Because I have been too sick the past few days – ever since Max left on Wednesday, in fact – to process his visit and write about that, or about much of anything else, I’ll substitute thought with pretty pictures instead. When I was up in Seattle for Paradise and staying with Max a couple months back, we took a short side trip to David Morgan’s store. There, Max gifted me with my very favorite kind of gift – raw material for creating something with my hands; in this case, it was a whole, black-dyed kangaroo hide. And perhaps he wasn’t expecting anything in return for that, but in my mind the fate of that roo hide was very clear: to become a whip to gift to him.
For weeks after I returned from Seattle, I didn’t touch the hide, except to inhale its heady scent now and then. It was beautiful, strong, and supple – and like a blank canvas, I was afraid of making that first stroke, the first cut into the hide. I made some test cuts from the free bag of scrap leather I’d also picked up at David Morgan’s instead, and I instantly fell in love with how beautifully and smoothly the leather cut using my lace strander.
But finally, with Max’s arrival only days away, I unrolled the hide and began putting together the parts for his whip.
Above is the shot-loaded core, a tapered strip of leather 33 inches long, duct-taped into a cone and filled with #11 lead shot. Here, I am getting ready to cut out the bolster to wrap around the shotbag. Various implements and tools of note, from left to right: tape measure, glass jar of aforementioned lead shot, nitrile glove with which to handle the lead shot, pens for marking the leather, a paper funnel for getting the lead shot into the shotbag, bonded black nylon thread for the whip’s braided cracker, utility knife, duct tape, Aussie lace strander, and scissors.
Other things I used that aren’t shown in the photo: staple gun, tacks, electrical tape, and sewing thread. Oh, and a tiny strip of paper that had various measurements on it for adjusting the width of the strander.
I should also note that the shotbag and bolster were cut from a long strip of soft leather gifted to me by the lovely Sparrow, whose beautiful leatherwork and craftsmanship are an inspiration. Thank you, Sparrow!
Once I’d begun the process, things went fairly smoothly and quickly, and I felt the whip coming together much more easily than with my first attempt. I did hit a minor learning curve with the lace strander but got used to it after a few trial runs.
I am ecstatic to be able to say just how happy I am with the finished product. It is not an exaggeration that Max’s whip is exponentially better than my first whip, and it is completely satisfying to see the lessons I learned from my whipmaking experiment translate into a better product the second time around.
There is a pure, giddy joy in learning a craft that involves using my hands. As much as I enjoy my digital hobbies and the skills and learning that those require, I will always treasure being able to create a physical object for another person to enjoy tactilely. (And, as it turned out, this particular object would be enjoyed very tactilely on me.)
But enough words. Here are some quick photos I took before handing the whip over to Max. I wish I’d taken more of the entire thing, as I didn’t end up getting any pictures of the braided cracker or any detail shots of the heel knot. I will have to remember to take more photos the next time I see Max.