(Close Window)
Topic: Slippery Shell solution
Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Aug 5, 2004 01:25PM)

I've always struggled with picking up shells during the 3 shell game without fumbling. My hands are very dry and this makes any shells I've tried feel very slippy.

I've tried most things that I've seen suggested, but without much luck, but yesterday tried rubbing on the shells a VERY small amount of Ammar's card on ceiling wax. Not enough to make them sticky but just gives loads more grip.

Works for me, might work for you.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Aug 5, 2004 01:34PM)
Something else that might help is this. Go to the drugstore and get a tube of Pinaud neutral moustache wax. Rub it into your fingertips. It doesn't take much.

Also "quik sort" finger treatment, such as bookkeepers use is a good solution.
Message: Posted by: Lauren Benson (Aug 6, 2004 10:27AM)
That sounds like some good advice Bill, thanks for the tip. Do you have other uses for these products?
God Bless,
Message: Posted by: EvanSparts (Aug 6, 2004 12:29PM)
I had a friend put rubber cement on the shells and it worked.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Aug 7, 2004 10:17PM)
Just don't use super glue. They're a bear to let go of! ;)
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Aug 8, 2004 09:33PM)
There is a gel that bank tellers use when counting money. You can get it in stationery stores. It lasts for quite a while but does not leave your fingers all gummy afterwards.

Another option is an item called Golf Grip. It is a lotion that can be found in most golf stores to give golfers a better grip on their clubs.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Aug 8, 2004 10:20PM)
I posted my "solution" a few months ago in another shell thread. I used a form of liquid rosin originally used to make a dance floor less slippery. It came in a gallon jug, but it just took a few drops diluted with water to make all I'll ever need.

Dance shops usually have rosin in both powder and liquid form that should work quite nicely without making a mess of the shells or your fingers.

Whit Hayden said some of his users applied a thin coat of rubber cement along the sides and sprinkled it with a fine sand.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Aug 9, 2004 04:11AM)
Thanks, Dave. Not rubber cement--airplane glue or gel-type super glue, with fine white sand. Makes a surface like sandpaper. Trick from some of the old street guys.
Message: Posted by: Lauren Benson (Aug 13, 2004 09:46AM)
Whit, I am sure you sell different shells. I know I saw you associated with some that are on the market. Do any of these shells already have the rough surface? Instead of adding sand and glue, could you just make the rim a permanent rough or sticky texture?
God Bless,
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Aug 13, 2004 10:34AM)

Our Street Shells and Golden Shells are molded from genuine walnut shells. They have a surface that works great for me and most others.

A few people find that it takes a knack to handle any set of shells, something that only comes from practice.

The problem is that some people have difficulty with any kind of plastic or metal shells because of the relative moistness or dryness of their hands. The material itself can seem slippery regardless of the texture.

They would have the same problem with real walnut shells. That is why the old operators often glued sand to the sides of the shells to make them easier to manipulate.

There are many sets of shells on the market, and we carry most of them on our website http://www.schoolforscoundrels.com

It is a matter of personal preference and need. You may prefer a larger shell, such as the La Magiore shells (which have been modeled on rare Italian walnuts which have a naturally rougher texture than the more familiar-looking walnuts you would buy in a grocery), or the large Black Fox Scarab, Turtle, and walnut shells, (all of which are relatively large and have a more porous texture because they are hand cast), or a smaller shell such as the ones I prefer.

Are you going to carry them in a bag in your close-up case, or in your coat pocket? Personally, I prefer the smaller shells for the ease of carrying, and because they show off the pea better and make some moves more deceptive.

Others prefer the larger shells for the ease of grip.

The heavy, metal Golden and Copper shells have the advatage of weight that is useful in some moves such as the use with a shot glass, the Kick Steal, and other moves, where the light weight shells have the advantage in many of the turnover moves, the Escobar or three in one hand move, etc.

Some shells require the use of a mat, others are designed to be used without a mat. Everything depends on the way you use them, the moves you use them with, the venue, the look you want for your presentation, and the type of routine you use them in.

Like the cups and balls, the performer usually has to try many different styles and products to find the set or sets that suit him best. I use a solid silver version of the Golden Shells for some venues, and the plastic Street Shells for others.
Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Aug 13, 2004 12:30PM)

Just to point out that my post was in no way a criticism of the shells. My hands have always been really dry. I was a pro Drummer for 20 years, and always had trouble gripping the sticks. (A coat of gloss varnish worked great then, or Pro mark grips.)

I love the street shells.

I also use Bottle tops and Bob Swadling's chrome caps.


Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Aug 14, 2004 01:45AM)

Thanks for your nice comments about our products. We are very proud of the things we have offered to the magic community over the last few years.

I hope you didn't think I took any of the above comments, from you or others as a hurtful criticism of the our shells. As my post stated, people have different needs, and it is a good thing that there are many different shells on the market to meet those needs. We are quite happy with the fact that Andrew Pinard, Black Fox, Bruce Martyn, Al Cohen, Karl Norman and others create wonderful shells that provide alternatives to the Street Shells and the Golden Shells that may be more suitable for some people's needs. We like to provide a wide variety of choices to our clients and students, and the market today has a great selection to choose from. It didn't use to be that way.

We like to think that the School for Scoundrels work over the past 10 years has had at least a small part to do with the increasing magical interest in street swindles.

Our Perfect Pea and Golden Shells, as well as our books and videos and now DVD's were intended to fill a need that we discovered from teaching our course at the Magic Castle. The purpose of the course is, as it has been from the beginning, to offer a different model for closeup magicians than has been common for the last hundred years.

Since the publication of Erdnase, closeup workers have tended to focus on the work of card mechanics as a primary infuence on the way they looked at both moves and misdirection in closeup, especially card magic. But we feel, as did Jean Hugard, that the card cheat is a poor model for a performer. As much as this interest has done for magic, it has often focused us away from much that we already knew about magic in the nineteenth century. Invisibility of method is not a primary requirement for the performer, nor is it good to model one's performing persona on a craftsman who seeks to be "invisible" in his work.

The street hustler, to our way of thinking, needs to do more of the things that a magic performer needs to do--to draw and hold a crowd, to engage and control the thinking of the spectators, to use his personality and psychological tricks to manipulate the responses of the onlookers, and to use the advantages of his voice and mannerisms to misdirect the crowd from his sleight-of-hand technique.

In many ways, the search for "invisibility" as opposed to the appropriate use of subtlety and misdirection has not only bedeviled magic, and created a legion of rather inward rather than outward directed performers, it is often a misapplication of the principles of Erdnase and other gambling experts.

Most real gamblers rely much more on shade, acting, and psychological manipulation than they do on perfect technique. The real work--both in magic and in exhibition card mechanic "experts"--is often overshadowed by a purely egotistical desire to overwhelm the cognoscenti with blinding skill.

In the real world of magic, technical skill is nowhere nearly as important as personality, entertainment, psychology, subtlety, and appropriately used misdirection.

We think that much can be learned from the masters of these skills--the street conman.

Sorry if I went off topic, but just wanted to say that the more who share in this interest, and the more who promote and create a buzz about it in the magic community, the happier we at the School for Scoundrels become. It helps promote our mission. We are something of evangelists for this change of emphasis in magic--not to something new--but back to the basics that were well understood long before Maskelyne and Devant gave such great expression to it.

The work of Dai Vernon, Scarne, Marlo and others have done a lot to overcome some of the wilder and less subtle misdirection and the broad sleight-of-hand technique that they felt had cheapened magic. And this has been great for us. And, I must say, all of these gentlemen had a profound balance in their understanding of the need for both sophisticated technique and misdirection and psychology. This is not always the case with their students and proponents. But every pendulum has to swing backwards at some point, and we want to give it a little push.

If we can find ways to make our products better, we are happy with that, too. The give and take here on The Magic Café, and the feedback we get on this forum, is both a delight to us, and a big help in our work.