Welcome back to The Babbit's Grimoire! Or, if it's your first time here, simply welcome!
Today, I want to briefly delve into the world of what I consider to be overlooked magic accessories that play a vital role in enhancing our card and coin tricks. Yes, I personally don't do much coin magic... but, that doesn't mean I don't have a rather high stack of silver dollars and half dollars, books, coin bags, and other accessories. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to palm a coin without it looking like my hand's seized up. But I digress =P
In this post, we'll explore the wonders of 3-Way Folding Mirrors, the indispensability of close-up pads, and even touch upon some affordable alternatives that won't break the bank. So, let's get started!
3-Way Folding Mirrors
When it comes to close-up magic tricks, performing seated at a table offers an intimate and engaging experience for your audience. That's where the 3-Way Folding Mirrors -- sometimes called Trifold Mirrors -- come into play. These nifty accessories allow you to gain a unique perspective and perfect your sleight of hand techniques with ease. Imagine the ability to showcase your card and coin tricks from different angles, captivating your audience with a multifaceted performance.
How? Well, the short version is that the way these mirrors angle on the table in front of you, you have 3 different views of your hands. You can see what a spectator would see if they were on your left, right, or straight ahead. This provides a larger advantage over a standard mirror because you don't have to manually reposition it or turn in an awkward way to get a good view.
I always wanted to get one for myself and when I finally did, I couldn't believe that I waited so long! I film a lot of close-up card tricks, which has also been pretty helpful for noticing flash-worthy angles, but the 3-Way Folding Mirror has surpassed that approach in a much, much faster amount of time.
Here are a couple of 3-Way Folding Mirrors that I've found across the internet. The first in the list is the one I have (and is featured in the review above):
- 3-Way Mirror by Sean Yang
- (Larger) 3-Way Mirror by Sean Yang
- Wooden Frame + Metal Hinges (Etsy)
- Large Acryllic 3-Way Mirror by Jason Ladanye
If you have any suggestions or mirror recommendations too, I'd love to hear about them!
Elevate Your Performance with Close-Up Pads
Close-up pads are a magician's best friend when it comes to executing flawless card and coin tricks. These pads not only provide a smooth surface for your intricate maneuvers but also add an elegant touch to your act. They minimize unwanted noise, create a designated performance area, and provide a comfortable resting spot for your props. The practicality and professional presentation that close-up pads bring to your table are unmatched.
There are different types of pads, different sizes, and an endless assortment of colors. The sizes and colors are really up to personal preference, but the types come down to personal style -- in my opinion. What I mean by "types" are:
- Cloth Pads - they're made of high-quality fabric like velvet or felt. These are the most popular type among magicians.
- Roll-Up Pads - they're made from flexible materials like neoprene or rubber. They offer convenience and portability, and are preferred by magicians who perform in different venues or frequently travel.
- Close-Up Mats - these are thicker and are a more cushioned version of the cloth pads.
Most (or all?) can be customized too with your name, logo, or other artwork. Some magicians will even get their pads custom-tailored to work with, or for, specific tricks -- but we won't touch on that right now.
I, personally, have two. I have a cloth pad with a green felt top and black leather bottom, and a black roll-up pad. The roll-up pad I use when I'm traveling; it literally just rolls up and goes in my backpack. The cloth pad, which is really solid and not just "a cloth", I use at my desk and occasionally on my lap when I'm sitting on the couch.
There are a bunch of places online where you can find pads to use. Some are affordable (and still good quality), others are very, very expensive -- and the quality is either about the same, or extremely higher... I haven't really noticed a middle-ground, though it may exist.
These are the close-up pads I use:
- Leather + Felt (Green) Close-Up Pad, 11in x 16in
- Standard (Black) Roll-Up Pad, 11in x 16in
- Jumbo (Green) Roll-Up Pads, 16in x 23in -- I used this one for a few years until wear-and-tear got the best of it.
Here are a few others that I've had recommended to me:
- Walnut + Red Felt by Dan & Dave
- Half Circle Roll-Up Pad
- Standard (Black) Roll-Up Pad with printed Aces / border
- Large (Black) Roll-Up Pad, 16in x 23in
If you have any suggestions or close-up pad recommendations too, I'd love to hear about them!
Ah, and to address the difference in opinion regarding "to use a close-up pad or not" -- it, like the type of pad one wants to use, is also personal preference. Some magicians, especially those who table hop, don't have the luxury of using a close-up pad for those performances so it's better to practice without one. Why? Because if you're used to picking up cards or coins from a soft surface and then move to a hard one, you're going to fumble around a bit. Make sure to keep that in mind when you consider whether a close-up pad is for you.
Table magic often requires a seamless flow of props and gimmicks without drawing unnecessary attention. This is where a table servante becomes an invaluable accessory. A table servante is a hidden storage compartment or pocket attached to a magician's table or performance surface, providing quick and discreet access to essential items during your routines.
At the end of the day, there's not too many different variations of this tool -- it's pretty much a bag that attaches to the edge of the table. I've seen some customized ones that have different pockets and whatnot, but if you're a beginner in magic, you don't need anything that crazy. Here's one or two that you could check out though:
- Table Servante
- Table Servante (by TCC)
- Velcro-to-Table Servante
- Bonus: Secret Servante -- a servante that attaches into your jacket!
Like I mentioned, it's basically a pocket on the side of the table. If you want alterations to it, like elastic strips that can hold coins or other objects, it wouldn't take much effort to manually sew these things (or new pockets) into one of the items above. Or, just buy a large piece of fabric and make the entire thing yourself =P
There's a certain irony when it comes to servantes and, well, me. Almost all of the card tricks I practice are at a table. However, I've only performed at a table twice (not including video). All of the other in-person performances I've done have been standing. The majority of my repertoire is table work. A decent number of tricks I practice require lapping, or bringing something out from my lap. Do you know what helps considerably with that type of work? A servante! And yet, I've never used one in a real performance so while I think that these are great tools, I actually can't say how well they are "in real life" performances.
Conclusion (or "to be continued")
As magicians, we often strive to leave our audience spellbound with every performance. By embracing the power of often-overlooked accessories like 3-Way Folding Mirrors and close-up pads, we can elevate our magic to new heights. There are plenty of other accessories, like Card Clips and Coin Holders, that deserve their own mention, but the ones I've discussed here today are the top-of-mind of what I use on almost a daily basis.
Remember, quality doesn't always come with a hefty price tag, as there are affordable alternatives available that deliver outstanding results. So, explore these accessories, share your experiences, and let's continue building a vibrant and supportive community of magicians together.
Keep the magic alive, and until next time! -- @gbabbits