Crochet Balls

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby cataquet » 05/27/03 09:24 AM

Why is it that crochet balls are used for cups and balls routines? I could understand if you were doing color changes; the crochet covers are easily altered. However, for most C&B routines, a plain old rubber ball is to logically be preferred. A rubber ball is easier to palm than a crochet ball. The bounce of a ball can be used as a distraction for a load or a steal.

One could argue that the crochet cover reduces the roll of the ball. But if you used a rubber ball, just lifting the cup straight up eliminates any roll in most circumstances. I've never had a ball roll away unless I wanted it to.

Recently, Geoff Lata asked about using a heavier ball (as the standard cork cores of the crochet balls are light), and this again makes rubber the better choice. That's not even mentioning the fact that a rubber ball is a more natural prop that the "ball with a sweater".

So, for those who continue to use crochet balls, why haven't you switched?

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/27/03 01:42 PM

I actually used dried testicles from a Rhesis Monkey (?) and tell the folks that they are covered to preserve them. :eek:

Sometimes I use Mike Rogers' baseballs. :cool:

Other times I use sponge balls. :mad:

And on occassion, crumpled dollar bills, and wadded up wrappers from chop sticks (and tea cups) when working IMPROMPTU in a Chinese Restaurant. :D
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Postby Guest » 05/27/03 01:49 PM

Something I learned from Dai Vernon: Take sheets of toilet paper, soak them and form into balls. Let dry. The irregular shape insures against rolling. The appearance of "just wadded up paper" insures against suspicion of gimmickery. Of course, if you are planning to use $1,000 cups these may not be appropriate. However, if you are using empty yogurt cups they are.
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Postby cataquet » 05/27/03 03:53 PM

Pete, the sponge balls and (Betty) Rogers baseballs are two great alternatives to the crochet balls. However, I love the preserved monkey balls line. :whack:

For impromptu circumstances, I love the David Regal (?) idea of using crumbled up $1 bill, and then finishing with a crumbled $100 bill.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/27/03 06:24 PM

Actual wording I use (I don't like the word Patter)... is... "and I use ONE-POINT-FIVE sets of testicles from Rhesis Monkeys...."

When I do the Hindu Cups, I talk about the "Castratos, the singers with high voices... and the fact that the street magicians in India teach the young boys to to the cups and use castration... hence the high voices..." (Then I do a high-pitched voice impression of a young Fakir... "I am the Fakir... and you are the Fakeee..."

:eek: :mad: :eek:
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 05/29/03 07:54 PM

Pete Biro notwithstanding--to answer your question Harold--I believe that crochet balls have been in vogue for the last sixty years because they are QUIET. The outer colorful crochet covering was probably sewn on to cover the dull looking cork. The color of the crochet thread also helps to make the balls visible from a distance.
I remember Geoff Latta wrote in a post some time back wishing that someone manufacture heavier crochet balls. I wish so too because I've never handled a crochet ball that felt heavy enough to comfortably perform the Cups and Balls. :)
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Postby Guest » 05/30/03 07:03 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Actual wording I use (I don't like the word Patter)... is... "and I use ONE-POINT-FIVE sets of testicles from Rhesis Monkeys...."
Kinda gives new meaning to "chop balls". Ahem.

Ok, now that I've gotten that out of my system, anyone know where I can get rubber-core crocheted balls?

Best,

Geoff
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Postby cataquet » 05/30/03 07:32 AM

You're right, Leonard, the noise factor is a slight problem, but I only find this to be a problem when secretly loading the ball. To overcome this, I roll the ball into the cup rather than dropping it into the cup.

Bye for now

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Postby Glenn Godsey » 05/30/03 07:59 AM

Leather thongs tied in the "monkey's fist" knot work well. They are heavy, textured, and don't roll too well. Denny sells them or you can make your own. The knot is taught at:
http://www.angelfire.com/pa4/t173/monkeyfist.html

Best regards,
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Postby Guest » 05/30/03 08:08 AM

Excellent question, Harold. My own opinion is that the covers cover the sound of the ball hitting either the cup or the table rather well.

The lightness factor of the cork balls is a secondary gain as it lowers the possibility of someone feeling the ball dropping onto the table from the bottom of the cup (which has happened to me when working with the No-Bounce balls as recommended by several people.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the little beggars are designed to FIT the cups! I have had a great deal of trouble finding the right sized ones for my "Charlie Miller's Man's Cups" from Magic, Inc. I finally got a set of small crocheted cork balls from another source and the problem was solved.

Just some thoughts on the topic.

BTW, in Japan, they do a trick called Owan-to Tama (which I think I spelled correctly), which means Bowl Turning or somesuch. They use little silk bags sewn together, tunred inside out and sewn again. The information is in one our esteemed publisher's books - I believe the Magic of Shigeo Takagi, if I'm not mistaken. It's also a beautiful routine, easily adapted to a Western setting.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
http://www.leedarrow.com
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/30/03 09:51 AM

Find the hard rubber balls the weight you like. Find out if any ladies in your family can crochet (if not visit a nursing home) and ask them to crochet covers for the balls.

My mother did this for me in no time at all. Even had a crochet cover put on a mechanical ball to silk.

This is a simple job. :genii:
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Postby Guest » 05/30/03 11:21 AM

If memory serves correctly, back in the Forties when Frank Garcia worked in a magic shop his mother crocheted covers for cork balls.
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Postby George Olson » 05/30/03 02:24 PM

Now that Paul Gertner :cool: guy has the best idea...

Steel balls, they're certainly heavy enough! and show up well...

GO
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/30/03 03:08 PM

Last time I used steel balls I had the cups crochet covered... :D :D :D
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Postby Guest » 05/30/03 03:45 PM

Light balls, heavy balls, cups...I feel like I'm in the locker room of the Red Sox here. Throw in "monkeyfist" on top of everything and all kinds of pictures come to mind...

:rolleyes:
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/30/03 04:26 PM

about rubber balls,

I got a set together for a cups routine and had some problems.

First, they like to roll. Much more so than the crocheted balls.

Second, though easier to palm and do 'moves' with, they are more NOISY in the cups.

Lastly, since I do 'that old load' move where the cup drops to the table... let me tell you that from experience, you don't want the ball(s) bouncing off the cup or the cup landing on the balls and rolling off them.

Well Harold, that was my experience. Perhaps others have better to report.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 05/30/03 10:06 PM

I used to use a set of rubber balls with my copper stubbies, that had about the same resilience as the old fashioned brown sponge balls (before the super soft ones came on the market), except that they had a yellow-ish rubber skin covering the surface. They did not bounce or roll excessively and handled wonderfully. I got them at Tannen's in maybe 1961 or so. Wish I could get a set of those today. Now using the 1" Mike (and Betty, thank you) Rogers baseballs (which are great but unfortunately the chop ones are no longer being made). Crocheted balls would be ok if the 1" ones were really 1" -- in fact all the ones I have seen that are supposed to be 1" are 1 1/8" -- too large for my JPs. The only one advertising honestly about this seems to be Brett Sherwood, whose cups are apparently large enough to take the larger balls. The 7/8" crochets are way too small. I would say the ready availability of the chopped crochets is the main reason they continue to be given more than a second look by anyone. It is certainly not the choice of colors.
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Postby cataquet » 05/31/03 02:34 AM

Mike, you can acheive the same ol' finish on a sponge ball if you use latex paint on it. You'll get a skin, and the paint will seep into the pores of the sponge ball so you should get a smooth finish. However, I haven't tried this.

Has anyone used the cork ball with the body armour :D ? I can't remember who makes these balls, but they seem to be covered in a purple plastic spiders web.

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Michael Kamen » 05/31/03 08:26 AM

I seem to recall that T. Frank Mint has a spider web-looking cover on what appear to be rubber but could be cork balls; sells them with his cups on the internet. I almost bought the cups just to get those.
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Postby Guest » 05/31/03 08:32 AM

El Duco seems to be the only one who supplies rubber-core crocheted balls with his cups. I almost bought a set just to get those. I don't know what size those are, though.

Why is this so difficult? Arrgh.
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/31/03 11:04 AM

T. Frank Mint balls look like the Tayade Indian balls, so designed to "not" roll.

Hey, a thought just occurred... do Impromptu(?) routine with coffee cups and suger lumps (still wrapped)... then a final load could be SUGAR...

Make a drum head type load filled with sugar (or salt--popcorn salt is best) then hold cup up and tear open with fingertip and let salt pour out.

Taste and say, "Hmmmm good sugar..." let someone else wet finger and get some to taste... HAHAHAH salt... :p
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Postby Michael Kamen » 05/31/03 01:24 PM

The drum head idea is very good. Is Jim Riser listening?
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Postby Jim Riser » 05/31/03 02:02 PM

Michael;
No, I'm reading ;)

OK, so I modify the coffee cup shape slightly to allow for the drum head ring....

You know, what I like is that I can actually go out to my shop and make a set of these whenever all of you guys finish telling me what I need to add. So far we have a Brahma type coffee cup set with a drum head sugar load extra. What's next - cream? All ideas will be considered.
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Postby Guest » 05/31/03 02:15 PM

One should have coffee, one cream, one sugar.

Now all we need is a sponge jelly donut for a kicker.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 05/31/03 02:28 PM

I like mine black so it doesn't make any difference :) .
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Postby Guest » 05/31/03 03:01 PM

Then you'll have to do a chop cup.
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Postby Conus » 05/31/03 04:20 PM

Leather Monkey Fists? Check these out ...

http://newmagic.home.att.net
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Postby Jim Riser » 05/31/03 05:47 PM

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Postby cataquet » 06/01/03 05:10 AM

First off, it will probably be easier to buy the monkey fist balls than try and make them (especially if you are looking for a specific size). However, for those of you who want to try and make your own, here are two (virtually identical) references for making the monkey fist knot:
Monkey First Knot (Reference #1)
Monkey Fist Knot (Reference #2)
You'll have a lot of searching to do (eg, getting the right thickness of center core and leather wrap), and in the end, you'll probably be better off getting them from Jim Riser (or others who sell the balls).

However, the benefit of making your own is that you can make a matching jumbo ball. As far as I have seen, only the 1" (or thereabouts) balls are made. I have yet to see a Jumbo (2") or magnetic version of these being advertised.

Bye for now

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Postby Guest » 06/01/03 05:19 AM

Jim,

You sell crocheted balls on your site, but it doesn't say what the cores are. Cork? Rubber?

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/01/03 05:55 AM

Geoff;
Believe it or not, getting cork balls is not as easy as it used to be. Also, cork is not necessarily any better than something else for a core. The first balls were cork and people seem to think that is what must be used.

I needed something more durable than cork for the tiny balls for our Riser/Loomis Micro Chop Cup. So I went with wooden balls for the cores. They are easily available in a wide variety of sizes and will hold up to virtually any abuse. I stuck with wood cores on the other sizes.

Rubber balls, though heavier, are very limited in available sizes. Steel ball bearings are nice; but get expensive to ship.

The gimmick balls for my experimental large chop cup are hollow steel and therefore have advantages.

As you can see, the cores in the balls I supply will vary at times with specific needs.

BTW - The monkeyfist bals are knotted around marbles.

I would like to use the small silicone rubber balls for cores (for the weight); but their sizes are limited and after a period of time they become brittle and will crumble. Since I try to provide durable products, I mainly use wooden cores.
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Postby cataquet » 06/01/03 07:07 AM

Silicon balls are available (from McMaster-Carr) in 5/8", 7/8", 1", 1-1/8", 1-3/8", and 2". You can get neoprene and gum rubber balls in 5/8", 1", 1-1/8", 1-3/8" and 2". I prefer neoprene to silicon as the rubber is slightly harder, also you can get white and black neoprene in these sizes. However, you do need to take a scalpel to the balls to trim the seam... Incidentally, when you buy your bounce/no bounce, the bounce ball is made of neoprene. However, the balls that McMaster-Carr sell are slightly harder.

Bye for now

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Postby Michael Kamen » 06/01/03 09:12 AM

Harold, you are a fount of knowledge. Thank you.
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/01/03 12:25 PM

Harold;
Notably missing is a 3/4" size which makes a 7/8" ball when covered with crochet work. Neos are not offered in the 7/8" size to use directly without covers. It can all be rather frustrating when trying to get the largest size of ball possible with a particular set of cups.
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Postby Conus » 06/01/03 01:36 PM

You are so right. It is frustrating getting a crocheted ball of the right size & weight.

Monkey fists can be fine-tuned in size, shape & weight by using different cores or thicknesses of leather. You have flexibility in the final shape and feel -- they can be made boxy or round.

(Plus, I think they look like something a magician would actually carry around.)
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Postby cataquet » 06/01/03 04:57 PM

Marketed crocheted balls are always covered in wool. If you now stick a piece of velcro hook under your jacket, you've got a holder that will never fail. OK, it does tend to pull at the yarn a bit over time. But these balls do have a tendency to go fuzzy.

If you go to the trouble of having the balls crocheted, I would suggest you use cotton and not wool. The grip is better than wool, and the balls never go fuzzy. However, now the velcro holder doesn't work.

It's all swings and roundabouts.

Bye for now

Harold

P.S. Jim, if you're ever looking for cork balls, you can get 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 7/8", 1", 1-1/8", 1-1/4", 1-3/8", 1-1/2", 1-5/8", 1-3/4", 1-7/8", and 2" balls from The Cork Store
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Postby Guest » 06/01/03 06:05 PM

I have to be honest guys and gals. Think about it. We have unbelivable cups on the market today. Super high quality like Mr. Risers, Brett Sherwood, Paul Fox, etc. Many of us are willing to pay $300 to ???? But our balls suck, that's a technical term (;-).

You have all seen the leather juggling balls; small seams, easy to handle, great colors. Why can't we in the magic kingdom create some elegant balls using their techniques?
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Postby Bill Duncan » 06/01/03 06:44 PM

Jim Cellini sells beautiful hand made leather balls. They're rather expensive but if you're shelling out $300+ for cups it's the only way to go.

Sadly I haven't been able to find a link for you as a Google search doesn't find anyone selling them and I've only seen them at Cellini's lecture.

Can anyone post a link to a website that sells them or post Cellini's contact information?
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/01/03 09:08 PM

Originally posted by wcb39:
<snip> But our balls suck, that's a technical term (;-).

You have all seen the leather juggling balls; small seams, easy to handle, great colors. Why can't we in the magic kingdom create some elegant balls using their techniques?
OK,guys;
Describe to me what would make the "ideal" ball. If it is doable without slave labor from the far east, I'll certainly consider it.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 06/01/03 09:18 PM

I do not mean to be unimaginative here, but Fakini balls are rather peerless I think for manipulation. For cups and balls something similar, 1" silicone (or whatever), perhaps with a silk or cotton large mesh covering (no sweaters thank you) for better interaction between ball, cup, and table -- but -- must have perfect (standard) chop counterpart. That will probably be a challenge.
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