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Answers and Advice for All Ages and Skill Levels.
    TOPICS: Sponge Balls Care | Tricks for Teachers | Party Clothes

Q. What is the best way to keep store sponge balls? And how do you keep them clean? Bill Flood, Clearwater, Florida

Dear Bill: First, the best way to keep sponge balls in good condition, is to store them in a cloth bag, black or any dark color. The dark color of the bag keeps the sunlight away. Sunlight is not a friend of sponge balls. They tend to lose their color and get hard when left in the sunshine. If you have a lot of dry weather where you live, you should place the sponge balls inside a plastic bag (a baggie) first, then place the plastic bag inside the dark cloth bag.

Never store sponge balls in a squeezed or crushed condition. Always allow them to breathe, and keep them stored in their original shape.

As for keeping them clean, sponge balls should be submerged in warm water with a gentle soap, like baby shampoo. Let them sit overnight in the solution, then remove them from the water, squeeze them, then put them into a bowl of clean, warm water for a few hours. This allows the soap to become diluted. Then remove the sponges balls fvrom the water, and hold them under running water, squeezing them and causing all of the soaping water to drain out. Place them on a towel and allow them to dry.


First and foremost, and obviously the most popular, is the Svengali deck. At one time this deck of cards was marketed under the name "TV Magic Cards" by magician Marshall Brodein, who sold millions. (Webhost note: This was my very first deck of magic cards - SD) It is easy to use, and it is capable of many different effects. .


Q. I am a teacher, and I started showing one magic trick to my class every week, and I am running out of ideas. Where should I look for inspiration? I have been performing magic as a hobby for almost twenty years, so I have some skills and knowledge of basic magic. Any suggestions? Jason Read, Columbia, SC

Dear Jason: There are so many places you can turn to. Rope tricks are easy to do, and they are highly visual. Have you tried the three rope mystery (Professor's Nightmare")?

Having no idea what you have done already, not sure where to send you, but for starters, try the Mark WIlson Cyclopedia of Magic, a pocket sized, think volume that is filled with ideas and routines, and the instructions are easy to follow. Next, I would highly recommend that you get yourself a complete set of the Tarbell Course in Magic. I still thumb through these books, looking for inspiration, and I always find ideas and "jumping off points" for new presentations.

There is enough material in Tarbell to keep you busy for an entire school year. Keep a notebook with a record of the tricks you present so you will know when you may be doing something more than once.


Q. I perform magic for children's birthday parties, and as a spare job, it provides me with extra income, as well as a chance to practice new tricks on children. What are your thoughts on the type of clothing I should wear. Allen Goldstein, Baltimore, MD

Dear Allen: Good question. The look of your outfit should reflect a professional image. Some people decide to wear a costume, like a clown outfit, others prefer a standard tuxedo.

My feeling is that children expect you to look "special". To children, that usually means colorful. A plain black tux is fine for adults, but for kids, try to find a brightly colored jacket. A pair of brightly colored shoes also adds to your look. You should project an air of "fun". Not boring. A bowtie, rather than a tie, or a tie that is wild and funny, like with cartoon characters or magical images, would be good, too.

Whatever you decide upon, make sure it is neatly presseed, clean and spot free. I suggest you bring the outfit, shoes included, in a garment bag, and change into the outfit after you have set your props.

A funny hat is also an accessory you might like to experiment with. Magicians always have a top hat, so you could choose to wear something a bit less formal, something funny, perhaps, to endear you to the little critters.

Ask me anything - I'm the expert!

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