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Dr Rick
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Manchester, UK
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Title says it all

Does anyone use sponge balls for C&B?

Does it help control or ease to palm for beginners or is this a silly idea and I should forget short cuts and practice with the crocheted balls?

Nickoli Sharpe
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I would recommend that you use crocheted balls.
Work on it for a while then video tape yourself.
Any DVD from Ammar on the cups would be helpful aswell.
Theodore Lawton
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Welcome to the Café Dr Rick!

You could use sponge balls, but you probably wouldn't want to as there are a lot of negatives.

Here are some considerations and reasons why you don't want to use sponge balls.

Weight- I have trouble using the little fluff balls that come with the cheap plastic cup sets, they are too small and don't have enough weight to them for me; I prefer the crochet balls for my routines. Weight is also a consideration with sponge balls. People generally like to have a little bit of weight for inertia during loading, stacking, etc.

The nature of sponge- Another consideration is the behavior of sponge balls. When you squeeze them they build up potential energy, when you release them they can move. You need to think about this- you wouldn't want a sponge ball popping out at the wrong time during your routine, so how you handle them would be a factor; you might need to use too light of a touch to make the routine comfortable to perform. With a crochet ball this is never a consideration; they are a good weight and feel right in your hand and won't suddenly pop out due to built up energy. Also, trying to palm and handle sponge balls would actually be more difficult during a cups routine- the crochet balls are much easier to palm and conceal for the moves that you do in a cups performance. Think of it this way- the materials used for the different props are used for a tried and true reason and are specific to what you are trying to accomplish.

Size- Still another factor is the size of the sponge ball. You can't stack cups with a regular size sponge ball between them. Maybe with a heavier set of good cups, but then you get the built up energy in the ball being a problem when you unstack going into the next phase. If you use small sponge balls then you have hard to control little balls of potential energy that you have to work with.

Audience skepticism- Because the balls naturally compress if they see this they might think that that is how the trick works no matter what cool moves you have in your routine. It's kind of like the people that think all magicians use trick cards. The solidity of crochet balls add to the "magic" of things passing through another solid object or appearing under it.

The pioneer factor- Is anyone else doing it? If not there is probably a good reason, especially with a routine as old as the cups. You can bet that there are other magicians who have considered sponge balls with the cups and abandoned the idea after trying it. At some point I gave it a try in my practice and learned all this stuff myself.

There really is no short cut to learning the cups and balls and sponge balls wouldn't help, in my opinion. The crocheted balls, or monkey fist balls which are made with cord rather than crochet, are used for all the reasons above. They are the right size, weight and material for having good control over the ball and doing the moves. I also wouldn't use crochet balls for a sponge ball routine. That might sound obvious or flippant, but I don't mean it that way and the same rules apply: they wouldn't be the right prop for the job.

With all that said- give it a try and see how it works for you. You might really like sponge balls and come up with a great routine. There would even be the potential to naturally segue into sponge balls. Or to go from sponge balls into cups. You could also use different sponge shapes for the routine or mix and match throughout.

Probably none of this will happen, but also remember that many great innovations come from the people who refuse to be told they can't do something.

Hope this helps!

Theodore- Smile
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East Orange, NJ
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Profile of jimgerrish
Qua-Fiki and I happened on a good way to ease Wiz Kids who had just mastered sponge ball magic into learning the Cups and Balls by using what we named a "Pseudo Color Cups and Balls" routine. You'll find the details in The Wizards' Journal #29 within my "Colorful Cups and Balls" e-Book. It also contains a regular cups and balls routine for use with different color crochet cork balls, as well as Milton Kort's routine using different color pom-pom balls.
Mr. Woolery
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Fairbanks, AK
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Look for Alex Elmsley's routine. The moves are rather different from most routines, and I seem to recall that he used sponge balls because some of the qualities that make sponges bad for most routines make them good for what Elmsley did.

Tom Fenton
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Leeds, UK (but I'm Scottish)
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You may want to have a look at Johnny Paul's routine.
"But there isn't a door"
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Profile of funsway
Theodore above makes many valid points, bu t .. (always that!)

some of the problem only occur if you let the audience know you are using compressible balls. No need to do that.

If you wish to perform a traditional C&B routine then using sponge balls gain no advantage and have drawbacks.

If you plan on a non-traditional routine then sponge balls might be ideal to take "secret" advantage of special properties and available sleights/moves.

If you plan on revealing the compression nature of the balls, stick to "Sponge Bunnies" and leave C&B out of it.


as a side-bar example, I do a Benson Bowl type routine using black enameled camping ware and marshmallows. I use foam rubber substitutes
because real marshmallows dry out or are messy. But, I have a spectator hand me real marshmallows at the beginning and switch them out -
never allowing anyone suspect they are not real (is a marshallow real??) I also have a magnet imbedded in one for other effects.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at questions at
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Profile of Julie
Jim Ryan--top Chicago close-up entertainer from the days when magicians were magicians--used sponge balls in his powerful closing routine with the fabled Cups & Balls.


His routine was published by Phil Willmarth. Maybe Magic Inc.(Chicago) has this available.
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Profile of Melephin
Using Sponge Balls has a lot of advantages as well. Here a wonderful routine by fred kaps, using sponge balls.
Dr Rick
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Manchester, UK
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Hey Melephin
What a routine - one for the purists maybe but imagine the hours and hours of rehearsal to get the pauses on the beats so perfectly
Thanks for sharing
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