If you read my blogs at all, I am sure you know about Willow. A sentimental kind of whip, in which I had used a finished piece of diamond willow, made by my dad, as a handle. It was the last piece he had made before he died, and I made a whip from it.
I had sent the whip off to Germany and it was featured in the Art Whip Review, by Robby Amper. From there, it was sold to someone in New Zealand, who wanted it for it’s sentimental value and aesthetic appeal. Oddly, it took more than a week to clear German Customs and when it did finally arrive in New Zealand, there were problems. The transition had been hyperextended backwards to the point that the binding was frayed and stressed, the plaiting was loose and the whip was a mess. The only right thing I could do was bring it home and rebuild it for my customer.
When it did come home, I immediately began to take it apart. When removing the transition knot, I could see that the peg that the thong was built on had been bent, and the handle itself was cracked, further proving to me that the whip had undergone some kind of incredible stress in between Munich and New Zealand. What stress is something I cannot accurately describe with any amount of truth, though I speculate German Customs found the need to open it and look it over for whatever reason–violently.
My customer made it clear that he wanted Willow to be rebuilt as it was, in terms of looks, but since Willow V1 was the 5th whip I had ever built, I thought it might be a good idea to improve on the few things that experience had taught me the second time around. So, after repairing the crack in the handle and reinserting a new foundation peg, I proceeded to build Willow again, only this time, I gave it a slightly longer thong and longer transition, keeping all colors and general aesthetics the same.
The end result was an even more beautiful whip with better functionality than before.
What Did I Learn?
The only advice I can give to anyone else that runs into this situation is, to make sure to take photographs before you send your whip. Never try to hide things from your customers. I like to, not only send photos of the finished whip to my customers, but also a mid-build picture to let them know it is being worked on and they can “see” what is going on inside their build. This will also give you a record of what state the whip was in when it left you, dissuading any abuse issues that can come up. This particular instance was no fault. I knew my customer and did not feel he would have abused the whip on purpose. I also know Robby Amper and trust him when he says that the whip was in good condition when it left him. That only leaves Customs. I had no choice but to do the right thing and rebuild the whip for my customer. I did this for free and paid for the shipping from the US back to New Zealand.
Was the whip abused? Yes. However, it was abused in a way that is uncommon and not what I would expect from a customer beating on a whip. This was some kind of inspection that resulted in real internal damage. I might even speculate that it had been stepped on or ran over in some way. Also, it was my 5th whip ever made. The customer knew this, but the rebuild process was a way for me to correct my mistakes from my learning process and make it better. I feel that this was a circumstance in my favor. In the end, I made no money from this whip, but I did gain experience and a life lesson, so I am not empty handed.
I do not, however, rebuild for obvious abuse on the part of the customer, which I am perfectly able to recognize and clearly describe on my Use, Care, and Dirty Truths page. My testimony does not promote being bullied into free stuff : Take lots of good, detailed, dated photos and know your product. Care about it and your customer and take pride in what you do. If you are proud of your product, it’s owner will be proud of it too.
If you do, however, need to fix something (we all make mistakes sometimes), do it the best you can. Photograph your process and share with your customer. They will appreciate the extra time, and will trust you enough to come back and bring their friends.
Take care of yourselves and be well.