride.

Indiana Jones Bullwhips

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:

Indiana Jones Bullwhips

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!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The other day I stumbled upon a book about bullwhip making called The Leather Lace Bullwhip on Amazon.com.  Since I’m such a whip nerd I ordered a copy.

The Leather Lace Bullwhip

Here’s the description of the book:

Geared mainly to the leather hobbyist with some braiding experiance, This book will show you how to make a cowhide bullwhip in my unique way. Also contains tips and tricks of leather braiding and cutting lace.

I like the idea of this book which is making a bullwhip from lace of a uniform width, instead of cutting it at a taper.  Also for a bit of full disclosure I’ve read this book two times, but haven’t made the bullwhip in this book.  The main reason for not making this bullwhip (yet) is time, however I plan to try it in the future.

In the book Paul cuts his lace with Craftool Lace Maker.

lace maker

This tool will give you uniform lace and while it it possible to cut at a taper with this tool, the way the author uses lace you are stuck with using uniform widths.  One clever thing the author does is converts one of these Lace Maker’s into a very inexpensive splitter to thin down the lace.

The construction is fairly simple, it’s a core, plaited belly and overlay.   The belly is 8 plait and the overlay is 12 plait all in 2mm thick cowhide.

There are a few things that I have some issues with in this book.

  • Paring: The way the author pares without any protection on his hands in my opinion is a fairly dangerous way to teach it to a beginner.
  • Knot Tying: The instructions for tying the knots are in the appendix in the back of the book.  And it uses a coded system, but the author doesn’t really explain how the codes work.  I could understand the codes, but I think someone just starting out would cause a bit of frustration.
  • Incorrect Information: The author says to make a handle like an Indy Bullwhip, you do an U2 O2 U2 pattern. That is 100% wrong.  Indy bullwhips have a checkerboard handle.
  • More Incorrect Information: The author specifically says the pattern he uses on the handle what Ron Edwards calls a Birds Eye Plait.  The Birds Eye Plait that Ron Teaches in his books is different from what Paul teaches in this book.
  • Goat Rawhide?: In the shopping list for supplies the author tells you to buy some goat rawhide.  However that’s never mentioned again in the book.  Leather isn’t cheap, so buying something that’s not used in the project is very wasteful on the beginners wallet.
  • Internet References: In the beginning of the book the author says you can learn to use the Lace Maker on YouTube, but doesn’t give any specific site.  The author should have provided a direct URL.  The author in the appendix offers some other websites, but just the websites name and no direct URL’s so I have to search them. It would have taken all of a minute to type them out, if not for the ease of the reader, but for the sake of completeness.

You might be thinking that I’m nit picking when I mention things like crediting thing wrong.  However crediting is something that’s very important.  When you specifically cite something  you better be right!

Here’s an example of why crediting is important (a very nerdy example).  I’m involved in the world of soap bubble artists.  In a forum someone mentioned that they believe that crediting creators of different bubble tricks is very important and should be done even in a live performance.  Then his example was when he does the bubble carousel he credits it as being invented by Tom Noddy.  On the surface crediting is good, but only when it’s correct.  In Tom’s book he specifically says he learned it from someone else.  Now this person that wants credit to go to the right place is actually falsely giving credit to the wrong person.

I’m not saying Ron Edwards invented the Birds Eye Plait (he didn’t), but when you say it’s what in his book and are wrong you are making historical the waters murky.

One thing I like about the book is that the authors method is fairly simple.  It doesn’t use bolsters so it’s less intimidating for a beginner.  However if you intended to make more than one whip I would highly suggest learning how to make a bolster and incorporating it into your plan.  Also since there is no tapering the cutting out process is pretty easy.  But once again if you intend to make more than one whip in your life time you need to learn to cut at a taper.  Whether it’s simply using an Aussie Strander and turning the wheel a bit as you cut or learning to do it freehand.

I feel this book is intended more for someone that wants a leather working project and that’s just it.  They want to make one whip and then move on to the next thing, not for someone that actually wants to learn to make whips.

One big suggestion for this books author would be to have someone proof read and make the whip in the book that is his intended audience.  Someone that had some braiding experience, but never made a whip would have noticed a lot of things that weren’t very clear.  Also there are a lot of typos and missing letters in the text (i.e. the word USING being spelt USIN), which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s annoying because I paid for the whole book why not give me the last letter of the word?  I know times economically are tough, but adding in a G in the proper place doesn’t cut into profit margins to much.

So the big question is would I recommend this book?  Honestly I don’t know how I feel about it.  I guess I’d recommend it to someone that wants to make a whip, but not really progress any further than that one whip.  However if you want to try plaiting I’d recommend getting Ron Edwards book How To Make Whips and making the stock whip in that book, or a precut stock whip kit.  A 4 plait stock whip is a pretty simple project and you’ll get a feel for plaiting and see if you like it or not without getting involved in doing 8 and 12 plait patterns which can be very frustrating for a beginner.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Kangaroo Rawhide…

Kangaroo Rawhide…

Yesterday I got a bit more plaiting in on the lash of the 5 foot bullwhip (but  not much more).  However I did tie the transition knot:

bullwhip

The interweave on the turkshead is kangaroo rawhide.  I was doing something else with the rawhide and had some leftover so I did the interweave with it. This interweave will give this bullwhip a very unique look!  Rawhide (usually cow) is used for interweaves on knots in a lot of cowboy gear…but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used in knots on a bullwhip before.  The reason it’s not used more is that it’s a pain to work with!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Hamley’s

Hamley’s

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.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Plaiting started…

Plaiting started…

I decided to start plaiting the last calf bullwhip that I’m making (for now).  It’s about 3 feet into it:

calf bullwhip

I’m out of plaiting soap and didn’t want to cook up a batch before I left town so I’ve been using rawhide cream as lube for  plaiting:

rawhide cream

It works pretty well for the lubricating part of plaiting…however it doesn’t feel like it’s adding much “grease” to the strands (which isn’t surprising because rawhide dressing usually doesn’t have fat in it).  The part I’ve plaited is still very dry sounding, so I’m going to have to give it a hit of dressing when the whip is done.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

You don’t need anything fancy to make a whip…

You don’t need anything fancy to make a whip…

Last night I finally finished reading the Luis Ortega book, and it was an interesting read.  It’s a biography, not a technical book however every  now and then if you read between the lines there are some tips on working with rawhide.

Luis Ortega rawhide artistry

If you don’t know about Ortega he was/is considered on of the best American rawhide braiders.  In the book there’s a story about how Frank Hansen who invented a string cutter (http://www.hansenstringcutter.com/) and sent one to Ortega.  Ortega sent Hansen one of his own string cutters, which was a hammer handle with a couple of notched cut out.

And that sort of proves the point of something I’ve been saying for a long time, you don’t need any fancy equipment to make a whip. People email me all the time telling me they are planning on trying to make a whip, but they need to save up for a fancy strand cutter, and a splitter and a whatever.  Really you don’t need anything fancy to get started..pretty much all you need is a box cutter to get started.

The strand cutting and prep while important, is a small portion of making a whip.  I bet someone like Joe Strain or Paul Nolan could turn out great whip with uneven strands.

So if you are thinking about making a whip spend $1.00 on a box cutter and get started.  Waiting until you have expensive equipment is giving yourself an excuse to put it off.

Also yesterday I got some plaiting in on the 16 foot bullwhip:

bullwhip

It’s been plaited past the first bolster splice and to where I’m going to make my first strand drops from 12 to 10 plait.  It should be getting much easier to plait now that I’m over halfway finished, and the strands are much shorter so there will be less untangling.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Luis Ortega…

Luis Ortega…

I’ve been meaning to order the book: Luis Ortega’s Rawhide Artistry even since Meagan Baldwin mentioned it to me a few months ago.  Well I finally got off my duff and ordered it, Meagan says that Ortega’s work is amazing!

Luis Ortega rawhide artistry

I ordered the paperback edition (the hardback was a little “too rich for my blood”) from Amazon.com…at $26.95, it’s not a bad deal!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

More on the Nose Button

More on the Nose Button

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:

24 plait nose button

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.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Oregon Leather

Oregon Leather

Yesterday I was in Oregon performing and visited the Oregon Leather Co:

Oregon leather co

Aside from sides of leather they also had a lot of braided goods:

oregon leather co, bullwhip
romel reins
rawhide

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…

Louie
http://bullwhips.org