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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » The evolution of balls for Cups & Balls (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pete Biro
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I just did a test video and the knit bright red's show up best with black mat, dark gray wardrobe and nickle plated PF Cups. Will still let director decide.
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Donnie Buckley
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Quote:
On 2010-03-04 15:12, fortasse wrote:
Which colour ball do you think contrasts best with (1) silver or chrome cups; (2) brass cups; and (3) copper cups.

Fortasse


I LOVE this question!
It is a matter of personal taste, and of course your working conditions, but if you could adjust your working conditions (performance surface and wardrobe) to fit, the following color combinations are what I've found attractive.

Brass cups - bright blue balls - the contrast is just gorgeous.
Silver cups, like chrome or sterling, - just about any color is compatible with silver cups except white or black. The white ball tends to get lost in the reflective silver surface & so does the black. And again, a bright blue ball looks terrific with silver cups and is my favorite.
Copper - yellow or white POP your eyes out, and is even stronger with a dark patina.

I've always been an advocate of white balls because they are so visible (unless you are working on a white table cloth), and was very surprised how versatile bright blue balls were. I never would have considered that color as a preferred color, but when I combined it with the silver and brass cups - it was just lovely. I remember when I was photographing 1 3/8" Parakeet Blue chopped ball sets, I dropped one on the saddle of a brass Don Alan chop cup and just went gaga over it. The photo is on the website in with the 1 3/8" chopped balls.

I know this sounds like a shameless plug, but it's not - I genuinely do love the color combination of blues with silver and brass. Who knew?

Ironically, while red has always been the standard it is the least interesting to me. Maybe I'm jaded but to me red is just uninspired when we have so many wonderful options. Look at the beautiful work James Tong does with balls on his website http://uniquemagicballs.com or the gorgeous Glitter balls that Brett Sherwood makes in Jade and Turquoise. You don't have to settle for plain old red anymore.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Bill Palmer
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I think the chief consideration when you do the cups and balls is the color of the stage and the backdrop. Next is the color of the stage furniture.

Your table surface or close-up mat is the stage. Your backdrop is your shirt (or jacket). The cups are the stage furniture.

So, take a shirt or jacket like the one you most often wear and hang it on a hanger behind your working surface. Place the cups on the same surface. Now place balls of various colors on the working surface and on top of the cups. Look at them from the front. Make your own decision.

BTW, this link http://www.idea.org/vision-demo.html?gcl......odoENPaw will give you a really good idea of what things look like to someone who is colorblind.

It's obvious to me that balls should contrast with the cups.

Regarding the sizes, though -- I think that the evolution of the balls has almost as much to do with the evolution of the size of the audiences. If you go back to Hocus Pocus Junior, the performing venue in this case was probably a pub. It certainly wasn't a large gathering, because a 1/2 inch ball will not be visible to the audience at a distance of more than a few yards.

Charles Bertram worked with fairly large red cork or pith balls. They are about an inch or so in diameter. Bosco worked with a similar size of ball.

P&L sold their cups with white cork balls -- no crocheted covering. I believe that the crocheted balls came into fashion about the time that Vernon was gaining international popularity, sometime around the late 1940's - early 1950's.

BTW, Vernon sometimes remarked about the crocheted covering on the balls. Not to question the judgment of the master, but I don't believe this is necessary. No matter what kind of ball you use, if you don't have any questions in your mind as to what they are, neither will your audience.

There is a possibility that the crocheted ball came from some kind of fashion accesory. My great-grandmother had a bathrobe with a waist tie that terminated in crocheted balls. Something like this may have inspired the early crocheted balls.
"The Swatter"

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J.G. the magnificent
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First off I would like to say the the first balls only needed to be small because magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part. Only large ones for final loads in the cups and balls. Or ball and vase things like that but no larger sizes for manipulation. Until 1875 when the Multiplying Balls were introduced sponge balls didn't come out to my knowledge until 1926. Not sure about crotches but they were not the first to be used. The first balls were for the cups and balls being burnt cork. Which I have tried and now use. They have grip and I think the only reason crotches are used are because of their beauty. Multiplying Balls can be impossible to manipulate beyond basic slights and displaying between the fingers. Both the smallest and largest sizes are very awkward. THen again I am no expert and that is just my opinion but sizes in between like 1 3/4 in balls are perfect with 2 in being difficult. Sponge balls I have found easier to start with smaller sizes but more visual larger. Now that I have experience with them I find the larger sizes better. I like what people have said about the colors though that is interesting. Depending on your manipulation or lack their of different balls are used.
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Andrew Zuber
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This one has really gotten me thinking! I typically perform in a grey or black suit with a dark shirt. I've found that the patina on my copper Mendoza set, matched with the Phoenix Sunfire balls that Donnie makes, looks fantastic on a black surface...amd even better on the blue pad I'm currently using from Tony Clark. It pops with just the right amount of color without looking cheesy. Still a very classy look.
I'm with Donnie...for some reason I'm just over the red. Maybe it's because I've seen it everywhere, so it doesn't stand out to me as being anything special.
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Donnie Buckley
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Thanks Andrew, the Phoenix Sunfire balls have been discontinued. I can no longer get the thread. Whatever is left in inventory is the last of them.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Bill Palmer
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@ J.G. -- "Crotches"? This is where you need to bear in mind that specific words have specific meanings.

Do you mean "crochet"? I don't want to see your crotch on a table when you are performing the cups and balls.

Second -- you have an interesting mix of fact and fantasy here. To say that "the first balls only needed to be small because magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part" is rather strange. If you pay attention to the size of the cups that were used up until the middle of the 19th century, you would understand that they were rather small. The cups described in Hocus Pocus, Junior, for example were not even three inches tall. Neither were the cups that are described in Ozanam and Guyot. You start seeing larger cups toward the end of the 1700's and even larger ones through the 19th century. You basically couldn't use a larger ball with a small cup.

Performers tended to use a small ball, about 1/2" in diameter, because that's basically what they worked with. The venues weren't large. They were mainly performing for people across the table from them, not on stage. Some of the paintings show the use of a larger ball, but there isn't much in the literature to indicate that larger balls were used until roughly the middle of the 19th century. At that point, you have performers such as Bosco performing in larger venues. Consequently, they would need to use a larger ball, simply so the audience could see it. This also necessitated the development of a differernt concealment, which Robert-Houdin called "The Bosco Palm."

Charles Bertram used a cork (or pith) ball that was about 7/8" in diameter or slightly larger. The ones he used are on display in the Magic Circle museum.

Crocheted balls came into vogue somewhere around the 1940's to 1950's and have been used ever since. We know that Vernon used them, for example. I haven't found any earlier references than this.

However, there is no reference at all in any of the material for Vernon using his crotch.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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ddeckmann
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My first set of balls were crochet balls that came with the cups that my father gave me... They were too light, because of the styrofoam core...

Then I made the Wonder pompons. and they were really big, for the ball transpo in the spectator hands. He recommended a warm color, because of flashing issues...
Today I finished my first set of leather monkey fists with a wooden ball core, and they talk a lot! I'm thinking about re-rehearsing the routine to fill the 'load moment' with patter :S

Quote:
On 2010-03-03 16:37, Donnie Buckley wrote:
Personally, I'd love to be able to get in my time machine and go back and witness what REALLY took place after the mountebank stood on his chair, blew his horn, gathered a crowd, and played a game of cups and balls.


Me too! That's why I made the monkey fists, and I have made them in dark brown...

Another thing about colors, I don't remember where I've read that Ramsay used black balls because he said that they look like shadows when palmed...

So my monkey fists are noisy, if I can hear them... can spectators hear them too? I'm really afraid of doing my routine in a quiet place... and I've enough of threading pompons o.O

The material of the cups has something to do with noise? Mine are made from aluminium...
Bill Palmer
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The core of the ball has more to do with the noise than the material of the cups. Any metal cup is going to make noise with a wood core ball. And yes, your spectators can hear them, too. A cork core will produce less noise.

I can verify that Ramsay used black cork balls. I have a set of them in the museum.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Swann101
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I used to use bright yellow sponge balls, silver cups a black matt and a mercury wand, the whole setting was nice and bright and modern.
Now I am working on a more historical classic presentation and have changed to dark red crochet balls, copper cups, a persion carpet style matt and a dark stained teak wand. So I gues the type of presentation will also influence the balls cups etc.
Bill Palmer
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If you are going to do this in a stand up or stage situation, make sure that the dark red balls are visible against the Persian carpet.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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funsway
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A minor issue, but shouldn't it be "crocheted balls" rather than "crochet balls" -- the latter implying balls made completely from crocheted yarn?
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Swann101
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I played around with the Persian carpet today, but you are right the balls do not stand out very well.
I think I will go to the basic green felt material with a victorian type of card table.
Andrew Zuber
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The Persian style mat sounds interesting...is that something that someone makes specifically for this purpose?
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Donnie Buckley
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Quote:
On 2010-12-01 05:44, funsway wrote:
A minor issue, but shouldn't it be "crocheted balls" rather than "crochet balls" -- the latter implying balls made completely from crocheted yarn?


You are correct.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Bill Palmer
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That would be correct, of course. "Crochet balls" has become a written shorthand for "Crocheted balls." It is less ambiguous than "crotches," though.

No, on second thought "crotches" isn't ambivalent. It's just the WRONG word!
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Donnie Buckley
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You're really just splitting hares.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Swann101
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"The Persian style mat sounds interesting...is that something that someone makes specifically for this purpose?"

I have seen Eugene Burger use something similar in his performances. I don't know if anyone sells them as close up mats, but you can get them in almost any size at carpet dealers.
Andrew Zuber
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Interesting...I'll check that out. Thank you!
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Bill Palmer
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There are also some "Persian Carpet" mouse pads.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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