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My Visit With Joe

   In 2016 I finally got to visit my favorite Whip Maker and Mentor Joseph Strain. The first Kangaroo Bullwhip I purchased over a decade ago was an 8' 12 Plait Raiders from Joe. In my pursuit of understanding the whip world over the next few years I bought and sold over 100 different whips from various whip makers in various lengths and styles. While I did find a lot of other great craftsmen in that time,  nothing felt as good in my hands as every Joe Strain I casted. Joe's whips have always been the "Gold Standard" that I compare every whip with. I would say Joe is arguably the best American Whip Maker to date. What is more impressive then his skill level is his humble and friendly nature.

   Over the years of purchasing some of my favorite whips from Joe, I also got to strike up a friendship. Once I decided to start making whips myself, the relationship grew exponentially. Every email and phone call was always insightful, generous, and uplifting. Joe always gave me an all access pass to ask any and every question I had about his method...and believe me I had a LOT of questions! He sent me cores, partial braids, and full whip kits upon request. I also have the honor of being the first Kangaroo Whip Maker to have my craftsmanship for sale on his In-Stock Page. This also gave me the opportunity for Joe to see my work regularly as well as give me hands one Instruction and Compliments. From the very beginning I have sought to make my work as close as possible to his in my own way and I attribute that success to my friend Joe.

  Every whip I made gave me insight about just how big and long the journey of whip making growth and discovery is. I was very grateful to what all I could make and at a high level even early off. I was very passionate from the beginning and when I commit to something I go Full Tilt! I was always trying to perfect all the main varieties of whip models out there. I also found great delight in dreaming up whip themes and models that no one has made yet. Though I made many styles and variations of whips, I was hesitant to make stock whips.  I made my 1st stock whip with the help from my good friend Peter Thorndike. He shared Videos, Pictures, and Dimensions. Still, I was hesitant to dive in fully, so when I was finally able to visit Joe I knew what I wanted to focus on.

  When I visited Joe I had one main objective. I wanted to shadow him making a matched set of stock whips. He constructed a Matched set of 5' 8x12 Plait Black and Aqua Stock Whips w/ one of the last sets Ferrules Bernie made before his unfortunate passing. Joe allowed me to sleep on his sofa and film the entire 3 day/2 Night visit. I had multiple Go-Pro Camera's filming the whole time as well as Voice recorders. Joe was even willing to wear a Go-Pro chest Camera as he Braided one of the overlays. I asked any and every question I could about this project's process and others, inquired about his history with whip making and movies,  shared stories about other random walks of life, and even conducted an Interview. There was so much material that even today I can watch the videos and listen to the recordings over and over and still learn from them.

   As soon as I returned, I made a Saddle Tan and Brandy 4' 8x12 Plait to retain most of what I learned. Joe had a 5' Indy Style he has on his wall(that he made after his visit with Morgan) that everyone who ever visited has cracked(including me) and I decided to make this whip the same for me. I made about 12 other stock whips over the next 2 months. My craftsmanship definitely jumped up a couple notches instantly from the visit. I have been grateful for all my time with Joe from before and after the visit. Though I try, I can not find the enough words to truly express my appreciation. When I decided early off that I was going to pursue Full-Time Whip Making, I was looking for my identity. I chose Trinity Whip Co. to honor Joe's Northern Whip Co. as well my Big Brother Jesus. Even though there is no patent on the phrase "Whip Co.", I shared that idea with him and made it permanent. I thank Jesus regularly for all the favor he has given to me from Joe. I am always trying to find ways to repay them both and play it forward.

   Again for an uncountable time...Thank you Joe for all you have done, are doing, and will do for me in the future. All of which I am extremely grateful and forever indebted. Our friendship is my treasure and enriches every day I make a whip. Though my mouth can not come nearly close express what is in my heart...I hope you know the appreciation of my spirit. May God continue to bless you and your wonderful family in all they do!

  God bless,

-Blake Bruning

@Trinity Whip Co.


 Joe prepping lace from his hook. Behind him is a 108DM Kangaroo Skin hung as decoration.

 Joe braiding from his hook wearing the Go-Pro camera mounted to his chest.

 Joe cutting the yoke out for the Aqua colored handle braiding.

 This is the 5' 8x12 Plait Matched set he made on the visit.

 This is the 4' 8x12 Plait Saddle Tan and Brandy I made the day I arrived home after my visit.

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