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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Cups/balls and the right wand to use... (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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danny bacher
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Hi All,

New to the Café, and though I've been doing magic off and on for many years since I was a kid, I'm just getting back into it in a serious way. Like most, if not all here, I really love Magic. By Trade I'm a professional Jazz Singer and Saxophonist, I'm also a writer, actor and comic. I'm lucky to know and have many friends who are world class magicians, and I'm aspiring to be one myself. (I've got a long way to go.) Anyway, sorry for the long intro. To the point of the topic! I recently picked up a set of Satin Brass combo cups from Brett Sherwood. I love them. I also got a chop set of balls and 4 load balls (in Red/gold) I was all set to order an ebony wooden wand with matching satin brass tips. This would cost me about $300. Not complaining about the costs so much, but then I came across a Joe Porper metal wand (satin brass/ with Black metal tips) This would also go quite well with my set. It runs about $90. I've heard good things about both of these makers of wands. Any thoughts? I'm also concerned, as I've heard from lots of folks, to stay away from any metal when using your set of cups. I've heard a Wood wand and tip is the way to go I've kind of researched this topic to death, but I just want to make sure I'm making the right decision before I purchase. Of course, if there are any other wand makers out there you can suggest, I'm open. Looking forward to hearing from some of the experts!
Best,

Danny
Poof-Daddy
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First off, Welcome to the Café. The absolute best that I have ever seen or held for cups and balls and especially the wand spin is Michael Ammar's http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S3566 or direct from him http://www.ammarmagic.com/mercury-wand.html (as well as many other cups and balls items)
It is a perfect mixture of balance and grip. Basically, (as it is not a secret, therefore not exposure) it is a nice piece of solid extruded Aluminum with a high quality black Heat shrink tube over the center (most of the wand). This simple design makes it both look elegant and makes it perfect for ALL cups and balls moves.

If you just "have to" go fancy - go with the best Joe Porper as you mentioned. (Penguin also has green wand and blue wand in stock still. I am partial to the green) I have not owned one but if Joe made it, It is top quality and everything it is advertised. Plus it is 2 piece and has a nice holder.
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Mobius303
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The drawback with the Ammar wand is that it will damage your cups even with a light tap.
It has good balance and great grip though.
danny bacher
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Thanks folks for the info. So are you saying to stay away from
Metal tips? Should I go with wood ones?
Harry Murphy
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Actually any wand, even very soft wood, has the potential of dinging, denting, distorting, etc. your cups given how you might use it (striking force, etc, etc), the material of your cups, and the number of times you perform the routine over time.

I've seen a set of Gazzo (heavy, thick copper) cups, used by the man himself, that are dented significantly using a wood dowel wand. The force of the strike and the number of times performed over the life of the cups (dozens of times a week) were the culprits here. Clearly a softer wooden wand will do less damage than a solid metal wand.

I've seen a set of cups that were used by Vernon (using a metal tipped wand) that showed very little wear and no dents at all.

I have used the Ammar Mercury Wand for years and not done great damage to my cups. I doubt if the wand did any more visible damage than vigorously stacking them or performing the Cup Through Cup move. But then again the routine doesn't involve me using the wand to strike the cups with any force.

I also use as faux ivory (plastic) tip traditional looking magic wand with my R&T II (Zimmerman) silver plated cups and my Owens gold plated cups. Those are used in a different routine altogether and for a different venue than my copper or stainless steel cups (Brian Watson's).

For a nice "soft" traditional looking magic wand you might want to check out the Jonathan Levit wand site (wands are beautifully hand made by Jonathan's dad Stephen). Highly recommended. http://jonathanlevit.com/levitmagic.com/

Suffice to say that a metal wand will scratch a cup more so than a wooden or plastic (or Ivory) wand. All wands have the potential of denting the cup (or breaking the wand).

For simplicity sake you might get a dowel, cut it to the length you like, sand it smooth, and stain it the color you want. it will do the job just fine.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
danny bacher
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Thanks for your thorough response Harry!
Poof-Daddy
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I wonder, and maybe someone with more smarts than me could chime in here. Is there anything you could coat the cups with similar to "clear coat" on a car. I am sure this would stop them from gaining a patina over the years but if you are worried about scratching your cups, this may help. Also, There is absolutely no rule that says you have to tap or strike your cups. I personally do not mind banging the heck out of them. Look at the real pros on old youtube vids. Their cups look like they were rolled over a cliff and they are on national tv with them. Plus, these are the kind of magicians that could probably be able to afford a brand new set every year if the wanted.

Remember too, your wand is going to speak something about you just as your clothing and demeanor. If you are a classy exotic wood guy, by all means get that. If you are one who "dresses like a gentleman" grab a Porper. If you don't want to spend a lot and still get a wand that looks great and handles perfectly, go the Ammar route. It really is a personal thing.
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Pop Haydn
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If you are a street performer, it is very helpful to make loud noises with the wand and cups. It helps draw a crowd and hold their attention. Wooden wands are definitely the best for this. I wouldn't use a dowel, though. It will break with that kind of use. The street wand should be made of a non-brittle hardwood--ironwood or similar.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Search the interwebs for "Timbale Sticks" and go buy a pair at your local music store.
they are wonderful and cheap.

once you have a pair, you can sand them, tape them, paint them, or just use them . . . . or whatever else your heart desires.

And as Whit says, you can bang them on things to make a lot of noise.
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JoeJoe
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Quote:
On May 16, 2017, Harry Murphy wrote:
Actually any wand, even very soft wood, has the potential of dinging, denting, distorting, etc. your cups given how you might use it (striking force, etc, etc), the material of your cups, and the number of times you perform the routine over time.


I use balsa wood wands and none of them have ever done any damage to my cups ... they double as "floating wands" and still make good noise when tapping the cups or the boardwalk. I use square dowels, not round ... that way I can drop them on the table and they won't roll off. I paint the middle of it black leaving the tips natural to make them look like real magic wands.

-JoeJoe
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danny bacher
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Great suggestions everyone! thanks! -Danny
Pop Haydn
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My wand was made in the 1960's when I was working the streets of NYC:

Image
Chatterbox41
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Quote:
On May 17, 2017, Pop Haydn wrote:
My wand was made in the 1960's when I was working the streets of NYC:

Image


Gorgeous! Is that a leather wrap over a hardwood dowel? Did you make it yourself Pop?

Gary
Pop Haydn
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It is leather wrapped with horsehair around a solid Walnut wand with brass nails. It was made by Jim Rathschmidt.
malaki
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I am a wand maker and owner of the Wizard's Workshoppe, and I would like to add my 2 cents worth.

Balsa is a very soft wood that is used by theaters and movie makers for break-away furniture, and is therefore not recommended for making wands, especially if they are to endure rough usage. Balsa will not last very long if you intend to bang the cups with it. I have never actually understood the tendency for magicians to bang the cups. A tap makes nearly as much noise and does no damage to cups or wand. Check out the cups at the Cups & Balls Museum. Michael Ammar's cups look as though they have been thrown into heavy traffic. I have been using the same cups for 20 years with virtually no damage, but then again, I do not want to replace my cups every few years.

I make both traditional wands (wood with metal tips of copper, aluminum or brass), as well as the European variety (most call them "Harry Potter wands", though I never reproduce anything in the movies - copyright, you know!). My wands are all made of fine, exotic hardwoods, in everything from Ash to Zebra wood. Each is an original piece, turned by hand. The wands I make start at $20 US (+S&H) and go up in accordance to what type of wood and how much time I have invested in it. I practice what is called "Ornamental Turning", which is a wood turning which has, using an index, had decorative cuts or inlay applied to bestow from simple cuts to architectural detailing such as ramparts and corbels. Carving is also available. My wand, for instance, is a 13" purple heart with copper and brass spots inlaid in a double helix along the length of the wand, a concave, spiraled handle and a pommel that is concave spiraled in the opposing direction. The guard, or area between the handle and wand is carved so that the wand, itself, comes from the center of a lotus blossom 8(roses and irises have also been done). I can make them in a variety of lengths, weights and thicknesses, depending upon your taste. Custom made wands and breakable wands for funerals are also available.

PM me if you are still in the market and I will gladly send you some pictures of my work!
JoeJoe
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Quote:
On May 25, 2017, malaki wrote:
Balsa is a very soft wood that is used by theaters and movie makers for break-away furniture, and is therefore not recommended for making wands, especially if they are to endure rough usage. Balsa will not last very long if you intend to bang the cups with it. I have never actually understood the tendency for magicians to bang the cups.


And yet, I have used them each and every night for years now. Smile

I wouldn't actually recommend balsa wood, I use them because I made a couple dozen "dancing wands" out of them ... I don't think there is much footage of them online, but here is at least one clip - they float in broad daylight surrounded which impressed Losander when I showed him ... I do this by moving the anchor point to the center of the wand and let it float horizontally a few inches above the ground - quote from Losander: "Of course, there is no backlight down there"!!

Parade Clip - Dancing Wand



And another interesting wand I made was what I call a "FISM Wand" as it was inspired by Cornelius' FISM Flash. It worked really well at night, took some control to keep it from flashing when setting it on the table, but ultimately I didn't like because it was round and rolled off the table a lot.

If anyone is interested in making one, just find a "Light Up Drum Stick" (they sell them under a variety of names) that lights up when you beat a drum at the rave ... wrap electrical tape around the middle of it leaving the LED tips exposed. Here is a clip of one in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcyPk3vx4Xc



-JoeJoe
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JoeJoe
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I was originally using paper ones made from rolled up newspaper painted to look like wood, but wanted a real wooden wand so I could use the same one I levitate to use with cups and balls. I knew Losander used balsa with his Kevlar thread so I started with a square dowel from the craft store; I was disappointed they didn't sell round dowels, but quickly realized the advantage of a square rod not rolling off the table. Moving the anchor to the center came to me one day while setting up wands and having to adjust the anchor points and noticed it could dance horizontally (I saw it as a large "floating cigarette", which I already danced with).

Tip for anyone that wants to make one: don't paint the ends white because the wax will pull the paint off and not last very long, just leave them natural and they'll acquired a layer or protective oil. Use black duct tape to attach the thread to the wand - the tape will peel the paint so to avoid that wrap a piece of duct tape around the center of the wand and tape the thread to that piece of tape so it can peel off easily.

Balsa wood has a lot of variety in weight; some pieces are heavy and some are light, so every wand I make is unique. The lighter ones float longer before the thread breaks, while the heavy ones are easier to control in the wind. In relation to cups and balls, the heavier wands are louder and have better sound when it comes to banging cups. I prefer heavy wands for cups and light wands for dancing. I take a small postage scale into the craft shop with me and try to get the lightest pieces they have.

-JoeJoe
Watch the Pilot Episode of my new TV Show:As Seen on TV: The JoeJoe Magic Show
Learn JoeJoe's secrets at Magic Joint dot com
Dale J. O'Neill
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I like the mercury wand and have made several in aluminum, a few in brass but they are too heavy, and two in Titanium. They are all 3/8" with heat shrink like the mercury wand. I even tried the same design with a much thinner stainless steel center that turned out great.
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Doc Svengali
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I want to underscore the recommendation of many on this thread with my own experience. I started out with metal tipped wands, and did significant damage to two sets of cups (one copper, the other chrome-plated copper). Banging on the cups is an integral element of my routine, in that I ascribe causal properties to the sound in the effects that follow. Significant denting and scratches occurred with two different metal-tipped wands. Once I shifted to wood-only wands, no further apparent damage is occurring. I am currently using an Oak dowel painted black as a wand, and it produces a nice tone when the cups are struck centrally.
Pete Biro
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