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Welcome

July 21, 2009

Thank you for visiting The Whip Blog, created by Paul Nolan & Lauren Wickline,  your trusted whipmakers and fellow whipcrackers from MidWestWhips.  Our goal is to help you gather information and learn more about about whips during your whipcracking journey, whether you are at the very beginning of researching whips or you are already well on your way down the path of learning to love the sport of whipcracking.  To read more about us and why we created this blog and to find out how you can help us make this blog even better, check out the About Us page.  You may also be able find what you’re looking for by using our handy “search” box near the upper right of your screen.   Or, to start browsing our ever-growing collection of links and articles, please choose from the list of categories over on the right side of your screen.ArrowCategories

Also in typical blog style, all new posts regardless of which category they may fall into, will be posted chronologically with the most recent posts first on this page below these welcome paragraphs.

Once again, thank you for visiting The Whip Blog.  If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for here, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment and ask.  This blog is still quite new, and we are actively looking for suggestions for new articles and topics that would be of interest to the ever-growing community of whipcrackers, whip collectors, and whip enthusiasts.  We promise to do our best to update and add articles as often as our whipmaking responsibilities allow us to.

Thank You,

Paul Nolan & Lauren Wickline

www.MidWestWhips.com

PS: We respectfully ask that you please link back here to this blog if you use our information or pictures, so that we can all continue sharing information and our love of whips freely with each other.

Tutorial: How to change your fall the easy way

April 20, 2012

This tutorial video shows the “easy method” of changing a fall on any standard Australian style fall hitch which is the most common method used today in both Australia as well as the United States. If you aren’t certain that your whip has this style of hitch, feel free to email us a picture of your fall hitch to whipmaker@midwestwhips.com and we will be happy to let you know.

MidWestWhips on the Science Channel show “How It’s Made”

May 23, 2011

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We just wanted to let everyone know that this coming Friday, May 27th at 9pm Eastern Time, MidWestWhips will be featured on a segment of the Science Channel’s show “How It’s Made.”

It appears as though our segment will likely be in the first portion of the show, followed by automated pizza makers, incense cones, and scale turbine engines. :)

You can see some photos that John Leonetti generously shot during the filming both on our MidWestWhips Facebook page Photo Gallery and on John’s site: The Whip Cracking Galleries.

Also, here are photos of some of the whips that you’ll see during the segment:

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Be sure to check your local listings.

Happy Cracking!

Tutorial: How to Tie a Fall Hitch (6 Plait Point)

January 6, 2011

Here is an excellent video showing how to tie a fall hitch by Joseph Strain of www.NorthernWhipCo.com

There are many different ways to tie on a fall, and many different styles of hitches.  The above video shows one of the most commonly used fall hitch styles, and it is the type of hitch used on standard Indiana Jones style bullwhips.

For a video on how to make your own fall, check out the post “Tutorial: How to Make a Leather Fall”

Queen Mary Indy Gear Summit 2010

November 24, 2010

Just this past weekend we attended the 9th Annual Indy Gear Summit onboard the Queen Mary, and we thought it would be fun to share some of the pictures we took while we were there.  The Indy Gear Summit is basically a gathering of fans of the Indiana Jones movies and members of the Indy Gear forum called Club Obi Wan.  Click here to see our blog post about Indy Gear’s forum, and for a link to visit there yourself if you’d like.  Also if you register on the forum (it’s free), you’ll be able to click on the “scrapbooking” section to see a topic that includes a bunch more pictures taken by other photographers from the summit.

Hunting Whip Repair

September 16, 2010
Hunt Whip Repair

(click the photo for a larger view)

Several times per year, we receive hunt whips that are in need of repair.  Traditionally, hunt whips often have a braided loop at the end of their thongs to which the popper is tied directly.  In recent years though, and in the majority of the repairs we do on these hunt whips, we are able to modernize the point of the whip with a fall hitch and leather fall before the cracker/popper.  The last 1/3 of your hunting whip is the section of the whip that has to bear the most abuse while cracking and riding, so having a fall hitch with an easily replaceable fall and popper will help to extend the overall life of your thong.

The hunt whip repair pictured above (click on the photo for a larger view) came to us as you see it on the left – very dry, brittle, missing an attachment point for a popper, and unusable as a practical whip.  We spent some time to re-condition the full whip, restore as much of the moisture as we could to the cracking leather, and then give the whip a replaceable whitehide leather fall.  Hopefully this whip has been given many more years of life now, but the dry rotting of the leather over time has weakened the thong overall.

All owners of any type of leather whips (including hunt whips!) need to be aware that whips need to be taken care of with a whip-appropriate leather conditioner on a regular basis.  If you would like to read more about how to condition your whips, see Leather Dressing/Conditioner: How Much & How Often? and Conditioning Your Whip: Which Leather Dressing?.  The conditioner we use on our whips is Pecards Leather Dressing, available in a variety of sizes on our Whip Accessories page.

If you have a hunt whip that is in need of repair and/or reconditioning, feel free to contact us at whipmaker@midwestwhips.com.

Visitors in Year One

August 7, 2010

We haven’t had the opportunity to make many posts so far this summer (sorry!), but we didn’t want to miss the chance to celebrate The Whip Blog’s One Year Anniversary.  The little world map widget on the right side of the blog (not the photo above) has been tracking the countries that visitors arrive here from since August 15, 2009, and when August 15, 2010 arrives, it will reset to a blank map to begin a new year.

It is exciting to see how many people from all over the world are interested in whips and whipcracking, and have stumbled upon The Whip Blog.  The internet has been a powerful tool to help people learn more about whips, whipcracking, whipmaking, and also an avenue to help whip enthusiasts find each other and be able to meet and crack whips together in person.

The red and gray map pictured above shows the countries that The Whip Blog’s visitors have come from between August 15, 2009 and 2010.  There are 58 visitors’ countries, shown in red – that’s over a quarter of all of the countries that exist in the world!  Top visiting countries (in quantity of visits) include the United States, Poland, United Kingdom, Canada, Peru, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, and the Netherlands.  You can click on the red and gray map above for a larger picture with better detail showing all 58 of the countries.

So, we really just want to thank everyone who has visited The Whip Blog, everyone who has given us suggestions for whip-related blog posts (keep it up!), everyone who has shared his or her whip-related experiences with us, and most especially all of you who are doing what you can, in your own way, to share your enjoyment and knowledge of whips with others.

Thank you!

How to Crack: The Arrowhead

April 2, 2010

We’ve had this whipcracking tutorial for the Arrowhead routine up on Youtube for a few weeks now, but we thought it might be helpful to post it here on The Whip Blog as well.

The Arrowhead isn’t a beginner’s routine.  Before attempting it, you’ll want to first be able to proficiently and cleanly perform the cattleman’s crack, fast and slow figure eights, and the volley.  Also, we always suggest wearing at least eye protection while whipcracking (safety glasses, wraparound sunglasses, etc.), but that eye protection is doubly important when learning a routine like the Arrowhead which requires fast cracking and a plane change in front of your face.  So please, be safe.

Good luck and have fun!

Tutorial: How to Make a Leather Fall

February 26, 2010

Another tutorial video we’ve received several requests for is How to Make a Leather Fall.  We hope that the method we show is simple enough and easy enough to follow that more whipcrackers will feel confident about making not just their own poppers, but also replacement falls for themselves when necessary.  If you have any questions about the method we show, what leather is good for making falls, or about the strips of fall leather that we offer on our Whip Accessories page, please leave us a comment.

Tutorial: How to Make a Popper / Cracker

February 23, 2010

For quite a while now, we have had several people asking for a video tutorial on how to make replacement poppers or crackers for whips.  We finally managed to find the time to put together this video demonstrating a few different ways of making the same basic, standard 100% nylon poppers that we make.  The thread used in this tutorial is available from MidWestWhips on the Whip Accessories page, and is the standard thread that many professional whipmakers use for their poppers.  Feel free to also experiment with other materials, other popper lengths, and different diameters.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful, and please leave us a comment if you have any questions.  Methods for attaching the popper to your fall can be found on the post titled Attaching or Replacing Your Popper/Cracker.

The Historic Edward H. Cooley Collection of Whips

February 23, 2010

For those in whip history or collecting old whips, MidWestWhips is honored to have been chosen to broker the sale of an incredible collection of whips from the 1950’s and 60’s from the Edward H. Cooley Collection. The web pages for the whips is now live at:

http://www.midwestwhips.com/cooleycollectionsale.html

The collection includes a variety of 28 whips by Cecil Henderson, Zairs, Austral Enterprises (David Morgan), and more…

Even if you aren’t interested in bidding or purchasing any of the whips from the collection, you may be interested in having a look at the pictures which include whips that range from 4 plait all the way up to fancy 2 tone 36 plait with patterns and name braiding. There is also a bullneck (no “swing belly” swell) stockwhip, and a 24 plait bullwhip that is plaited entirely in checkerboard!  We have also put up scans of some documents from the collection including letters from 1956 written by Cecil Henderson in response to Cooley, old Austral Enterprises (David Morgan) Catalogs from the 1960’s, and more.

If anyone has any questions about the whips or the collection, please feel free to send an email to CooleyCollection@midwestwhips.com

Easy Braiding Soap Recipe

February 15, 2010

BraidingSoapIvory

Braiding soap (or something that serves the same purpose) is a necessary part of leather whipmaking.  It conditions and strengthens the leather, and serves as a lubricant so that when you pull a strand tight, it slides over and under the other strands and pulls tight clear up into what you’ve already braided.

This is one of the simplest and most basic recipes, and all of the ingredients are either already in your kitchen or can be easily and inexpensively purchased at your local supermarket.  For more recipes (often requiring specialty fats you’d need to request from a kind local butcher), check out the forum on the Australian Plaiters and Whipmakers Association site.

You will need:

  1. A pot, a spoon, and your stove
  2. A cheese grater
  3. One (standard size) 4.5oz bar of pure Ivory soap
  4. One and a half cups of water
  5. One pound of lard
  6. A sturdy container with a lid that seals (to store your braiding soap in after you’ve made it)

1. Grate the bar of soap into the pot with the water slowly, over medium to medium low heat, while stirring often.  Bring the water to a low boil then back down again several times while stirring in order to dissolve the soap as completely as possible into the water.

2. Add the lard and stir it in until it is creamy and there are no lumps left.  Be careful at this step to not let the solution boil.

3. Carefully pour the mixture into your storage container.  Continue stirring your plaiting soap about once every half hour until it starts to cool enough that it becomes difficult to stir.  Then seal the lid on, and wait overnight for the mixture to become firm.  When you are not using your braiding soap, always keep the lid on.

Again, this is just one of the simpler recipes, but it does work quite well and the ingredients are readily available, so it’s a good one to start with.  Some whipmakers use these same ingredients but in slightly different quantities, some use a similar formula but with different animal fats or soaps, some add other ingredients to achieve a particular scent, and some even have completely unique recipes.  Check out the Australian Plaiters and Whipmakers Association site for a few examples of other braiding soap formulas too.  Feel free to experiment with some ideas of your own as well, and leave us a comment if you have any questions or make any interesting discoveries!

SASS & WWPAS Convention 2009

December 13, 2009

WWPASSASS & WWPAS.  These are two acronyms which might make you chuckle if you try to read them out loud like words, but they stand for Single Action Shooting Society and Wild West Performing Arts Society.  SASS was formed in 1987, and works to preserve and promote specifically the history of competitive shooting in the Old West.

This year, as we understand it, the organizers of the annual SASS Indoor World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting in Las Vegas decided to expand their convention to include what they’re calling the Wild West Performing Arts Society (WWPAS).  WWPAS is a group for “western performers dedicated to preserving and promoting the western arts of trick roping, whip cracking, fancy gun handling, trick riding, knife & tomahawk throwing, native dancing, stage combat/stunts, and other heritage arts of the American West.”

So, last weekend (the weekend of December 6th), we headed in to Las Vegas, NV to check out the action at the convention, meet some fellow western performers and craftspeople, and – of course – crack some whips!  The WWPAS addition to this annual SASS convention was new, and not many people knew about it far enough ahead of time to be able to make the trip if they lived too far away, but there was still a nice sized crowd of people performing and practicing their favorite western arts, all in varying degrees of costume.

Whipcracking Room at the SASS/WWPAS Convention 2009

Just a few of the people who are in some way a part of the world of whips who were in attendance include (in no particular order): Pistol Packin’ Paula, Anthony and Mary Delongis, Judy Taylor, Mark Allen, Jack Dagger, Brett Copes (Whipboy), Ben Esseling, Shelby Bond (Cowboy Max), John Leonetti, and of course us (Paul Nolan and Lauren Wickline from MidWestWhips).

There were a lot more people too if you count western arts folks who don’t use whips, and several hundred more if you count all of the SASS people there dressed to the gills in period-accurate wild west gear.  I’d imagine that even more people (including whips people) from other regions of the country will find a way to make it out next year, because I think we all really did have a good time.  There was a separate large room with a very tall ceiling for us all to crack whips in (so we didn’t bother everyone else at the convention with all the noise), and a lot of people took advantage of getting to check out each others’ whips, swap stories, and trade whipcracking tips and tricks.

We definitely plan on going back again next year, and we’ll post about it beforehand here on The Whip Blog so that hopefully even more people will have the opportunity to attend.  I don’t know for sure what the organizers’ plan is for next year, but at least this year there was no cost to attend, and no membership required.  If you’d like to see some more pictures from the WWPAS portion of the convention, click here to check out the photos John Leonetti took while we were there.

Tutorial: How to Tie a New Fall Hitch (4 Plait Point)

November 16, 2009

RSZ4PlaitFall21Tying a fall hitch from scratch as this tutorial shows is generally only necessary if you’re a whipmaker who is finishing a whip or if you are a whip owner whose whip has loose or broken strands at its point.  If you are a whip owner who needs a fall replaced but the fall hitch and the strands just before the fall hitch at the point are intact and still tightly and smoothly sitting in next to each other, there is a MUCH easier way to replace your fall.  We plan to very soon also post a shorter tutorial for that easier method, but since we had this particular whip in for a fall replacement and full point repair just recently, now seemed as good a time as any to go ahead and create the tutorial for a full re-tying of a fall hitch.

Many people choose to send their whip to a professional whipmaker for this type of repair, so if you don’t feel comfortable with or want to try it yourself, don’t feel bad.  Most whipmakers (ourselves included) are happy to perform this whip repair fairly inexpensively.  The majority of the whips out there today end in either a 4 plait (common for cowhide whips), 6 plait (common on various kangaroo whips and Indy whips), or 8 plait (common on higher plait kangaroo whips) point.  This tutorial is only specifically for 4 plait points, although the basic concept behind this particular method of creating a fall hitch can be applied to re-tying fall hitches on 6 or 8 plait points too.

Also, please forgive the large number of pictures/steps.  It’s not as easy as replacing a popper, but it’s actually not as complicated as the number of steps implies either – we just wanted to try to be as clear as possible with the instructions.  On that note, if you have any problems re-tying your hitch using these instructions, please leave us a comment and let us know where you ran into trouble.

The numbers of the steps are in white in the corners of the thumbnail files below.  Please click on the thumbnails in order to view the larger image files with instructions for each step printed directly on the images.

Update 1/6/11: Click here to see a video by Joseph Strain demonstrating this same basic hitching technique on a six plait point.

Queen Mary Indy Gear Summit 2009

November 11, 2009

Just this past weekend we attended the 8th Annual Indy Gear Summit onboard the Queen Mary, and we thought it would be fun to share some of the pictures we took while we were there.  The Indy Gear Summit is basically a gathering of fans of the Indiana Jones movies and members of the Indy Gear forum called Club Obi Wan.  Click here to see our blog post about Indy Gear’s forum, and for a link to visit there yourself if you’d like.  Also if you register on the forum (it’s free), you’ll be able to click on the “scrapbooking” section to see a topic that includes a bunch more pictures taken by other photographers from the summit.

These pictures include the “special mission” that many of us went on for fun (and it was great fun!), cracking all sorts of whips (bullock whips, PH hybrid nylon whips, Indy whips from many different whipmakers, etc.), Anthony Delongis, a few pictures of us and some whip friends and other friends we met there, some pics of the class we taught on basic whips repairs like making poppers and replacing falls, and of course plenty of Indy Gear members dressed in their best Indiana Jones outfits.  We had a wonderful time, and met a tremendous amount of really great people.  Many thanks to the moderators at Indy Gear, our fellow Indy vendors, the organizers of the summit, and of course all 50+ people who showed up to share an amazing weekend with their fellow Indy fans!

Repairs: Pets and Whips Don’t Mix

October 5, 2009
RSZPreRepairButtKnot

Damage: A customer's puppy found and chewed on this custom 32 plait signal whip made by MidWestWhips.

We’ve heard dozens of stories and answered dozens of questions concerning the problems that arise when pet owners don’t keep their whips up and away from their pets.  Dogs seem to be the main offender in whip PuppyShoeChewdamage because they tend to smell the leather of a whip and immediately think “chew toy!” but cats can be problems too.  Believe it or not, we’ve actually even been asked what is the best way to get the stench of cat urine out of a whip.

I don’t mean to single out this particular whip or its owner, because in reality accidents do happen (especially when you’ve got a new puppy in the house – believe me, I know.  We’ve been there too).  But a fine whip is a sizable investment to most of us, and this post is simply meant as a warning and reminder to all pet owners: be sure your pets don’t have access to your whips!

Fortunately this whip was repairable, and now looks good as new again.

Completed Repair: Fortunately this whip was repairable, and now looks good as new again.