The Right Popper for the Job; Blake Bruning's New YouTube Video Series; Updates
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The Right Popper for the Job

By Chris Camp 

(I asked several bullwhip artists about poppers/crackers. Chris "The Whip Guy" Camp contributed an answer I felt should be an article in itself.
Hope you enjoy it.
- Robert Dante -)

I use two types of material for my crackers; twisted nylon and  polypropylene.

The twisted nylon crackers I either make from nylon upholstery thread, bought at any craft or fabric store,
OR sometimes I buy a spool of pre-twisted nylon line. This is similar to "mason line," but it is found in the sporting section of most department stores. It is sometimes referred to as "catfish line" and is usually found in the fishing section. It is typically black or dark brown in color.
The lengths of the crackers varies from 5" to 12" in length, depending on the whip being used, and the trick being performed. The longer length is used for cutting newspaper.
For longer whips (25 feet or longer), I use heaver/thicker crackers colored white or red. The crackers must be heavier, as I have found that a typical weight cracker will cut the fall, as the torque of the whip crack is too much for the fall to handle. The color makes it easier for an audience to see as it moves along the ground. These can be either poly or heavy nylon as shown.
The main advantage of nylon crackers is their durability, as they outlast poly crackers.

The "poly" crackers are made from two weights of poly; a lighter weight, white poly that I use for stock whips and two-handed routines.
I buy my poly line at my local "Farm and Home" store, it is red and comes on a spool with enough poly to last years. I use this heavier poly cracker for "arena" work where I need a louder crack, since I am some distance away from my audience. The poly also collects less debris like small pieces of dirt which could be thrown from the whip into the audience.

Heavy nylon cracker 12" for longer whip
Slender nylon cracker 12" for paper cutting
Typical length nylon cracker
Typical length poly cracker for arena work.

Crackers in raw form.

25ft kangaroo whip made by Joe Strain
with nylon cracker

With the pre-twisted line, the fall is folded over and the line is wrapped around the new  eyelet created by the folded fall. The wrap is left loose and the free end of the line is fed through the loops made by the line. It is then pulled tight and trimmed.



Whip maker/performer BLAKE BRUNING has started posting  videos he collectively titles "Whip Making Points of Light and Understanding: How to Have a Whip Makers Eye." The video above is his intro to the series.
He writes, "It wasn't until I started making whips and through help (of others more talented then myself) come to understood how to make them better and what to look for. As a whip cracker and enthusiast, I probably had a hundred whips pass through my hands in my first few years. In hindsight, I am surprised how little I actually looked at a whip from a craftsman's point of view. It may have been easy to tell the difference between a well made whip and a shoddy whip, but I could only really judge it by how it felt in my hand. I didn't know how to look at taper, strand matching, strand drops, braiding, hitches, and other elements so vital to a well made whip.
"If someone would have pointed all these things out to me earlier, I'd have understood -- but I never actually had someone who could do that for me.
"So my goal here is to help other whip crackers, enthusiasts, and aspiring whip makers understand how to look at a whip from a skilled whip maker's point of view. I want to open your eyes and ears of understanding and enlightenment  so you can appreciate good craftsmanship when you see it."
This is video number two:

About this video, Blake writes, "The main feature in this video is overall taper of a bullwhip. I feature a bullwhip from Joseph Strain (, Paul Nolan (, Casey Tyler (, Peter Thorndike (, Steve Townsend (, and myself Blake Bruning ( I talk briefly about things like features on an Indiana Jones-style Bullwhip, strand drops, seam, and other things, but the focus is on the general taper of a bullwhip."

(Bravo, Blake! This is a valuable contribution to the worldwide whip-cracking community. Many thanks! -RD-)
       Today's newsletter might seem slim compared to others I've sent you; My schedule for the last few months has been project-heavy -- but I'd rather send you a small something than a big nothing.
So let's dive into it:
       The Bullwhip Index is playing a bigger role at Bullwhip.Net, now. Listings are updated and will feature the locations of listed whip makers, performers, teachers, etc.
       I am always keeping an eye out for new whip-related products for our Shop  (falls, poppers, and more). The book "Let's Get Cracking! The How-To Book of Bullwhip Skills" continues to hold its place in Amazon' Top 10% Best Sellers (Thank you!).
       The saying, "A pleasure shared is twice the pleasure," has long been true in my life; it's very much my pleasure to share the Bullwhip Experience with you. 
       So be safe, and we'll see you in the next newsletter - and the next one won't be so long in coming to you!
Best thoughts,

- Robert Dante -
New Appearances Set
Robert Dante packs his bags and heads to Melbourne Australia for 10 days in September. He will be on the West Coast in July and return to New York City for a Whip Weekend in December (Stay Tuned!).
Copyright © 2017 Robert Dante, All rights reserved.

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