Yesterday I finished making the other 16 plait two tone bullwhip! This bullwhip was cut out the same time as the last one, but I didn’t immediately bang it out. This bullwhip is 6.5 feet long and made in black and saddle tan kangaroo.
Here’s a close up of the handle:
Another thing that I did with this bullwhip was putting a couple of plaited patterns in the lash. I’ve never really don that aside from right off the end of the handle. Here’s the birds eye plait:
And here’s the 2 X 2 squares:
With this bullwhip I took a lot of care as to how I got into and out of different patterns on the whip. So that the plaiting flows well and symmetrically into and out of the different patterns on both the handle and the lash.
The next few whips that I’m planning to make are going to be stock whips. In the past I’ve only made a few stock whips and they are something that I’d like to make more of and eventually a pair for myself.
This morning Will Morgan, John Leonetti andmyself did a little whip demo / workshop at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA). We did a little talk about the history of the bullwhips and the different types of whips. Then we did little demos of the different styles of whip cracking from what I do with a bullwhip in my show to more technical crack with one bullwhip or two stockwhips and two bullwhips.
Well if you’ve visited my blog before you’ve probably noticed that the look has changed. The background has changed to a “leather” look and I’ve done the same for my online whip store, so now there is some continuity between the blog and the store.
Now on to the more interesting thing, the finished Jacka-like bullwhip:
I took it out today and cracked it a bit and it’s got a very similar feel to the 8 foot Jacka I used to have. It’s still got a heavy crack, but I think it’s actually a slightly lighter whip:
I’m pretty sure the missing piece that most whip makers miss then they are trying to replicate Jacka’s transition is the split cowhide insides…and using twine. I think I did a good job with the transition on this one!
When it came time to do the overlay I decided to go with it looking like the one that was in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because I had the correct kangaroo colors in stock.
Also I was cleaning up and I found a stock whip that I had made a while ago:
I remember making it, but I don’t remember ever cracking it, so I took it outside and swung it around:
Currently I have no outstanding orders or projects (I’m all caught up!), so I’m thinking of making a project that I want to make. Recently I got a jade (green) kangaroo skin that was veg tanned, so it’s suitable for making a whip out of (not that chrome tanned garbage).
I’ve also been sitting on a piece of black sharkskin and I think I’m going to make a six foot bullwhip with a sharkskin handle. I’m tempted to do it with a higher plait count lash, but I’m not sure.
After trying out some of the knots in the Turkshead Cookbook with kangaroo, I have some opinions about the book and tool. These might change after doing more knots with it.
This book has tons and tons of turkshead knots and it’s a great resource to have around.
The main thing for me is that it’s hard to guage how thick the kangaroo lace should be when tying the knot on the tool and not directly to the whip. I was making them too wide or too thin strands. When tying directly to the whip you know pretty early if the lace is the right size. With the tool you have to tie the knot, then move it to the whip and tighten it before you know how well it’s going to fit.
I did do all my experimenting with knots that were new to me, and I’m sure that if I did knots that I knew how to tie the outcome would have been better…but since the knots that I already know I can do from memory I don’t need the tool for those (that’s why we didn’t try it with those knots).
I think my plan of actions with the Knot Tool and Turkshead Cookbook will be to learn one or two new knots with the Turkshead Tool and keep practicing them with the tool…and eventually work them out to memory (or semi memory) so that I can tie them directly to the bullwhip.
I also just ordered Introduction to Turksheads by Tom Hill. In case you haven’t notices I’m working right now to improve my turksheads and my turkshead vocabulary.
Today I only have one morning show, so I’ll probably get a chance to make a stockwhip thong for my handle. I still need to take a picture of the stockwhip handle. I’ll probably do that after I shellac it.
For the last two days I’ve been working on making a stockwhip handle. It starts as a 12 plait at the keeper end and ends at a 24 plait at the butt end. I’ve got the overlay finished and just need to tie the knots on the handle…oh then I need to do make the thong.
Right now I’m reading the book Absinthe and Flamethrowers, this book has tutorials on how to do a lot of things. This book has a chapter on how to crack a bullwhip and that chapter’s expert is Robert Dante. The book leaves lots to be desired (not Dante’s fault), but it does teach the forward crack and covers safety.
On Saturday I got a couple of books called the Turkshead Cookbook vol 1 and 2. These books have methods for tying all sorts of turksheads using a special “Turkshead Tool”. I’ve tied a few knots with it with string, and I’m going to do one with some roo lace soon. Once I try using it a bit I’ll write a litte review of the book. So far I thinks its a good way to learn to tie complex knots.
One thing that I’m notice lately is what makes a good bullwhip a great bullwhip is the little things. All the little things that a bullwhip maker does while constructing a bullwhip add up. For example the a little while ago I notice that if I pared the lace that I use on my turksheads the opposite way (top left and bottom right, instead of top right and bottom left) it would give me a tighter knot. All the little things like that end up being the bullwhip maker’s style.
Right now I have three bullwhips in the works:
18 inch 4 plait bullwhip: This bullwhip is finished except for shellac
8 foot 16 plait bullwhip: This bullwhip has a rawhide inner belly and has the 1st belly plaited.
10 foot Indy Bullwhip: This bullwhip has one belly plaited and the next belly and bolster cut out.
Also I’ve been learning a lot about rawhide lately. One thing that I’ve learned is that I’ve been braiding with it too wet. So I’ve been casing it and letting it air dry for a few hours before using. I’ve been getting better results this way.
Once again what I love about making bullwhips is discovering things. For example just about everyone had told me that you get rawhide wet and braid it. From what I’ve learned is you get the rawhide evenly damp (not wet) throughout the lace. Now there’s not much difference between damp and wet, but the devil is in the details!
Today I have three shows one about 30 minutes from my house, then the next two are about 2 hours from the first show. I’m hoping to find some time between shows to cut out the overlay for the 10 foot Indy bullwhip.
Here are some bullwhips and stockwhips that I’ve finished lately:
I’ve added some of the whips above onto my IN STOCK page and I’ll add the others soon.
My next project is a 16 plait 8 foot bullwhip with 10 inch handle. For that bullwhip I’m using a goat rawhide plaited belly. The rawhide is currently casing in the freezer. I’m learning more and more about rawhide and how to properly use it.
Yesterday I was performing in Portland and drove by Oregon Leather and picked up the book Braiding Rawhide Horse Tack. That book has a slightly different way of casing rawhide than what Gail Hought uses. I’m going to try the method from Braiding Rawhide Horse tack soon.
One thing that I’m noticing about rawhide is that it takes a lot more work to prepare it for braiding than kangaroo. That may be why a lot of people don’t use it.
After working hard to get caught up on my bullwhip orders I finally have everything shipped out! Because of that I’ve dropped my wait time from 3 weeks to only 1 1/2 weeks. The reason the wait is a bit longer than I need to make a bullwhip is that this time of year is my busy performing season and when you order I may be out of town, or just have a very full performing schedule and not have a day or two to devote entirely to your whip.
I do have one order pending, but it’s for an experimental bullwhip for someone and we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. So it’s not technically an order until I make it and can see how it works (or doesn’t). I don’t want to charge the guy for something that I’ve never done before. It’s an interesting project which is why I took it, but if it doesn’t turn out I don’t want him to pay for a worthless pile of leather. At the very least I’ll be learning from the project.
Now that I have more time to experiment I’m going to make a few more bullwhips with rawhide bellies (possibly cores too). One thing that I did notice about using rawhide was that on the two bullwhips that I made one’s rawhide was soaked in water and one soaked in grease. The one soaked in grease is heavier than the other. That may be good in a shorter handle bullwhip, but this one is a long handle.
I’m still planning on making myself a pair of latigo stockwhips. I’ve had a side of latigo for a while that I bought for one whip a long time ago. I’m tired of looking at it, so I’m going to make some stockwhips out of it. Once it’s gone I’ll probably never buy another latigo hide. I prefer working in kangaroo…but what I’ve made with the latigo has turned out better than I expected!