Friday, April 16, 2010

The Leather Stock Whip

Our farmboy made a leather stock whip this year for the handicrafts division of our county fair. He received an Honorable Mention for this piece..which was then displayed during the remaining fair auctions. The stock whip is now home with us and lovingly hanging on the farmboy's bedpost. As all handwork, this is a part of him..a piece of his life...a learning and growing experience..a treasure for him and us..for we shared in the process with him.
I cannot truly say where the notion to make whips came from, but this was the second leather whip he has made. Leather work seems to fit well with boys...developing a patience and perserverance that only a handwork can do.
As a small boy, it was hard for me to encourage him in a handwork...he's a boy..I truly had no experience with boys. Teaching him little bits sparked a self-learning..he began with simple weaving, knot making, and progressed to braided designs in both leather and jute or hemp. We searched library books, purchased books, did online studies to encourage and grow these skills.
Last year he found a kit online for making a bull whip...purchased it as well as a book on different types of whip making designs and techniques. Before using the kit, he practiced on strips of denim, material, rope, cord, and scrap leather. The bull whip last year also received Honorable Mention..and our farmboy was rather relieved not to sell the whip..he had become rather attached to it.
This year he chose a different style whip to make, however, the company he ordered the kit from last year could not be found...he had to keep looking..all the while sharpening his tension and technique for the project.
He did find a kit to use and diligently worked through the process. Step by step he conditioned, and softened...stretched and worked the leather until it was pliable and yielding. The braid was time consuming and occasionally frustrating...trying to maintain tension and even gage..working in the fall and belly..the cracker...rolling the leather to set the weave...more conditioning and blocking. In the end ..... the most anticipated part is cracking it for the first time. You should see the look of accomplishment when that sound rings in!
He somewhat dreaded entering the work...he loved it. All throughout the waiting he mentioned not being sure he wanted to see it go. You know, God loves young boys...He knows their heart. I was surprised at the look of relief when I told him he was granted Honorable Mention...he did not want to part with his work...he just loved the process...the results...the accomplishment of it all.
He received some good comments from his judge ...some tips for the next time..and the joy of the process.
As I mentioned before, there are no's not about the awards, it's about the rewards. This project was harder, longer, and stretched his mind, his will, and his flexibility. The process is what mattered...the experience..the calluses are worth it..this piece is a part of him..of us..of this year in our lives. The leather stock whip is hung with honor on his bedpost..treasured by him, for what it taught him, where it took him, and where it may lead him next.
simplychele with the farmboy

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