Whip Maker's Corner

   Over the years of whip cracking and whip making I have been very blessd to enjoy the crafsmenship and company of many Whip Maker that I consider the best at what they do. Each one of these skilled craftsmen have been very kind and helpful on top of making a great whip that is filled with their spiritual essence. Their character reflect in their outstanding artwork and both are in the highest standard of quality. I asked them all a series of questions that I thought any whip cracker or even whip maker would find enjoyment to hear their responses. I myself looked forward to them and I am proud to have this page to share them with you. I know you'll find enjoyment as I have with this insight in to their lives. God bless all of you to which I consider it an honor to know!

 

 

Ordered Alphebetically

Rhett Kelley

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

   I grew up on a large cattle ranch in central Florida. Cow whips, in particular, were tools of the trade. I was fascinated by the look of the plaits, so I wanted to learn how to do it. 

 

 

2) What is it about whip making you love? 

 

   What I love about it is linked to the last question. I love making whips for cowboys to use at work. This is mostly because of my youth, growing up around cows.I just love it when people send me photos 

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

   I just do the best I know how. I guess the high points would be that I plait my bellies and my knobs don't slip off my bullwhips. People seem to like what I do. I don't consider myself an expert, so I am grateful. 

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made?

 

   That's hard to answer for me. There's a few that come to mind. If I had to pick just one, I'd say this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   It's not a cow whip, but I was really proud of how it turned out. 

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

   It will always be the Florida Cow Whip. It's the whip of my ancestors. It's the whip I first learned to make.

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack? 

 

   This may surprise because I'm such a cow whip fan, but my most favorite whip is a Skip SanSoucie made 6ft latigo woody bull with a bocote handle. I just love the thing. I love how it looks, smells, and pops. I'm not sure he even makes them like that now, but to me, it's a master piece. Skip is at Handmadewhips.com 

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

   That would be the great Bernie Wojicicki. EM Brand Whips in Tasmania. 8ft roohide stockwhip with my first name braided into the grip. 

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire?

 

   Initially, in the days before the internet, it was Richard Clark, the guy who helped teach me to make cow whips. He was pretty much "the man" where I was from. After I got on the internet, I found myself really looking up to guys like Mike Murphy and Bernie Wojicki. Both of these guys were very accepting of me and friendly to me despite my being a nylon-only whipmaker.  

 

 

9) What would you recommend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whip maker when they don't know what the best whip them would be?

 

   I'd suggest asking the maker what's their favorite thing they make and why. Then maybe go with that; it's probably what they're good at. 

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share? 

 

   One thing I'm happy to see is, since 2001, the nylon constructed Florida Cow Whip has gone from relative obscurity outside of Florida, to being a whip that's used in all 50 states and many countries around the world. (It's now probably being made in almost as many places too.) While I know I'm not solely responsible for that, I think it can be said that I played a major role in it since 2001. I'm very happy to have been involved in that as it has helped to spread a little bit of my "Florida Cracker" heritage all over the place. 

 

 

Company Name: Rhett Kelley Whips, LLC.

Website: Cowwhips.com

Email: rhettswhips@yahoo.com

Simon Martin

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

   This would have started as a 13year old when I saw Chris Beck the current Australian Whipcracking Champion at the time whipcracking at an agricultural event in Tasmania .  I bought a whip with money I'd saved off Bernie Wojcicki as soon as I was able to but wasn't until I was 20years old that I decided to make one. 

 

 

2) What is it about whip makeing you love? 

 

   Using my hands and creating something that makes others go "wow".

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

   Not sure what you mean on this question Blake, but here goes.  The tightness of the keepers for competition whipcrackers and building 2 whips as close to matching as possible.  The rest is for others to decide :o)

 

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made? 

 

   A 7ft, 24plait thong with a 36plait handle.  This won the 1st place and the standard of excellence award at the 2007 Royal Easter Sydney Show.

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

   A stockwhip.                                       

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack?  

 

   My pair of 5ft whips that was my 2nd pair I ever made.  They are over 10 years old, but I LOVE them.

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

   Bernie Wojcicki

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire? 

 

   Bernie Wojcicki....I was amazed how he could plait so many strands.  Michael Murphy....neatness of plait and niced matched pairs.   Trevor Barrenger.....my leatherwork teach at school but he also tanned his own hides.

 

 

9) What would you recomend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whipmaker when they don't know what the best whip them would be? 

 

   What whip do you recommend for me?

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share?   

 

    For a first time whipcracker or maker.....just don't give up.  The more you do something the better you get.  I'm still learning and never want to stop :o)  I also would encourage everyone to get children involved in whipcracking as it is excellent for their brain development and also their self esteem.  And be professional in what you do.

 

 

Company Name:  Simon Martin Whips & Leathercraft

Website:  www.simonmartinwhips.com & www.whipmaker.com.au

Email: simon@whipmaker.com.au

Peter Thorndike

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

   The only association I had with whips when I was growing up was watching The Man From Snowy River.  It was my favourite movie and I loved the part where he gives his whip an almighty crack. I never owned one myself. Initially, I got into plaiting as a project for a vacation care program I helped to run where we had a go at plaiting bracelets. I thought it would be cool to make a whip so started trying to learn how to do it.  I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much. I got bitten by the bug real bad!

 

 

2) What is it about whip making you love?

 

   There's many things. The satisfaction of crafting the finest product I possibly can, the feel and smell of the leather, the friends I've made in the whip making community, losing all sense of time as I am working on a whip.

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

   Attention to detail, smooth and even plaiting, ease of cracking.

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made?

 

   I have a top three. The 24x32 plait stockwhip that placed first at the Australian Plaiting Championships in 2014 as this is the whip where I felt a lot of the skills and techniques I had learned and refined over the years really came together. The 24x64 plait stockwhip that won at the 2015 Australian Plaiting Championships is another favourite as it was the most challenging whip I had attempted and turned out to be the most rewarding.  Another favourite whip was the 16x32 stockwhip that was presented to the founding pastor of my church, who was a stockman in his younger days, in 2015. It was the most privileged I have been to make a whip.

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

   The first decent stockwhip I made was a 8 plait, 6 foot kangaroo hide and these would still be my favourite to make. 

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack? 

 

   The 8 plait, 6ft kangaroo hide I referred to above is the one I like to mess around with the most, along with a pair of 5 footers I made.  This is mainly because all the other whips I've made since then have gone to someone else so they are all I've got. I'd like to make myself a pair of 4.5 footers. After that I'm sure I'll "need" something else...

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

   I only have two whips that weren't made by me. That is a 40yr old stockwhip made by Ronnie Ormond and a 8ft nylon bullwhip made by Adam Winrich.  Both are very enjoyable to crack.

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire?

 

   The whipmaker I looked up to the most when I was first starting out was Dennis Gardner. Up until meeting him, I had only really learned from books and the internet and the lack of quality instruction probably showed in my whips.  Dennis very generously gave up many, many hours of his time to teach me how to make whips properly for which I am extremely grateful for. I admired his willingness to help me as well as his attention to detail which resulted in his work being the finest I had seen.  It was not difficult to see why he was the Australian Plaiting Champion many times over.

 

   I also admired and was inspired by Chris Barr's work. His plaiting is unique and beautiful and his creativity with his pattern work is incredible. 

 

 

9) What would you recommend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whip maker when they don't know what the best whip them would be?

 

   I would recommend that someone wanting to get into whipcracking should inform the whipmaker what they mainly want to use the whip for eg general cracking, two handed cracking, target etc and allow the whipmaker to offer suggestions as to what type, length and weight whip would be most suitable.

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share? 

 

   I get a lot of satisfaction from making some tools for myself.  Nearly all the knives and fids I use I have made and it all adds to the enjoyment I get from this fine craft.  I also am constantly looking for ways to improve my work and the process of learning new and different things is something I will continue to pursue as long as I am making whips.

 

 

Company Name:  Peter Thorndike Stockwhips

Website: www.peterthorndike.com

Email: pcthorndike@gmail.com

Blake Bruning

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

   What got me into Whips was definately watching the movie "Raiders of the Lost Arc" when I was a kid. What got me to get into whip cracking was an unfullfilled aquisition as a kid at a Indiana Jones Spectacular at Disney World. I saw the show and wanted the hat, but of course my Dad wasn't going to buy it. When I was old enough to take my own kids I told them that the can get what ever souvenir they want, but I was coming back with the hat! When I got back I decided to go to a goodwill store and create a costume that would go with my leather coat and dress up for Halloween party I host for the kids I teach martial arts to...and of coarse I needed a whip! Then I youtub'ed' some video's of Adam Winrich showing the basic ways to crack a whip and I was hooked. Shortly after I bought an 8' Raiders from Joe Strain.

   What got me into whip making was a couple things. 1st would be a new aquantence in my area by the name of Steve Townsend who was new to making whip making and was making some at cost. I ordered several from him. When I finally had a week off work I visited him and he helped show me how to make one. He helped show me how to cut out a core and belly, how to stretch and prep them, and braid and roll them. We didn't get much more done then that, but once I got home I didn't sleep until I finshed the whole whip. It took me 15 hours total to make my 1st whip...a 4' 12 Plait Black Bullwhip. The 2nd reason I started whip making is that around that time Joe Strain shared with me that he was about to go into retirement and I thought...if i don't learn to make a whip as close to how Joe makes them then maybe no one will!

 

 

2) What is it about whip making you love? 

 

   There are several things I love about Whip making. I love the challenge to make better whip every whip I make, the satisfaction of making something as awesome as a whp from nothing but a kangaroo skin and a sharp knife, and the satisfaction of all the wonderful patrons whom I send a whip to and hear about how much they love it. Though my favorite part may be a little unique with me. When I make a whip for a customer I usually end up spending the week off and on with them via phone chat or text message with them. We usually discuss the whip we are making, sharing stories, and a part of our lives. While the whip is being constructed I enjoy that time together with them and feel they are right there  with me as we build their new whip.

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

   This is a tough one to answer, but I would say the feel and function of how my whip flows when you cast them.

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made?

 

   My favorite whip I made would have to be a 4' 12 plait hand dyed whip I made with my daughter Ava. I cut it all out and she helped me dye it the colors she wanted. She braided and rolled the 1st belly and I of coarse un-braided and re-braided it...but I wil always treasure those memories and that whip. On her last birthday she wanted me to make a new one in black. She gave me the one we originally made. I always keep it in my travel whip bag to help teach new kids who want to learn every chance I get.

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

   I would say a 6' Bullwhip. It is the whip I really learned to "cut my teeth" with and my favorite to target with. It will always hold a spot in my heart.

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack? 

 

   RIght now I would say a set of 4.5' set of nylon stock whips made by Adam Winrich,  a set of 6' Wippa Lace Stock whips made by Simon Martin, and/or a matched set of 6' target whips made by Joe Strain. I really love 2 handded whip cracking right now so any chance I get I try to work on impoving what I can do and learning new routines to play with.

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

   A Joe Strain 8' 12 plait Raiders bullwhip. I looked at a bunch of sites ands a lot of the great whip makers reproductions, but something kept bringing me back to Joe Strain.

 

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire?

 

   Joe Strain has always been my favorite. Before I was able to craft my whip makers eye, I judged every whip based solely on feel and flow. Even after cycling through around a 100 different  whips it still held itself in my heart as the whips I love the best. After I started to see whips from the eyes of a craftsmen...I still find I love his work the best.

 

 

9) What would you recommend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whip maker when they don't know what the best whip them would be?

 

Can I swing on your whip?!!!      Just kidding...

     I would say that they should let the whip maker know what it is about whip cracking that interests and exites them the most. Also they should share why they decided to make a commitment to purchase a whip and get into whip cracking. Let them know what their plans and goals are for the whip they want constructed. They should listen to what the whip maker suggests seriously. Also, they need to consider that they will be buying more then one as it is addicting and good to have several types and lengths...so understand you should make a plan on your first 2-3 whips and not just believet hey will only buy just one.

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share? 

 

 

   I want to thank our Heavenly Father for allowing me to rediscover Him and His lorious Son Jesus as i was I was lost and He guided me to Them. I want to thank my wonderful wife for all her help and support as she watches and teaches our three daughters Emma, Ava, and Maydriana as I grow my skills as a Whip Maker and grow the Whip Community. I want to thank all the Whip Makers that have helped, guided, and shared their craft with me as well as thank them for all the time they gave to share their lives and grow our friendship. I want to thank all the patrons/customers for all their support and sharing our lives and expiriences togther. I love the fact that every other month or so I get a call from about every patron/customer and we just talk and grow our frendship.

 

May god bless you all as you seek Him and His Kingdom,

-Blake Bruning

Coming soon... Joseph Strain, Paul Nolan, Bernie Wojkick, Russel Shultz, and Richard Taubman...and more.

Adam WInrich

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

    I originally became interested in whips after seeing "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" when I was 9 years old.  I wanted to get a whip, so my dad, who was a scoutmaster, made me a whip from nylon rope.  I wanted to get a better whip, but in the days before the internet it wasn't easy to get information on where to get one or how to make one.  The best I could do was use the Boy Scout leather working merit badge book to teach myself how to do a basic 4 strand round braid.  I took some leather my dad had made into chaps, cut it into lace, and made a pretty crude whip with a rope core and a wood handle.

 

 

2) What is it about whip making you love?

 

    With whip making, I enjoy the experimenting.  There is the possibility of experimenting with design and materials to make a better whip that can make cracking easier.  When I do a good job on a whip, it's a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment.

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

    As for the high points of the whips I make, I think it helps that I've spent a lot of time cracking whips and collecting whips.  When I'm trying to make something specific, I have many examples of whips to study, and when I'm finished I have a pretty good idea if the whip performs the way I intended.  When the whip doesn't perform well, I usually have a good idea of what to change, and will get it right the second time.

 

As for high points in my whip making career, one would be making whips with Chris Barr, who won the Australian Whip Making Championships several times.  He gave me a lot of advice, and I eventually won the novice whip making competition in Glen Innes, New South Wales, in 2009.  That's not the open competition, mind you, but some great names in whip making have also won that same competition I was in, including Tony Nugent and Peter Thorndike.  I also made a snake whip in David Morgan's shop in 2012 and had David himself crack it.

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made?

 

   It would be hard to pick the favorite whip that I made.  While it might sound hokey, I can tell when I've had the right mindset when making a whip and it feels like the whip has a soul.  Not every whip does, but some do.  I've heard about this in other crafts, particularly native crafts.  So I'd say my favorite whips are the ones that feel as though they have a soul, and I've put a part of myself into the whip.

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

    My favorite whip to make is one where I've thought about the design for quite a while, and then the enthusiasm for the design makes it seem like the whip makes itself.  Right now I'm trying to make some short dacron stockwhips, roughly in the style of the Simon Martin whippa whips that I use a lot.  I'd like to be able to play with the design to see if I can make a better cracking whip.  My least favorite whip to make would be one that I've made a lot and I know exactly how it is supposed to go together.  Then whip making can become boring.

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack? 

 

    Right now my go-to whips are my 4 ft Simon Martin whippa lace whips.  I'm using them to learn some moves created by Todd Rex, and I'm also using them to train to set a new record for the most whip cracks with two whips in one minute.

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

    I can't really remember the first quality whip that I bought.  Originally I never thought about buying whips from other makers.  I know in 2003 I traded Jim Hurlbutt for one of his redhide stock whips with a 16-plait kangaroo handle, but that whip didn't crack very well.  I only started collecting whips when I first met Paul Nolan.  I think I first met Paul in 2005 at the Wild West Arts Club convention and I was really impressed that Paul had whips from several well known whip makers including Mike Murphy and David Morgan.  After that I ordered a 10 ft bullwhip from David Morgan and asked him on the phone if he would make the whole whip himself.  I know the first pair of good kangaroo whips I bought was a pair of bullwhips by Russell Schultz.

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire?

 

    I looked up to David Morgan because he made the Indiana Jones whips.  I also looked up to Chris Barr because the pictures of the whips on his website were the best I had ever seen.

 

 

9) What would you recommend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whip maker when they don't know what the best whip them would be?

 

    What should a first time whip buyer ask a whip maker?  Generally I think they'd ask what whip should I get.  I recommend performance hybrid whips a lot as most of the fancier whip cracking can eventually be learned with them.  Bullwhips are kind of limiting when it comes to learning whip cracking, but popular movies have made them popular.

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share? 

 

    I remember one time I called David Morgan and I was asking him questions about his bullwhips.  I really wanted to make one, and I started asking him specific details about the whip, such as how much lead to put in the butt of the handle.  I don't always have the best people skills, and he got kind of frustrated with me.  Eventually he told me to figure out what kind of whip I wanted to crack and then make that whip.  He created the 450 series bullwhip through his own study of other whips, experimentation, and trial and error.  Back then I just wanted to copy what he had done.  But I think it's better to study what has been done and then to continue the development to make something new.

 

Also, I got to meet Joe Strain in 2012.  I hadn't talked with Joe that much, but I was really impressed with how much attention he gave to the strength and durability of his materials, and the efficiency of his methods.  I generally would figure out what I wanted to make, and then make it without worrying about wasted time and materials.  Joe would continue the development of his design by figuring out how to maintain the quality while making the whip as fast and efficiently as possible.  Of course, Joe spent a number of years making whips full-time, supporting his family.  I made whips full-time for only a couple years before I turned to performing, and I would have never been able to support a family on what I made just making whips.

 

Company Name:  Winrich whips

Website: www.Winrich.com

Email: info@winrichwhip.com

Bernardo Del Carpio

1) What started your passion for whips and whip making?

 

    For some reason whips have always fascinated me. I remember I saw as a little boy the movie Clash of the Titans, where one of the characters used a whip. It immediately grabbed my attention. Not long after, Raiders of the lost Ark hit the theaters (I was 12) and then I was hooked. I was 12 at the time, and started playing with a belt as a stand in for a whip. I also had a braided dog leash on hand to play Indy with my brothers. Then my dad made me a rope whip. I had a lot of fun with it. A few years passed and TOD came along, so my interest in whips revived again. This time I had a local saddler make me a leather bullwhip. It wasn't a real bullwhip, but it was a huge improvement over the feather-weight rope whip. Again, I had a lot of fun with it, and learned to do a few cracks, after watching many times the Cairo scene in Raiders. A few more years passed and then Last Crusade was on the cinemas. I was in Spain at the time studying graphic design. I saw some cheap bullwhips on the souvenir shops, so it took me a couple of weeks to save enough money to buy one of those. They looked the part, but the one I got was not made of real leather, and it started to break at the point rather quickly. I needed a new one. Then I saw an add on Guns & Ammo magazine of The Leathersmith company; they offered a real Indy whip, so I ordered their catalog. Shortly after I ordered a swivel handle bullwhip, which was all I could afford. I also ordered the Art of the Bullwhip video (in VHS), and then learned not only how to crack whip but also about David Morgan and his whips. I couldn't afford one at the time, but they were something I had to have a some point. More years passed, and the internet was born. I found David Morgan's website and my obsession for the Indy whip revived. So I finally ordered for my 30th birthday one of his whips. I was impressed with the workmanship and how easy it cracked. After many hours of staring at it I decided to make one. That started my passion for whip making.

 

 

2) What is it about whip making you love?

 

   I'm not sure. I guess he idea of being able to handcraft a whip myself attracted me, since I admired David's work. Then it was the idea of learning and improving. Then it was perfecting my work and make the best possible whip.

 

 

3) What do you believe are your high points on your crafted whips? 

 

    In general, attention to detail, and easy of cracking. On my Indy style whips, I like to think they preserve the design parameters and look of the original whips, while at the same time they show my personal style and way to do things.

 

 

4) What's your favorite whip you made?

 

    In general, it's hard for me to have favorite of anything. I don't have a favorite whip. All are special to me in some way.

 

 

5) What is your favorite type of whip to make? 

 

   That's easy, the Indy style. I love bullwhips. I don't like stockwhips or other types of whips that much. That's why I don't make them.

 

 

6) What is your "go to" whip when you have a chance to crack? 

 

    One of my 8 footers. Again, I don't have a favorite.

 

 

7) Who was the maker of the first high quality whip you ever owned that wasn't  made?

 

    David Morgan. I purchased an 8 footer from him back in 2000, and I'm impressed to this day of its balance and how well it cracks.

 

 

8) Who were the whip makers you looked up to when you started to make whips and what about them or their work did you admire?

 

    Definitely David Morgan. Shortly after I started in whip making I began calling him on the phone and asking him lots of questions. I was surprised of how patient and generous he was in sharing his knowledge with me. Then he invited me to visit him and that was the ultimate experience for me. After that I met Joe Strain, who has been an awesome friend. I admire his work a lot, he's an absolute master. Other whipmakers that I looked up when I started were Mike Murphy and Russell Schultz. Also important in my whip making career has been my friendship with Paul Nolan. I had the rare opportunity to meet him and actually live in the same house for a few months, which bolstered our friendship. We enjoy having long talks on the phone. We've shared a lot of knowledge and learned from each other while having fun.

 

 

9) What would you recommend a first time whip enthusiast to ask a whip maker when they don't know what the best whip them would be?

 

     The most common question a newbie has is what's the best length to start with. (My usual reply is 8 feet), so I am not sure what a first time whip enthusiast should ask other than that. I think before ordering they should do their homework and read on forums about whips, whip cracking and whipmakers. Then it won't be really necessary to ask many questions to their whipmaker of choice.

 

 

10) Is there anything you would just like to add or share? 

 

     I just would like to thank you Blake for the opportunity to share a bit about me and my experience as a whipmaker.

 

Company Name: Del Carpio Whips

Website: www.delcarpiowhips.com

Email: info@delcarpiowhips.com

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