Well, since every whip is different, I will kind of do a basic build here and if I do something special later, I can do another build.
First of all, especially with Practical Whips, I prepare 1/4" PVC by gluing couplers to the top. This gives me a solid, even and permanent heel knot foundation for every single whip. I then seal the coupler end with tape and add lead weight, then I pour in a small amount of epoxy. I do this to add weight to the heel end of the whip to counter the weight of the thong. Like a well balanced sword is weighted-the handle being the same weight as the full length of the blade. That is my intent with the weighted handles.
I clean my PVC and sand it down. I do this because a slightly rough surface holds paint, or glue for veneer, or whatever I am adding to the handle. I could leave it smooth, but this is an extra step to make the overall product nicer. Wherever I will have decoration, I sand the handles. *rant* Frankly, I hate seeing raw PVC on whips. It looks cheap and it would take but a second to sand and paint those handles to look finished and professional. Anyone can have a rope on a stick. *end rant*
From here, it can go anywhere. Paint, wood, vinyl, Exacto knives, papers, beads, glass, wood burners, even pieces of beehive. If it can be sealed under marine epoxy, anything goes. I refuse to have rules here.
The whip I am working on now will have a metallic thong, so I wanted something warm, to counter the harsh metal. I went with a bleached mahogany veneer, then hand cut out a kind of tribal motif from silver foil as an inlay. After ironing down the veneer and gluing the foil, at least 2, sometimes 3 or 4 layers of marine epoxy seals it all in.
I had toyed with the idea of a glass beaded ferrule, but my prototype was the wrong color. I set to work making another from gunmetal colored size 11 glass seed beads. This is just a simple peyote stitch with a single color. I have beaded an entire handle with a pattern, but it sits off to the side because I managed to drip expanding gorilla glue on it and...well it expanded. No rules kind of means unforeseen messes on occasion. So anyway..
And on the handle:
After I decide it looks good, I start on the thongs. They are standard, weight, core, binding, belly, binding, maybe another belly, maybe more binding, overlay, rolling, knots, wax, rolling, touchups and cleaning.
And, after all that, you get a really pretty one-of-a-kind piece of functional art.
This whip will go in the gallery when I can take some time for nicer pictures.
If you fall, I'll be there.