About 4 years ago, I thought I wanted to get into making leather whips and I started accumulating some things. Having already established my name widely as a maker of nylon whips, I soon found that I would just never have the time to pursue making leather whips because I’m always so backlogged with orders. I am now selling off the remaining supplies I had in order to reinvest the money in my apiary in order to fulfill my plans for moving into beekeeping as my full time profession.
This leather splitter was made in Australia. I bought it directly from Dene Williams himself. These sell new for $165.00 –if you can find them! As I understand, Mr. Williams has not made any in a while and won’t be making any more until sometime after the start of 2014. That means supplies are limited. I used it for probably for a grand total of 30 minutes splitting some lace and I haven’t touched it since. It has been sitting out on my work bench gathering dust in the shed. If you want to get one of these coveted leather splitters now rather than later, this is your chance. 2. David Morgan lace cutter.
These are readily available from David Morgan. This was a gift from another whipmaker and I hate to sell it just because of that, but I have no need of it and I’m tossing it in…
This piece of kip came from the UK. It’s about 1.7mm thick and I put the yard stick in the photo to give you an idea of the size. I cut a good bit off of it in a circular fashion to make some lace for a cow whip I was making so this is mostly the center part of the hide.It has some stains and such, but I’m not a “leather guy” so that’s about all I know.
I got this piece from Simon Martin. It’s roughly 1.7mm or so thick (estimated) and Simon said the shoulders had been cut off and sold before I got it from him. All I really know for sure is that it’s black, deer, and it came from Oz. Again, not a “leather guy” so that’s about all I can say. Selling it as-is and the yard stick is in the picture to give you an idea of how large it is.
So there you have it. Win this auction and you will have purchased what remains of Rhett Kelley’s short lived experiment in making leather whips.
The title of this post is a question I’ve gotten a few times lately, so I figure it was about time to address it here on the blog.
The fact is, I do not offer a discount on matched sets, there’s actually a fee associated with it. At first glance it seems odd because it is common practice for sellers to offer discounts for multiple purchases. Such is the case with many of the beekeeping supply companies I deal with where the more of an item I buy, the less per item I pay. So in light of that, I realize it may seem counterintuitive to people that I would charge more for a pair of whips.
The reason why I charge more for matching a pair of whips is simple: it takes much more time and focus to make a matching set of whips. I’m not sure how others do them, but for me, making a set of whips match is not as simple as just making two whips back to back. When I make a matched set, I spend much more time on it and it is more painstaking because I really try to get the whips to be as matched as possible. This means I’m constantly going back and worth between the two, repeating every step as closely as possible. Every step is worked, compared, and sometimes reworked. It’s lots of work… Or, maybe I just stress out about it more than some.
Here’s an example: Right now I have a matched set of 8ft, 16 plait bullwhips on my waiting list. I can make one 8ft, 16 plait bullwhip in a day; two of them in two days, but because it’s a matched set, I’m pretty sure that this order could end up taking me three days. To me, it is only logical to charge a little more for doing a job that will require even more time, skill, and focus to accomplish. I try to keep it reasonable; the most I charge extra is $75.00 for most types of whips and just $25.00 extra on a set of FCE stockwhips because the handles are prefab and I only have to handcraft and match the thongs.
Again, I realize that some may disagree with this policy and that’s okay. I hope that this article will give folks some incite as to why I do charge more on matched pairs. It has nothing to do with being greedy or wanting to discourage two-handed whip cracking.
Thankfully the online whip market is still very much a free market, so no one is forced to buy anything. Those who see the value in what I do will have no problem paying what I ask, those who do not see the value will go elsewhere. Either way, no one is being defrauded.
I’ve just made the first section of my whip making tutorial available publicly on Youtube for the first time. It’s my introduction all the way through making a keeper and adding weight for the belly. The rest of the tutorial is available on DVD, for sale at http://www.cowwhips.com/whip-making-dvds/
I’ve used USPS Priority mail service almost exclusively for all the years I have been shipping whips. Except for a few minor issues here and there, I have always found the service to be reliable. I never had a whip lost or damaged. USPS provides free boxes that fit most of my whips and the prices are lower than other services. Overall, I’ve found it to be a great value and have come to rely upon it.
Lots of changes have been made recently with the U.S. Postal Service and their website is touting improvements to Priority Mail. Some of the changes and realignments to their sorting centers have actually had a negative impact on the quality of service based upon my experience. Those who receive USPS shipping notifications from me should be aware that this recent decline in service could add a few days to your waiting time. Packages that are supposed to take from 1 to 3 days are now taking from 4 to 12 days. International transit times for my packages are equally abysmal.
I recently spoke with a manager from their consumer affairs division about the lagging transit times and he said that, overall, their transit times are largely within their goals, but that the recent changes USPS made are directly impacting me. He assured me that they are doing all they can to work out the bugs. I could switch to other shippers, but I want to keep prices low.
For now, I guess I just happen to be shipping from a location that’s 4 to 12 days from everywhere. Just keep that in mind when you receive your shipping notification.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve noted recently that a plain black bullwhip will garner many more “likes” and attention on Facebook than something more flashy looking. That being said, I’ve decided to start promoting my fancier work a bit more than in the past.
Whipmaker Tony Layzell in the U.K. was the man who was graciously helped me with learning a more simple way of doing the designs around four years ago. I’ve done this sort of work when requested in the past, but I never really advertised it much as I always preferred doing the simpler designs. My personality type likes “comfort zones,” so that’s where I tended to remain.
Now that I’m full time making whips, it does get somewhat dull doing the same old patterns all the time. I also figure my Facebook fans will eventually tire of seeing the same things over and over again when I post whip photos. I will be updating my main website soon to make these options easier to select without having to contact me to make a special request. Here are photos of a couple of recent examples:
I’m still running behind, but I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel. Barring any major distractions, I believe I should be back on track some time this month. I’m working as hard as I can to make it happen. See the July update for more details.
This is a photo performer Todd Various sent me of him holding a pair of my FCE stockwhips at a festival in Germany. The interesting thing about it is that these whips aren’t his. They actually belong to a performer in Brazil who happened to be at the same event and Todd was trying them out. It demonstrates to me that you just never know where your whips will be seen.
We’ve had yet another death in our family this month.
My father-in-law in Florida became ill last week and died unexpectedly Friday. Our family has been in Florida since early Friday morning the exception of a quick solo trip back here to take care of some loose ends today.
I was already running behind on orders from February which was made worse with the passing of my grandmother on May 5th.
I have been trying my best to work on some orders that were able to be made pretty much anywhere, so I’m trying to make the impact as little as possible.
Unfortunately, I am only going to run further behind as a result of this latest sad event.
I appreciate the continued patience of those of you waiting on orders. I’ll do my best to double down and get somewhat caught up once we all return from Florida this coming weekend.
Just posting a message to let everyone know that production has been mostly halted this week. The week started with us taking a quick beach vacation, but just after we arrived there, we got a call saying my grandmother died.
As you might imagine, my plans to be back working on whips yesterday have taken a back seat.
I appreciate the continued patience of those on my waiting list. I will be back plaiting again, hopefully tomorrow (Friday, May 10).
[I sometimes write for a news and opinion blog called Freedom Outpost. The site has a daily digest emailed to roughly 800 thousand subscribers. I published an article there yesterday hoping it will spread awareness of the situation and expose more people to sport whip cracking. Below is the article in its entirety:]
Political Correctness Targets Bullwhips at Olympic College -Freedom Outpost
by Rhett Kelley
There’s a small but growing sport here in the U.S. It’s called Sport Whip Cracking. Imagine something like trick roping, but with a bullwhip instead. Adam Winrich currently holds 9 Guinness world records for whip cracking. He is known around the world and travels extensively performing. As you can see from this video footage of Adam, sport whip cracking is actually very impressive to watch.
Yet, it seems today nothing can escape the critical glare of the politically correct extremists out there who seem to find offense under every rock and behind every tree. Last weekend, I was alerted that whips and whip cracking have now been banned on the Olympic College campus in Bremerton, WA. This after professor Karen Bolton raised a fuss in an email after seeing a student on campus cracking a whip.
Bullwhips are no longer allowed on campus after an email complaint from a professor about the historical use of whips and their meaning to her as well as other students.
OC student Jason Harris’ whip cracking was brought to the attention of OC’s President, Dr. David Mitchell as well as all OC faculty and staff through an email from professor Karen Bolton. She said she felt offended by the recreational practice because of the historical context of the whip and it’s origins in slavery.
“Being a person of color, it literally made me feel sick to my stomach,” said Bolton in the email, “that whip has symbolism.”
Symbolism indeed Professor Bolton!
To many, it’s a symbol of adventure; of that first time they went into a movie theater and watched Indiana Jones use his bullwhip in Raiders of the Lost Ark. To others, it symbolizes monthly gatherings with friends at a local park to practice their sporting routines. For guys like myself, a whip symbolizes youth spent largely on a sprawling ranch in central Florida, being part of a multi-generational family business of raising cattle. And for others, it’s a reminder of a grandfather who once had a bullwhip and would crack it to entertain the grandchildren.
For one gentleman I know, it’s a symbol of overcoming tragedy: being able to crack a whip in both hands at once, even though his hands are prosthetic hooks following a high voltage power accident while serving in the Air Force. The symbolism of a whip to the people I know is that of a connection to actual experiences they’ve had. Sadly, Professor Bolton can only see a symbol of something terrible from the past that she has most assuredly not experienced herself. As one commenter posted on my Facebook page, if she sees such vivid symbolism of slavery at the mere sight of a bullwhip, then she’ll probably faint if she travels here in Georgia and passes by a cotton field!
I’ve sold whips to people of all colors and creeds on 6 continents. In all the years I’ve made whips, I honestly cannot recall anyone being offended at the sight of a whip because of some symbolic connection to Antebellum U.S. slavery. Most people are very curious and thrilled by the crack a whip makes. I’m sure at least one of my many black friends would tell me if my products were offensive to them. If anything, I find the biggest misconception people have when they learn I make whips is that I’m making them for people with some kind of sexual fetish or something. Never is there any mention of slavery.
The article goes on to state that Professor Bolton further sees the whip as a weapon. Can a whip be used as a weapon? Anything can be used as a weapon. Any one of the mundane objects cluttering my desk right now could be used as a weapon if I had no other options. I’ve sold many whips to those who use them in martial arts. There’s at least one book on the subject. The question is, did Mr. Harris use his whip in an unsafe or threatening manner? According to campus security, he did not. And neither Washington law nor campus rules classify a whip as a weapon.
Professor Bolton would do well to investigate sport whip cracking a little bit. I recommend she spend some time online checking out whip cracking videos. She might also try to catch a show by the aforementioned Adam Winrich, or my friend Chris Camp. Hopefully she would reconsider her position. After that, she could pay a visit to my website at Cowwhips.com, and I’d be more than happy to make her a whip of her own.
If she could just try to overcome the prejudices in her own mind, Professor Bolton might even find sport whip cracking to be an enjoyable pastime. It could be a nice break from the lofty, yet absurd, intellectual atmosphere of academia. It sounds like she needs it.
(If you think this is absurd as I do, please contact Olympic College president, Dr. David Mitchell about his decision to ban whip cracking on campus, his email address is email@example.com. A very well written form letter that can be found at Bullwhips.org, the site where I originally learned of this situation.)