As recent as 2001, I had never made a bullwhip and didn’t really care to do so. I desired to specialize in nylon cow whips only. My philosophy was to be good at one thing and not worry about the rest. My philosophy was soon to change…
Not too long after I was introduced to the Whip Enthusiasts Group, a few brave individuals bought some of my cow whips. After a few of these folks shared their feedback with the rest of the group, the orders began to come in so fast I couldn’t even dream of keeping up with them all. Along with the cow whip orders came inquiries and requests for a Kelley made nylon bullwhip.
Being a the change-resistant person that I am, I tried to stay away from the bullwhip market and focus only on cow whips. That tactic didn’t last long. With a growing demand for nylon bullwhips and a few able plaiters who had developed-or were about to develop- some quality nylon bulls, I had to do something in order to stake my claim on a share of the market. The proverbial icing on the cake was when I checked my emails early one morning to find a new plaiter (Greg DeSaye) introduced to the Whip Enthusiasts Group with a website full of good looking nylon bullwhips. My heart sank! My inner-Capitalist screamed in pain! I knew I could no longer get by without a nylon bullwhip! The Kelley made nylon bullwhip would soon be a reality
I didn’t have much to go on. I knew how to make cow whips, but bullwhips were a bit more difficult. There was no pattern to follow or book I could read to learn exactly what I needed to do to make a good nylon bull. I knew I would have to start from scratch and glean what I could from resources on leather whip making. I ended up buying Ron Edwards’ renowned book, How to Make Whips and I also looked at some of the whip making tutorials by Bernie Wojcicki of EM Brand Whips in Tasmania. After some trial and much error, the first Kelley bullwhip was born!
My first bullwhip prototype was fairly crude. I gave it to my kid brother, figuring he would end up destroying it. He really abused it and I got a first hand look at how my design stood up to the daily thrashing it received. After a few design changes, I finally came up with something that worked better. For the last 7 years, I’ve been shipping my nylon bullwhips all over the world and learning more ways to make my nylon bulls better than ever before.
For what it’s worth, that the story of how I got dragged -kicking and screaming- into the nylon bullwhip market. As I look back and consider that nylon bullwhips are now my best selling whips, it was really foolhardy of me for not trying to develop them as soon as possible. I guess you live and learn.
For more information on ordering a nylon bullwhip, please visit cowwhips.com or email me at Rhettswhips@yahoo.com
So, your new nylon whip arrives. All excited, you open the box in a hurry and run outside to try it out. After some time passes, you run into a problem. That little nylon cracker on the end of your fall is either missing, or in really bad shape. You need to attach a new one. For folks who are experienced with whips, this is no big deal. But if this is your first whip and you’re a brand new whip cracker, it may be a bit more difficult to remedy. Above is drawing I made of one simple method of attaching a new cracker to the fall. Just attach your cracker to the end of the fall as I’ve illustrated above, then pull it tight. You’ll be back in business in no time!
When the average American thinks about a whip, he will probably think of the famed American bullwhip that has been popularized by Hollywood for decades. According to author George H. Dacy, Florida has a rich cattle ranching heritage with roots that can be traced back over 450 years. The Spanish brought cattle (and probably some whips as well) to Florida long before there was an American “Wild West.”
If you were to conduct an informal survey of modern Florida cowmen, you would probably find that virtually all cattlemen employ a whip that is quite a bit different than the bullwhip made famous by Hollywood. It’s the Cow Whip that rules the ranches of the Sunshine State.
Older cow whips were made from buckskin, normally plaited from the tanned hides of the whitetail deer that the cattlemen hunted for food. Since the 1970s, the material of choice for “Florida Crackers” and whipmakers alike has been nylon. Nylon was resistant to the, bugs, humid climate, and swampy conditions that a cowboy often contended with while working the herds. That being the case, this material grew in popularity and has made the buckskin cow whip a rare item indeed. How durable is nylon? Just a couple weeks ago I put a new tail in a whip that has been in use since nylon first came on the scene in the 1970s!
Though the Florida Cow Whip was not well known outside of Florida for many decades, the internet has now made it possible for whipmakers such as myself to export the Florida cow whip to nearly every continent. From Australia to the Arctic Circle, the powerful crack of the Florida cow whip has now been heard!
For information on purchasing one of these legendary whips, feel free to visit www.cowwhips.com or email me at Rhettswhips at Yahoo dot com.