I never met Bernie, or even corresponded with him, but because of a series of videos he thoughtfully made in the years before he died, I feel like I know him a little bit. His videos taught me how to cut, re-size, bevel, and plait kangaroo hide whips.
The videos also gave glimpses into the type of person he was. I know what music he liked, I know that he was a dog person, hated blow flies, loved his life and his wife. He left dozens of little hints in his videos about himself and his craft and his life. I know that he took a great deal of pride in his craft and that he never stopped trying to learn more about and to improve his whips. I wish I could have met him.
Everyone I have ever heard of that did know him or correspond with him has nothing but good things to say about him. They talk about how approachable he was and how willing he was to pass on his knowledge about the craft.
He was very worried about the fact that whipmaking was a dying art and he wanted to do what he could to turn that around. He did that by making videos. You can see them on YouTube on his channel, Bernie46.
Bernie probably made close to 3000 whips in his life and I was lucky enough to come across #2743 a few days ago on eBay and bought it. You cannot imagine what a thrill it is for me to hold this whip, to touch something that that this legend has made, to crack a whip made by a master, to own a piece of art made by a man that had been making art for decades and whose work I strive to emulate.
I have had other teachers since Bernie- Rachel McCollough at Wolf Creek Whips, Tyler Blake at ExoWhips, Nick Schrader of Nick’s Whip Shop, Roy Partin at Gator Whips, and Bill Nones, to name a few, but Bernie Wojcicki was the first.
Here are a few photos of the whip. It is nearly 5 years old and I bought it from Mr. Carlisle, who took very good care of it, making me the second owner of the whip.
2 thoughts on “Bernie”
I was fortunate enough to actually correspond with Bernie. I wrote him after buying his video (pre-Youtube) and he was incredibly generous with his time and expertise. And even though he was a master at his craft, he was perpetually open-minded, happy and even excited to discuss new ideas and approaches. His humility about his own technique set a great example, urging everyone to listen and be open-minded while guiding his interlocutors towards time-tested skills. His techniques are the basis for all my whipmaking work, and I’m forever in his debt.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Bernie and his whips. I’m sure he would be touched to know we still talk about him.