We get asked about the importance of matching a thumb tip, to a person's skin colour so many times. We now have a canned auto response stored on the email system! So we might as well publish it here too, so everyone can read it.
Does a Magic Thumb Tip need to match your skin colour?
The answer to this is no. Yes I know this seems odd but:
'I asked the same question. The gentleman [at the magic shop] demonstrated the standard thumb tip vanish of a silk, and I couldn't find the tip. He then pulled it out of his fist and showed me. It was stainless steel coloured metal tip with orange tape on the end.' – C.S Stanton
Camouflage is not why thumb tips work
The human brain is amazing. It processes so much information all at once. But it also likes to take shortcuts.
When your eye scans around a room, thousands of instances of the world are captured and passed to the brain for processing. This has to happen instantly and without us being aware of the process. To speed this up, the brain used memory and images from previous 'frames of vision' to reduce processing demands.
Your brain already knows what a hand looks like. It sees them quite a bit! Because of this it will not process the visual information it receives as fully as when it has to understand a new or rare object. It fills in gaps with its memories.
Dr Lars Muckli, from the University of Glasgow Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, explains this far better than I can:
"The brain's main function is to minimise surprise – that is what it has evolved to do. Memory and the predictive power of the brain combine in a very powerful way to allow us to anticipate our surroundings. Any kind of predictive method is an advantage to a biological system.
If you are driving a car and a pedestrian is suddenly obscured – say by a pillar box or your rear view mirror – your brain still knows where they are and where they will reappear in your line of vision. Without that ability, we would be lost in everyday life." – Source
You don't need to match the skin colour of your thumb tip for normal use. However, if it is going to be in view for long periods of time, or attention is drawn to is, to it becomes a focus of attention, then a general similar colour may be advisable. For normal use and magic tricks like vanishes, there is no need to match the colour
But it looks obvious to me!
That's because you know it's there and are taking the time to examine it. Your brain is treating the thumb tip as the most important object in your field of vision.
To overcome this fear, you can do a simple experiment. Wear the thumb tip and go out shopping. Pay no attention to it and see if anyone takes a second look. Slip one on for an hour when you go out with friends. Don't mention it and don't keep looking at it. Just pretend it's not there. You will quickly see that it goes unnoticed.
I tried it, and they spotted it.
If that happen while you test it out with friends, think back to how you acted. If it was the first time you put it on, chances are you kept looking at the thumb tip to see if it was hard to spot. People will pay attention to the things that they see others focus on. You may have felt that you acted totally naturally, but those sideways glances down to your hand were a real give away.
Try it out with some other people and remember to ignore the thumb tip. You will see just how powerful this little device can be.
Which thumb tip do professional magicians use?
The best selling magicians thumb tip in the world is the Vernet Classic Thumb tip. It only comes in one colour and is the thumb tip we recommend to all the magicians that come to the Merchant of Magic for tuition.
Related Post: A Thumb Tip Is Your Magicians Insurance Policy
Question: Do you currently use a thumb tip? If so, does it match your skin tone exactly and have you ever had a problem because of this? Please share your experiences in the comments section below: