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Topic: The Fall of China (spinning plates)
Message: Posted by: Dr. Hoodwink (Aug 3, 2003 07:19PM)
Unto the assembled magi & miscellaneous joculators of the Magic Café does Dr. Hoodwink send electrographic


Ladies & Gentlemen, I have a small question for any Vaudevillians who may be perusing this forum.

Spinning plates have always been a sideline bit for me, one used largely to play with the young ones—for some reason they seem utterly fascinated with balancing a plate on a stick. Recently, I've decided to include plate work in my Vaudeville segment of the Wind-Up Action Theatre Company's show.

My question is: When using an almost ungimmicked plate—I've got a divot in the center—is there any special trick for getting the plate to center? I've used "regular" spinning plates with their pronounced gaff, but when I try to center the plate after accelerating it with the stick, the plate just kind of skids all over the place and I'm back into acceleration.

Would roughening the underside of the plate help? I've tried using a real sharp stick and a relatively dull one.

I am cognizant of the fact that all I should have to do is freeze my wrist and the plate should do all the work. I've gotten lucky a couple of times and had very good spin time.

I'd rather not possibly ruin any of my plates (I found a few at a yard sale that are nearly unbreakable and have a good lip) by roughening the underside or any other silly remedy I might concoct.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Yrs in Caffiene & Conjury,
Message: Posted by: joculari (Aug 7, 2003 07:51PM)
Hmm, I've never used real plates but I would suggest using a different dowel. Perhaps putting an arrowhead cap on the end of your dowel and roughening that up. Either way, it seems you'll have to sand your china. Try making a very small concentric circle about an inch in diameter in the centre.

I really never tried but I think it may work.
Message: Posted by: Dr. Hoodwink (Aug 10, 2003 03:09PM)
Sounds like an idea. I've found precious little on this in any of my circus arts literature or even online. I'll try the arrowhead cap, though. I [b]know[/b] I've got a few arrows left from Scout days. Finding them? Hmm...

I've thought about trying metal plates with a sizable dent in the center (but not as big as a gaffed plate's gimmick).

At any rate, for a "filler" act for my troupe this has expanded into a bigger hassle than I'd planned. Maybe I'll just have to stay with the gaffed plates.

Thanks for the input!

Message: Posted by: joculari (Aug 11, 2003 08:15PM)
Actually on the topic of plates, aside from numbers plates, what do you use them for? I started with just balancing, then balancing them while juggling clubs. I was also thinking whether you could juggle them while they're spinning on dowels. I've been trying it for a while and I can't seem to get past throwing and catching two plates.
Message: Posted by: Dr. Hoodwink (Aug 14, 2003 03:32PM)
Well, back in the dark mists of time, I used my then single Jugglebug plate as a "filler" in my what-resembles-an act. I also used it for playing around with kids (they seem to be fascinated by plate spinning and balancing). Personally, I'd have never used them in performance except for the reaction I got when just goofing around with one for a break at a Renaissance dinner I was performing at; the Lord of the Manor liked it so much he called for a command performance. Two tosses, two catches, a couple of curls and a chin balance got the biggest round of applause I've ever gotten. I'm also a fire and knife juggler, fire poi swinger, magician and human blowtorch, so I'm a bit mystified. Maybe it's just the locals.

I'm now part of a variety entertainment troupe and I want to have some props other than clubs in the show (we each do a solo bit then join in for a club-passing finale).

I just recently ran across a website while cruising the Juggling Information Service links. It described various tosses and catches and also described how to cascade three spinning plates with a handstick in each hand. There is also the plate "suicide" where you toss the plate [b]and[/b] stick up at the same time, then catch the whole thing.

Another site (can't remember which) had a really neat trick:

Paint or tape a spiral up one of your handsticks...think about a barber pole or candy cane. Spin a plate on it, then put the end of the stick in a wineglass. Balance the whole mess on your forehead. When you release the stick, it spins in a rather pretty manner with the stripe appearing to spiral up or down. Nifty.

You should be able to get to both sites via JIS. I just can't remember their addresses now and a Google search on spinning plates gave me a bunch of websites for Radiohead.

As far as going past two plates, I'm shaky, but I can get a single cycle of three throws before things disintegrate into a cartoon describing molecular motion. High throws outside on a calm day seemed to help me...I started by throwing waaaaay higher than I needed and started bringing them down.

I've got a routine roughed out as follows:

[list=1][*]Come out on stage and do some basic spinning/tossing/etc. w/ gaffed plates. "Don't try this at home, kids. You probably won't get hurt but your momma's gonna kill you" or some such. One of my co-performers comes out (with small bit of comedy) with the third plate revved up when I'm ready to go into the cascade.

[*]Put them away and juggle some of my ungaffed plates like rings. I've got a pretty good spinner catch with them. Flash 'em over the top and turn underneath, flat to the audience, pancake throws, etc.

[*]Grab a bunch of kids and have them hold handsticks. Spin a bunch of plates on the sticks with much antic frenzy. Then grab my spinning bowl (filled with glued-in plastic fruit...we pull a real apple from it to demonstrate how "sharp" our juggling knives are) and spin it on a mouthstick while juggling clubs. My rola bola is optional at this stage, but in a couple of months I'll be able to ride it for the finale. I could do the barber-pole trick, but I'm thinking I might save that for our walkaround bits.[/list]My plate work has been revitalized a bit due to my current interest in rings, another prop I never messed around with much. I have the Cirque Ingenieux videotape and there's a fine ring routine on there that kind of changed my whole outlook on the rings. BTW, I enjoy Cirque du Soleil, but the Cirque Ingenieux show was, IMHO, superior...not quite as glitzy, I could follow the storyline, etc.

I've also tried your suggestion of the arrow tip. I customize all of my gear and the metal caps do lend a very elegant finished look to my handsticks. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: joculari (Aug 15, 2003 12:59PM)
No Prob. Thanks for the great advice, I'm definitely going to look into those sites. Nice routine!