Right now I’ve started work on the 8 foot 12 plait Young Indy bullwhip (red handle with black thong). In the past I’ve made them with two different hides and red one and a black one, both tannery dyed. I posted pictured of one and Victor Tella emailed me suggesting that I try hand dying them the next time becasue a bullwhip has more structural integrity when it’s made from one hide.
I disagree with Victor about using one hide for the handle and one for the thong being weaker than with just one hide. I think that when the thong is properly attached it will be attached with a couple of inches of the handle left and tacked and tyed down tight it’s not going to go anywhere. But he did start my curiousity with hand dying whips.
First of all hand dying kangaroo is a pain in the butt!! After dying this whip I’m probably going to have to charge an additional $50 or so for whips that I have to hand dye. But I’ve learned a lot, I did a lot of practice on cowhide and talked to a lot of people.
One thing that happens to the kangaroo when you dye it is that it dries out. You have to be careful when you are lubing it up, or you will stain your hands when the dye bleeds on to your hands. Franco in Canada gave me some good tips, like buffing out the dye with a piece of scrap wool.
When I was in Boise recently I had an idea. If leather dressing with beeswax will help repel water, then it may help keep the color in. Then I happened to drive by a saddle shop and I stopped in. I bought a jar of Skidmore’s Leather Cream. Just as I suspected I had a lot less bleeding of color onto my hands while plaiting with it. I used the Skidmores instead of plaiting soap. The thinking was that using a dressing with natural oils would help rehydrate the kangaroo strands, and I was correct.
A nice bonus about using Skimores is that is has a nice smell to it, unlike everything else I’ve used for plaiting which usually smells horrible (or at least my wife says so).
I’ll take some pictures of the bullwhip tomorrow and post them when I get a chance.