Gypsy Thread

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Don Hendrix » 01/28/08 09:33 AM

Can anyone suggest a brand of thread or yarn that is highly visible, yet easy to break for use in the Gypsy Thread? Thanks.
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Postby Mark Collier » 01/28/08 10:12 AM

Dental floss comes in colors and has a cutter built in to the dispenser.
Also, I've seen Eugene Burger use a candle flame to 'break' the thread.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 01/28/08 01:01 PM

The classic suggestion is to use basting thread. This page describes its use, it's designed to be easy to break:
Basting thread

I've also seen cheap cotton thread used, it's a bit tougher but can still be broken.

If you don't want to light a candle, I suppose you could open a pocket knife and stick it in some kind of clip or holder and cut the thread against it.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/28/08 03:49 PM

Basting thread is easy to break, but also quite thin and so hard to see except under close up conditions. Punch embroidery thread is much thicker, but still easy to break. But getting harder to find...
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 01/28/08 06:07 PM

I first learnt the thread from Ganson's great write up of Marconicks routine in Unconventional Magic. He suggests Tacking Cotton.

I tend to think people think that thin thread is harder to see than it actually is. With good lighting and costume choice even the thinnest thread can be seen, even in a large room, especially with the hand movements that essentially amplify what's going on.

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Postby Larry Stangel » 02/04/08 08:35 PM

Richard, is this what you're referring to as "Punch Embroidery Thread"?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Punch-Embroidery-Th ... dZViewItem

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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/04/08 09:27 PM

That's it. Steve Corbitt first turned me on to this thread. When his source dried up, I found a website, www.prettypunch.com that was great. Unfortunately, they went bankrupt (the site is still up, so you can seen the products, but it is not active. I.e., your order will not be filled) and their products started showing up on eBay, which is where I would buy spools. Great stuff! I'm looking for a more reliable source though!
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Postby David Alexander » 02/04/08 09:45 PM

I've done this particular trick for 50 years, learning it as a kid after watching Orlando Bagley stun audiences with it.

Red Heart used to sell a great bright yellow mending yarn made of wool. It was sold in dime stores on little cards. It was easy to see and easy to break and I copied several of Orlando's mannerisms and presentations that help sell the effect strongly.

Unfortunately, wool yarn is being phased out by acrylics and wool/acrylic blends. You'll only rip your hands if you try and tear it.

I would suggest going to a large knitting supply and looking for wool yarn that you can easily break. When you find the right stuff buy several skeins of it. That's what I did some years back. I bought enough to last me for several years.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 02/05/08 12:49 AM

Ron Dayton suggested the use of "wicking yarn," which is used to remove moisture from the outer surfaces of various and sundry garments.

Regarding the statement of Timothy Hyde that thin thread can be seen anywhere under the correct lighting -- this is true; however, slightly thicker thread than ordinary basting thread can be seen much better.

I have experimented with this.
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Postby Conus » 02/10/08 04:10 PM

I still have some yellow Punch thread I picked up from Steve Corbitt. Good stuff...
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 02/23/08 10:32 AM

I found a source for cotton basting thread today. Cheap, pastel colors.

The Sewing Place

I'll try to follow up here and let you know how it is when I see it.
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Postby David Acer » 02/23/08 11:13 AM

The Camirand Academy sells something called Glow Thread (originally produced for Gary Ouellets Gypsy Thread routine), which shows up particularly well under U.V. lighting. Details here: http://www.camirandmagic.com/mv_004d.html
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Postby Tom Gilbert » 02/23/08 01:03 PM

I purchased some of the glow thread David talks about. I'm sure it can be seen in a large room with the right light. But, it's somewhat like trying to break piano wire...
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Postby David Acer » 02/23/08 03:57 PM

So I guess my next suggestion of using guitar strings is out.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 02/23/08 08:16 PM

Also, David, I wouldn't bother recommending piano wire.
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 03/02/08 04:12 PM

Originally posted by Dave Shepherd:
I found a source for cotton basting thread today. Cheap, pastel colors.

The Sewing Place

I'll try to follow up here and let you know how it is when I see it.
I got this stuff this week. It is pretty good. The yellow is much brighter than any yellow thread I've ever bought from a fabric store. Because it's basting thread, it's very easy to break, and it has a little bit of fuzziness about it that probably enhances its visibility.

They ship it to you in a skein, not on a spool. Therefore, transferring it to a spool is a pleasant task that will require a bit of time. It is very cheap--$2.50 a skein.

The other night I filled four spools, and still had about half a skein left (plus a second skein that I haven't even opened). The two skeins I've got will probably last me a couple of years, even if I start doing this trick in each and every show I perform.
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Postby Jim Schuyler » 03/04/08 03:23 AM

About 25 years ago I put together a little routine I called the Hindoo Twine Twick. It was the thread trick, but using a thicker thread.

I made the thread by getting a three stranded rope in nice bright red color, made of what looked like knitting yarn. I separated the three strands, and then separated each strand into three different pieces by starting the separation from the middle of the yarn. Once separated, I wound them onto little pieces of cardboard to use for the Hindoo Twine Twick.
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Postby Rick Schulz » 10/17/09 11:52 PM

I have a question regarding the preparation of the "restored" part of the thread. Many of the the sources I've found recommend winding the "restored" portion of the thread around small wooden dowels or even one's fingers, forming a kind of figure "8', which is then removed from these objects and placed, one loop on top of the other, double over several times to form a small "packet". Now and again I have had this packet has "lock" up when pulled apart.

Richard Hatch has suggested (on the DVD "Friends of Roger Klause") a much simpler method. I've had pretty good results (in practice and rehearsal) with this method.

I was wondering if anyone else had any insight in this issue. What is the best (i.e., least problematic) method of preparing the thread for restoration?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Postby NCMarsh » 10/18/09 12:37 AM

Geoffrey Durham has a method of preparing the thread that was created to avoid the "lock up" issue -- I don't perform the effect currently but he writes that since changing to this method of prep he's never had tangle issues and it cleanly restores -- it's published in his (EXCELLENT!) Professional Secrets
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