A word of advice for young, aspiring whip makers:
Tag Archives: whipmakers
I am honored to be among the 1st group of whipmakers included of the Whip Basics Ring of Trust.
In the following video, Robby Amper discusses why he created the group.
Just as I figured, Tuesday’s post A Plea for Integrity made some waves.
Judging from the number of views and visits to this blog, it was probably the first “semi-viral” thing I’ve ever posted here. I received a number of emails and Facebook messages asking about the identity of the whipmaker I wrote about in the article. Whip crackers wanted to make sure they did not (or do not) buy from the person and whipmakers were assuring me that they weren’t the ones doing anything unethical. Everyone was seemingly as upset as I was when I wrote it.
It would have been easier for me to have kept quiet, but I’ve often found that doing the the easy thing is seldom the same as doing the right thing. One major concern I had about writing that article was the possibility that it could hurt all of us who make synthetic whips. Another concern was that some might see the article as some tacit advertising campaign; that myself and Noreast Whips are the “safe guys” to buy from and all other should be viewed as suspect. I want to assure you that neither of those things was my goal.
The goal was to let folks know that there was an allegation of dishonesty in the ranks and maybe, hopefully, the offender would read it and decide to do the right thing from now on. By now, I’m certain the offender has seen the article and knows that someone out there is on to him. Judging by the reaction I’ve seen, the offender can rest assured that if his identity is revealed, it would almost certainly be a career-ender.
Thinking optimistically, perhaps it was just an isolated incident; a momentary lapse in judgement on the part of an individual trying something new.
We can only hope.
At this point, I want to call for calm within our whip making and whipcracking community. I believe that most of my peers are honest and committed to making the best products they can. As I look around at the craftsmen I know personally, I can’t imagine any of them being willing to sacrifice their name and integrity for a quick buck.
What I hope for most of all is that the plaiter in question –and any others who might be tempted to do the same– will realize that such dishonesty is not acceptable in this small community of craftsmen/women.
We don’t have government bureaucracies regulating whipmakers and telling us how we should do things or handling quality control. I’m a big believer in free markets, so I love that I get to make my living doing business in one of the freest, most unregulated markets on the planet. Being such a small niche market, I think chances are slim we’ll ever see much bureaucratic oversight, but I still think we have to police ourselves so someone else doesn’t have to do it for us. (I’d rather not see Obama create a Federal Bureau of Whipmaking Integrity.)
To the whip buyers reading this:
Here where I live, the Health Department inspects restaurants and gives them a grades either “A, B, C, or U” based on their findings. At times, we have driven by and saw a “B” or “C” placard on the window of restaurants where we have eaten in the past, occasionally even on ones we really like.
My wife’s reaction is to say “Oh, no! Gross! We better not go there.”
My reaction is different: I happen to be a Nationally Registered Food Safety Manager, so I know that once the inspector has come through, most of the problems are corrected on-sight. So in reality, it’s probably better to eat at an establishment the day after it gets a “B” or “C” and made corrections, rather than the day before it’s inspected and still has an “A” on the sign from the last inspection.
My point is this:
If I was in the market for a nylon whip, I would personally feel better about the integrity of the synthetic whip market today than 2 days ago. A few days ago, those who were may have been dishonest probably thought they were fooling everyone. Today, they’re not so sure. In fact, I’m willing to bet someone out there may be scared of their mind and is cleaning up their act!
As with all online shopping, you need to keep your guard up. There’s lots of great whipmakers on the web, as well as a few hucksters. I don’t want to see one bad apple ruin it for all of us.
I really wish I wasn’t having to write this article. But, as a whipmaker who has been selling whips online since 2001, I think there comes a time when someone has to “call a time-out” and address something that is allegedly going on within our small community.
Dishonesty in Our Midst
It has come to my attention that there’s a whipmaker selling nylon whips that is being less than honest in his product descriptions. This was discovered by someone who’s first experience with nylon was with a whip I made. The customer liked the whip and started ordering other styles from other vendors.
The customer ordered a 7ft nylon bullwhip from someone that advertised it as having 2 plaited bellies. Noticing something was amiss, the customer did what most would not, and opened it up and found that the whip had no plaited bellies at all! In fact, it contained what probably amounted to several rolls of wrapped black electrical tape!
For the record, I do not know who the offender is and I told the customer I didn’t want to know, at least for now.
I also know that the offender is apparently NOT a newbie; he’s part of the “varisity team.” I think this makes the allegations even more disappointing. I expect this sort of thing from the fly-by-nights and hucksters on eBay, but not from among the better known nylon plaiting establishment. Varsity whipmakers should have enough personal integrity to be honest in their descriptions and sell what they claim to sell. I honestly don’t have a problem with someone making whips with tape bellies, but they should describe and sell it as a wrapped tape belly -and price it accordingly! Don’t say it has “2 plaited bellies,” when in reality, it contains a dozen rolls of wrapped electrical tape!
(What I do know for certain, based on the information I received, was that it IS NOT Steve Huntress at Noreast Whips and that the whipmaker is based in the United States) [edited 10/15/2013 @ 3:24pm]
Those of us who have been around for a decade or more selling synthetic whips will recall a time when nylon was somewhat frowned upon in the whip cracking community. Many of us have worked very hard to produce the best product we can in order to get synthetic whips to the place they are today. And that’s the point, we did our best and we were honest in our dealings: that’s why we’re still around and nylon whips so widely used today!
If there are people within the whipmaking community deceiving their buyers and turning out garbage, it’s inevitably going to hurt those of us who have worked very hard to get where we are.. In fact, the customer who brought this to my attention said that if the tape-bellied bullwhip had been their first experience with nylon, she would have not bought any more synthetic whips! Think about that for a second my fellow synthetic whipmakers!
To the person who is guilty of this charge:
I don’t know who you are, but I realize you could be someone I know; maybe even someone I number among my friends in the whipmaking community. I sincerely hope you will make amends, or at the very least, make your descriptions match what you are really selling. You’re only going to end up hurting your own reputation as people figure out what you’re doing. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain from these deceitful practices.
You’re very lucky this customer is not willing to see you publicly thrashed. I believe you truly deserve to be called into account for this practice. I guarantee that if you continue to do this, it won’t be long before someone else finds out and exposes you. Do yourself a favor and do things right.
“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.” -Leviticus 19: 11(ESV)
“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God,…” Leviticus 19: 35-36 (ESV)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” -Colossians 3: 23 (ESV)
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” -Proverbs 22: 1 (ESV)
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’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:
As a nylon whip maker, I often have people coming to me to buy whips who are new to whip cracking. I think that happens because people just starting out are sometimes are conscious of the cost of getting into whip cracking.
Short 8 plait bullwhips made from kangaroo leather can start at around $250.00 from better known makers. For longer whip with higher plait counts, it could reach $600 or more. For someone just getting into the sport, and for those on a budget, it’s sometimes difficult to justify spending so much. Therefore, well built synthetic whips offer a great value. The material costs are much less for the maker, so the savings is passed on to the buyer.
At one time, I prided myself on having lowest prices on my whips even among synthetic whipmakers. These days, due to the economic forces of supply and demand, the prices of my whips do tend to be higher than some of my competitors. That being the case, I still have some whips that are priced for those on a budget, so there’s no need to sacrifice quality or taking the chance of buying a cheaply made whip on eBay.
If you’re someone looking to get a nice whip at a low cost, consider these:
“FCE” stands for fast, cheap, and easy. This model was designed specifically to be a budget whip that could be used by sport whip crackers or cattlemen working in tight spaces. With prices starting at just $95.00, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more durable hand plaited whip for less money. They’re used by performers, sport whip crackers, and cattlemen alike.
Like the FCE, my 12 plait nylon bullwhips were also designed to be a budget whip. Made to the same standard as my proven 16 plait design, Prices for these begin at $115.00 and they have been a very popular model since I introduced them last year.
These are the whips that I’m probably most known for around the world. Compared to come local sellers that can be found here and there, my cow whip prices aren’t the cheapest; but on the global whip market, they’re still quite a deal. Prices for these start at $105.00.
If there’s anything I can do to help you decide on the right whip for you, feel free to contact me using the form below, or by visiting the Contact Page on my website.
A while back, I received an order from Fabian F. in Argentina for a set of my whipmaking DVDs.
Today I was pleased to receive an email with the following pictures asking for my opinion of his efforts using my DVDs.
My reply: “Most excellent!”
Your results may vary, but if you have an interest in making your own nylon Florida cow whip, consider ordering my whipmaking DVDs. This is one example of the many photos I have received from people who have used my DVDs to learn to make their own cow whips.
A while back, I was browsing some other whip websites and I happened across the statement that said that no “real cowboy/cowgirl” would dare carry a whip on their saddle that was any other color than black, tan, or brown. I thought I’d interact with that idea for a bit and demonstrate that, apart from being untrue, a case could be a made that “real” cowboys and cowgirls might actually be better off in some cases with a whip that was made in colors other than black, tan, and brown.
Through my whipmaking adventures, I’ve noted that there’s actually quite a bit of diversity among the cowboys and cowgirls of America. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and so do the horses, equipment, and tack that they use. Whips are no different. Suggesting that a “real cowboy” won’t use whips that are only certain colors is just as silly as saying cowboys won’t drive Dodge trucks, wear yellow shirts, eat Krystal burgers, or ride an American Paint Horse.
One big reason why a “real cowboy” might consider ordering a whip in colors other than black, tan, and brown is because whips get lost. About a decade ago, I had a “real” Florida cowboy call and order a solid hot pink whip. His old whip had fallen off his saddle and he wasn’t able to find it. He said he knew he would get laughed at by some of his peers, but he wanted his whip easy to see if it happened to fall off his saddle again.
Indeed, I could probably take my wife out to a nice dinner if I had a dollar for every story cowboys have told me about losing whips while working cows. The earth tone whips often blend in so well that they cannot find them if they backtrack searching. Having a whip that won’t blend in can help with that problem. So in reality, real cowboys ought to seriously consider buying whips with lots of bright colors.
So while I’ll grant that lots of working cowboys do order whips in earth tones, I’m also happy to cater to the ones who want them in other colors and patterns. I’d also like for the reader to note that all the whips pictured in on this post are examples of whips I’ve made for “real cowboys” who derive most (or all) of their income from working with cattle.
Whipmaking master, Bernie Wojcicki of Em Brand Whips, has recently made his whipmaking DVD footage available for everyone to see on Youtube.
Bernie works with leather, but lots of the basic plaiting and construction techniques can be used with nylon. I purchased his DVDs a number of years ago and gleaned many things that helped me improve my nylon bullwhips.
Here is the first of the 3 videos on bullwhip making that Bernie has now made available: