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Topic: Monkey fist balls
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Mar 9, 2005 12:52PM)
Hey. I'm just creating this topic to see what material (width + colour) and what core (size) all you fellow monkey fist making magicians use when making these balls. It is also to get more people to make them as they are very cheap and don't take too long to make. If you get good at them you will be able to make any weight, size or colour ball you want.

Check out this site ( http://www.scoutxing.com/knots/monkeys_fist/monkeys_fist.htm ) and have a go. However I find it much easier to use just the index and middle fingers of my left hand instead of all four when tying the knot. Also I use four turns each side instead of three.

I usually use a glass marble for the core about 11/16 inch (1.5 cm).
I use lace which is 1/8 inch wide.

Overall it makes a ball which is 7/8 inch in diameter.

I used to make them with white lace for runners (trainers) which were perfectly round but were hollow. I think most sports laces for trainers are like this.

Now I am using material I got in the fabric shop in town. It looks like it is braided together. It is round but it goes much flatter than the sports laces. The only colour they had was green which is really nice as I live in Ireland.

This one turned out to be very successful. It bounces less than most balls that you buy (ie. crochet, Mike Rodger's baseballs) and handle really well.

So how do you make yours?

Non monkey fist ball making magicians are of course welcome to give their opinion.
Message: Posted by: sarcophilus (Mar 9, 2005 01:48PM)
For those that do currently make the Monkey Fist balls, where can I buy some? I would like a larger set for use in a set of Gazzo's and Cellini cups...
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Mar 9, 2005 01:52PM)
Well Frank Starsini makes some very nice one's
( http://www.theambitiouscard.com/balls/balls.cfm )

and so does James Riser
( http://www.jamesriser.com/Magic/LeatherBalls/Info.html )

Those are the only two I know. Why not have a go at them yourself?
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Mar 9, 2005 01:56PM)
Magical_steve,
You've heard this before in PM's but I'm reposting it here for the rest of the members.

I used 1/8 in. burgundy lacing found at a local craft store. I chose these because they looked better for the "Ren Faire" show I was considering at the time.

I tie them around a simple kid's marble. One "fist" gives me something around 3/4 to 7/8 in. A second tie over the first brings it up to 1 1/4 which is perfect for larger cups. The only down side is the dark color. Lighter balls show up much better in most cases.

Check out my pictures [url=http://davevmagic.com/forumpix/MonkeyFists.JPG]here[/url]
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Mar 9, 2005 02:18PM)
Research knot-tying groups on the internet. There are HUNDREDS of guys who will happily build you some "monkey-fist" balls for much cheaper than the above listed "magic suppliers".

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Robert Kohler (Mar 9, 2005 03:01PM)
Can you *prepare* these for chop cups?
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 9, 2005 03:02PM)
I suggest trying it yourself. See if you like doing it.
The first one might take you an hour.
Once you get better, maybe 15 minutes or so.

I use leather lace I buy from leather a leather shop.

Making chopped monkey-fist balls is a different story but
I eventually found a combo that works well.
It takes some playing around with the combo of the cup, the m- , the lace, etc.
That takes longer to figure out and will probably take some time
finding the right m-

The design that jim riser uses is quite nice.
I believe Eric Evans also used to make them using the same design.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 9, 2005 05:21PM)
I tried making monkey fist balls about 9 months ago. Now I leave that to people who have more time on their hands than I do. To get the best, you have to pay for it.

That's why van Dokkum charges what he does for his baseballs. You can get cheap baseballs in a number of places, but to get really precise ones, you have to pay.

It's a fact of life.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 9, 2005 07:33PM)
[quote]
On 2005-03-09 16:01, Mr. Fitzwilly wrote:
Can you *prepare* these for chop cups?
[/quote]

I've finally had good luck with this. yes.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Mar 10, 2005 03:29AM)
[quote]
On 2005-03-09 18:21, Bill Palmer wrote:
I tried making monkey fist balls about 9 months ago. Now I leave that to people who have more time on their hands than I do. To get the best, you have to pay for it.

[...]
[/quote]

Actually, to get the best sometimes you simply have to research the subject a little.

Here is a link for anyone interested in the very BEST leather monkey-fist balls:

http://www.knotical-arts.com/

The guy's name is Dan Callahan, and he's a WORLD-RENOWN knot-tying expert. I have a number of different "spherical coverings" from him, but his monkey-fist knots are perfect for Cups and Balls and they are way, WAY nicer than anything I've seen from the guys mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Dan also can add the component needed for a Chop Cup; I have a set that works beautifully with my Coffee Chop. He may not have any current pictures of his monkey-fist balls on the website, so if anyone would like a picture, email me and I'll shoot a couple and email them back.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 10, 2005 09:36AM)
Hey DaveV, I like the pictures of your monkey-fists. Well done. They look perfect.
I believe BillP has some nice ones that eric evans made. he should take some photos of those as well. Those are one's I'm jealous of.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Mar 10, 2005 07:19PM)
Thanks,
I just learned a new technique that makes these in the "Turks Head" style. It adds one more "side" to the knot making it not so squarish. I've done some practice knots in cotton cord but haven't tried it in leather... yet.

Click [url=http://davevmagic.com/forumpix/mfist.jpg]here[/url] for my first attempt at this new ball.
Message: Posted by: Flying Magus (Mar 11, 2005 05:31AM)
I don't know why anyone would use a monkey's fist when a turk's head looks so good. They're not difficult to make at all.

The ones I use I made out of standard magicians rope (1/2"). I used the core for the regular balls and the outer for the load balls. These are fairly small load balls, but if you don't core the rope you can get much larger balls. I dye mine, but found the core takes the dye much more readily than the sheath, and so they end up slightly different colors.

Another option to make them larger is to alter the number of times you 'go around'. The usual number is 3 times, but you can see in Dave's pic that he has gone around 4 times. For standard balls 3 times should be enough. I made some for a friend who uses them with Gazzo's street cups and they sre really big cups.

Magically yours,

Michel Fouché

Believe in the Impossible
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Mar 11, 2005 11:15AM)
Michel,
You'll notice my most recent attempt is indeed the "Turks Head." They're harder to make well, and take more time which is probably why nobody is selling them.

I think it's my knot of choice from now on.

For the Monkey Fist knot, the number of wraps depend on the size of the core and diameter of your cord. I stopped at three, and it was loose, there were gaps where the core would show, and didn't look much like a ball. On the other hand, too many wraps and the cord bunches up and you get overlapping strands. My large balls have five wraps, and from recent pictures I've seen (Thanks Thomas) some people can get away with six wraps. Above that, and I think the ball starts to lose it's "integrity," especially with the Monkey Fist style of knot. From what I've seen so far, the Turk's Head seems to be much more flexible in this regard as you can make as many loops as necessary for good coverage.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 11, 2005 04:31PM)
Anybody know what knot this one is specifically?

http://www.theambitiouscard.com/fotos/magic/

The balls in the first photo. I asked the person that makes them but have not
heard back. Either that, or they don't know. Or both, I guess.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 11, 2005 05:19PM)
[quote]
On 2005-03-10 04:29, Thomas Wayne wrote:
[quote]
On 2005-03-09 18:21, Bill Palmer wrote:
I tried making monkey fist balls about 9 months ago. Now I leave that to people who have more time on their hands than I do. To get the best, you have to pay for it.

[...]
[/quote]

Actually, to get the best sometimes you simply have to research the subject a little.

Here is a link for anyone interested in the very BEST leather monkey-fist balls:

http://www.knotical-arts.com/

The guy's name is Dan Callahan, and he's a WORLD-RENOWN knot-tying expert. I have a number of different "spherical coverings" from him, but his monkey-fist knots are perfect for Cups and Balls and they are way, WAY nicer than anything I've seen from the guys mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Dan also can add the component needed for a Chop Cup; I have a set that works beautifully with my Coffee Chop. He may not have any current pictures of his monkey-fist balls on the website, so if anyone would like a picture, email me and I'll shoot a couple and email them back.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne

[/quote]

I don't know whether you are underestimating my skill as a researcher or overestimating the amount of time I am willing to waste learning how to do something that I would rather hire someone else to do.

That's one reason that when it comes to, for example, making wands, if it is any more complex than making a GoldenRod™. I turn it over to guys like you, Porper. Tabman or James Riser.

But I do have bookmarks at several sites giving instructions on how to make monkey's fist balls. I'd rather work on my routine.

[quote]
On 2005-03-11 17:31, Frank Starsini wrote:
Anybody know what knot this one is specifically?

http://www.theambitiouscard.com/fotos/magic/

The balls in the first photo. I asked the person that makes them but have not
heard back. Either that, or they don't know. Or both, I guess.
[/quote]

That looks like a pineapple knot. You can find them on that web site that Thomas posted above.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Mar 11, 2005 05:49PM)
I thought it might be a pinapple knot but I cannot be sure.
The person who makes these directed me to a book so I could make them myself.


NOT!!!!

I bought it, looked it over and it's too much work. In fact the book is still sitting in the book basket in the bathroom where I first cracked it open.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 11, 2005 05:58PM)
Maybe Dan Callahan or one of the other "real" magic suppliers from Alaska could make them for you.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Mar 12, 2005 07:31AM)
[quote]
I don't know whether you are underestimating my skill as a researcher or overestimating the amount of time I am willing to waste learning how to do something that I would rather hire someone else to do.
[/quote]

Neither, Bill. I posted Dan Callahan's link solely for those who would prefer to have someone else do the knot-tying for them.

Dan does offer some instruction on his site, but his primary business is creating decorative knotwork for his retail customers; as far as I know he is pretty much busy full-time doing just that.

As mentioned above, I've personally seen a lot of guy's efforts (including my own) at producing the various "spherical coverings" for C&B sets, but most are very amateurish compared to the work Callahan and a few of his peers produce.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 12, 2005 12:44PM)
Mine were "off the page" when it came to amateurish. Between dropping the marbles on the floor, readjusting the loops, picking up the marbles, tightening the loops, I finally lost my marbles and decided to let guys like Eric Evans make them. Eric's monkey fists are really nice, and his "Fireballs" are similar to the Pineapple knot.

I wanted to stock them, but even at the prices he gets for them, he can't afford to discount them.
Message: Posted by: Daniel Santos (Mar 12, 2005 01:21PM)
[quote]
On 2005-03-11 12:15, someone wrote:
My large balls have five wraps, and from recent pictures I've seen (Thanks Thomas) some people can get away with six wraps.

[/quote]

At first when I saw the topic name I didn't want to bother, so I give it a shot and this is what I see! LOL I'm only kiddin'

To be honest, I've never even heard of this style ball. Mr. VanVranken, your lace-around-a-marble 'fists' look very well made! How long did they take you to make?
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Mar 12, 2005 02:12PM)
BTW if you use round lace even if it's hollow you get a more rounded ball. If you us flay/square lace you get a squarish ball like the one in Dave VanVranken's picture, the link of which is in a post of his higher in the topic.

However, IMHO the squarish balls turn out looking much much neater than the round ones and I would think that they roll much less that the round balls.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Mar 13, 2005 12:10AM)
[quote]
Mr. VanVranken, your lace-around-a-marble 'fists' look very well made! How long did they take you to make?
[/quote]

[b]Mr?[/b] I didn't know my dad was here. I'm Dave. Thank you for the kind words though. The small "monkey fist" balls took me about 15-20 minutes each. The large ones were twice that as I actually tied a second knot over the first.

The "turks head" takes me well over half an hour for each, but it should get faster as I get better at it.
Message: Posted by: leftytheclown (Sep 15, 2005 02:36PM)
Where can I buy the leather that has blue and black combined or red and black combined? All I have found is regular 1/8th inch lace of one color. I too taught myself how to tie the knot and like it. I will start on the turks head knot soon.
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Sep 15, 2005 10:14PM)
Frank, the leather balls are monkey's fists. (I used to make them for sailing in my high school days, and if I say so myself, I was right good at my Marlinspike sea<wo>manship!)
The key is to make the first two directions, THEN insert the marble or weight.
Mine were many sizes, but for on the sailboat for throwing lines, I used to make them about the size of a softball with 1/2 inch line, and a small rock for the core!
Another source for some of the fancy knots is Bruce Grant's book on Leather Braiding.
For those making these things, after you finish, roll it around a bit so the cordage settles down and the shape "shapes up".
For different colored lace, check the local leather shop. They used to sell that suede stuff in a multi color, otherwise, you can <A>get white and try dying it, though as you tighten the knot the colors will shift some <B> use multiple strands, one for each direction. More to tuck and keep track of during the finishing operation.
Kay
Message: Posted by: Watchmaker (Sep 16, 2005 04:10PM)
First of all, people like Monkey Fists because they like to say "Monkey Fist"!

Second, they are not that hard to do at all. Well the first couple are but in no time at all you can make some nice ones. Then you can make them EXACTLY the way you want.

Mr. Palmer, if you have problems with bouncing marbles I suggest bean bags, that's what we used to use in the Navy. They make for big knots but you can get or make bean bags in almost any size. Of course, getting someone else to do it is the easiest of all, I'm just talking to people that are so inclined.

The seceret to making a good Monkey Fist is to not get ahead of yourself when tightning up the knot. Start in the center and work your way out leaving just a bit of slack. Go back a time or two to get it tight. Don't try to do it all at once.

By the way if you think heaving a Monkey Fist looks cool you should see the lines they shoot out of an M-16!
Message: Posted by: Euangelion (Sep 17, 2005 03:30PM)
I played around last week making monkey paws out of those padded oval shoe laces. They came out pretty cool.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 17, 2005 08:55PM)
Bill sounds to me that one could lose his "marbles" making these things.

Richard
Message: Posted by: ChristianR (Sep 17, 2005 09:19PM)
I like the lace Dave uses, anyone know a animal friendly alternative that looks like those?
Message: Posted by: Euangelion (Sep 18, 2005 07:37AM)
I heard Dave planning an improved version using balls stuffed with feathers.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :bigdance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Sep 18, 2005 10:28PM)
There is a vinyl lace sold for leatherworkers (who do not like the prices of real leather lace) and it can sometimes be found in the craft stores along with the other plastic laces (Dura Flex comes to mind) where the kids make the necklaces for camp whistles, and braided bracelets, etc. it has the cross section of the beveled lace, and is pretty tough stuff.
k
Message: Posted by: marty.sasaki (Feb 9, 2009 12:11PM)
Resurrecting this topic since I just got myself a set of cups (RNT Paul Fox in church bronze) and want to make up some balls for myself.

What are sources, online and available from large chains, for material to make the balls? I've gotten some practice using twisted cotton cord and am looking for something more colorful and probably braided. The twists sometimes bunch up making final tightening difficult.

I'll probably pick up some long shoe laces to try them out. I went to the local crafts shop and haven't been able to find anything of the right size. One shop had macrame cord but it was way too thick (6mm). I also tried some heavy fishing line, but it was too thin, it was hard to keep the wraps in place and flat, the results were disappointing.

Thanks a bunch.
Message: Posted by: Carlos Hampton (Feb 9, 2009 12:46PM)
I think I am going to give a try to this:

http://www.knottool.com/gk_kit.html
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Feb 10, 2009 03:15AM)
Good luck.
Message: Posted by: Jud Bond (Feb 10, 2009 12:39PM)
For those who are still interested in making monkey fists, I would recommend visiting http://stormdrane.blogspot.com/ and search for monkey fist. The owner, "Stormdrane" does incredible work with cord and paracord. There is a pretty good tutorial on monkey fists on the site.

- Jud in San Jose
Message: Posted by: marty.sasaki (Feb 15, 2009 01:54PM)
I asked a friend who is really into fiber crafts (sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc.) and she came up with a couple of local sources and also a mail order source. I bet there are lots of places out there, but this place looks good.

http://www.satincord.com/a_cord.html
Message: Posted by: MOTO42 (Feb 19, 2009 02:02AM)
I got tired of my balls rolling about, so I monkeyfisted some cheap dice.
That sounded dirty.

The cord I'm using is some cheap red/blue edge-trim from a local sewing shop.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Aug 21, 2012 09:05PM)
I just made a couple (one is a chop ball) and they look great. I used leather round lace. The round lace costs more, but looks so much better than the flat suede leather. What help me tremendously was making a rig to tie the knot. This is where I got the idea for the rig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlI-4uELWX0&playnext=1&list=PLC2862CB7A72E12A7&feature=results_main This rig let me do it in no time! Here is the ball: http://i693.photobucket.com/albums/vv292/kachemnkillem/Magic%20related/DSCN1764.jpg
Message: Posted by: Majorhavoc (Aug 23, 2012 07:24PM)
I just finished my first Monkey Fist. I used 1/8" square suede lace from Michaels (25 yards for 8.99) wrapped around a 5/8" marble core (also from Michaels, 12 ounce bag of 57 marbles for $2.79). It was a little intimidating but once I saw what was going on, it became much easier. I used about 4 feet of lace for the ball and completed the project in about 15 minutes. The finished ball measures approximately .95" in diameter and for a first try, I'm pretty happy. Admittedly, it's not perfect but improvement will come with practice.
Message: Posted by: Chessmann (Aug 24, 2012 09:49AM)
Paracord is a great material to use to make monkey fist balls. You can find it in many colors and sizes. I get it at REI, but I imagine that there are many outdoor shops that carry it, and it can certainly be had online.
Message: Posted by: dr34 (May 2, 2019 10:42PM)
Wish I knew Eric Evans made them... I heard about them here, from Bill Palmer. Warpo sent me a video that made sense. I made some from 5/32 rope at the true dollar store--Dollar Tree. Also, 550 orange para-cord from Michaels. The orange shows up great--I think Tommy Wonder talked about that color in his books. The balls work great with a marble inside. Heavy. Don't roll. I got tired off using super balls--they stick in the cup for some moves. To make Monkey Fists is a zen type practice. Meditative. I found it very difficult. I like to make stuff. I'm stubborn. You should not make them. You should practice your routines--it's a much better use of your time. They are called Monkey Fists so I had to make them. And I'm a reprobate, slowly returning to my true Boy Scout nature--Can I get a *** badge now?