Application of roughing fluid

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Ken Trombly » 03/08/04 08:42 AM

I want to apply roughing fluid to the faces of a pack of cards, but only have the substance in a small bottle. what is the best way to apply it? using a rag? should it be over entire surface of each card? any suggestions on how to best do this would be appreciated.
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Postby Guest » 03/31/04 10:53 AM

Sorry I'm late in posting this, but I just ran across your thread. I use Testors Dull Cote as roughing fluid -- works great! It comes in a 3 oz. spray can (mine cost $3.29) and is available at craft and hobby stores. Just spray away!

Postby Fredrick » 03/31/04 02:06 PM


Like Chaucer, I have had success with Testors.

One word of advice - its better to put on multiple light coats and allowing the cards to dry when applying it.
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Postby Guest » 04/03/04 02:22 PM

Is there a source (article, book,link, etc.) where the complete process (or processes) for roughing cards is explained? That would be really helpful. I am working on an effect for which I've been told that roughing cards would be the best method.

Postby Q. Kumber » 04/03/04 02:26 PM

In one of his books published by Mike Caveney, Eric C. Lewis has a section on roughing fluid and roughing cards.

The bit I remember most is that he suggests only roughing half the card. This makes it much easier to separate them during performance.

If I recall he had a wonderful Jumbo Cards Across routine in the same book.
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Postby Dan Trommater » 04/04/04 10:14 AM

On Page 42 of the Ross Bertram issue of Genii (March 2003), Bertram's method of applying rough and smooth is described. It's brilliant and practical.

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Postby Guest » 04/08/04 06:57 AM

If you only rough half the card, is it best to do the bottom/top half, or right/left half?

Postby Ray Banks » 04/08/04 07:10 AM

The problem I see with doing half of the card is that you would have to be careful to put them backtogether the right way and you would also have to pay more attention to the way you took the cards from the box, pocket, etc.

I mask off the middle 1/2-3/4" of the cards and then spray. This leaves a portion in the middle that can be used to more easily separate the cards when the time comes.
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Postby Guest » 01/02/05 07:33 PM

pardon my naivete, but aren't there various different uses to which roughing spray can be put, that will all produce different results? I ask this, because it seems to me that, after checking out Ross Bertram's method, and reading what Ray has to say here, that they are referring to a specific desired result, such as being able to cause one specific card to show at the right time. (Please...tell me if my assumption is wrong. This is not an area I know much about.)

The suggestions about masking, etc., are intriguing, but I'm not sure how to apply them to what I want to do, because, to be honest, i don't understand the basic concepts behind roughing; i.e. spray them like this if you want such-and-such to happen, do it this other way if you want this to happen, etc.

In my case, I want all of the cards in the deck to appear to be the same, following which all will appear to be a different card. I assume this means I'd have the cards actually divided 26/26. (fwiw: that is not the sum total of the effect, just one part of the routine.)

Without going into presentational aspects, the basic routine would consist of a spectator selecting a card, which is, say the 3D. the cards are then shown to be all 3D's, so no magic there. But then another spectator selects a card, which seemingly is a futile excercise, since they've all been plainly shown to be all 3D's. however, the spectator gets a different card, say the 5S, at which point the deck is now shown to be all 5S' a later point, the deck is shown to be perfectly normal after all, and can be examined. There will be one deck switch; there ain't going to be three of them...that's why i was advised that roughing might be a good solution, but I need help wit :p h figuring out how to do it...

Thanks in advance...

Postby Bill Palmer » 01/02/05 07:38 PM

Get Aldini's book Rough Stuff. It will tell you just about everything you need to know about using roughing fluid.

There is a technique called "Super Roughing" which will allow you to spread the cards and show them all alike, then spread them and show them all different.

Or, you can spread them face down and show them all red, then spread them again and show them all blue. You will need to move one or more cards from the top to the bottom of the deck in order to do this, though.
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Postby Guest » 01/02/05 11:02 PM

Thanks, Bill. As per your suggestion, I just ordered Rough Stuff and I'm excited to check it out.

Postby NCMarsh » 01/09/05 10:17 PM

Sometime in 2005 I will be releasing my manuscript A Study of The Ultra-Mental Deck which features some interesting new work (including some very cool ideas from our own Brad Henderson).

I will likely include a survey of commonly used roughing materials/techniques that may prove useful to you.

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Postby Guest » 01/09/05 10:25 PM

That's great, Nathan. Thanks for letting us know.
As someone fairly new to magic, it is interesting to me that while there is so much "out there" and available to magicians, there is an awful lot that you really have to dig and scrape for, especially in terms of information. I guess that's not a bad thing, either; hard-won knowledge is more highly valued than something you are just given.

Postby luigimar » 01/10/05 12:38 AM

This past July I bought Aldini's 'Roughingly Yours' book in a Magic store in Michigan. I don't know if it's another book or it's the same as Rough Stuff but it also explains his super rough technique and lots of tricks with roughing fluid. The copyright is 1988 so I would say it's still available for purchase. It cost $12.50 plus tax but I think it's worth it. the ISBN is 0-921298-24-2 in case you want to look for it. Good luck roughing!
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Postby cataquet » 01/10/05 11:21 AM

Ken, you originally asked about roughing with the liquid rather than the spray. A few hints:
1 - Apply with a cotton rag. Using something like a cotton wool ball will leave strands on the card.
2 - Apply one coat in one direction (ie, length way) on one card, and then apply one coat in the the opposite direction (ie, width way) on the other card.

bj nick, you revived this topic. Roughing causes two cards to stick together, if they are both coated (and the coated sides are touching). If you use the wrong fluid, or apply too much, then you may find that a coated card and a non-coated card stick together. Worse yet, you may find that the coated cards stick together and are very difficult to separate. So, like any craft, it will take some practicing with the application technique to get it right.

Super-roughing is just a technique of applying the fluid/spray to half of the card (eg, the lower half), and usually using overlapping pairs.

Now, in the context of your effect, consider using two banks of ungimmicked cards. That is, 26 of one kind, and 26 of the other. Remember, if you are going to rough the cards, and take the cards out of a box, you're only going to be able to show 26 cards anyway. There really isn't a need to use roughing fluid for this effect (as you've described it).
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Postby Fred Zimmerman » 01/10/05 01:49 PM

Hi BJ,

Welcome to magic where you'll search for information for the rest of your life! ;-)

Two things I just thought I'd say because this thread has your attention.

1) When getting started in magic, this is where your local magic clubs are invaluable. There you will meet like-minded people who can give you the kind of basic information and support you'll need to get started. However, this leads me to ...

2) It is my sincere wish that you not get too hung up on collecting "secrets of magic," and strongly advise you to seek out the "secrets of magical performance." The two share a certain amount of common ground, but if you stay in magic for any length of time, you'll begin to notice a distinct division--those who perform magic, and those who play with magic as a hobby. Both are absolutely fine focuses, but it is the difference between people who read plays and reviews and attend theatre (a fine way to spend your life)-and those who actually act (another fine way to spend your life but very different than the first group).

Your pursuit of information about roughing fluid can be used as an example. Roughing fluid causes two cards to adhere to each other lightly so you can handle them as one. This can be done in fanned condition, or individually. That's simply a tool of magic.

How you use this tool is entirely up to you--there is no correct reason for using roughing fluid. Commonly, people use it in rough-smooth decks, or in packet tricks. But then again, these are general categories. I urge you to seek out perhaps new and unique ways to use it. You may reinvent the wheel in the process, but think what a better thinker you'll be by reaching those conclusions for yourself.

Enjoy your search, but remember, you can take three pieces of good magic, perform them well, and leave a roomful of people spellbound. Or, you can KNOW about dozens of tricks, not perform any of them well, and bore the crap out of everyone.

The choice is yours.

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Postby Guest » 01/10/05 03:48 PM

Originally posted by Ken Trombly:
I want to apply roughing fluid to the faces of a pack of cards, but only have the substance in a small bottle. what is the best way to apply it? using a rag? should it be over entire surface of each card? any suggestions on how to best do this would be appreciated.
You can use a rag or brush to put the stuff in the bottle on the card faces, I've seen it put on the entire face, or just of a portion of the face, but you have to put some on the backs too, otherwise there will be nothing for the substance to adhere to I agree with others that say you should just use the TESTERS Clear Dull Coat model paint, you can get it in any hobby or craft store for around $3.50 to $4.00 a can, spray it lightly over the areas you want coated, some people only coat half a card, say the bottoms of both the faces and the backs now you can hold the pack together by applying pressure to the bottom of the deck, and spread them easily by adjusting your pressure to the top of the pack ( or turning the deck around 180 degrees so you are now holding the top ) hope this helped


Postby Guest » 01/10/05 03:50 PM

Originally posted by Johnnymysto:
If you only rough half the card, is it best to do the bottom/top half, or right/left half?
Bottom/Top is best in most cases, however I guess it would depend on your desired effect


Postby Guest » 01/10/05 04:06 PM

Testor's Dull Kote is a trade name for clear matte finish spray, here you pay catering to the model builder; instead, buy Krylon Dull Matte finish spray you get about 3-4 X's as much for the same or similar price. It is the same product and will coat exactly as Testor's Dull coat. Try WalMart, Home Depot or Lowe's.
Keep in mind the tip in one of the above posts: Use 2-3 very light coats, too much at one time is a good way to ruin the card(s).

Good luck

Postby Guest » 01/27/05 01:32 PM

What Fred said is absolutley correct... AMEN! The technical secrets only play a small part in making real magic. They are just the brushes and paints of this art we call magic. Learn all you can about them, read and watch all you can but utimately, Its in the performance were the magic happens. Thank you Fred.

Postby Guest » 02/06/05 01:26 PM

I really appreciate Fred's comments- and those by others as well- but I am a little baffled that they led in this direction. I say this will all respect, and not the slightest animosity- I was posting about a highly specific and specialized (and relatively esoteric)technique, which I knew little about.

I had conceived of an effect, had sought advice (from my local club, actually,) about how to achieve it. When I explained the effect I was after, the suggestion I got was that roughing the cards was a good way to achieve the effect.

I posted the queries about roughing because I realized that it's not something most people know a lot about, and I figured this would be a good way to get some direction. I see others do this all the time for all sorts of things. Roughing cards, as is obvious from the posts, is not an exact science, and requires some persistence in learning to apply the principle correctly.

That being said, I honestly don't know why there was a post which focused on beginners "being caught up in finding out secrets...", about maximizing a few effects rather than doing many poorly.

This has nothing to do with what I was asking about, though it is definitely good advice. Excellent advice. Warm, friendly and welcoming and well thought-out advice. Advice that is appreciated.

I just don't quite understand how seeking specific information about a highly specialized principle directly related to an effect I've been ruminating over for quite some time, comes anywhere close to "collecting secrets of magic." The "secret" in this case, is that cards can be doctored to make them appear to be different than what they really are. My questions go way beyond the secret; I'm attempting to find out how to apply this principle in a specific way.

Thanks again for all the good responses here from all of you.

Postby Fred Zimmerman » 02/07/05 01:34 PM

Hi again BJ,

Since I'm the poster of the advice, I'll comment on why I did it.

Our questions reveal as much about us as our answers do. When I read your question, it communicated to me that here is a magician with X amount of experience. If you had Y amount of experience, you would have (probably) come across this information long ago. No value judgement here, just a simple observation.

Therefore, I made an assumption about experience levels and thought I'd toss in some information that was unrelated to the topic at hand but would be of value to an emerging performer.

Thank you for taking my comments in stride. As you stated, I meant them to be helpful not only to you but to any other performer who may be reading them.

I'm of the "stream of consciousness" school when it comes to discussions of this sort. If the idea comes to me, I usually bring it up. And I assume it will be useful to someone.

But then, when we "assume," we all know what that can lead to ... ;-)

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