Something I have been noticing over the last couple of years is really starting to bother me. I’m seeing novice whipmakers on the web and on eBay trying to peddle whips that look like garbage all while proclaiming themselves to be “master whipmakers.”
I’ve been making nylon whips for the better part of 20 years now and I still won’t assign to myself the title of master whipmaker. Why? Because I am always learning! I haven’t mastered all there is to know about whipmaking, so why give myself that title? If others want to call me an artist or a master, I am okay with that: people are entitled to their opinion of me, good or bad. All I do is make the best whip that I know how to make.
Frankly, I believe it is dishonest for a person to self-assign himself the title of master while turning out a product that looks like it was made by a beginner. I’ve seen some of these self-proclaimed masters turn out whips with horrible tapers, lumpy thongs, jacked-up looking turksheads, and big gaps in the plaiting. These are mistakes of a novice, not the work of a master whipmaker.
Here’s a tip for you, something you can apply to crafts of all kinds: A master won’t have to tell you he’s a master, his work and reputation will speak for itself. Some of the most talented craftsmen I know -true masters- are the most humble people I’ve ever met. They’re awesome at what they do, but their ego is not over-inflated. When you look at their work, you can see it was made by someone who knows well their respective craft; they don’t have to say a word. So when you come across a self-proclaimed master -buyer beware!
As 2009 now comes to a close, we witness the passing of what will be remembered as a tough year for lots of people. But even in a difficult economy, I’ve seen that people continue to buy whips; thus 2009 was a great year for my business. I had many wonderful customers who provided me with plenty of whip orders to fill even when the hours at my job were lacking. In this final post of the year, I would like to highlight some accomplishments and say thanks.
Here’s some highlights from 2009:
- Cowwhips.com got a long overdue makeover.
- Developed my own line of Australian stockwhips.
- Saw all-time record ordering volume in April and July.
- Redesigned the bellies and fall hitches on my bullwhips.
- Successfully entered the nylon Indiana Jones bullwhip market.
- Started this blog!
- Added new options for cow whip handles: Stratabond and exotic woods
- Affiliated with the Whip Basics Project: WBSR Whipmaking Team and DVD distribution.
- Began making deer leather and experimenting with leather work.
- Resurrected my line of wood handled bullwhips.
- Saw my son begin his journey as a whipmaker.
- Made lots of new friends!
As you can see, 2009 was a busy year. I’m looking forward to what 2010 has in store. I appreciate all the customers who helped make it possible. Thank you so much! You’re the best!
Happy New Year!
I have a nice 4ft nylon stockwhip on eBay right now. It has about 2 days left until it sells
This is a great chance to get a new Kelley made nylon stockwhip and beat the waiting list.
Please stop by and have a look!
This is a sort of follow up article to my earlier posts entitled The Development of the Kelley Nylon Bullwhip and Mo’ Guts = Mo’ Better. I want to highlight that the Kelley line of nylon bullwhips has undergone some changes in 2009; changes that I hope people will find to be an improvement on my design. I highlighted the internal improvements in Mo’ Guts = Mo’ Better, but in this post I want to highlight one of the external changes I have made.
My earlier bullwhips featured the tapering twist that is common to Florida cow whips. This can be seen on some of the remaining bullwhip pics I have at cowwhips.com. Being a maker of cow whips, when I started making bullwhips I kept this method because it was familiar to me and I didn’t feel the need to change it at the time. (You will notice that Krist King’s bullwhips also have a tapering twist and not a fall hitch.)
When I started making nylon stockwhipsback in February, I wanted to make them as traditional looking as possible so I went with the fall hitch design. After I finished that first stockwhip, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to start doing the fall hitch on the bullwhips and snakewhips as well. Since March, Florida cow whips are the only whips I make that feature the twisted tail. At this time I am slowly replacing the older bullwhip and snakewhip pictures on cowwhips.com to reflect this change.
For those who liked the older design, do not despair, I will gladly make bullwhips, snakewhips, or stockwhips with the twist of the customer prefers it. So far the new change has been received well. And while I haven’t done it so far, if someone wanted a cow whip with a fall hitch, I don’t have any problems with doing that.
As a whipmaker, I find that even though I’ve been plaiting over 18 years, I never stop learning. One thing I hope to accomplish with these and future improvements is to add value to my products. I have always made it my goal to provide top quality nylon whips at prices that are hard to beat. Speaking of hard to beat prices, be sure to check out my July Bullwhip Sale if you haven’t done so already!
The coral snake pattern has been one of my most popular patterns for cow whips. Back in April, a lady placed an order for a 4ft Australian stockwhip with that same pattern. At first I didn’t make any guarantees on if I could do it on a stockwhip.
With stockwhips, the keeper is a flat 6 plait that is changed to a round 12 plait to make the thong. This makes the pattern somewhat unpredictable until you actually lay it out and start plaiting. I knew every plait had to be in just the right place to make this happen. The good news is that I was able to make the pattern and it resulted in one of the finest nylon stockwhips I have made to date.
Here’s the whole thing:
Here’s the the keeper. My first couple of attempts at making stockwhip keepers left a lot to be desired. I am indebted to Tony Layzell for giving me some pointers this part; he actually took the initiative to get in touch with me to help. Not many plaiters will do that. Unbeknownst to me, Tony had pretty much perfected the nylon stockwhip before I started developing my own. So while I hate to look like a copy-cat, I also recognize when it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.
The plaited handle is made of light weight toheti cane and covered with a 16 plait. I decided to go with 2-tone turkshead knots to dress it up a bit.
Here’s the 7 part, 6 bight turkshead up close. This is the first whip I’ve made with this particular knot. I put a “12 gauge” concho on the end just for fun.
To order one of my nylon Australian stockwhips, visit my order page or email me @ Rhettswhips@yahoo.com for more information.
Recently, as part of a swap between myself and Simon Martin, I became the proud ower of a new 6ft, 4 plait Aussie Stockwhip made by Simon Martin himself. As you may know, Simon works exclusively with kangaroo leather, so I was elated when he agreed to make this whip for me. I already have a fancy roohide stockwhip, but I’ve always wanted an authentic work whip. Simon really made me a nice one and I have enjoyed cracking it. Here’s some pics:
My new whip!
A roohide keeper with a grapevine pattern:
The Handle is covered in black kangaroo leather also:
Thanks for everything Simon!
My current turn-around time on new whip orders is about 12 weeks +/-. This is just an estimate. I should be off work next week and getting in plenty of quality plaiting time, so maybe I can knock a nice dent in that backlog.
My deer hide is still soaking in the tanning solution. I am hoping to be able to finish it up and start on another next week. I’ll try to get some more pics of that project sometime soon.
Lastly, now is the time to be thinking about placing orders for Christmas. I know that not too many folks are thinking about Christmas gifts in June, but every year scores of people email me at the last minute asking if I have any nylon bullwhips for sale only to be disappointed. This year I am asking that all Christmas orders be in by mid-September at the latest.
The Oklahoma City Whip Enthusiasts are having their annual Whip Weekend next weekend. When I am able, I like to help them by donating something to the event. This year I am sending them one of my new stockwhips: a black 4 footer with a white fiberglass handle. I think they are going to be doing a raffle for it, so if you attend, you might have a chance to win it!
When I first started plaiting cow whips as a youngster, I would have never imagined that I would end up making whips that would be used all over the world. To date, my whips have been bought, or used, on every Continent but Antarctica. One of the toughest places to get orders -as a nylon plaiter especially- is Australia. This may start to change because of a man named James Wilson.
James is from Queensland. He performs shows featuring whip cracking and characters such as “the Stockman” and the legendary Ned Kelly (if you don’t know who Ned was, think of an Aussie version of Jesse James). James also sells a number of unique Aussie products that he makes himself. James’ latest character creation is nylon whip weilding bloke known as “Whip Wilson,” as seen in these photos.
In the past few months, James has ordered 4 of my nylon whips: 2 bulls and 2 stockies. By far, James’ stockwhip order was one of the toughest sets of whips I have ever made. It was my first time making matched stockwhips. The fact that they were solid white meant I had to be very careful about keeping them clean throughout the entire construction process.
Again, Australia is a tough place to get an order from as a maker of nylon whips. I have even been told that it’s difficult for some of the well known American leather plaiters to get orders from Oz. What’s exciting for me is that James tells me there are people at his shows who are quite intrigued by the nylon whips. Because of this, I am very hopeful that a small market for nylon whips may be opening up in Australia very soon.
Thanks for everything James!
Photo credit: Oneproudaussie.net.au.
4ft x 12 plait Nylon Stockwhip
I have some good news! I was planning on holding off marketing my nylon Australian stockwhips until June, but now I’ve decided to go ahead start marketing them now.
Because of customer demand of course! If folks want Kelley made nylon stockwhips, then Kelley made nylon stockwhips they will get!
The price structure for these whips are a bit different than my other whips because of the amount of time that goes into making these whips. Instead of a flat per foot price, these whips will have a base price and an additional per foot charge for each additional foot.
For example: a 4ft stockwhip is $99.00. Each additional foot of thong is $14.00 per foot.
Also, my main site Cowwhips.com has had another update. The order page now has pricing and order info about my stockwhips as well as the Whip Basics DVD series.
Please visit Cowwhips.com and take a look!