Adam Winrich just made a neat little video with some bullwhip tricks:
I got a nice shout out for how I do the Egg and Cup Trick. From what I’ve heard I was the first person to a figure out how do the Egg and Cup Trick with a bullwhip. Traditionally this trick uses a tray and cups, not playing cards and a whip. When it’s set up the traditional way you can’t properly hit the tray with a whip. Ricky Jay popularized using a playing card to sit over the mouth of the cup which changes where you need to target for making this a trick possible with a thrown object, Ricky Jay does it with a thrown playing card. When I saw Ricky Jay do it, I immediately realized that his set up would translate to a bullwhip. Here’s the quick video I made about 4 years ago:
Here’s Ricky Jay doing it:
I love unusual whip tricks and Adam does an awesome job with them!
If you remember a few weeks ago I posted about Britany Spears putting out an “call” for a bullwhip trainer for her new video (http://bullwhips.org/?p=6403). Well the video just came out, so from the call to the video being released today, it was about a 3 week turnaround. There are only two short scenes with her and a bullwhip (a few more with a riding crop) and based on how she is holding it they didn’t get a good trainer, or she didn’t listen to the trainer. In either scenario I imagine they thought a bullwhip would be easier to use. Unfortunately it’s not a pick it up and start knocking cigarettes out of someone’s mouth sort of skill…it takes practice!
When I first started making bullwhips the bolsters stressed me out the most. I have to figure out how to correctly fit them around the whip, how splice them, how long to make them, etc. Now they are probably one of the easiest parts of the whip for me to make. Before we get into showing you how to splice a bolster I want to give my opinion on why a bolster is necessary in a bullwhip.
A boslter (in case you don’t know) in a bull whip is a piece of leather that is fit over the inner layer of the whip so that it wraps around it and cover the inner layer. Typically a bolster is longer than the plaited layer below it…but not always.
The bolster has several function:
Fills up air pockets inside the whip
Another thing that a bolster does which a lot of whip makers don’t think about is that it gives you a smooth surface to plait over. That allows you to be able to get the bull whip plaited a bit tighter with a little less effort on your part. Plaiting over a smooth surface is much easier than plaiting over a surface with texture!
When putting a bolster on a longer whip quite often you’ll have to splice two smaller pieces together to get the length you want. I do this using a diagonal splice which looks like this before it’s put on the whip:
Here’s an interesting little video of some very unique two person whip targeting…with only one person!
Personally I love anything that’s a different take on something standard, like a hand held target. If you are a whip performer, how are you making your show unique? What’s the original spin you are giving on your act?
For my act, if you’ve followed this blog, you’ve seen some of my Rube Goldberg style inventions that are triggered by a whip:
Or coming up with a way to open a sealed coke bottle with a short bullwhip.
These are things that set me apart from people doing standard tricks. If you want to be a Whip Performeryou need to come up with something different! Sure you can do standard stuff and you’ll do fine, but you won’t be an artist!
I came across this on the interwebs the other day:
You can view it online at: http://www.ask.com/answers/248618201/i-m-thinking-of-making-a-bullwhip-will-that-be-hard-right-now-i-m-looking-to-see-if-the-home-depot-has-everthing-that-i-need?qsrc=14106
There are several reasons why I cringe whenever I see things like this. The main one is that it’s two misinformed people trying to give advice to someone that’s not really smart. That can lead to someone ending up with a bad impression of sport whip cracking or worse an injury. An improperly made whip will require you to “dishrag” the whip to get it to crack (like snapping a towel) however by using that technique you are cracking the whip in probably the most dangerous way a beginner can do it!
Now let’s get to why I believe the person asking the question is a couple strands short a 12 plait. They are at the actively at the Home Depot looking for supplies when they asked for advice. Was the question asker going to hang out at the hardware store until someone replied? That’s not a person who has done a bit o research (or any) to see what the might need.
As for the two people that put in answers the first is probably the smartest of the lot, but still in my opinion not a Mensa candidate. The only decent advice is when the first guy warns about eye protection. Both people answering the question mention leather. The person asking the question is at the Home Depot which is a hardware store, so unless that person is completely dumb (and would have no business with a bullwhip because they don’t make good decisions), they at the wrong store for the materials they need, this guy is trying to make a nylon whip.
Also why would the person asking the question simply throw “how to make a bullwhip” into the Google? I just did that and a bunch of good information popped up. Instead they went to ask.com where I’m sure a ton a whip makers hang out waiting to answer whip making questions. Personally a better option to get an opinion would be to a leather, whip or braiding forum.
Now for the Bullwhips.org challenge of the day. Here is a video made from the bullwhip page on wikipedia, it’s the whole article read by a computer, I think this is for people that are way to lazy to read. I personally dare you to make it through the whole thing (almost 10 minutes!):
Every now and then I post links to youtube videos of people cracking whips. Some are good videos, but mostly I post links to the less than good ones to point out misconceptions about whips and whip cracking. The person in today’s video sure thinks he knows a lot about whips, and is doing whip cracking a disservice by spreading these inaccurate “facts”.
Before I get to the video, here’s what’s in the description of the youtube listing:
A bullwhip is a single-tailed whip, usually made of braided leather, which was originally used as a tool for working with livestock.
Bullwhips are pastoral tools, traditionally used to control livestock in open country. A bullwhip’s length, flexibility, and tapered design allows it to be thrown in such a way that, toward the end of the throw, part of the whip exceeds the speed of sound—thereby creating a small sonic boom. Many modern “sport” whip crackers claim that the bullwhip was rarely, if ever, used to strike cattle, but this is a matter for debate.
All those faces make it seem like the person in the video will know what they are talking about. The video is under 3 minutes, but it feels much longer than that when you are watching it. Here’s the video:
Here’s what is way wrong in my opinion:
1. Length: He says it’s a 6 foot whip that’s worn down to 4 foot. Well in total length yes…but how a bullwhip is typically measured it’s started a 4 foot whip and is still a 4 foot whip.
2. Durability: He says a leather bullwhip will “destroy itself the more you use it”. This is 100% false, a poorly maintained bullwhip will get ruined…but that’s not the bullwhips fault. Also keep in mind that a bullwhip like anything, you car, your home, your pants, your body, pretty much anything will wear itself out the more it’s used. That’s where proper care comes in.
3. Cracker: He says “it’s been reduced to one cracker”, I don’t even know what the heck that means. Typically the highest number of crackers a bullwhip can have is ONE! Also he’s referring to the bullwhip’s fall as a cracker and the whip has no cracker, so technically this bullwhip has been reduced to ZERO crackers.
4. Practice Makes Perfect: He says, “practice makes perfect and you can see I’ve been practicing”. Here’s the thing about the saying practice makes perfect, it’s wrong. There’s a better saying, “perfect practice makes perfect” which means you have to be practicing correctly. If I want to practice my golf swing and I swing the club like it’s a baseball bat. I can practice that all day long, but it’s not going to help me once I get out on the golf course and put the ball on a tee on the ground.
Also do you think me mentioning this now before the demo might be foreshadowing some awesome technique later?
5. Safety: Tells how dangerous it is and uses no safety equipment!
6. Technique: No wonder he’s hit himself in the face, in fact it’s a wonder he’s only done that once! He’s “dishragging” the whip which is the least safe way you can use a whip and the least practical. Also there’s really only one or two actual cracks he’s getting with the whip, the rest are the whip hitting the floor.
7. His closing statement: It cracks me up when he says, “there’s nothing like the sound of a whip cracking…”, if he like how his sounds now can you imagine how jazzed he’d be if he actually learned to crack it!
That’s the end of my little rant and here’s the moral, don’t take lessons from idiots on youtube to learn to crack a whip. It’s unsafe and will lead you to hurt yourself or your whip. Invest $10-$30 on a book or DVD to learn the actual foundations of whip cracking. $30 for a DVD might sound expensive, but it’s cheaper than losing an eye because you didn’t follow proper safety procedures or whip technique.
In a leather working forum someone who is new to braiding mentioned that the tools for splitting, cutting and beveling were expensive. You don’t need any expensive tools to get into braiding. If you were to buy a decent quality splitter, cutter and beveler you’d probably spend at least $500 in tools. And these tools still have a bit of a learning curve.
You can do the same doing it “freehand” with a $1 box cutter and a bit of practice…plus when doing it free hand you can do cut at a taper much easier (which is a must if you want to make whips!) than with a strand cutter.
Here’s some video of cutting, paring and splitting kangaroo by hand. The first is an old video of me cutting freehand:
I no longer use the caliper to mark out widths, except to see how wide my starting point should be. The next video is an old video of me paring the kangaroo lace:
And finally recent video of me splitting the kangaroo lace by hand:
Pretty much the only time I use my bench splitter anymore is when I’m thinning down leather that’s an inch or so wide (like for bolsters).
It’s interesting to see what people used to do for whip tricks, where pretty much everyone did very similar things and now with creative whip performers like Dante and Chris Camp there’s a lot more variety in whip performance!
Inspired by the old newsreels I tried opening a bottle of champagne (OK, it was sparkling wine) with a bullwhip…it’s pretty dramatic:
P.S. FYI the video in the last post isn’t 100% legit. While technically the soda is sealed, I altered the cap and the bottle and resealed it with a bottle capper. Still it looks great!