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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Boxes, tubes & bags » » Best Zombie Ball Available (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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SpellbinderEntertainment
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The originals were 4 inch. Masters like Neil Foster preferred the Karson size. It has always been my choice. Why?

While still small, this size ball can be seen on even a large stage. The smaller size appears farther from the ends of the silk, so farther from your hands, this makes it look more isolated in space, thus more deceptive. Your body-to-ball and ball-to-foulard ratio is greater.

The smaller ball is slightly lighter, so it is smoother to manipulate and routine moves with. It also has less of a chance of flashing in around the body or arm moves.

A small ball can be handled as if it weighs about 3 to 5 pounds logically, with a larger ball you have to “mime” heavier weight and it seems less logical that a ball is that more heavy.

If you are really big dude, like 6”5” or 300lbs you may want a larger ball (I’m 6’2” and 190lbs and the small is perfect in relation to my body size.) If you’re a little guy a big ball looks wrong somehow.

As long as they can clearly see the ball you’re going to be fine, and the 4 inch can be seen in a theatre with over 1,000 people. Jeb does prefers a 5 inch, it’s partly what moves, style, and premise you choose.

I use my lovely 6 inch Own Supreme ball very rarely, I think that large a size this big has to move very, very, very, slowly and do almost no moves, just rise-peek-lower once in an about 30 second presentation. I use it as a Ritual Full Moon with an oriental story. A three inch ball is just silly, if you want to use something of that small get Bill Abbott’s “The Thing” it is a powerful variation on Zombie.

Magically, Walt
makeupguy
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I agree with walt on SO many things. Plastic will always look like plastic. however.. that can be alleviated by making it look like something NON-METAL.. you can make it look wooden, you can make it look like stone, you can make it look like almost anything, but for some reason, vacuum metalized plastic never looks like metal.

Even the other finishes are hard and almost never look real without signifcant expense and extra finishing.

My one caveat is that I'd LOVE to see a zombie ball done with a 2" ball... and when the ball is put on the stand at the end.. drop it. Don't point out that you've dropped it with a bad OOPS mime.. just make the mistake, pick it up and continue on. Of course the ball has been switched with a real bearing.
This wouldn't work for everyone, but it would be a nice kicker if not played off as a kicker.
Inviso
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I've been thinking of the same idea. Some sort of mechanism in the table to drop the heavy ball out of the side while the foulard masks the switch. Using a smaller ball as Walt suggests, or much smaller as you suggest, would allow for more switching options without a mechanism to rely on.

Randy
SpellbinderEntertainment
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If this were attempted Randy, the ball would have to be the size of a real ball bearing (about 2" as Michael says) for it to play realistically.

I'd ditch the idea of "some sort of mechanism" that complicates an effect whose beauty is in the simplicity of it. With a larger ball it's too much fuss and falderal that can be easily accomplished with mime.

With a ball bearing you can simply do a billiard ball switch, or ditch the real one behind a prop, don't make a big deal of it.

I generally don't like *proofs* in magic the are usually unnecessary as magic is make-believe and they want to believe with you. Also, why run if you're not being chased, as they say.

A ball bearing would be a great size to use with “The Thing” in an intimate setting.

Magically, Walt
Inviso
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Great perspective and advice again, Walt, and bonus points for using "falderal" in a sentence.

Randy
Motley Mage
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. . . and with alliteration as well.
Wizard of Oz
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Man, this post could be turned into a book. Great advice from so many pros. Thank you.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Welll... most of my thoughts ARE in my book... LOL
SpellbinderEntertainment
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In many Floating Ball Threads I’ve highly recommended Al Schneider’s Book (not the video, the book!) for serious workers.

This with Jeb Sherrill’s Zombie DVD Set will (with much effort, practice, imagination, and acting/mime work!) will get you well on the way to performing a miracle and not just a “ball on a st**k”

I’ve found the download on Al’s book and done the search work for you all. Magically, Walt

Al Schneider on Zombie

World Magic Center E-zine Products
$20.00 -1 PDF file sent via email

http://www.omenquest.com/wmcsales/aabd.htm
axtell
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Here's a twist on the zombie.... "The Walking Fred" Zombie http://www.axtell.com/zombie.html
Axtell Expressions, Inc.
Pro Puppets, Magic & Animatronics
Al Schneider
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Enjoyed this chat of the Zombie ball.
I never knew there was so much to getting a ball.
I have only owned two. One I left in a paper bag in Milt Larson's room at some convention after a party.
I just went to the local magic shop and bought another one. Have no idea what kind it is.
I bent the wire that comes with it and pushed a shoe lace over it.
I think the ball should have some weight as the inertia tells me where the ball is during performance.
This is to let you know my Zombie book is available on amazon dot com.
I am converting all my material to that process.
I can attest to the power of this trick.
A woman in one of my shows ducked behind the chairs because she thought is was alive.
The ball to me is more like a puppet.
To me it is alive.
It is the most difficult trick I have ever attempted.
When I do a show, I close with it both close up and standup.
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Thank you for checking in Al!
And AMEN it was one of the most difficult to master for me too.
It IS a puppet, or perhaps a "dance partner" on stage.
It is wonderful when a person can truly see it as alive!
HUGE Thanks for keeping your book in print, it is the bible of Zombie animation.
You, of all people, desrve a great ball, with a proper and good weight, get the Viking, treat yourself!
Magically, Walt
radamwarner
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Does anyone know the history of the Zombie and how it came to be named Zombie?
Motley Mage
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Invented by Joe Karson in the 1940s; lots of information available if you look for it. Here's one place to find more about Karson: http://mikerosemagic.com/joe-karson-beyond-zombie/ . The name "Zombie" simply comes from the ball being under the magician's power, like a zombie controlled by a voudon (voodoo) master. Following the same spooky naming trend, Karson also invented (among others) the trick named Voodoo, a Dancing Handkerchief illusion that does not require the use of assitants (see here: http://dennymagic.com/store/rare-joe-kar......net.html ).
Kbuck54
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Dirk Losander used to sell a Zombie with a great curved gimick and the silk was fantastic. I got two. The ball is huge. I love the curved ginick that he uses.
Keith
SHAZAM!
radamwarner
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Thanks Motley Mage. As you mentioned Voudon, there is a great book which you may know, Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren.
Thanks again for the information.
karnak
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Based upon everything I've read in this thread, I have decided to upgrade from my old (very old) Morrissey zombie ball by ordering one from Viking. It should be here in a day or two.

Now I need to look into obtaining a good quality foulard. I could have ordered one of the foulards offered by Viking, but wanted to research this a bit more before making any final ordering decisions.

Again going from what I've read in this and other threads, it seems that the optimal size for a Zombie foulard is 30" x 30", and the optimal material is silk. The Viking foulards are evidently made of satin instead of silk, and also run smaller than the generally suggested 30" x 30" size (Viking offers three different styles, which come in three different sizes, but all of which are less than 30" x 30"). So, perhaps I should keep looking.

Of course, I have kept looking, and all I can find online are a handful of similar alternatives whose cheapness suggests they may be of lesser quality (too big, wrong weight, etc.). It seems surprisingly difficult to find a place from which to order a good, pro-quality Zombie foulard. Can anyone recommend any other good sources?

Again going from what I've read here, it also seems like many if not most serious Zombie performers make their own foulards from two or three layers of silk which they sew together themselves. I, however, have zero skills or experience with sewing (I can barely thread a needle). So again, I'm hoping someone can point me toward a source for suitable, really good quality, pre-made foulards?

(Oh, and one last quick additional question: what do you use to polish your Zombie ball to keep it shiny and reflective-looking? Nevr-Dull? MAAS metal polish? Something else?)
For a supernatural chiller mixing magic (prestidigitation, legerdemain) with Magic (occultism, mysticism), check out my novel MAGIC: AN OCCULT THRILLER at http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Occult-Thriller-Reed-Hall/dp/1453874836
Kbuck54
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Karnak, Yes, a good quality silk is a must. And yes, they are hard to find without a dragon or butterfly on them. I have three that I got directly from Dirk Losander, they drape just perfect and are the right size and wieght. Your best bet, go to your local fabrick/sewing store and just tell them that you need to look at some differant silk materials (there are a lot) some will need to be doubled or backed with a black silk material, others might just need a hem.
Ask if there is anyone there that could sew this up for you. YOU will be surprised!! Works every time for me. Use your charm and maybe a little magic to get the job done.
Good luck my friend.
Keith Shazam
SHAZAM!
Bill Hegbli
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You could go to a fabric store and buy silk, but I prefer crepe material, light, and does not wrinkle. My experience with fabric store silk is, it the correct thickness, but the colors are pale, as they are available for women's clothing. Sew or French hem a thin high quality lining material on the back and you will have a nice foulard. Crepe material come in nice colorful designs as well. There is silk crepe, cotton crepe and mixed blends crepe. Your choice. Make it 30 inches by 30 inches so the ball will be in the middle of the foulard.

Contact General Grant for a great gimmick to use for the Viking Zombies. Note that they do not provide a gimmick, only the ball. Rings and Things 2, still make the original regular gimmick at a reasonable price. Look them up.

I don't know if they are still available, but you can visit ladies dress shops as well. They have large head and accent scarves with vibrant colors and designs that work perfectly as a foulard.

Norm Nielsen, famous for his floating violin uses foulards that match with his costume suites. I have see brown, blue, black, and some other colors he has specially made.

There are varying opinions whether to have a foulard with designs or plain, they are just opinions. Go with what you like. some say to have a border of a different color, and again, it is only their opinion.

To keep a Zombie bright and nice looking, just keep it in a nice cushioned bag. The balls usually have a clear coat on them, and do not need polishing. I did polish a Zombie one with a buffing wheel and rough. Took a long time to polish, but it never dulled if kept in a bag in the house in a trunk. I suppose if you expose it to the elements, hot, cold, rain, snow, it could get the oxidation on it. I have never mistreated my magic props by exposing them to the elements. I do not suggest putting them in a garage, or attic, or a non-temperature controlled storage unit. If they are exposed, a Ziploc bag with all the air removed is best to store for long periods of time. Except, the plastic can melt and crack in extreme conditions.
Frank Simpson
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Many years ago when I was using my zombie as a feature in The Nutcracker (I played Uncle Drosselmeyer and the zombie was a magical tree ornament) the choreographer's husband had posession of the ball to rig it to the tree. Without my knowledge (or permission) he polished the ball using a product called Simichrome. Fortunately for him it did a beautiful job and made the ball positively glisten. Since then I've used Simichrome on it about every seven or eight years. It really does not need it often, but I've always been satisfied with the results.
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