Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment


  • Tag Archives Gery L. Deer
  • Tripple candle snuff explained

    The Whip Artistry Studio: April 15, 2014 – While candle snuffing might seem cliche to many whip artists, studio director, Gery L. Deer, has made it into an art form. His multi-candle snuffs may not be noticed by Guinness Book, but they take skill and practice.

    “The first time I did what we call the ‘candle whippers ™’ routine on national television, I was inundated with questions about which popper I used, or how to glue the candle to the holder, or some other nonsense,” Deer remembers. “The simple fact is, there is no trick to candle snuffing. Anyone can scoop the flame off by splashing the popper into the wax, but to gently snuff the candle out with the wind of the crack takes far more time and patience to learn.”

    In the video shown on this page, Gery is being filmed by videographer Rich Hoffman in a continues, one-shot. Rich is sitting just beyond the stool on which the triple candle setup is arranged.

    Gery set up three, ordinary candles in a triangle configuration, about 4 inches apart from each other. The two votive candles are left over from a world-record attempt by Gery’s friend Robert Dante at the 2013 Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase.  One of them is sitting on a tin root beer mug and the other flat on the mat that’s covering the top of the wooden stool on which the candles are resting. The third candle is a stick-type, utility candle sitting in a cheap, sterling silver holder.

    Arranged in a triangle, shortest to tallest, the candles are not secured to the surface or holder in any way. The goal was to snuff each candle, one at a time, smoothly, and carefully, regardless of their position or height.

    “It doesn’t matter what kind of popper or whip you use for candle snuffing,” Gery says. “Your level of skill is what matters and how much time you’re willing to put in on it. You also have to keep in mind that the whip should never touch the wax or wick of the candle. Only moving air is necessary to achieve the proper results.”

    The whip being used here is a 6-foot, Indiana Jones style, natural tan (turned brown with age) bullwhip made by Joe Strain around 2001. It’s a rough and rugged piece of equipment and Gery’s favorite whip. It’s his “go to” for just about everything. There’s nothing special about the whip at all. It’s got about a 24-inch fall on it (white hide) and about a 5-inch popper made of upholstery nylon.

    Whip candle snuffing was first done on film in the 1920s by actor Douglas Fairbanks. In “Don Q: Son of Zorro,” Fairbanks snuffed a single flame from a candle held by a bystander. In 1998, Anthony Hopkins appeared to leisurely snuff out candles on a candelabra with a relaxed, practiced hand. Unlike Fairbanks, however, Hopkins’ candles were tricked out by the prop masters with air tubes so all he had to do with crack the whip and the prop guys did the rest, off camera. For this demonstration, the video is unedited and there were students, professionals and bystanders at the studio watching as it was shot.

    Enjoy!


  • Bullwhip Lesson with Gery L. Deer: Candle Snuffing

    April 2014 – For many years, The Whip Artistry Studio director, Gery L. Deer, has been asked to produce some “how to” videos and here is the first of those. Here, Gery teaches whip student, Hollie Bradley, how to snuff out a candle with a whip. This is one of the most common whip tricks, dating back (on film) to Douglas Fairbanks in “Don Q: Son of Zorro” (1925).

    Here, Gery teaches Hollie the art of the direct candle snuff, using basic, vertical utility candles and a 5 1/2 foot, 8-plait, single-belly kangaroo whip with an ordinary nylon popper (not polypropylene). The direct candle snuff uses the circus crack (cattleman’s crack) to blow the candle out straight across, rather than the easier ‘scoop vacuum’ version, using a variation of the sidearm crack. This was the very first time Hollie ever tried the candle snuff. Great job, Hollie! (Our thanks to Rich Hoffman for the video clip!)


  • Wild West artists descend on The Whip Artistry Studio

    Filming some demo material for Richard and Donna Best.

    Filming some demo material for Richard and Donna Best.

    Saturday, April 12, 2014 – The Whip Artistry Studio played host to a half-dozen Wild West arts practitioners who met up to enjoy the company, the arts and the preservation of their crafts. Studio director, whip artist Gery L. Deer was joined by nylon whip maker David Crain of Heartbeat Artistry, who arranged the gathering for the benefit of Richard Best, of the Black Lightning Wild West Show.

    Richard and his wife Donna traveled down from northern Ohio. They’ve known Gery Deer for more than a decade and have worked with him for many years at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio. Originally, Crain and Best chose the Studio simply as a meeting point but managed to arrange for some video to be taken by another patron of the studio, Rich Hoffman of Middletown, Ohio.

    Hoffman is a whip practitioner himself and the author of the books, “The Symposium of Justice,” and “Tail of the Dragon.” In 2009, he and Gery produced a film short that won them Best Experimental Micro Film at the Indy Gathering film festival in Cleveland. They’ve worked on several projects together and have discussed a new film project in the near future.

    “The Whip Artistry Studio” – with Gery L. Deer and David Crain. Video by Rich Hoffman:

    Also in attendance was roper, musician Doug Smith, of Medway, Ohio. Doug was one of the founders of the Annie Oakley event, running the roping activities for several years. He attended this particular meeting of the Western arts to catch up with one of his roping students, Hollie Bradley. Hollie is just getting started as an up-and-coming trick roper and recently started whip lessons under Gery L. Deer at The Whip Artistry Studio.

    Here are some photos and video from the day’s activities. Thanks to Debra Bays, Rich Hoffman and all who participated in a great day! Watch for information on other Wild West activities from The Whip Artistry Studio and GLD Enterprises.


  • Spotlight! The black, Fraser “Brothers & Co.” stockwhip.

    GLD_FRAS_BLK_TWAS6About a dozen years ago, The Whip Artistry Studio director, Gery L. Deer, commissioned a black stockwhip from whip maker Janine Fraser. As the majority of his work to that point had been done with bullwhips, he had only one stockwhip in his collection and decided on one of Janine’s for their look and weight. What she made was truly a work of art and function.

    After all of these years, this is still Gery’s favorite stockwhip and it has become known as “The Brothers & Co.” whip because it’s always seen on the costume he wears for his family variety show. He is regularly asked about the whip, by audience members and whip enthusiasts alike, so here is some detail about the whip and some new-close up photos.

    With a 19 ½-inch handle and a thong of 72 ½ inches, this is an impressive piece (92 inches long, from handle butt to point knot). The whip is black kangaroo with a Scobie Hitch knot on the handle butt and a variation checkerboard-herring bone braid. The fall hitch, at the point, is just slightly over ½-inch in diameter holding tightly in place a ¼-inch wide, 20-inch long, whitehide fall, dyed black to match the thong. It’s important to note that this is the original fall and has only been shortened a few inches over the years from wear and use.

    The weight of this whip barely registers, about the same as an iPhone 4! It has a beautifully braided, 12-plait handle that starts out at the butt at just under 2 ½-inches in diameter and tapers to 1 3/8 inches at the thong. Janine’s signature, engraved metal band adorns the handle about 5-inches up from the butt. This particular whip sports Gery’s initials opposite the “FRASER” engraving.

    Of the handle material, Fraser tells us, “The handle is drilled cane and shaved down with a spoke save and draw knife (old school stuff mate).” The craftsmanship of Fraser’s work has always been top-of-the-line. Gery has four Fraser whips all together and the others are solid brown, but this is his favorite.

    “I call it, ‘The Brothers & Co.’ whip because it’s been on the costume I wear with the group since I got it,” Gery noted. The Brothers & Co. is a country music and variety show that he and his family created in 1995. “I have used it in countless whip shows of my own, but as of 2007, it’s been worked exclusively with the Brothers show.”

    TWAS Director, Whip Artist Gery L. Deer in his "The Brothers & Co"

    TWAS Director, Whip Artist Gery L. Deer in his “The Brothers & Co”

    Gery said he originally asked for a black whip because of his stage and costuming at the time, primarily dark colors with black and brown equipment. “I do a double Queensland crossover and other two-whip routines where I intentionally use one of Janine’s stocks in one hand and an Indy Jones-style bullwhip of the same color in the other. It looks great to show these two styles used simultaneously, particularly when I’m doing my dual-whip crossover candle routine.”

    After many years of stage performance and educational use, the Brothers stockwhip will soon be retired from active performance. “To me, it’s one-of-a-kind and cannot be replaced so, naturally, I want to protect it,” Gery said. “It will go on display with one of Antonio Bandares’s whips from Zorro and my Alex Green signature whip.”

    Gery said the whip will still appear in a few more shows because it will be a while before he can retire it anyway, because he’ll have to find an equally interesting piece to add to his Brothers costume. “So far, I have found nothing that comes close to the look and handling of my black Fraser whip. It’s going to be tough to replace on stage, and I’m going to miss having it with me for those shows. It’s still the best stockwhip I have ever used.”




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