Secrets and passions of a manufacturer of whips

March 14, 2012 Interview with portal of the National Circus.

Giovanni Celeste Workshop

“It is very likely that the intuition of the concept of the whip has come to men observing the movement of the tails of cattle intent to drive away flies and various parasites. ” Word of a true expert, John Celeste, one that whips the building in a traditional way with passion and competence. But when and where does the whip? “The concept of the whip and its relative motion is lost in the mists of time for which it is very difficult to fix a historical period. As geographical area, from historical artifacts it is customary to frame the Euro-Asian. ” So begins the tale of a craft, which is also an art, to which Giovanni Celeste was drawn to as a child, going to the circus. And it was love at first sight, or whisk as you prefer.

There is the “Michelle”, the whip agitated with Catwoman Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Batman – The Return, is that of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, c ‘ is dell’ammaestratore, there’s that wielded by mounted Cossacks, in short, the whole range available.

Mr. Celeste, you usually hear about whips “Australian” and “American.” What are the differences? There are no whips “Italian”

Both have as their common factor control of cattle, but the distinction between Australian and American whips strictly adheres to the data related to external and internal features and of course the type of leather used.

Catwoman whip – MICHELLE PFEIFFER style made by Giovanni Celeste

The Australian, the best in terms of workmanship and performance, differ mainly in the use of kangaroo leather (4 times stronger than leather) which makes it possible to achieve elegant pattern interwoven with thin listine up to 1 or 2 mm in width. Further distinctive element of Australian is the presence of plaited belly ie of an inner layer which is also twisted as if it were a whip woven within the same whip. Finally, further macro element is represented by the handle, whose length in Australian models varies between 30 and 50 centimeters and the fall, ie a tail of about 80 centimeters long leather, tapered, present at the end of the braided body that facilitates the realization of pops multiple and a number of figures of precision as the hitting or grasping objects at a distance.

Instead the U.S.

Their origin has been strongly inspired by Spanish culture, which in turn inspired by that of the Moors, masters in the art of tanning and leather work. For which the models closely Americans have a long handle between 20 and 25 cm, are deprived of the interlocking Australian style plaited belly, but generally have a core of rope as a nucleus on which is woven the whip. The skin is generally used and the calf and the plot of the hoses may vary from 4 to 8 strips.

Another distinctive feature is the presence or absence of the fall (the tail of leather present at the end of the interlacing of a whip). In American models in which is present it will have a shape very squat as a leather belt with a length of about 50 centimeters and a width of 6. In the case of absence of the fall will be a cracker, or a lanyard end directly attached to the end of the plot.

Ultimately these traits apparently unnecessary eye of an outsider, creating a stark contrast between the two models making their whips made of Australian style far superior in terms of performance and durability.

The whip perhaps most famous for movie lovers is that of Indiana Jones: what features does it have?

model whip of Indiana Jones was built in the 70s by the American David Morgan whipmaker although strongly inspired by the Australian models.

What did Mr. Morgan was to set up a whip in kangaroo merging the proportions of the American model (eg the length of the handle 20 cm) by building internal and external Australian models.

Models Italian whips do not exist?

course there are whips and wooden tapered handle with a flexible hackberry along between 90 and 130 cm, rolled up like a rope with 4 strands, the end of which is fixed braided cord ending with a staple in charge to generate pop. They are famous all over the world the Sciucaren Romagna accompanying polkas and mazurkas time popping the whip.

What are the main types of whips?

Giovanni Celeste at work

usually whips are divided into two broad categories: single section or double section.

belong to the first group whips where the section handle flexible body is a single piece is not interrupted. These include models Bullwhip and Targetwhip: are characterized by the presence of a handle, whose length is between 20 and 50 centimeters, the length of the handle above the 30 cm makes it ideal for performing precision numbers, confers better control the whole whip.

Then there are the models Snakewhip and Signalwhip: both are substantially as a bullwhip also in the processes of construction but devoid of handles which make them flexible throughout their length. Hence the origin of the name.

The Signal whip differs further to the absence of the fall and for the presence of the lanyard braided directly on the final part of the plot leather. Particular feature of these models is the presence within the heart of a sheath of leather coated with lead shot (shot loaded core) that extends for a good part of the final length of the whip. The purpose of this particular procedure is to increase the weight of the whip and achieve greater ease of snap.

what is judged good whip, from the pop

No, because that place a cord attached to a stick as a matter of physics could snap, is not so much pop in it the element of a good assessment of whip , as the ease and timeliness of implementation and execution of the same snap. So there are many criteria for evaluating a good whip whose punctual presence in only one model makes a whip can be considered well done, such as: leather used and their construction techniques, precision of the plot, the proportions of ‘affusolatura of the whip, lack of swelling evident in the points in which scale the number of strips to be woven, tonicity interlacing constant throughout its length and another.

What are the secrets to make a good whip?

Like all crafts the preparation of a whip requires relevant presence of what I call the three “p”: passion, skill, patience.

What materials is made a whip?

Generally, the materials used are cowhide, kangaroo or nylon in geographical areas characterized by excessive moisture.

How long does it take to build a whip?

Building a whip is a job that requires a certain amount of energy and patience in the preparation manual contains all of the necessary, so it is not easy to say exactly how many days you may accomplish because variables as the final length required and the number of listine outer coating can increase the number of days. If you really want to give a rough estimate we could say between 5 and 14 days.

Average cost of a whip? Minimum and maximum?

Even in this case, the considerations mentioned above, since variables as type of leather, final length required and the number of listine outer coating will increase the cost from 150 to over thousand euro in the event high customization.


His whips were used in the movies?

Yes, I made whips for short films, and I had the privilege of building a whip donated to the Italian voice of Indiana Jones: Mr. Michael Gammino. Also my whips have been requested in other artistic contexts like circuses, theaters, art galleries and showcases.

feels a bit ‘like a fish out of water to build whips in a time of particular sensitivity towards animals? The whip is not likely to be a negative symbol, reminiscent in some way to the imposition and submission

As to the first question I personally think politically incorrect attend sports such as bullfighting, fox hunting where exploitation of the animal is for purely frivolous or folk. The ulterior motive that prompted me to choose kangaroo skin as well as the quality of resistance mentioned above, relates to the fact that given the excessive number of copies that undermine the balance of the environment and territory, the government has their systematic killing. Consequently, all the leather used by me are certified tutelary of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora.

With regard to the age-old stereotype equation whip and equal taxation / submission I have to have to make some clarifications on this classic cliché.

Say well …

It is not that it is not true, as the whip was used as a means of punishment and torture. But this is only one facet of the many as the whip has always had a deep ancestral ties with the man having been used for centuries in different contexts and purposes as a means to ward off evil spirits, to propitiate fertility, to overcome some evidence of male virility, to achieve the purification of the spirit and the body of the sublimation and other religious rituals.

In light of the above seems strange and unfair having to necessarily relegate the whip to a single area.


Elvio Togni – Togni Circus

The whip domain means the animal or not?

prefer to speak of control and communication as the concept of domination presupposes conduct put in place aimed at overcoming free man to the animal.


use the whip without hitting the animal makes the same hissing can indicate the direction to keep the animal in order to prevent it moves away from the herd. In short, the whip has the same function as the horn of the car or sheepdog.

What jobs are now whips

Apart from the immediate uses circus and those related to the horse world today is increasingly spreading to Europe in the sport of whipcracking that is the art of using the whip to performances spectacular as the time the number of snaps per minute or make pops in different ways, or accurately hit targets at a distance …


Among its customers there are also circus? What features should have the whip used in the circus

Addition to collectors, I am pleased to count among my clients prestigious names in Italian circus scene known throughout the world (Orfei and Togni), street artists, art galleries and film costume.

models vary depending on the animal to handle so we will have to whip horses, elephants, lions and other big cats.

In any case we speak of fuste always constructed in two sections, handle and flexible body, but the proportions will vary according to the contexts mentioned above.

How did your passion for whips and why he decided to start (when?) this activity?

remember I had about 8 years old when I saw the circus and I was impressed to see it grow in the air as if it came from the same arm trainer or as if it were an extension of the same.

I just remember coming home I took a piece of wood and a rope and stared at him with the fantasy that may have a child at that age it seemed like a real whip!

My first “whipmaker” was my mother who taught me to weave with three stripes, since then I have tried, tried and tried again, but the results were far from building a whip similar to those seen through the film. Then I saw the movie Indiana Jones and my pain of not having a whip grew larger. The real problem was the total lack of information, photos, manuals that explain how it was done, detailed images, close-ups … On the other hand I knew by heart all the movies where there were whips (western, epic fantasy) and was the ‘only way to see them at least on video. But after the “Middle Ages” came the “renaissance”: internet! I remember the first research I did on the Altavista search engine was to write in Italian whisk find numerous links to sites BDSM, so I tried to write Whip and instead was a triumph!

So I know Mr. Morgan and other large manufacturers of whips and discovered his great contribution to the production of Indiana Jones.

But my limit was obviously the language of their websites, all in English with a dictionary helping me … So I discovered the meaning of technical terms such as bolsters, plait, overlays, etc. .. Does not yet have a credit card I was practically impossible to buy educational books so I had to study and search the web hundreds of photos to see the details and watching carefully the picture I figured it out and little by little how to weave. I was pretty much a self-made man, since then many years have passed and I’m still learning.

But because one day he decided to embark on a profession manufacturer of whips

The reason I have decided to start to undertake this long journey I did not know the answer, in the sense that I should go to analysis to know the real reason.

It is quite unusual to have made the decision not to pursue the legal career and devote himself to the craft. Let’s say I can turn their passion into a job may be the dream of many. I personally have a strong attraction to all that is craft, you can see a piece of marble, wood and leather, you already know in advance that form will become and what has a charm all its own.

In an age increasingly dynamic therapeutic’m almost having to move away with sneaking a certain lifestyle with work “hand in” constant challenge in controlling and shaping the material.

How many whips carried out in a year?

As a business, then by definition fluctuating, it is not a precise figure what I’m talking, but if I wanted to make an average annual production is expected at around 50/60 unit.

She is the only Italian manufacturer or are there others?

As the first in Italy for several years I pioneered with all the pleasant and less pleasant consequences resulting therefrom. Today, thanks to the presence of social networking sites such as youtube the scene is changed in part because they are beginning to look out whipmaker new aspirants who think that it is enough just to learn to weave to aspire to the sale of products like these, without having the humility to realize that is just beginning.

Luckily I can list two very promising in part benefited from my pioneering work. The first, Emanuele, is a good friend of mine today part time valid manufacturer of leather whips and a great collector of models from whipmaker world famous.

Initially it was in a sense my first apprentice as taking advantage of my mistakes and my experience through hours and hours of phone conversations always talking about whips and the weekend ‘ I helped to grow fast to develop, as it should be, its own way and style of construction.

Today from customers over the years has turned into good friend and part-time manufacturer of whips beginning to create his lap.

Further valid manufacturer of leather whips also part of my ‘disciple’, revolves in the world of BDSM building and customizing accessories with excellent cat o ‘nine tails.

Who is instead the number one in the world

I personally believe that each whipmaker in his innermost self believe to be the number one, because each of us eventually developed his own way of interpreting and build and assemble a whip. This eventually results in a good scenario for a system of stimulating competition and creating models better and better in terms of aesthetics and utilitarian. Actually, I think there is the best, but in this case it is divided into good and poor builders. The rest would be a bit like asking if you prefer Michelangelo or Caravaggio … Obviously in this case, place the unquestionable artistic of the two, the choice will depend on the particular emotions that their works will be able to arouse. Each whipmaker, without the main cornerstones of whipmaking, interprets in its own way the processes of construction of a birch species on the inside thus giving rise to unique patterns of its kind, unique in terms of shape, size, weight and response.

The decision to buy a model over another or prefer one manufacturer over another will be dictated by a multitude of circumstances, personal taste, budget, aesthetic appeal , feeling and even fashion or for “political patriottistici.”